Advice needed on new PC [solved]

Hello Folks,

My ancient self-build is on it’s last legs so I need a new computer. I’m thinking of a small form factor. I don’t mind whether I put it together myself or just buy it.

Obviously it needs to run Linux (Xubuntu).

I’m not a gamer, and I’d like to keep it to a reasonable price (£500 - £600 if possible, although I’m a bit out of touch with hardware prices these days. I can go higher if necessary).

Any suggestions please?

Hi Mike - I did the same thing last year and got my stuff from here -

They’ve a good reputation and don’t, in my experience, try to push you into buying stuff you don’t need while still giving advice on compatibility etc. After a bit of research into the merits of various kit, I put together a wish list on their website and got a build quote for around £650. I decided to build myself and got all the bits for about £350, so a significant saving. Scan also do a nifty insurance - from memory is was £10 for 1 month and covered everything against failure - including anything you break yourself! Well worth having in my case as this was my first self-build! My rig runs a 500GB SSD with 8GB RAM with Mint Mate 19.1 O/S and is blisteringly fast - only 22 seconds from switch-on to login screen so there would be no worries about running Linux! Obviously, costs would depend on what kit you choose…

NB: I have no connection to Scan whatsoever other than a satisfied customer.

Hope this helps,


Hi Mike, this is a little out of date now, but if it helps;

I’ve since upgraded my main machine using the same spec but with 32G RAM and a different storage module;

The difference is the kingston unit does around 500Mb/sec read+write, however this one does 2G/sec read and 1G/sec write.
(which I find shocking for £50)

I would also echo Rich re;, I’ve used them many (many) times over the years and have been very happy with the service. Once caveat tho’, I don’t tend to make use of their damage / return option, so at the moment I’m using Amazon … prices tend to be a little cheaper and with prime typically delivery is free.

(I think it should be possible to build a complete machine with this spec including PSU and case for under 600…)


My 2005 home-made computer died last Christmas and I got a new one from CCL of Bradford:

They did me a basic business-type box for £250 including delivery! AMD A6, 4 GB RAM, 120 GB SSD, DVD drive — just what I’d have built, save that I wouldn’t have bothered with the optical drive.

Hi David, that’s a fantastic price and if it does the job for you that sounds like a great solution, and I would agree about optical drives, I tend not to bother these days.

Just be aware that specification “might” be a little under-powered for heavier Linux desktops …
Just looking at their website, it would seem they also offer the machines with Windows installed, although it looks like they charge an extra £100 for the Windows version … :slight_smile:

Thanks folks. I’ll look into your suggestions.

Rich, can you please tell me which motherboard and processor you bought?

If I understand correctly, that combination dictates whether Linux will run or not…


Mobo - Gigabyte H310M S2V 2.0
RAM - 8GiB (2x4) DIMM DDR4 64bits (from memory I think Crucial)
CPU - Intel Core i3-8100 (Coffee Lake?)
SSD - Crucial MX500
and I put in the DVD writer from my old rig - not really necessary these days but I’m old school…!

Running Linux Mint 19.1 Mate OS which has more stuff built-in than I will ever use but is stable and very fast - boots to login in 22 seconds.

IIRC, Scan’s website will only show compatible components once you make your selection of motherboard.

Not the most exciting set-up but more than adequate for my needs, which are pretty basic, everyday computing and a good balance re: costs.

I believe that most Linux OS’s will run on pretty much any combination these days but it’s always worth a 'net search beforehand, just to be sure. :wink:


As a very general rule of thumb, if a machine will run Windows these days, typically it will run Linux. The issue tends to be more with device drivers for chips and features that might be specific to the board in question. So for example if the motherboard has an exotic graphics chip built-in, or a USB Raid controller, or something that might be termed “non standard” for which the board manufacturer includes a “windows driver”, then there is a chance that either there is no equivalent Linux driver available or that the the Linux driver won’t be maybe as well tested as one might like. However the end result it usually that the ‘additional feature’ provided isn’t available under Linux, rather than the board not running Linux. Same applies to hard drives, newer drives are sometimes apparently not supported by Linux SMART, so “smartd” can’t always read SMART information from a drive and hence report running time, bad sectors etc. In this instance it’s generally because nobody has entered the specification for this drive into the Linux SMART database yet … as with missing drivers, often something corrected over time as manufacturers reaslise they’ve overlooked Linux users again … and in the meantime, unless it develops a fault, the drive with work quite happily without SMART support.

Thanks both.

By the way, I’m wondering whether the latest Raspberry Pi might fit the bill. Any thoughts?


Mmm, I looked at this too, once you add a case etc you can get what looks like a pretty good machine for about £100 or so. However, looking at some of the UTube presentations it doesn’t look like the graphics processors are quite up to the task re; video playback … so maybe ok for a mail reader / web browser, but I might be a little hesitant to recommend it as a media player … and of course it’s ARM rather than x86, so access to software won’t always be as easy …

True. I have my doubts too.

Though at that price I might get one just to play around with…

Nice, cheap, very small, backup machine. And lots of thought provoking ideas.

I’ve been looking into the Raspberry Pi 4 B and it now supports two 4k monitors.

Which model were you talking about Mad Penguin?

Xubuntu can be installed too, so would an ARM processor be such a disadvantage? I suppose it probably would…

But for a vanilla desktop computer… what a bargain! And Raspbian is a derivatave of Debian, so one more Linux box in the world.

Yeah, I was looking at the latest B, which from memory an an ARM (Cortex 8-core?) with 8G Ram, two x mini HDMI 4k, Gb ethernet etc.

The issue with software is that you can only run software that’s both compiled for and compatible with ARM processors. Typically if it’s not an Ubuntu supported package, getting hold of it may be problematic. If you only ever install stuff from the store, and what you want it in the store, it’s not an issue. There are some UTube video’s of people building systems from this spec and how they find the resulting system - some are quite interesting to watch …

You aren’t restricted to Ubuntu for ARM — after all, they get their software from Debian. ARM is also supported by OpenSUSE, Mageia, Fedora, Slackware, Sabayon, etc.

Mmm, absolutely, however you will find that if you look at software downloads from other vendors, they will typically offer an x86 version as a .deb or .rpm, however are less likely to offer a download for other architectures such as ARM. Case in point, I’ve just been evaluating Mailspring (yet again!), download page is here; Mailspring - The best free email app , options include Windows, Mac, and Linux as a 64bit x86 .deb, .rpm or snap.

Hello folks,

Here’s a link to my Ebuyer wishlist of components for the new PC.

I’d really appreciate any thoughts on compatibility and whether it should support Linux. I assume it would, since it’s the same chipset as the board Rich suggested (Ebuyer hasn’t got that one).

Most of the components seem to be oriented towards gaming, which I don’t do, but the extra grunt wouldn’t go amiss, especially as the whole lot comes in at £284.59 - less than half what I was thinking!

I’ll reuse my case and PSU…

Looks ok to me! :wink:

Looks ok, two thoughts;

  • You’ll get more power for a similar price from an AMD Ryzen
    • The board only looks to have two DIMM slots, which limits your memory upgrade paths, I tend to go for boards with 4 slots, use two dimm’s initially, giving me the option to double down in future without scrapping the existing modules. 8G is “ok”, but if you move into virtual machines etc, you will so wish you had more … :wink:

Thanks both.

I could install two 8GB modules, but I’m already running Virtualbox in a 4GB machine without using swap. I suppose the extra cost would provide a bit of future-proofing, but I’m never likely to get into gaming. Well, not the first person shooter kind. VR seems to be getting quite interesting. Would 16GB be enough for that?

And if I go the AMD route I’ll have to spend time identifying a chipset that works with linux and a board which has an M.2 slot…

Yeah, I use an XBox for gaming :slight_smile: … for Virtualbox (I actually use KVM, but same principle) you can never get too much RAM, but yes, 16Gb is good. In terms of AMD, you’ll find my working spec in this thread;;topicseen#msg111881

I’m actually running with 2 x 16G DIMM’s with two empty slots …