Jan-Lukas Else

Thoughts of an IT expert

My new PC: ASRock DeskMini A300 + AMD Ryzen + Fedora Silverblue

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⚠️ This entry is already over one year old. It may no longer be up to date. Opinions may have changed. When I wrote this post, I was only 20 years old!

It’s the first time I actually bought a brand new PC, or better say parts for a new PC. I had to assemble them myself. Until now I only had PCs or laptops with a maximum of 8 GB RAM and no fast CPU. All devices where also refurbished or second hand devices, because I didn’t want to spend so much money on new hardware. And I couldn’t upgrade them more because they were already maxed out.

But everyone who tried running VMs on a 5 year old Intel Core i5 or even older Intel Celeron knows, it’s a pain. I like trying new Linux distributions. And because I’m also a developer I need to compile things from time to time or start virtual test machines to test things. It’s possible on my old hardware, but it isn’t really comfortable.

That’s why I decided I needed some new hardware.

Originally I was looking for a laptop. A laptop has the advantage that you only need one device and you can take it everywhere. Unfortunately a laptop is much more expensive than a desktop PC. With my desired hardware configuration prices start at around 1000€. Maybe not much for someone who uses Apple products, but definitely a lot for my budget. Either I had to save longer or go with a cheaper option. If I would get a better desktop PC, my current laptop (a refurbished ThinkPad Yoga S1) will still be enough for things I need to do on the go.

I researched a lot and found out that AMD processors are nowadays as good as or even better than Intel’s. And after Spectre and Meltdown it also seems they are probably saver too. Usually you get more for your money with processors from AMD. So that made my decision about using an AMD processor. And if you use Linux like I do, I heard AMD support in Linux is excellent too.

My old desktop PC was quite a huge one. It was placed on my desk. It never really bothered me, but thinking about replacing it with a smaller one was a nice idea. So I was curious every time I read something about Mini-PCs. That way I read about the ASRock DeskMini A300 a few months ago after it was available in Germany. I don’t have any idea about these terms, but it’s a 2-liter-barebone using the Mini-STX form factor and providing an AMD AM4 socket. More info about it here.

It’s really small and saves a lot of space on my desk. I like minimalism and free desk space is nice. (Although it often gets cluttered, I need to tidy up more often.)

Around a week ago I decided to finally order (as a reward to myself for successfully finishing the study semester 😅) that barebone including the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G and 16 GB of memory (it’s actually notebook RAM, because of the small form factor). I didn’t need to order an SSD, because I was able to reuse the one I ordered not long ago for my old desktop PC. Everything was not much more than 300€. I still can’t believe that it’s possible to get such a nice system for that price. Assembling the parts wasn’t difficult too after watching a video tutorial, although I don’t like hardware assembly that much and am scared about accidentally breaking things.

Another point that probably saved me some money is the not-pre-installed Windows. PC manufacturers have to pay money to Microsoft for any installation so systems without Windows pre-installed are usually cheaper. And I wouldn’t use Windows anyway because I’m a passionate Linux user.

Speaking of Linux, I decided to go with Fedora Silverblue. I already tried Silverblue on an old and slow laptop and although the performance on that laptop is pure madness, Silverblue looked quite solid. I really like the idea behind Silverblue of having an immutable system and instead of installing packages directly on the system (and sometimes breaking things), running almost anything in Flatpaks or containers. Silverblue uses OSTree and always ensures that when an update somehow breaks your system, you can just rollback to an older version. And so far using it is awesome. You need to get used to it, but once you get to know it’s strength and know how to do things, it’s easy to use. And whenever you have some question, you can just ask in the forum.

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Jan-Lukas Else
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