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Request for advice on new build for Elite Dangerous, Minecraft, and general Linux use
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childermass 4 days ago
  • New User

Hello everyone, I'm excited to have found this community! I’m planning a new build, but it’s years (I think literally over a decade) since I built my last Linux box and I haven’t been gaming recently, so I’m completely out of touch with what needs to be considered nowadays. I would welcome any comments or suggestions for this parts list.

I’m looking for the following with the system:

  • Solid overall Linux compatibility (probably using Ubuntu)
  • Able to play Minecraft (Java Edition, on Linux)
  • Able to play Elite Dangerous (through Proton on Linux)

  • Good for general desktop use, plus some light virtual machine/Docker usage (just playing around)
  • Quiet (preferably quiet overall, and at least during non-gaming use)
  • Energy efficient (at least when not gaming)
  • Motherboard support and space in the case for at least five 3.5” SATA hard drives (my old computer is running as a makeshift NAS with ZFS on Linux and I’d like to move the drives over)
  • Good future-proofing and room for upgrades/expansion
  • On the wishlist: able to play Cyberpunk 2077 (presumably by dual booting)


Here’s the parts list I have so far:

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 3.6 GHz 6-Core Processor
  • CPU cooler: I plan to use the stock cooler for now, possibly upgrading later
  • Motherboard: Asus ROG STRIX B550-E GAMING (based on the Level1Techs review which mentions solid Linux support and some level of future-proofing)
  • Memory: Crucial Ballistix 16 GB (2 x 8 GB) DDR4-3600 CL16 (this is just based on one of the builds from PCPartPicker, so I hope it’s OK… I have no preference otherwise)
  • Storage: If I want to save money for now, is there any technical reason I can’t use an old SATA HDD temporarily, if I’m willing to put up with the slower speeds? Alternatively, are there any suggestions for a 1TB SSD?
  • More storage: I’ll be moving over five 3TB WD Red drives (WD30EFRX) using ZFS, from my current machine
  • Video Card: RX 5700 XT (based in part on the discussion on scaine's thread )
    • Does it make any difference which RX 5700 XT I get, e.g. for Linux compatibility?
    • I’d like get something that’s as quiet as possible, and — other things being equal — uses less power (to keep the total wattage down). How about the MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT 8 GB GAMING X, which seems to be quiet according to at least one review?
    • Is an RX 5700 XT the right chipset to go for, would I need something more, or could I drop back down to something less?

  • Case: Could I reuse my existing Fractal Design Define R5? If not, I was thinking of the Fractal Design Define 7
  • PSU: Could I reuse my existing SeaSonic X 650W PSU? According to PCPartPicker, this should work OK with the new system, but should I get something else?
  • Screen: I’ll use an existing Dell U2415 (1920x1200)

Does this setup look OK? Is there anywhere that I would need to upgrade, or anywhere where my current choice is overkill?

Thank you in advance for any advice!

tuubi 4 days ago

Quoting: childermassHow about the MSI Radeon RX 5700 XT 8 GB GAMING X, which seems to be quiet according to at least one review?
This is just anecdotal, but based on my experience with MSI's cheaper Armour series of coolers, despite favourable reviews, I'd be wary of their products if I was looking for quiet hardware in the future. But I can recommend the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT I've got. The most silent actively cooled GPU I've ever owned, for what it's worth.

Quoting: childermassIs an RX 5700 XT the right chipset to go for, would I need something more, or could I drop back down to something less?
If you're going for VR, I suppose you'll never have too much power. Maybe wait for a bit longer and pick up one of AMD's new Big Navi GPUs instead? The Sapphire Pulse RX 6800 perhaps, coming out later this month? If your budget allows. It's quite a bit more expensive.

Quoting: childermassCase: Could I reuse my existing Fractal Design Define R5?
You definitely can. I've got an R4, and I don't see any reason to replace it any time soon.

Quoting: childermassPSU: Could I reuse my existing SeaSonic X 650W PSU? According to PCPartPicker, this should work OK with the new system, but should I get something else?
If you go with the CPU and GPU you mentioned, 650W should suffice I suppose. Depends largely on the GPU you pick. All those hard drives suck a few watts as well of course.

stan 4 days ago
  • Supporter

Quoting: tuubibased on my experience with MSI's cheaper Armour series of coolers, despite favourable reviews, I'd be wary of their products if I was looking for quiet hardware in the future.
The MSI Gaming X cards have been reviewed as ones of the less noisy cards, which is why I bought these despite their high price (GTX 660 and GTX 1060) and I haven’t been disappointed.

Looks like the Asus 5700 XT Strix may be more silenter, though.

Edit: the (S) next to the Asus Strix in the benchmark means it’s in silent mode I think, while the Gaming X is in normal mode and the review says it is "the fastest 5700 XT".

Last edited by stan on 22 November 2020 at 2:28 pm UTC

tuubi 4 days ago

Quoting: stan
Quoting: tuubibased on my experience with MSI's cheaper Armour series of coolers, despite favourable reviews, I'd be wary of their products if I was looking for quiet hardware in the future.
The MSI Gaming X cards have been reviewed as ones of the less noisy cards, which is why I bought these despite their high price (GTX 660 and GTX 1060) and I haven’t been disappointed.
As I said, it's just my personal experience with one of MSI's relatively recent AMD cards. I'm just salty that I spent months reading reviews and bought a GPU that was consistently one of the most silent options (especially for the price point), but it turned out to be so noisy I actively avoided playing anything that made the fans spin up for a year or so. Maybe the hardware was simply faulty, who knows.

I read somewhere that MSI's custom Nvidia designs tend to be better. Personally I don't think I'll even consider their hardware in the future, unless there are no other options available.

CatKiller 4 days ago

Quoting: childermassQuiet (preferably quiet overall, and at least during non-gaming use)

Modern components will turn off fans when they aren't needed.

The trick, when you do need active cooling, is to have big heatsinks and big fans. A slow-turning large fan will be much quieter, and lower pitched, than a small fan turning quickly, but it will move the same amount of air.

SSDs are entirely silent.

childermass 4 days ago
  • New User

Quoting: tuubiBut I can recommend the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT I've got. The most silent actively cooled GPU I've ever owned, for what it's worth.
Thank you very much! Is that the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT and not the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT BE, I presume?

I've also found various threads complaining about high idle power consumption (example ). Is it something you've come across? It looks like it applies to all RX 5700 XTs though, not just Sapphire, and not just Linux. It seems it's related to the memory clock speed getting "stuck" at maximum when using high refresh rates and/or multiple displays. I can't tell from those discussions if it's a real issue or not...

If I'm just using a not-so-fancy single monitor maybe it's fine, although I wonder if I'd run into that problem if I then add the Valve Index, since I presume that counts as a second display?

Quoting: tuubiIf you're going for VR, I suppose you'll never have too much power. Maybe wait for a bit longer and pick up one of AMD's new Big Navi GPUs instead? The Sapphire Pulse RX 6800 perhaps, coming out later this month? If your budget allows. It's quite a bit more expensive.
Hmm... I think that would be out of budget for me. The RX 5700 XT is probably at the top end of what I'd like to spend.

In fact, if I'm not going to go for VR immediately, would it make sense to economise with a lower-end GPU for now? Or is it hard to save much compared to the cost of an RX 5700 XT while still having good performance?

tuubi 4 days ago

Quoting: childermass
Quoting: tuubiBut I can recommend the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT I've got. The most silent actively cooled GPU I've ever owned, for what it's worth.
Thank you very much! Is that the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT and not the Sapphire Pulse RX 5700 XT BE, I presume?
Yeah, I didn't even know about the BE version before now.

Quoting: childermassI've also found various threads complaining about high idle power consumption (example ). Is it something you've come across? It looks like it applies to all RX 5700 XTs though, not just Sapphire, and not just Linux. It seems it's related to the memory clock speed getting "stuck" at maximum when using high refresh rates and/or multiple displays. I can't tell from those discussions if it's a real issue or not...

If I'm just using a not-so-fancy single monitor maybe it's fine, although I wonder if I'd run into that problem if I then add the Valve Index, since I presume that counts as a second display?
I do my gaming on a single TV screen, so can't help you there. I did see reports of problems from people with multiple monitors a few months ago, perhaps using a certain combination of outputs, but I thought those were dealt with already. There's a long thread somewhere on the GOL forums, can't remember the title.

My idle power consumption has been fine since I bought the GPU about a year ago. Haven't had any trouble at all, in fact.

Quoting: tuubiIn fact, if I'm not going to go for VR immediately, would it make sense to economise with a lower-end GPU for now? Or is it hard to save much compared to the cost of an RX 5700 XT while still having good performance?
Well, you could get an RX 5500 XT or something for half the price, but I have no idea if that would be sufficient for Elite Dangerous. I gather it's about as fast or a bit faster than an older RX 580, but consumes less power. Of course, the 5700 XT is significantly more powerful.

My own strategy is to splurge for the best hardware I can reasonably afford at the time, and then ignore any new hardware completely for a few of years.

CatKiller 4 days ago

Quoting: childermassSolid overall Linux compatibility (probably using Ubuntu)

Obviously everyone has their favourite distro/desktop environment, that they'll happily argue about at length, and I don't want to turn your thread into one of those threads. But. I'd personally recommend Kubuntu or KDE Neon over straight Ubuntu. You get the same user base, third-party support, hardware testing at Canonical's facility, and the hybrid conservative/forward-looking release model, but you get a more easily customisable experience. If you like Gnome, though, feel free to discount this as the ravings of a lunatic.

CatKiller 4 days ago

Quoting: childermassAble to play Minecraft (Java Edition, on Linux)
As long as Microsoft don't break Minecraft and Oracle don't break Java, you should be able to play Minecraft on any machine. It is RAM-heavy, though, but the 16 GB you've specced out should be fine.

As I understand it, Minecraft itself is fine with OpenJDK, but OptiFine (which brings some performance enhancements and some niceties) needs Oracle's Java. If you want to run multiplayer servers, Spigot helps a lot; I ran a four-player server on a Raspberry Pi 2 for a while using Spigot, and it was fine.

Last edited by CatKiller on 22 November 2020 at 10:47 pm UTC

CatKiller 4 days ago

Quoting: childermassMotherboard support and space in the case for at least five 3.5” SATA hard drives (my old computer is running as a makeshift NAS with ZFS on Linux and I’d like to move the drives over)
Again, personal preference, and I don't know what you've got by way of space or funds, but I would shunt those into a different machine. Having the drives in your new machine will add noise and heat, and block airflow. You could have a separate appliance, tucked away somewhere, for that storage, and have your new build solely for desktop/gaming use.

mos 4 days ago

the time you've spent composing the OP would've well sufficed to read up on at least the main compo's if you're that out of loop. phoronix.com is your friend here, on GPUs and CPUs especially.
Overall you're worrying about a lot of stuff you shouldn't be. Most peripherals, GPU cooling systems, and JAVA stuff would obviously work just the same on any sane distro. Ubuntu is a good choice since it has long had a solid if 3d party support for the latest MESA and almost official for the latest kernel(s).
You're going for the top ATI GPU (ex-top.. but nevermind), a mid-higher end CPU and topping it off with an old cranky HDD? No reason it won't work, albeit sub-optimally.
Also if noise is a special concern, sticking to the stock cooler is questionable. You're forking out on a 5700 but baulking at spending some dough on a tower cooler...
Most of your real concerns have little to do with Linux.

Last edited by mos on 23 November 2020 at 5:26 pm UTC

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