I am currently working on an Ansible project, which besides the configuration managemt, should automate the migration of an old system to a new hardware. My test environment is a Fedora system with many Linux KVM based virtual boxes. In order to develop and test the ansible scripts, I need a quick way to mass create a big number of virtual machines, run ansible on them and destroy them afterwards.
After some research, I have found out that Vagrant Multi-Machine configuration with libvirt provider (KVM) is what I am looking for.
I am big fan of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Rijksstudio is an online platform and gives you and access to more that 650000 art works from the museum’s collection. The works are public domain and everyone with an account can share, download, edit, etc them. My collection @ Rijksstudion.
Today I have decided to close my Facebook account. I have created it back in 2010, but have never been fully comfortable with it. In the last 2-3 years, since my daughter was born, I wasn’t even a regular user, but whenever I would feel bored and had my phone around, I would open the Facebook App.
I have been online since the late 90s and the time of IRC. I understand that technology evolves, but still I don’t like what Facebook turned our society into. Sometimes I feel just sick after I login into and spent some time on Facebook. Facebook plays with my thoughts, feelings, fears.
Last year’s Facebook privacy scandals, Cambridge Analytica, Mark Zuckerberg’s empty promises led me to the decision to close my account. I even downloaded all my data, but still have to go through it.
I don’t trust Facebook, that they actually will delete my account. Funny.
It has been some years since I’ve last built my own PC and since then I have been spoiled by the convenience and mobility that laptops give. I am also a passionate hobby photographer and I use Adobe Lightroom quite extensively. My old laptop couldn’t quite keep up with a demanding application like Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop and a big catalog of close to 100 000 RAW photos. I was also annoyed with the noise my laptop’s CPU fan was producing.
I started researching the cost for an upgrade and figured out that I will have to pay premium price for the type of computing power that I wanted (approx. 2000 euro) if I am to buy a laptop.
Some 8 years ago, I was working on a video on demand Linux project using VIA EPIA mini-ITX boards. I decided to check how far the mini-ITX boards has come since then and found out that building a small form factor, quiet, powerful system is possible at much lower cost.
It turned out it is possible to have a powerful desktop CPU like i5 or i7 in a relatively small form factor box which can be even passively cooled, meaning there would be no noise produced by rotating fans.
The first thing I’ve selected was the CPU – I went for Intel Core i7-6700. My criteria – I want the latest, reasonably priced, no overclocking, so that it can be cooled relatively easy and the system can stay silent.
The motherboard is important and central component since it connects all components. It has to be solid and usually trying to save on it, can cost more later. I’ve chosen Gigabyte GA-Z170N-WIFI miniITX board based on the Z170 chipset. It is reasonably priced, from a manufacturer with good reputation and has support for the 6th generation Intel Core Processors and on-board WiFi.
Here are some of the specs:
Dual Channel DDR4, 2 DIMMs
Intel® USB 3.0 with USB Type-C™ – the world’s next Universal connector
11ac 867 Mbps dual band wireless connection + BLUETOOTH 4.2
PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 Connector with up to 32Gb/s Data Transfer (PCIe NVMe & SATA SSD support)
2 SATA Express Connectors for up to 16Gb/s Data Transfer
115dB SNR HD Audio with Built-in Rear Audio Amplifier
High Quality Audio Capacitors and Audio Noise Guard with LED Trace Path Lighting
2x Ethernet ports
GIGABYTE UEFI DualBIOS™ Technology
A word of caution – be careful with those tiny delicate cpu pins.
The CPU cooler
My main consideration about the CPU cooler was that it must be dead silent and of course cool down the i7-6700 CPU. For some time I was thinking to use a fanless cooler, but decided to play it safe. I also did some research into water cooling solutions, but decided not to go into this direction.
I’ve picked up Noctua NH D9L – a dual tower CPU cooler. Excellent design, solid build, super easy to mount thanks to the SecuFirm2™ multi-socket mounting system. The only problem I’ve had was figuring out how much thermal compound is just enough.
There are many different designs of PC cases for miniITX boards to choose from and indeed, I spent the most time trying to select this component.
My main considerations:
should not occupy too much space on my desk
should be wide enough, to accommodate CPU heatsink big enough, to allow me to use a low-noise, low RPM fan
power supply should be positioned above the motherboard in order not to block access to it
enough space to mount a hard disk or two
My choice – Jonsbo U2 Black – a solid, beautiful, black anodized alumium case.
I am building a fast PC, right? So I need fast storage. HDD is out of question and my logical choice was to go for SSD – I felt like the Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500Gb should give me enough performance over my old 5400 RPM laptop drive. Well, the first time you boot the OS on a SSD it feels lightning fast. Of course, after some time, you get used to it. Anyway, the Samsung 850 EVO did not dissapoint.
RAM is important for the system performance and cheap nowadays . So I took plenty.
dB(A) at 20% load – 10.7db
dB(A) at 50% load – 11.2db
dB(A) at 100% load – 15.4db
The power supply is rated for 400W (450W peak power) which is more than enough for this build. I used an online power supply calculator to calculate the estimated consumption (~115W in this case).
The final build
Thanks to the cable management feature of the power supply, I was able to get rid of many unused cables. The result is that the access to the motherboard is not blocked and air circulation is not obstructed. There is enough space for additional storage disk and even for a graphic card.
The total cost for the system is 803.06 EUR. Here is a breakdown of the costs per component.