Whatcha Runnin’ Man? (Hardware Recommendations)

I’ve had several folks send emails asking about what parts that I’d build into a machine, what themes are in use in my screenshots, and what programs I’d recommend for a new Linux user.  As one who favors the ‘work smarter’ over the ‘work harder’ method, I thought I’d post this info over the next few posts, rather than sending a 32 page email to them all.

Lets start off with some quick hardware preferences and recommendations.

  • Nvidia is preferred over ATI for my gpu (graphics card)
    This is based on less than positive experiences with ATI drivers in both Linux and Windows environments.  Nvidia has never let me down, and especially for Linux machines, their driver support is unparalleled.
  • AMD is preferred over Intel for my cpu (processor)
    Despite my horrible experiences with ATI, my fondness of AMD (ATI’s daddy) grows by the day.  The price point for AMD over Intel is fantastic.  Also AMD is the ‘little man’ of the two and I enjoy supporting the low man on the totem pole, however their popularity, along with Linux is growing.  AMD chipsets have supported 64bit for generations at lower prices than the 32bit Intel alternatives.
  • Hiper is hands down my favorite psu (power supply)
    This fairly young company has gained my respect and love after real world tests in rack and box units.  I’ve accepted nothing less than their brand in the past several machines that I’ve built for myself and others.  Simply put, they spank the competition in performance and price.
  • The rest is less brand dependent.  Just check out the specifications and read all the user reviews that you can find.  Just because they have a badge of honor and a whole batch of pie charts on their own web site stating that they’re the best thing since the breakup of the Spice Girls, doesn’t mean that their product functions practically in the wild.
  • Desktop beats laptop.
    Don’t go throwing your laptop down the garbage chute, this is my personal preference.  I dig laptops as much as the next cat, but I can build two desktops for what you paid for one laptop with comparable components.  They might call it a frugal choice where you’re from, but in my neighborhood, we called it being a cheapskate.  If you’re going to play video games released lately, the odds of being able to build a laptop to handle the recommended system requirements and having it cost less than a car are slim.  A decent desktop gaming machine can easily be built on the cheap.
  • Dual Flat Screen monitors beat the pants off of Single CRT monitor.
    No matter what you do with your machine, more visual real estate is always better.  In this day and age it’s almost a necessity to have at least two flat screen monitors to remain functional and efficient.  Whether you’re a gamer, a visual designer, coder, administrator, or a little old granny watching Matlock reruns on the net, more is definitely more.  Not to mention that due to recent advances, the pricing for a couple of 22″+ monitors can’t be beat.
  • Once you know, you newegg.  Enough said.

As always, feel free to comment or ask questions about any of the ideas shared in this post.

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