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    I have a 2020 Thelio desktop (AMD; thelio-r2 running GNU/Linux). It isn’t terrible, it’s reasonably quiet, it’s a reasonable size, so far customer support has been great, and i’d buy a Thelio again. But i have three complaints:

    • it doesn’t have any front USB ports
    • insufficient cooling. I wonder why they didn’t just put an additional fan in the side of the case?
      • it can’t handle the preinstalled Ryzen 9 3900X graphics card that i purchased with it; when under heavy load for about 20 minutes (for example, when playing a game), heat builds up and causes the rest of the system to shut down. I have to throttle the graphics card by about 30% to prevent this, at which point it’s not that great, and one of the supposed attractions of a desktop over a laptop was a great graphics card. I was hoping that if i bought a prebuilt desktop rather than building one myself, i would avoid this sort of problem.
      • my preinstalled internal NVMe SSD drive (Sabrent Rocket) crashed in 2022. I noticed it’s mounted right under the GPU, so given the problems with failing to dissipate the heat from the graphics card, i suspect this got too hot over time too.
      • this is ironic because System76 has a blog post about their careful optimization of airflow for cooling in the Thelios; also because they seem to care about the aesthetics of the case (which i don’t care about, but i do care about cooling)
    • it crashes from time to time (the system freezes and the fan starts running at full speed; probably not their fault; but my previous computers (laptops running GNU/Linux) didn’t have this problem – therefore I suspect it’s some problem with the GNU/Linux drivers for the AMD GPU)

    Any suggestions for my next desktop? I’d like something comparable to the Thelio in terms of power and size and quietness, but with some front USB ports, and a high end graphics card that can run at full power, and a minimum of fuss (ie “it just works”, eg sufficient cooling so that it doesn’t ever overheat and shut down, and my hard drive doesn’t crash after two years). I’d prefer pre-built but i’m willing to build it myself; with the 2020 Thelio i went pre-built because i figured if i did it myself i’d screw it up and buy some component that doesn’t work well with GNU/Linux, or put the thermal paste in the wrong place, or not provide enough cooling, or something. But since I didn’t achieve “it just works” with pre-built anyways, maybe i should just build it myself?

    Come to think of it, i should just ask System76 support if it would be feasible for me to replace the case on my 2020 Thelio with an aftermarket case with a side hole for a fan, and front-facing USB ports.

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      insufficient cooling. I wonder why they didn’t just put an additional fan in the side of the case?

      it can’t handle the preinstalled Ryzen 9 3900X graphics card that i purchased with it; when under heavy load for about 20 minutes (for example, when playing a game), heat builds up and causes the rest of the system to shut down. I have to throttle the graphics card by about 30% to prevent this, at which point it’s not that great, and one of the supposed attractions of a desktop over a laptop was a great graphics card. I was hoping that if i bought a prebuilt desktop rather than building one myself, i would avoid this sort of problem.

      I’m having this exact same problem and have since I bought the unit. This is SUPER sad since I otherwise love the machine but what the hell is the point of buying a monster desktop that you can’t even push to anything like its full potential.

      I kinda gave up gaming on the beast because running No Man’s Sky at anything but low detail/res settings causese the case to get BLAZING hot to the touch, and then the system shuts down.

      And now I’m stuck for at least another 5-6 years because my desktop budget needs to refill :)

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        If I’m buying a desktop in 2022, I’d probably go for off-lease business desktop if I didn’t care much about graphics (as most are SFF). They’re very thick on the ground, fast, cheap, and low-trouble. Whitebox is very tempting, but I’ve had so many miserable and hard-to-debug issues with them.

        Of course, desktop Macs also put a wrench into things value wise. Next time it comes down to upgrade, I’m considering a Mac.

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          I’m sad to hear this. I bought two of their laptops (over the years) and both have been extremely strange and unreliable beasts, but I was hoping this could be chalked up to their reluctance to design the laptops themselves. (Apparently they are re-branded imports.) Given the freedom of designing a whole desktop PC from components, they should have been able to do a much better job.

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            my preinstalled internal NVMe SSD drive (Sabrent Rocket) crashed in 2022. I noticed it’s mounted right under the GPU, so given the problems with failing to dissipate the heat from the graphics card, i suspect this got too hot over time too.

            This is an annoying anti-pattern common in many motherboards I’m afraid. I believe it’s because NVMe connects directly to the PCIe bus, and so the slot for it tends to take the space that would otherwise be occupied by a PCIe card. A double-width GPU in an adjacent slot will then happily sit right over it. It worked just fine a few years ago, but NVMe drives and GPU’s both now tend to run hotter than they used to.

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              it crashes from time to time (the system freezes and the fan starts running at full speed; probably not their fault; but my previous computers (laptops running GNU/Linux) didn’t have this problem – therefore I suspect it’s some problem with the GNU/Linux drivers for the AMD GPU)

              Oh my god. I have this exact problem for the entire lifetime of my AMD card. It’s not a Linux problem, I’ve hit (and can deterministically reproduce) this problem on Windows too. The only thing that kinda worked was tuning the fan curves really aggressively to the point that the fans spin up at the slightest 3d rendering. I’ve tried a lot of stuff up to re-pasting the card and nothing helped.

              Not buying an AMD card again.

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                What card, out of curiosity? Would be nice to have something to avoid.

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                  An RX590

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                A good method of guessing how probable cooling problems are with a given computer is look at how much ventilation the case has. Small windows and/or grilles in corners? Trouble. This is just a fact and all case manufacturers create cases like this for some reason. For example, I love the aesthetics of Fractal Design Define cases, but they run hotter and louder than their Meshify cases that have a full mesh front panel.

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                  I think the best move is to use a customizable gaming-focused company like iBuyPower, where you can pretty much spec out whatever you want and they put it together for you, to have them source roughly the same hardware as System76 uses and put it in a chassis with better air vents + fans + front ports; then you install Pop!_OS (System76’s distro, and coincidentally by far my favorite consumer-focused Linux distribution!) on it yourself when the fully built rig arrives in the mail.

                  As long as the underlying CPU/GPU combination is the same, and you’re using a motherboard that has compatible WiFi and Bluetooth, I think you’ll end up with very similar Linux/Pop!_OS compatibility, but better thermals, performance, and longevity. System76 seems to optimize for having an aesthetically-pleasing chassis over thermals, and if you don’t care about the former (or enjoy gaming-style aesthetics, where thermals are an important design consideration) you can get a lot better of the latter. You can probably even control any RGB lighting you’ve had them set up for you, if you’re into that sort of thing, via OpenRGB!

                  One thing I’d stress though: specifically for the motherboard, make sure you’re checking for Ubuntu compat, not “Linux.” WiFi/Bluetooth drivers ship in the kernel, so while the latest kernel may have support for the drivers, that kernel may not yet be used in the latest version of Ubuntu/Pop!_OS. Since Ubuntu is extremely common amongst Linux distros, checking for Ubuntu compat should be fairly easy via Google, and if it’s Ubuntu-compatible it should be Pop-compatible since they use the same kernel.

                  And by using something like iBuyPower you have roughly the convenience of a prebuilt, minus having to install the OS yourself and having to do an upfront check to make sure you’re using a motherboard with WiFi and Bluetooth that work with Ubuntu.

                  You could also just build a desktop yourself! It’s not thaaaat time-consuming. But if you’d rather not spend a day clicking and screwing parts together, and managing a panoply of hardware orders from various websites, that’s valid and there are other options.

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                    I just took a look at iBuyPower on your suggestion, and it seems like they don’t really address the biggest problem of doing a custom build: the research required to pick all of the components out. Snapping the parts together is easy enough, the benefit of a pre-built is not having to select all of the components individually. It does look like iBuyPower has some pre-built machines, but if then you are back to the “might not work with Linux” problem.

                    A lot of gaming focused companies also, frustratingly, seem to top out at 32gb of ram these days. That’s fine for gaming still, but increasingly not fine for a lot of other workloads. I know ram is upgradable later, but you often end up paying for ram you need to throw out (or deal with reselling) because they do 2x16 or 4x8 configurations.

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                  …I keep forgetting that people actually buy desktops instead of building them from parts. It’s like I’ve been getting furniture from nowhere except IKEA for 20 years. It makes perfect sense but the cognitive dissonance is real.

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                    I’m planning to buy my first desktop system in a very long time later this year, after 3 iterations of using a laptop as my primary computer. I was looking into building myself and it seems like the process of assembling them has gotten immensely easier over the years (I remember having to set jumpers and know about interrupts to get my hardware working, so I guess my baseline standard is pretty low), but I’m going to go with a pre-built mostly because of the choice paralysis involved in picking all the components. Sites like pc part picker are great for ensuring you get compatible hardware, but it’s just a pain to have to go through a ton of reviews and read the specs for dozens of different options for every single part. When I realized I was on day two of reading about the details of different cooling fan options I just decided the I’d much rather throw an extra $1k in vendor markup to buy a pre-built.

                    Now, of course, I’m having the same problem of trying to select a decent vendor. I was planning to go with a System76 Thelio, but the comments here about thermals have me a bit worried so I might go back to the search. As a Linux user I still find buying brand new machines a bit stressful because you never know when someone will ship a machine with a critical component that doesn’t have drivers, and it typically takes a while for the forums to fill up with enough comments to give you reasonable confidence about a particular machine.

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                      May I offer https://www.logicalincrements.com/ as at least a basis for comparison? I don’t know if it will actually help the analysis paralysis, but for me it gives me at least a reasonable selection to start from? You can compare it against what vendors offer, at least, if you want a 3rd party comparison.

                      I use linux as a daily driver too and fortunately, if you buy current-0.5 generation hardware there’s basically always drivers for it these days. Desktops have it much better than laptops in that regard, though laptops these days are still actually mostly reasonable. The most driver incompatibility I’ve had with Linux in the last few years was a Dell XPS 15 that needed me to build display drivers from source to be able to adjust display brightness. Ubuntu 20.04 fixed it for me.