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Building a new Killer Box for Linux (?) development - Part 2

Continued from Part1

Specs of the new Box

I used the Alternate PC Konfigurator in conjunction with a few online reviews to figure out what to order. I don’t want to overclock and I don’t need RGB LEDs, so keep this in mind.

Component Manufacturer/Model
Mainboard Asrock TRX40 TAICHI TRX40
CPU AMD Ryzen Threadripper 3970X 3.7GHz
Cooler XILENCE LiQuRizer LQ240
RAM 128 GB G-Skill D4128GB 3200-16 RipJaws V K4 16-18-18-38
GFX MSI GeForce RTX 3060 Ti 8GB
SSD SSD 2TB Western Digital SN850 NVMe Black PCIe 4.0
Power Corsair RM750 750W
Case Fractal D. Define 7 Compact

I picked the mainboard, because it was available at the time and it had WIFI on board. The ASROCK boards of very old, were pretty much cheap trash. But ASROCK has become fairly reputable and the price isn’t really cheap. So fingers crossed here. (EUR 500) Toms

The mainboard is there to carry the CPU, which is the whole reason for the new box. The AMD 3970X has 32 cores, 12 more than my current box with two CPUs. Going dual CPU would have made the box too expensive and I think I will prefer the single-CPU experience again (see last article). It has also got a higher base frequency than my Xeons and then there are the generational improvements. At EUR 2000 it is less than what I paid for the two Xeons. Geekbench

The XILENCE cooler is a shot in the dark. I have another water-cooled PC and I was severly disappointed by it, because it was noisier than a regular air cooled system. There wasn’t much air cooling choice though and the AMD runs really hot, so I picked the cheapest water cooler that tested well. EUR 60. Igors

Again for the RAM I made some cursory glances at reviews, and the G-SKILL package for the price gave me the best “feeling” with decent latencies. But there weren’t many other options for 128 GB kits. Now my old machine has 64 KB, which it needed but never exceeded. I went for 128 GB as it fit the budget and twice the memory seems like a good idea for the long term. EUR 550 Tweaktown

Initially I wanted to go again with the Samsung SSDs but the Western Digital just benchmarked extremely well. It is supposedly twice as fast as my old M.2 SSDs. Again SSD speed is not really much of my concern, but I need to get something and why not. 4TB should be fine for the start. (I have quite a few VMs) EUR 750 Toms

The graphics card had to be another NVIDIA, for all the reasons explained in the previous part. Now the card prices are really stupid this year, so for budgetary reasons, the 3060 TI is the best I wanted to do. I might swap this card out with another from my gaming PC though for the actual build. Since I don’t really need the power in the desktop. The MSI was reviewes as being very quiet, so this was the deciding factor in favor of picking it over a cheaper alternative. EUR 700

Do I really need another case ? Probably yes :) The Fractal is supposed to be fairly quiet, so lets give this one a try. I might dislike that it is a compact case. I have come to prefer large cases. But I didn’t find anything on Alternate that I liked. And its in white. Unfortunately they don’t sell Phanteks. I would have liked to buy another Phantek. EUR 80 (

The PSU is a Corsair RM750 as ordered. I just noticed, that I made a mistake. So I’ll probably exchange it. I wanted the RM750X but ordered the RM750. The RM750x is the same price, but supposedly has a better fan. And it can be gotten in white. EUR 120. Toms

But… why not a Mac Pro ?

One of the earliest posts in this blog, now almost 20(!) years ago, was me buying a PowerMac G5. That was a great machine, that served me well a long time. It’s still sitting in a corner here and gets a yearly boot. :)

Let’s see what I would have to pay to get an equally powerful Mac Pro today. So the base price for a Mac Pro Tower is EUR 6500. That’s already EUR 1500 over budget. But let’s compare.

Linux Box 2 Mac Pro Tower
32 Cores/3.4Ghz 8 Cores/3.5 Ghz
128 GB RAM 32 GB RAM
GeForce 3060 TI Radeon Pro 580X

This is laughable. The new Mac Pro Tower is half the machine that my old box was, and is more expensive than the new box! If I were to spec it out, so that it comes closer, to what the new box delivers I would have to spend:

  • EUR 8000 to upgrade the CPU to a 2,5 GHz 28‑Core Xeon, which is still slower than the 3970X
  • EUR 1000 to upgrade to 96 GB (there is no 128 GB option strangely)
  • EUR 700 to upgrade to a Radeon Pro W5700X
  • EUR 1600 to get 4TB of SSD memory

That all comes out to EUR 18000 for an arguably worse machine. Eighteen thousand euros for less. The Mac Pro has become the desktop equivalent of a Vertu phone. Yesterdays technology for the tasteless rich.


I hope to end up with a system, that’s faster and quieter than my old box. The build times have to be at least twice as fast as the current system, otherwise I am going to be very disappointed. I am also hoping that all the boot woes of old resolve themselves magically…

Continue to Part 3

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