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Small build

If you are having a problem with getting any of your computer's hardware to work with MEPIS or you can't find the right driver, this is the forum to use. It's for newbies and regular users to post questions. Just make sure to post what hardware you are having problems with, in the subject and not just in the post's text area, please.
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Gaer Boy
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Small build

#1

Post by Gaer Boy » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:09 pm

Since my spare machine bit the dust, I've been pondering a replacement. A smaller format would be a big advantage - my tower has to sit in a small space under the desk and the back is inaccessible. Plugging anything in means lying flat on the floor, positioning a torch and mirror behind the case and reaching with one hand through a narrow gap.

I'm planning the following:
Corsair Obsidian 250d miniITX case and modular PSU
AsRock FM2A88X-ITX+ motherboard
AMD A8-6500 CPU/GPU
8GB RAM

This lot would total about £300. I have everything else needed. I've not used AsRock m/b before, but the reviews look good, and the processor choice is determined by price/performance/power use.

Any opinions or recommendations welcomed.

Phil

AsRock FM2A88X-ITX+, A8-6500, 8GB, 120GB Samsung SSD (GPT), 1TB HDD (MBR), MX-18.3
Lenovo Thinkpad X220, dual-core i5, 3MB, 320GB Hitachi HDD, Win7, MX-18.3

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chrispop99
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Re: Small build

#2

Post by chrispop99 » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:27 pm

I've used ASRock MB's for builds in the past. I consider them mid-budget spec, perhaps lacking in some features but good value.

For 'everyday' purposes, I don't find much advantage in going over 4GB of RAM; the only exception would be if wanting to run virtual machines.

Chris
Test machines:
32-bit non-PAE - Thinkpad T41, 1.6GHz Pentium M, 1GB RAM.
32-bit PAE - DELL Latitude D610, 1.73GHz Pentium M, 2GB RAM.
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jdmeaux1952
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Re: Small build

#3

Post by jdmeaux1952 » Sat Apr 12, 2014 2:17 pm

I've used ASRock mb's in the pass as well. The prices are nice, but again the features can be slim. I'm using an ASRock 770Cafe for my AMD FX-4150 as my main machine. It is mildly overclocked (15%) on the cpu and the memory at 8GB is also overclocked (8%). I would definitely recommend them.
MSI S6000 i5-460M 4Gb mem
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m_pav
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Re: Small build

#4

Post by m_pav » Sat Apr 12, 2014 3:57 pm

Have you considered an Intel NUC? They truly are tiny, about the size of a couple of wallets stacked on top of each other. No optical drive though.
Mike P

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timkb4cq
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Re: Small build

#5

Post by timkb4cq » Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:55 pm

I built an A10-5800k box when my fiancees MB lost its ethernet (we live in Florida's lighning belt). It works very well. It's the quickest, most responsive machine in the house. It needs a newer kernel & radeon drivers, so the A8-6500k will too. M12 or MX-14 would be fine. M11 has difficult to overcome video issues with it. I built it before a beta of M12 came out so it's running Antix with KDE added. Definitely install the amd-microcode package (wheezy-backports or higher) if it's not installed by default in your distro.

The A10-5800k & A8-6500 are very close in CPU performance but the newer chip you're looking at uses less power & the GPU is 20% faster. I think you'll like it.
MSI 970A-G43 MB, AMD FX-6300 (six core), 16GB RAM, GeForce 730, Samsung 850 EVO 250GB SSD, Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB

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Gaer Boy
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Re: Small build

#6

Post by Gaer Boy » Sun Apr 13, 2014 4:13 am

Thanks, all - looks as though I'm on the right track.

@chrispop99 - I'm going for 8GB because I do run VMs. Mainly XP, to which I need to give 1GB (OS map graphics work). My maximum recorded RAM usage in MX-14 is a touch over 4GB, so I need the margin.

@m_pav - I've been looking at the NUC (& the Gigabyte Brix) since a colleague got one a year ago when he converted from Win to Ubuntu. They are very tempting, but I have thought that this could become my main machine if it runs well. If that happens, I would want an optical drive plus two HDDs or SSDs. There's no real room for expansion in the NUC.

@timb4cq - That's good - my regular supplier has a very good price on the A8-6500k, so it's 12% cheaper than the A10-5800k, but only 6.7% slower. The lower power was also a major factor in my choice - I don't want to spend needlessly on cooling. I will be using MX-14 as my main OS.

Phil

AsRock FM2A88X-ITX+, A8-6500, 8GB, 120GB Samsung SSD (GPT), 1TB HDD (MBR), MX-18.3
Lenovo Thinkpad X220, dual-core i5, 3MB, 320GB Hitachi HDD, Win7, MX-18.3

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duane
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Re: Small build

#7

Post by duane » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:52 pm

Here is an article about installing Linux on NUC:
http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/02/ ... amos-beta/

Looks like they had trouble with UEFI but were able to fix it.

Interesting.

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Gaer Boy
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Re: Small build

#8

Post by Gaer Boy » Sun May 11, 2014 1:38 pm

OK - the machine is built. The Corsair case is probably a bit roomier than most ITX cases, for which I'm grateful. I still removed front, top and both side panels and both the case fans - this gave me 5 holes to poke my hands through. My hands are unmarked by the the build, thanks to the quality of the finish - I can't find a rough edge anywhere. The one problem was that everything is black - inside of the case, psu and all cables. It's quite difficult seeing what you're doing, and I do like to have red/black cables - trying to identify a small raised arrow on the led plugs was not easy.

I re-used the two HDDs from the old machine and they were recognised without any problem. The first disk has WinXP, MX-14 and an old installation of M11. MX-14 booted without problems and my data partitions on disk 2 were mounted. I haven't checked much yet, but the basics work. M11 booted to a flashing cursor - timb4cq identified the problem earlier.

I no longer need WinXP (I've now managed to get all the applications I need running well in VirtualBox) but I would have kept it if it booted. I mentioned this in another topic:
uncle mark wrote:
Gaer Boy wrote:I'm using the 2 HDDs from an older machine. MX booted fine, but WinXP didn't want to know. Even in safe mode it goes back to the grub screen after 2 secs.
Do you mean it spontaneously reboots? Is that Windows Safe Mode, or the safe boot in grub?
The full sequence was:
Boot XP from grub - brief blank screen, then initial Win logo. Progress bar get halfway across, screen blanks then grub screen returns. (The machines warm boot is so fast and the HDD LED isn't working, so I can't identify any intermediate stage.)
Boot XP again - failed boot screen. Try 'Last known good configuration'. Same result.
Boot XP again - failed boot screen. Try Safe Mode. Same result.

I don't need to solve this - I'm happy to wipe XP.

I have a few other bits to report, but dinner calls. Back later.

Phil

AsRock FM2A88X-ITX+, A8-6500, 8GB, 120GB Samsung SSD (GPT), 1TB HDD (MBR), MX-18.3
Lenovo Thinkpad X220, dual-core i5, 3MB, 320GB Hitachi HDD, Win7, MX-18.3

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uncle mark
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Re: Small build

#9

Post by uncle mark » Sun May 11, 2014 2:00 pm

Gaer Boy wrote:The full sequence was:
Boot XP from grub - brief blank screen, then initial Win logo. Progress bar get halfway across, screen blanks then grub screen returns. (The machines warm boot is so fast and the HDD LED isn't working, so I can't identify any intermediate stage.)
Boot XP again - failed boot screen. Try 'Last known good configuration'. Same result.
Boot XP again - failed boot screen. Try Safe Mode. Same result.
Gotchya. Obviously the hardware differences between the new build and the old build were too much for XP to handle. (I've actually had good luck moving an XP hard drive from one platform or another, but in most cases the hardware differences are relatively modest.) In your case, it would require an over the top reinstall to repair the XP install. That in and of itself is relatively painless. It's the driver installations and the Windows Update cycles you have to go through afterwards that are such a PITA.
Desktop: Custom build Asus/AMD/nVidia -- MEPIS 11
Laptop: Acer Aspire 5250 -- MX-15
Assorted junk: assorted Linuxes

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Gaer Boy
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Re: Small build

#10

Post by Gaer Boy » Sun May 11, 2014 2:42 pm

uncle mark wrote:In your case, it would require an over the top reinstall to repair the XP install. That in and of itself is relatively painless. It's the driver installations and the Windows Update cycles you have to go through afterwards that are such a PITA.
Been there, done that! Last time (about 18 months ago) it took 7 hours one day and 3 or 4 the next, and I can't remember how many reboots. I love MX - an hour tops, including all my fiddling.

AsRock FM2A88X-ITX+, A8-6500, 8GB, 120GB Samsung SSD (GPT), 1TB HDD (MBR), MX-18.3
Lenovo Thinkpad X220, dual-core i5, 3MB, 320GB Hitachi HDD, Win7, MX-18.3

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