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Advice on software development rig

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  • Advice on software development rig


    I'm putting together a new software development workstation to run Ubuntu and Compiz. I haven't built a Linux machine before, only Windows; nor have I done anything that actually uses any 3D power on the graphics card. My current thinking is:
    • Asus M2N32 WS PRO
    • Athlon 64 X2 6000+ AM2 3.0GHz
    • 2 X OCZ Technology 2x1GB 240DIMM PC2-6400 FlexXLC (4GB Total)
    • Gigabyte GeForce 8600GT GV-NX86T512H pasively cooled
    • 2 x WD2500YS SATA drives (in software RAID 1)
    • Corsair CMPSU-520HXUK PSU

    My questions are:
    1. Is the graphics card just going to be sitting getting board just running Compiz or is it underpowered to run a massive desktop with fullscreen antialiasing (see below)?
    2. Would a simpler motherboard be a better choice as I have no intention of overclocking?
    3. With a fast CPU and both the GPU and the MB passively cooled, I figure a good arflow through the case is important, but how much is "a good airflow"? A 12cm fan at the front and one at the back or something more serious? I was thinking about an Antec 900, is it just going to laugh at me? Would a NZXT hush be more appropriate with the added advantage of quietening?
    4. Am I right in thinking a CPU cooler like the Zalman CNPS9700 would give a cleaner air flow (= more efficient = slower fans = quieter) than say a Thermaltake Golden Orb?
    5. Perhaps most importantly, is there anything here that Ubuntu wont like playing with? Sound, APIC, suspend etc.?

    Some info on my requirements:

    I run a pretty massive desktop, 2 x 1920x1200 displays and I have loads of apps open at the same time. I'll be running Ubuntu (Linux) and Compiz compositing window manager. I'll also be running various versions of Windows in virtual machines, possibly simultaneously. I want the whole machine to feel really snappy and responsive and I will not tolerate any flickering, breakup or tearing of windows.

    I know most of the performance bottlenecks I'll face are disk and memory related, but as I understand it, my graphics card choice is also significant.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


  • #2
    1. For the software development, what kind of development are you doing? If you are doing OpenGL development or some other areas you may want better graphics. Other than that if you're doing programming that does not utilize intense graphics, the 8600GT should be a good choice and can handle Beryl/Compiz. Powering two large displays I wouldn't go with anything less than a 8600GT (or a X1650 or HD 2600 on the ATI side).

    2. The Asus M2N32 WS Professional is a workstation motherboard and is designed for tasks like development. It really depends upon the onboard features you're looking for as to whether you can get by with a simpler board.

    3. For that hardware you may be able to get by with 2 x 120mm fans depending upon the case. My personal favorite for workstation/serious rigs are the latter SilverStone Temjin series.

    4. I don't have any experience with that mentioned Zalman heatsink so I can't say for sure.

    5. I have used two M2N32 Deluxe (non-Pro) motherboards with various Linux distributions without problems. I imagine the Pro should work out well if using Ubuntu 7.04 or 7.10.
    Michael Larabel


    • #3
      The HSF that comes with the 6000+ is pretty beasty already, with heat pipes on it.
      If you decide to go nuts, you could go with AMDs 4x4 platform, ASUS LN1 something i think. Dual-socket for two Athlon64 FXs and soon to support two quadcore Phenom FXs when they get released (eventually). It'll be quite a bit more expensive though.


      • #4

        Thanks for your excellent reply.

        I'm not doing any OpenGL development right now, but I have a reckon that UIs will start to use compositing engines over the next 2-3 years (the life for this machine), just as Compiz does for the desktop. Based on your comments I've decided to move up to a 7900 GTS. I can pick one up second hand for ?40 ($80) more than a new 8600.

        With the bigger card I decided to up the PSU and to go for a case with well managed airflow. I've chosen the Antec p182.

        After I posted my proposed spec, I came across a lot of stuff about the Athlon 6000+ being technology pushed to its limit. It seems (surprisingly to me) that the Intel core 2 duos are more efficient, cooler and faster.

        New proposed spec is:
        • Gigabyte S755 Intel P35 Express DDR2 GA-P35-DS3P
        • Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 S775 2.66ghz 4mb Cache 1333FSB
        • Thermaltake Golden Orb II
        • 2 X OCZ Technology 2x1GB 240DIMM PC2-6400 FlexXLC (4GB Total)
        • Gigabyte GeForce 7900 GTS 512MB
        • WD2500YS SATA drive
        • Pioneer DVR-112BK
        • Antec P182
        • Corsair CMPSU-620HXUK PSU

        Any comments, suggestions, criticisms welcome.


        • #5

          Thanks for you reply. Couldn't find any information on the Asus LN1, but it was probably a little over the top for me. As you can see from my previous post, I think I'm going to go the Intel route which I haven't done for about 10 years.


          • #6
            Moving to a Core 2 Duo is a smart move for a workstation/development rig and should work out pretty well. That Gigabyte P35 motherboard is also very nice (
            Michael Larabel


            • #7
              Michael, thanks for the link. Looking at that review I question if the Golden Orb is enough for the job? The review has a lower spec processor with a much bigger cooler. Any thoughts?

              Also, is it a reasonable compromise to go with the 800MHz RAM even though the board can support 1066MHz (and the processor 1333MHz)? The price difference on 4 GB is about $560!


              • #8
                The Golden Orb II may be enough. I haven't used that cooler myself so I don't know for certain, but Thermaltake does advertise it for the P4 and K8 granted the Core 2 Duo is more power efficient.

                For a $560 difference, on a system that won't be overclocked, I would personally go with the DDR2-800.
                Michael Larabel


                • #9
                  Usually you can use a Intel boxed cooler as well. Compared to the AMD boxed coolers the Intel ones are pretty good - even for OC. As Speedstep is usually active most of the time the CPU will run at 2 GHz for a FSB 333 system - can be different for each core - you will not hear much of it. But maybe think of a Q6600 - G0/G3 stepping should be good for OC.
                  Last edited by Kano; 10-02-2007, 01:48 AM.


                  • #10
                    Thanks Michael.