I last upgraded my desktop machine in June 2011. This improved Firefox clobber build times from ~25 minutes to ~12 minutes, which was a huge productivity win. Since then, build times have crept back up to, yep, ~25 minutes. Time for a new machine.
I’m no hardware guru, so I’m asking for help. I’m a Linux desktop user, and my main goal is to make compilation of Firefox fast. I frequently build both Firefox and the JS shell, and it’s not unusual for me to have two (and occasionally three) builds running concurrently. I’d also like for the machine to be quiet, as it will sit on top of my desk, not far from where I sit.
I have a quote for a machine from a company called CPL, who I’ve bought from before. (Note that all prices on their website are in AUD.) I gave them partial guidance on components (based on some very helpful advice from Naveed Ihsanullah), and here’s what they came up with.
- CPU. The Intel i7-4770K. It is a 3.5 GHz CPU with 4 physical cores, 8 virtual cores, and an 8 MiB cache. This is the fastest of the new Haswell CPUs that CPL has and so seems like a good choice.
- Motherboard. ASUS Z87-C. Naveed said ASUS is a good brand.
- Memory. 32 GiB of Kingston 2133 MHz RAM. I currently have 16GiB, and while I don’t feel like that limits me at the moment, I might as well give myself some breathing room.
- Disk. Samsung 840 Pro Series 512 GB. Naveed recommended this specific model. I currently have a magnetic disk, so I’m hoping to see some big performance improvements here (both while compiling and when doing things like grepping through the whole tree). It’s interesting that this is easily the most expensive component; SSDs still ain’t cheap.
- Graphics card. I currently do very little graphics-intensive stuff, other than look at the occasional WebGL demo. Apparently the i7-4770K has a reasonably fast integrated graphics card, so I’m on the fence about whether I should get a separate graphics card. If so, I guess it would be good to know if the driver situation on Linux is a happy one.
- Case. The Zalman MS800 Plus ATX Mid Tower. This was entirely CPL’s suggestion, and I don’t much like the look of it. It’s tall — about 10cm taller than my current case — and it also has an air-vent on top, whereas my current case doesn’t and so I’m able to put a printer on top of it. On the plus side, it is pretty plain looking — no glowing lights or racing stripes — which I appreciate.
- Optical drive. A bog-standard Samsung DVD-RW drive. I think I have the exact same one in my current machine, and it works fine. I pretty much only use it to install OSes.
- Software. I use Ubuntu, and I want to install Windows 7 in a VM for the occasional times when I have some Windows-specific behaviour that I need to investigate. (My current machine dual boots between Linux and Windows, and having to reboot is an enormous hassle.) CPL has Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit — I’m pretty sure I don’t want to deal with Windows 8 — but they don’t sell VMWare so I’ll need to get that somewhere else.
Overall, I feel pretty good about everything except the graphics card and the case. Please let me know if you have any suggestions! Thanks.