How to build a powerful Linux gaming machine
Linux has been around for several decades now, but I have to admit that it was quite difficult to set it up, optimize it and even use it, at least until a few years ago. Fortunately, user friendly distributions such as Ubuntu have made it easy for everyone to discover, and then get in love with the Linux OS.
The number of high quality Linux games has increased as well. More and more companies are releasing the code and resources for some of their best titles, and many teams of open source programmers use them as a base, taking those projects to a new level.
I am talking about games like Jedi Outcast, for example, who have consistently gotten review scores of 90% or more, and can now be played on the Linux O.S. as well. Not only that, but Steam is now selling quite a few Linux games. So yeah, we are living in an era when building a new, Linux-based gaming machine is a great idea!
Everything starts with the CPU. If your budget allows for it, go for a modern Intel Core processor. It's the best solution, because it provides a lot of gaming power, and it doesn't draw a lot of energy from the power supply. This translates to lower PSU costs, less heat and less noise.
Another key element is the video card. Cryptocurrency mining has inflated the GPU costs a lot, but now that the bitcoin bubble is about to burst, we should (hopefully) be able to purchase good cards at reasonable prices once again.
But should you purchase a GTX, or a Radeon card? That is a difficult question indeed, because both types of video cards work great. It all boils down to the available budget, because both manufacturers provide similar levels of graphics power for similar acquisition prices. So, talk with your friends and choose between NVIDIA (higher speeds at the moment) or AMD (the new open source driver has a lot of potential).
What about storage? Well, we are trying to build a gaming machine here, so using SSDs would be the best option. By using a solid-state drive, loading times will be virtually zero. Okay, you may need to wait a few seconds to load a huge level, but trust me: if you use an SSD, loading times will be up to 10 times smaller.
The main problem is the SSD price, of course. And yet, I feel that almost everyone can make the effort to purchase a 512 GB SSD. Split that into 100 GB (OS, applications) + 400 GB (active games) partitions, and then add another standard 2 TB disk to the system. That should be enough for most people's needs.
The "active games" partition is the space where you will install the games that you are currently playing, get it? This way, you can store plenty of game kits on the 2TB drive, and move them to the SSD partition whenever you feel like playing them. You would install Ubuntu on the first, smaller sized SSD partition, of course.
Choose 16 GB of RAM memory, if you can. And no matter what happens, don't go below 8 GB. It's best to purchase a CPU that runs at a slightly lower frequency, rather than build a computer that barely crawls, because you've only fitted a 4 GB memory stick onto its motherboard.
Now that you've got all the key hardware components in place, it's time to install your favorite Linux distribution. For me it's Ubuntu, because it offers plenty of configuration options for power users, while having a nice, user friendly interface that will attract beginners.
The installation process should be pretty straightforward no matter what distro you choose, though. Generally, you will download the ISO file, burn it on a blank DVD or copy it to a memory stick, and then start the installation process, which usually takes from 15 to 60 minutes. Don't forget to partition your hard drives(s) according to your needs.
Once that the OS installation is done, you may need to install the most recent video and sound card drivers. If you choose Ubuntu, I guarantee that the entire process will run smoothly; the distribution will download the drivers for you straight from the manufacturers' websites.
It may have been a long ride, but you are now the happy owner of a powerful Linux gaming machine. Don't forget to download the games I'm recommending on this site; they are truly the best ones that I could find for this operating system!