Building a Linux Box 2013

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I want to build 5 computer systems for my 5 kids. I want to keep costs as low as possible, without building a system that is too weak.

My goals:

  • Small hard drive (<100GB) is fine. I'm going to run with SSD for the first time.
  • Memory: 8 GB should be more than enough.
  • Video: 1920x1080 is fine. Probably an HDMI connector since DVI is out of fashion. If I can find a non-widescreen format monitor on the cheap, I will take it. 24" is plenty big, maybe too big.
  • Mice and keyboard: I am thinking of going with wireless since I like it so much. But I prefer old-fashioned keyboards.
  • Gigabit ethernet. I want to kids to get used to sharing files with each other. I plan on building a backup file host sometime soon as well, and being able to move files quickly will be really nice.

Where to Start? Priority 1: SSD

The most important part is the SSD. Shopping around, I can get a good 128GB SATA III SSD for about $100. So the motherboard must support SATA III.

Next: Form Factor

The motherboard must also conform to a form factor. I am going to run with the ATX form factor. The mini ITX seems interesting, but it is geared towards the low-power market. Plus, ATX mid-towers are about $25. I could choose a case now, but I'll save the most boring decision for last.


Next I have to choose from the memory, CPU, or video card. I'm going to give priority to memory.

I think memory speed is most important. Let's see what my options are for 8GB sticks.

It seems like DDR3 is the best bet for speed. Narrowing the search leads me to 2x4GB PC12800 1600MHz for about $60.


With that out of the way, now we look at the motherboard.

It must conform to the memory, SATA III and be ATX compatible.