The Linux PC; Quick review ...

[smg align=right id=852]Ok, so I ended up building a PC based on the specs detailed in the Linux PC thread - turns out it works quite well.

  • ASUS M4A77TD/PRO Motherboard ~ £70
  • Coolermaster Scout case ~ £65
  • AMD Phenom II Black X2, 3.2G ~ £55
  • Arctic cooler CPU fan £14
  • 2 x Hitach 360Gb, £26 ea
  • NVIDIA Quadro FX380, dual head £80
  • 2 x 2Gb RAM that was lying around (est, £40)
  • PSU - used one that was lying around (est, £50)

Comes to around £430, then I stuck 2 x 23" widescreen monitors on it Samsung Syncmaster 2333 50000:1 for £130 ea.

Disk Performance

The Hitachi’s are cheap and nasty drives and report around 75Mb/sec in raw mode … but this is the live speed with a RAID10 software stripe …

# hdparm -tT /dev/mapper/linux-root

Timing cached reads: 7110 MB in 2.00 seconds = 3555.80 MB/sec
Timing buffered disk reads: 346 MB in 3.01 seconds = 114.85 MB/sec

CPU Performance

The CPU is a dual-core, but the motherboard as an “unleashing mode” and automatically unlocked two further cores, so I have a 4-core machine with each core at 3.2G (!)
Each core is reporting;

model : 4 model name : AMD Phenom(tm) II X4 B55 Processor stepping : 3 cpu MHz: 3200.000 cache size : 512 KB bogomips : 6400.46

Video Performance

In terms of graphics, I’m running two 23" screens at 1920x1080 and glcgears is coming back with 5000 frames per second. (25,000 frames in 5s)


  • Onboard 1G Nic - 100%.
  • Onboard HD Sound - 100%.
  • Power management - 100%.
  • Special flags required to boot - None.
  • Installation gotchas - None really … I think my PSU was a but “too” fancy and the CPU powerblock was an 8-socket affair rather than the 4-socket required by the motherboard … and the motherboard had a component directly next to the cpu power socket so hanging half the plug off the socket wouldn’t ‘fit’ physically. Problem solved with a hacksaw, simply removed half the plug.

I’m running Ubuntu 10.10 and be warned there are still a few issues kicking around, for a start I can’t run Xinerama across the two screens because of an NVIDIA bug that basically kills the performance. Load average is also higher than it should be, but not to the extent that it’s going to cause me any problems. (Still recommending 9.10 … I have a specific reason for running 10.10 and sustaining the associated pain …)

When hardware manufacturers lock capabilities on CPUs, it’s often because the capabilities they’ve disabled via software are broken, or have failed integrity tests!

this was very similar to what components i was looking at using to make my first pc. nice work

When hardware manufacturers lock capabilities on CPUs, it's often because the capabilities they've disabled via software are broken, or have failed integrity tests!


a. If they said “we’re only making X4’s now because it’s cheaper, so X2’s are locked X4’s” … how many units would they sell at the X4 price?
b. It’s been up with zero problems for 2 weeks … and I use the machine heavily … so I guess I can live with whatever the fault is …


its only a chance it will happen too, lots of people do it though, sometimes youll get only 3 working, i like the gamble though. amd rules!!! heard newer ones have more of a chance dunno how true that is though.

Ok, let’s put it this way, the new AMD board have two little switches on them, i.e. they’ve gone further than just adding “unleash mode” to the BIOS. These things are quite large and are accompanied by associated LED’s to show whether they’re turned on or not.

Switch A unlocks any spare cores - did nothing for my X6 unfortunately … :wink:

Switch B auto-tunes the overclocker and drives the memory and CPU up to what it thinks are the highest / safest levels it can. Didn’t pay much attention to the memory but my X6 is running at 3.8G per core (!)

I guess if they’re going to this much trouble, there must be something to it (!) :wink:

wow nice what are these new mobo’s? when i browsed the googlewebs only found rather old boards. there a way to look for these things? <---- noob

Ok, the board with standard “unleashing” as per the spec on this thread … the new board I’m using with the twin switches is a;

  • Asus M4A88TD-V EVO/USB3

Last one was £76.49 from Scan. (
(there is a mini-atx version which is ~ £68)

Here’s a link to the AsusTeK page for it:

You’re looking for the Hybid Switch section.

Nice looking board BTW, with good specs, and as it’s ASUS you can pretty much guarantee it will have quality components… ASUS are doing some nice boards quite cheaply lately… they have always been good, but last time I bought one they cost the earth.