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Thread: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

  1. #1
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    Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    Hello everyone, in a few short weeks I will (finally) be making my first attempt at using Linux. I've wanted to give it a shot for a long time, but to be honest I've always been a little intimidated. I've built a few computers in the past, but from the bit of research I've done I've noticed some things work better than others with Linux.

    I'm not looking as much for a specific build, though that would be very helpful, as I am general tips. Usually on this type of budget I'd consider using SLI or crossfire with some lower end cards to get better performance, but I'm not sure if that's how it works in Linux. Also I've seen some debates between ATI and Nvidia. I've always been an ATI fan myself, but from what I've read is Nvidia performs better, but ATI has open sourced drivers. Are there any big advantages to open sourced drivers that would make it worth using ATI and hoping they improve the drivers as time goes on?

    As for specific games I'm not super picky so I'll probably pick from whatever's available on Steam. The one exception would be World of Warcraft. I haven't fully decided if I will play it again, but if I do I'll have to use Wine for that. Though I read that Blizzard is working on a Linux port of one of there games, so hopefully it's WoW.

    Do AMD or Intel processors seem to handle gaming better on Linux?

    My last question would be does anyone have any general tips for someone using Linux for the first time?

    Thank you all in advance. I can't wait to get my computer built so I can finally check out Linux!

  2. #2
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    Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal

    Re: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    From my experience:

    It doesn't matter if it's an Intel or AMD CPU and/or Chipset. They both work fine on Linux. GPU support is terrible with AMD/ATI GPUs. Nvidia is the way to go if you want a stable system with full OpenGL support.

  3. #3
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    Re: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    Welcome to the forums.

    Not specific to gaming but you might want to look at the computer build link in my signature. It doesn't cover graphics really but you can use some of the ideas and work from that.

    My bottom line is: use a quality power supply. If it's a generic silver box you are looking for trouble. Spending some extra dough now is better than losing a lot more than that later if the silver box goes bang and takes out some or all components later (as they are known to).
    Last edited by Bucky Ball; February 8th, 2013 at 11:03 PM.

  4. #4
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    Re: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    A couple of weeks ago I was in almost the same boat. About to install linux for the first time, not so much for gaming but because I was more mithered being stuck in the windows 'box'. I've always worked with windows systems and trained in VB so I had a good insight of the structure of the OS as a whole, right down to its mannerisms and behaviour.

    I was petrified of Linux. Knew nothing about it. I'd heard rumours of these no GUI, command-line based OS's and didnt fancy that really, I didnt know enough about its syntax and filesystem, to get myself out of trouble if I got lost. I read around the net a bit though, and got an insight into its origins and had a flick around screenshots of the various distros with GUI's, until I found one which I liked, Zorin OS.

    Installed it on an aspire one via a USB key, just following simple instructions gathered from around the net. First impressions upon install are that it is very windows-like in appearance and setup. It seemed to run well on the netbook, recognising all the hardware without a fuss, and connecting to wireless straight away, no updates needed or fannying around with drivers, it just worked.

    Fast forward a week or so and I'm deciding how to run a small forum I want to set up. Choices are to use windows home server or ubuntu server. I'd heard horror stories about security loopholes in windows, and good things about how secure ubuntu is, so decided to take the plunge and do a bit of deep-end learning at the same time.

    I have to admit, I was reading stuff on the net in advance, about sudo this and config that, and all along I was thinking "jeez they make it hard for themselves editing everything through commands, I think I'll just use notepad"..... what a shock I was about to get

    So the next thing I'm stood there looking at this flashing cursor thinking "oh right.....now what"

    Since that moment, its been a long, hard, learning curve. If youre using it purely as an OS to run a gaming rig, I think you'll like it as its fairly quick and light, it doesnt have that 'resource-hungry' lag and stutter to its feel when moving around various windows and within the OS menus, but do some research in advance to see how it all fits together, get a heads up on installing and uninstalling, where to find the folders you'll use most, etc. If you've had no experience with linux at all, choose something like Zorin which is very windows-like in appearance so allows an easier transition. Compatibility wise I had no issues with finding software on the net, for example I'll always use VLC player for media files, so I looked on their website and sure enough theres a linux version for download. I'm still learning myself, though, and theres constantly times where I'll have to spend an hour on google just to follow abbreviations in one article

    Hope that helps
    Last edited by whitebakecase; February 8th, 2013 at 11:26 PM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bucky Ball View Post
    Welcome to the forums.

    Not specific to gaming but you might want to look at the computer build link in my signature. It doesn't cover graphics really but you can use some of the ideas and work from that.

    My bottom line is: use a quality power supply. If it's a generic silver box you are looking for trouble. Spending some extra dough now is better than losing a lot more than that later if the silver box goes bang and takes out some or all components later (as they are known to).
    Thank you for the response. I always go with a bigger PSU than I need to I don't have to worry about it too much. Do you have any experience using a SLI setup for a Linux computer? If so does it seem to perform well, or would I be better of just getting a single, higher speed card?

  6. #6
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    Re: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by whitebakecase View Post
    A couple of weeks ago I was in almost the same boat. About to install linux for the first time, not so much for gaming but because I was more mithered being stuck in the windows 'box'. I've always worked with windows systems and trained in VB so I had a good insight of the structure of the OS as a whole, right down to its mannerisms and behaviour.

    I was petrified of Linux. Knew nothing about it. I'd heard rumours of these no GUI, command-line based OS's and didnt fancy that really, I didnt know enough about its syntax and filesystem, to get myself out of trouble if I got lost. I read around the net a bit though, and got an insight into its origins and had a flick around screenshots of the various distros with GUI's, until I found one which I liked, Zorin OS.

    Installed it on an aspire one via a USB key, just following simple instructions gathered from around the net. First impressions upon install are that it is very windows-like in appearance and setup. It seemed to run well on the netbook, recognising all the hardware without a fuss, and connecting to wireless straight away, no updates needed or fannying around with drivers, it just worked.

    Fast forward a week or so and I'm deciding how to run a small forum I want to set up. Choices are to use windows home server or ubuntu server. I'd heard horror stories about security loopholes in windows, and good things about how secure ubuntu is, so decided to take the plunge and do a bit of deep-end learning at the same time.

    I have to admit, I was reading stuff on the net in advance, about sudo this and config that, and all along I was thinking "jeez they make it hard for themselves editing everything through commands, I think I'll just use notepad"..... what a shock I was about to get

    So the next thing I'm stood there looking at this flashing cursor thinking "oh right.....now what"

    Since that moment, its been a long, hard, learning curve. If youre using it purely as an OS to run a rig, I think you'll like it, but do some research in advance to see how it all fits together, get a heads up on installing and uninstalling, where to find the folders you'll use most, etc. If you've had no experience with linux at all, choose something like Zorin which is very windows-like in appearance so allows an easier transition.

    Hope that helps
    I'm in a similar position. I looked at Zorin OS, but it almost feels a little too much like Windows if you know what I mean. I'm trying to look for a balance between familiarity and something new. I've narrowed it down to either Ubuntu or Mint with the Cinnamon DE. If one seems to handle Steam a lot better that would pretty much decide it for me automatically though.

  7. #7
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    Re: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    Bigger is not better and not my point. If you are using a generic silver box doesn't matter what size it is; you still have something to worry about.

    Match the PSU to your requirements and don't use a generic silver box. Look for 85+ efficiency. A silver box generally runs at minus 70% efficient. Good if you are looking for some heat in winter.

  8. #8
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    Re: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bucky Ball View Post
    Bigger is not better and not my point. If you are using a generic silver box doesn't matter what size it is; you still have something to worry about.

    Match the PSU to your requirements and don't use a generic silver box. Look for 85+ efficiency. A silver box generally runs at minus 70% efficient. Good if you are looking for some heat in winter.
    Oh OK, I misinterpreted what you meant. I always try to go for 85+

  9. #9
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    Re: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMerithew View Post
    Oh OK, I misinterpreted what you meant. I always try to go for 85+
    Then you are probably already planning on using a decent PSU. Try this to match PSU size with your requirements:

    http://www.extreme.outervision.com/p...ulatorlite.jsp

  10. #10
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    Re: Advice for Building a Linux Gaming Computer?

    Nvidia GPU, definitely. ATI GPUs are total rubbish on Linux because ATI's drivers lack features. ATI also removes support for anything more than a couple of years old. You are probably safer with just one Nvidia card, not an SLI setup.

    As far as distros goes, "Windows-like" shouldn't be your main concern. The quality of the distros, the hardware support, how easy is it to install Nvidia drivers, how easy to use generally, how much software is in the repositories, whether there is a big community who can help you if you get stuck... that's the things that matter when choosing a first distro. Not "does it look like a Windows desktop". 'Cos it certainly wont work like one!

    Ubuntu is a good choice for all the factors I listed. You couldn't mistake it for Windows but it is pretty consistent and easy to use.
    I try to treat the cause, not the symptom. I avoid the terminal in instructions, unless it's easier or necessary. My instructions will work within the Ubuntu system, instead of breaking or subverting it. Those are the three guarantees to the helpee.

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