[PC-BSD Public] Building a new computer

Christian Baer christian.baer at uni-dortmund.de
Sat Oct 30 17:00:59 PDT 2010


Hey there peeps! :-)

After a few years with my old machine, I've decided that it's time for a
new one now, which will be my work and play station. I intend to buy and
build it some time next month (November). I am hoping to get a few ideas
from you guys about what hardware would be a good idea.

As you can imagine, I plan to use PC-BSD on this machine. I have used
FreeBSD for more than 10 years now, just never for desktop purposes. It
worked for me for about a year with X installed with the ports. Keeping
the system up to date and running functionally at the same time is just
a pain, though. It was fun to set up, no question about that, just like
Slackware was fun. But once the setting up isn't your primary work, too
much maintenance gets in your way. PC-BSD is pretty much what I have
been looking for all these years. Now I want to set up my first machine,
optimised for PC-BSD.

I'll just go through the components where I'd like a little feed-back -
also considering the usage and price. What I am going for is the best
possible support for PC-BSD.

Usage/price
My machine will be used for just about anything where a computer is
useful - and a few things beside that. :-) Most of my time I spend
working at my computer. I do a lot of writing (mostly TeX) and some
programming. Currently I am looking into Ruby. I also like to play a
bit. Usually I am a fan of strategy games (Warcraft 3, Starscraft 2
etc.) but I also enjoy 1st person shooters from time to time - if they
have a story that keeps me interested. Basicly, any dumb computer can do
the first things I wrote down, so I have to adapt my computer hardware
for gaming. I don't intend to make a real gaming computer here since I
rarely spend more that 4 hours on computer games a week.
In terms of pricing, I was thinking of something between 1000 and 1500
Euros.

CPU
I am 99% sure, I will get an AMD CPU, something like a 1075T or 1090T. I
use disc-encryption, so the additional cores actually do something for
me. A similar CPU from Intel costs about four times as much and somehow,
I cannot get myself to pay 800 Euros just for the CPU. Or have I missed
something here? Does it make a diff to FreeBSD if I use an Intel or AMD CPU?

Mainboard (Mobo)
The CPU kinda narrows the choices down a bit. Any suggestions for a
chipset? Is there some Mobo out there with evil components that are not
supported?

Graphics card
On my current machine, X just sucks because of my graphics card (AMD
X1950). The missing 3D acceleration (which also means no Compiz) isn't
pretty, but when surfing the web or scrolling around in the browser or
other viewers is sluggish, it just stinks. So this time I want some
graphics card that really rocks under X, while not missing out on good
gaming qualities. This is actually the main reason for this post. I know
that both AMD and nVidia Chips are basicly supported (with both open
source drivers and drives from AMD and nVidia) but how good are the
drivers really and what functions do they bring along? My current card
worked well with a driver from AMD until the X-server went on a version
number. After that I had to make do with the open source driver which
had/has the problems I mentioned.
Has anyone got any good advice on this?

Sound card
I'm not really sure if I want to actually buy one. The main motivation I
have is that I wear headphones a lot and some cards (like Creative's)
can create a pretty good surround impression using a headphone. But it
would have to be current and work with FreeBSD. Normally, the chipset
sound works for me.

Just about all the other components aren't a big deal. I'll be keeping
my HDs from my current machine (no SSD for me yet). I will also be
keeping my Model M! :-D
But the rest won't really be an issue in terms of drivers and such (IMHO).

If I have missed something, please give me a hint!

BTW. I know there is a list of supported hardware (actually, there are
several). However, finding out what hardware works completely and what
only works partially can be a challenge by itself. Finding out what the
flaws of partially supported hardware are can be a daunting task. I know
that from when I tried to get my current graphics board working under X
and was completely stumped as to why practically no acceleration worked.
So please bear with me here!

Maybe it would be a good idea to make a list of suggested hardware for
PC-BSD. That would be much more convenient than having to search through
several lists that don't answer the question "How well does it work?".

Best regards from Germany!
Chris

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