Over the past two years, I switched from Mac to Linux. I’ve also been breathing life into old computers with upgrades and Linux. With some projects coming up that need more computing power, I decided to build a desktop. After some research, advice from friends, posting questions on forums, and watching many YouTube videos, I built the courage to get started.
I didn’t have a budget, per se, but didn’t want to spend more than necessary. I decided to go with an eight core AMD CPU instead of Intel. A middle of the road GPU. A motherboard and power supply that will handle growth. All wrapped in a low-end case.
- AMD Ryzen 7 2700 CPU
- MSI x470 Gaming Plus Motherboard
- AMD Radeon RX 580 GPU
- Corsair 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz DDR4 DRAM
- 500MB m.2 SATA Drive
- ROSEWILL ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case
- Rosewill ARC Series 750W Power Supply
A pile of parts, where to begin? I had different advice on where to start. I put the CPU, heat sync, RAM, and m.2 on the motherboard first. I then attached the motherboard to the case. I then installed the GPU and plugged the case cables for the front panel buttons and ports into the motherboard. The last step, connect the power supply.
Due to inexperience, I made some minor mistakes and struggled through a few steps.
DDR4 RAM comes in different sizes, 260 pin SO-DIMM for laptops, and a larger 288 pin DIMM for desktops. I assumed the 32GB SO-DIMM I already had could be used in the new computer. I noticed the issue when unboxing the motherboard. I quickly sold the SO-DIMMS on eBay and purchased the proper RAM
When attaching the motherboard to the case, there was no mention in the instructions of ‘stand-off’ screws, which raise the motherboard off the side of the case. I tightened down the motherboard directly on the case without stand-offs. Recognizing a twisted motherboard is likely not correct, I found the answer with a Google search. Luckily, no damage was done. Stand-offs installed.
After checking and double-checking that everything was plugged in properly, the moment of truth arrived, pushing the button. The lights came on, the fans started spinning, but nothing appeared on the screen. I removed the GPU and plugged the screen into the onboard HDMI port. Again nothing. I feared that I didn’t install the CPU correctly. It turned out I plugged the CPU fan into power for the system fan, as you seen in the photo below.
The next step, install Linux. I then discovered the system did not recognize the m.2 500GB drive. Following recommendations from an MSI forum, I re-seated the m.2. No luck. I then updated the BIOS. As a rookie, I felt nervous about doing this step, but it was easy enough. No luck. I also reset the CMOS. No luck. Then I moved the m.2 to the second m.2 location, and it worked. This could be an issue with the motherboard, but is more likely an issue with my understanding of the configuration. I need to do more research on this.
My new desktop is up and running with Endevour OS. It runs great. With three case fans, power supply fan and CPU fan, I’m surprised at how quiet the computer is. I have a few tasks remaining.
- Cable management – cables are hanging everywhere inside the case, I need to organize them better.
- M.2 – Figure why the m.2 doesn’t work in the first m.2 slot.
- Fans – I need to understand where the fans power should be plugged into. The motherboard has spots for pump fans and system fans. I suspect there is a way to control fans for optimum use.
- Wireless and Bluetooth – I need to order a card for wireless and bluetooth.
This was a fun project and great learning experience.
Destination Linux – The Destination Linux Network is a great Linux resource. They have great podcasts and a supportive community.
Carey Holzman – Carey is a professional computer technician. His YouTube channel is a good resource for learning about computer builds and repairs.
My Friends – Tim and Nic have experience building computers and were supportive in answering my many questions.