Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

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martinch
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Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

Post by martinch »

Hi all,

My relatives have an old (Haswell) PC which has been happily running Mint Cinnamon 19.3. Unfortunately, it looks like the motherboard has just failed, as it's no longer POSTing (no beeps, just power-cycling - the PSU is fine) - doh. :(

I'm looking at getting a new CPU, motherboard, memory, and a larger SSD, and doing a fresh install of Mint 20.1 on it. I'm aware that Mint 20.1 Cinnamon comes with the 5.4 and 5.8 kernels, and that some of the hardware options available may be "too new" for those kernels, so I thought I'd run through the options I have available, and see if I'm likely to run into any issues...

Option 1: Intel
In terms of local availability, the only parts which seem to be readily available are Comet Lake CPUs and B560 motherboards (there is also a smaller selection of B460 motherboards) - earlier and later CPUs seem to be out of stock. With this in mind, I'd likely be looking at a Core i3-10100 (or similar) with a B560 motherboard. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, the UHD 630 GPU on the CPU die would require the 5.10 kernel, which means installing the Ubuntu OEM kernel (via the linux-image-oem-20.04b package). Whilst this in itself isn't an issue, I couldn't see if I'd likely have an issue with getting the Live "CD" to work so I could install the OS (I'm guessing not, but if I don't ask, I'm sure it will go wrong ;)). I suppose one way around this would be to get a cheap nVidia GT710 graphics card to bypass the integrated GPU issue..?

Option 2: AMD
Whilst my natural inclination would have been a Ryzen 3, they all appear to be out of stock, and the cheapest available option is a Ryzen 5 3600 and B550 motherboard. Whilst this does have the advantage of working with the 5.4/5.8 kernel (as far as I can see), it is "somewhat over-specified" (ahem) for the web browsing, e-mail, and letter-writing they'd use it for, and would require a graphics card as the CPU doesn't have a GPU built into it. It's also more expensive than the Intel option by about a third.

Do the above summaries look accurate? Or are there any other issues which are likely to crop up that I should be aware of?

Thanks :)

P.S. PC Part Picker lists representative of what I was considering:
Intel: https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/list/f2q2Dc
AMD: https://uk.pcpartpicker.com/list/vBDs7X
DPM
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Re: Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

Post by DPM »

martinch wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 1:09 pm
Do the above summaries look accurate?
For AMD, you could also shop a 3400G (with integrated graphics) as used part on Ebay and Asus B450-F Gaming or B450-F II Gaming as mobo, also as used parts. That will run with 5.4 Mint stock kernel. That would also provide some budget to buy proper 3000MHz RAM, and 2x8GB because 2x4GB is really low for a build in 2021, given how RAM hungry browsers have become.
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SMG
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Re: Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

Post by SMG »

martinch wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 1:09 pm
Option 1: Intel
In terms of local availability, the only parts which seem to be readily available are Comet Lake CPUs and B560 motherboards (there is also a smaller selection of B460 motherboards) - earlier and later CPUs seem to be out of stock. With this in mind, I'd likely be looking at a Core i3-10100 (or similar) with a B560 motherboard. Unfortunately, from what I've seen, the UHD 630 GPU on the CPU die would require the 5.10 kernel, which means installing the Ubuntu OEM kernel (via the linux-image-oem-20.04b package). Whilst this in itself isn't an issue, I couldn't see if I'd likely have an issue with getting the Live "CD" to work so I could install the OS (I'm guessing not, but if I don't ask, I'm sure it will go wrong ;)).
What others have been doing is booting in Compatibility Mode to install. Then, after installation, booting into Recovery Mode to install the 5.10-oem kernel.
martinch wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 1:09 pm
Option 2: AMD
Whilst my natural inclination would have been a Ryzen 3, they all appear to be out of stock, and the cheapest available option is a Ryzen 5 3600 and B550 motherboard. Whilst this does have the advantage of working with the 5.4/5.8 kernel
I'd recommend the 5.8 kernel for a 3rd gen Ryzen. Quite a few people with issues saw the issue resolve once they updated to the 5.8 kernel.
A woman typing on a laptop with LM20.1 Cinnamon.
martinch
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Re: Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

Post by martinch »

Thanks for the answers - very helpful! :)

I'll post back/mark as solved once I have decided on the parts and got it assembled :)
DPM wrote:
Tue May 04, 2021 1:33 pm
...buy proper 3000MHz RAM, and 2x8GB because 2x4GB is really low for a build in 2021, given how RAM hungry browsers have become.
To be honest, I only picked 2666MHz because it wasn't marked "(OC)" on the motherboard spec sheets - costs are within pence of each other. Whilst I've seen Chrome eat 6GB of RAM on my work PC(!), I don't think my relatives ever went beyond 4GB of RAM used in total on their current PC (a Core i3-4330 with 8GB DDR3). Still, it's something I'll have a further look at. :)
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Re: Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

Post by DPM »

martinch wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 2:24 pm
To be honest, I only picked 2666MHz because it wasn't marked "(OC)" on the motherboard spec sheets - costs are within pence of each other.
Yes, but what this refers to is that the norm voltage for DDDR4 RAM is 1.2V, and these RAM modules need around 1.35V for that speed. So technically, this is OC because it's beyond the norm. But on the other hand, the RAM manufacturers produce and test the RAM for that voltage and speed so that from that point of view, it isn't OC. It's not like OC'ing a CPU beyond what the manufacturer claims as speed.
Still, it's something I'll have a further look at. :)
I also recommend using 2x8GB and not 4x4GB because a lot of mobos struggle with getting the full RAM speed and four bars. It's also bad to buy only 1x16GB because the CPU is faster when it can access two identical RAM bars.
martinch
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Re: Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

Post by martinch »

Apologies for the delay in coming back, but it took a while to source the components, and then the forums were having a lie down at the weekend. :(

Due to local availability and pricing, I ended up getting a Core i5-11400, and ASUS B560M-A. Whilst there's a good argument that the i5-11400 is over-specified, it was cheaper than an i5-10400, and marginally more than a Core i3, so it seemed silly not to. :)

In terms of getting Mint Cinnamon 20.1 up and running, all I had to do was:
  1. Install Linux Mint 20.1 Cinnamon Edge from a USB stick. N.B. The non-Edge distribution didn't know what to do with the Intel I219-V NIC on the motherboard.
  2. Apply listed updates & reboot
  3. Install the 5.10 OEM kernel (linux-image-oem-20.04b) using the Software Manager.
  4. Reboot
No nasty trickery or resorting to the terminal was required. :) Oddly, installing the 5.10 kernel did cause the CPU fan to hit 100% - considerably more than the other patches (which included an update to the 5.8 kernel).

The only "gotcha" I came across was the behaviour of the second HDMI port on the motherboard:
  • With a lead plugged into HDMI port #1 and running the 5.10 kernel, it outputs to the display at the correct resolution (2560x1440 - native resolution on a Dell U2515H)
  • With a lead plugged into HDMI port #2 and running the 5.8 kernel, it outputs to the display at the correct resolution (2560x1440)
  • With a lead plugged into HDMI port #2 and running the 5.10 kernel, it outputs to the display at the wrong resolution (2048x1152), with the native resolution of the monitor not in the list of options.
Given that the output from port #1 is correct under the 5.10 kernel, and port #2 works fine under the 5.8 kernel (albeit with software rendering), I'm assuming it's an odd driver issue. I'm not overly bothered by it at the moment, but can post the output of inxi if anyone wants..? (I haven't, as it'd make this post huge...)
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SMG
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Re: Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

Post by SMG »

martinch wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 11:32 am
The only "gotcha" I came across was the behaviour of the second HDMI port on the motherboard:
  • With a lead plugged into HDMI port #1 and running the 5.10 kernel, it outputs to the display at the correct resolution (2560x1440 - native resolution on a Dell U2515H)
  • With a lead plugged into HDMI port #2 and running the 5.8 kernel, it outputs to the display at the correct resolution (2560x1440)
  • With a lead plugged into HDMI port #2 and running the 5.10 kernel, it outputs to the display at the wrong resolution (2048x1152), with the native resolution of the monitor not in the list of options.
Given that the output from port #1 is correct under the 5.10 kernel, and port #2 works fine under the 5.8 kernel (albeit with software rendering),
Software rendering does not use the same display driver as hardware rendering does.

Make sure BOTH ends of the video cable are tightly secured. I helped on a thread where we went through all types of logs and tests only for the OP to discover one end of the cable had been bumped and only moved a teeny tiny bit and that was enough to produce a problem. In that situation, software rendering produced a display, but hardware rendering did not.
A woman typing on a laptop with LM20.1 Cinnamon.
martinch
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Re: Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

Post by martinch »

SMG wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 12:17 pm
Software rendering does not use the same display driver as hardware rendering does.
Indeed - I was aware hardware rendering used the i915 driver, and software llvmpipe, which is why I assumed it was a driver issue rather than hardware.
SMG wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 12:17 pm
Make sure BOTH ends of the video cable are tightly secured.
I'm pretty sure it was plugged in all the way (<complains about lack of DisplayPort-type latches on HDMI leads>), but I'll check (it may take me a while).
SMG wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 12:17 pm
one end of the cable had been bumped and only moved a teeny tiny bit and that was enough to produce a problem. In that situation, software rendering produced a display, but hardware rendering did not.
Well that is just weird! :D
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Re: Building A New PC & Looking To Avoid "Too New Hardware" Issues

Post by SMG »

martinch wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 1:13 pm
SMG wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 12:17 pm
Software rendering does not use the same display driver as hardware rendering does.
Indeed - I was aware hardware rendering used the i915 driver, and software llvmpipe, which is why I assumed it was a driver issue rather than hardware.
The i915 driver is the graphics device driver. Its display driver is modesetting, and the renderer will have something with Intel in the name.

When you are running software rendering mode, the graphics device driver is N/A and I suspect you would have fbdev (instead of modesetting) loaded as a display driver. The renderer would be llvmpipe.
martinch wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 1:13 pm
SMG wrote:
Tue May 18, 2021 12:17 pm
one end of the cable had been bumped and only moved a teeny tiny bit and that was enough to produce a problem. In that situation, software rendering produced a display, but hardware rendering did not.
Well that is just weird! :D
Hardware rendering has more capabilities than software rendering. That means a lot more data has to pass back and forth along the cable. If not all of the pins are secured, then some of that data may not be able to move like you would want it to move. You may get enough data to pass through to get an image, but not to get the full capabilities of the monitor.
A woman typing on a laptop with LM20.1 Cinnamon.
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