First things first: The mods here flagged my other post because I had some easter eggs in the photos. I have since edited the photos. Now it's only parts. I'm taking the time to re-post this thing, 100% serious, because I want to help anyone out there wishing to build a Ubuntu/Linux workstation. (Sorry about my prior post, mods. You are the best and I love you.) Lots of people build Windows gaming PC's and Hackintosh units, but I haven't seen many Linux folks.
This is a workstation for me, because I do a majority of my work on Ubuntu servers as a developer, much of it with Juju, so having native support is critical. Being able to develop locally, then deploy a yaml file to wherever I need it is just... well... I can't live without it.
I also do light graphic work, and edit photos. The editing and color correction were mostly the reason I ended up with 32GB of RAM. Is it overkill? Well... only kinda. 99% of the time, I'm going to duck under 16GB, but there have been a few instances when I'm doing heavy-heavy-GIMP'ing, with tons of layers, on a large file, and my RAM (according to my system monitor) is pushing just over 18GB used. This also assumes I have Chrome, Spotify, and Atom open at the same time. Chrome is a memory hog.
Video editing has also been quick on KDen Live. (I haven't tried Lightworks yet.) I do small 0:30-1:00 edits for clients from time to time, so having the headroom with RAM makes things faster.
I chose a few more expensive parts because I care about industrial design: There are cheaper cases out there, but the Fractal Design Mini C is a perfect MicroATX tower. Everything just feels like it's engineered well. The cable routing seems like someone thought it through. The screws align perfectly. The instruction manual is comprehensive. I love how easy it is to customize. It's also really heavy. I'm sure there's a Snatch reference in there about how heaviness equates to reliability.
The same goes for small stuff like the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo. Sure, it's just a CPU cooler, but the design just looks nice in the case. Does it matter that much? Not really. But I think every time you walk into your workspace, you should like how things look.
Fans came with the case. I ordered different fans because I liked the stupid blue LED lights. If a client comes into my office, I want them to think, "Wow, this guy has blue lights inside his computer. He must be a pro."
I don't game: Well, I do -- but on my PS4. Please stop shouting at me. When I'm done with work every day, I don't have any desire to be in front of my computer.
Graphics card: I got it because I know integrated graphics just aren't the best option, and for $40, I can have a nice DVI and HDMI out, my mouse is less likely to freeze up, and it allows my CPU to do CPU things, rather than graphics things.
SSD + 2TB 7200RPM setup: Do this. Having my OS and programs on the SSD, and my files on the hard drive is just... oh man. It's so fast. Note, I used GParted to get the HDD formatted, and it only took like 10 minutes for me to figure out how to perma-mount it. I tend to hoard graphics, backgrounds, stock photos, etc. Some of my templates are a little over 1GB each, so having the space is fantastic.
The Monitor: I ordered the 25", 2K monitor because I needed something for accurate color correction on photos. I also take my own photos for clients, and what goes into the camera often needs help. (I highly recommend my Fuji X-A2, for what it's worth. I got a bundle on Amazon for like $550, and it has served me well.) Paired with my existing 23" Acer Whatever, it works.
The Sound: Also not featured on this build list, but leftover from four years ago, and they just keep on truckining -- my Audioengine 2.0's. They have given me zero issues, and still sound fantastic. I cannot recommend them enough.
How did the build go?: It took a while. Full disclosure, the most I have ever done is add memory. Geting a MicroATX board, small case, etc -- it made things a little more difficult, but I'm glad I made all the choices I did. I have large hands, so there were some times I had to remove case fans in order to plug in their tiny pins way down in the back.
Booting it up via USB, Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS ran smoothly, the WiFi got signal immediately, the mouse and keyboard worked... I mean, it was surprisingly easy. The only small change I made was switching to proprietary Nvidia drivers for the graphics card. It made things seem more smooth, but that could also be entirely in my head.
It's fast, easy to install, and perfect for anyone wishing to do photo or video editing.
Once you get the mounts on the back of your motherboard, it's easy. Some people say it's hard to attach the screws -- and they're sorta right. BUT, it's not that hard. If you have two hands, you'll get it done.
It's thermal paste. Use it on your CPU and not your teeth, alright?
East BIOS menu. Easy OS install. Everything was intuitive. The manual and documentation were fantastic. If you don't intend to overclock your CPU, this thing is perfect.
It's fast, easy to install, and does a commendable job with photo and video rendering.
Haven't had any issues with it. Looking back, I probably should have gone with a little more space for an extra $80 or so, but this should do fine for a while. If you're on a tighter budget, this is perfect for your OS and programs. Just made sure you get extra storage for other files.
It stores files. It was easy to install. What more could you want?
I'm using this with Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS to run two monitors. I don't game with it, so I can't tell you how it works with that regard. (I take that back -- I play OpenRA, a port to Linux from 1998. That's smooth, if you care.) It's smooth, and worked with my setup perfectly. I recommend using the proprietary Nvidia drivers versus the open source ones, but that's a little 3 minute switch once you have the OS installed.
I cannot say enough great things about this case. The cable management, the documentation it comes with, the fans (it comes with two, which I replaced with fancy blue ones) -- everything is fantastic. You're probably thinking you can spend $40 less and get a nice case. You probably can. But this case... oh, it's worth the extra few bucks. Do it.
It's a power supply. The cables were easy to plug in and route. It's reasonably quiet. It came with zip ties -- very nice.
Wireless Network Adapter
It worked out of the box with Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS, for those of you going that route.
I can't state this with any scientific research behind it, but I'm pretty sure these fans increased my CPU speed by about 2,000%. Blue means faster. Everyone knows that.
Also, they're quiet.
It doesn't tilt. It doesn't have any mounts other than the base. The display quality is really nice, but I wish I would have gotten something with a tilting screen. I ended up putting it on a riser about 10 inches tall to get it at eye level. It works, but there are better ways to get a monitor at eye-level.
The keys have a nice clicky feel to them. I use this for coding, so I have to spend a ton of time on it, and it's... amazing. Honestly, it's up there in feel with many mechanical keyboards. The mouse has a nice feel in my hand, if a bit small. (I have really big hands because I'm a big guy. I have never really been able to find a large mouse, so if you're in the normal size range, you'll likely love this mouse.)