Computer hardware

The following is my hardware shopping list, more or less. Observations and rants are included.


(Low-end) Intel Xeon processors are generally nice and suitable for a workstation: ECC memory support, fine TDP, and all the perks of being mainstream. Of course there are security vulnerabilities, potential backdoors, vulnerabilities in backdoors, and numerous backwards compatibility warts, but there are comparable ones in other affordable and suitable for common computing tasks CPUs.
Software keeps eating all the available memory, and even if one manages to avoid memory hogs, it's still nice to cache more. So it's usually a good idea to have plenty of memory (usually maximum supported by a workstation motherboard and CPU: e.g., 32 Gio in 2013, 64 Gio in 2019). Kingston seems to be relatively reliable and produces ECC memory.
Probably it's the time to move to SSDs, but I'm still using HDDs. There are reliability statistics around; it's hard to deduce reliability by a vendor, but WD Red disks work fine for me. RAID and/or backups are nice to have anyway.
Video card
Some Xeon CPUs have integrated graphics, though even if it's present, it may be used just as a backup. As for discrete video cards, the primary issue for me is software support (both drivers and higher-level software such as X compositors). Both AMD/ATI and Nvidia are problematic, and the issues seem to vary from model to model, so the safest way may be to ask around about compatibility of modern models with the software one plans to use, and possibly with libre drivers. ASUS wraps them nicely.
ASUS workstation motherboards seem to be fine, and usually there is a few to choose from.
CPU fan
Noctua is nice. Painless CPU mounting is great, it's silent, and cools CPUs well (Xeon E3-1275V2 temperatures are usually under 40°C with Noctua NH-D14 here).
Power supply
Since a PSU malfunction can fry a motherboard and components on it, it may be a good idea to get a nice one, which would easily handle the used hardware. "80 Plus" ratings can be consulted, and Thermaltake PSUs are not the worst, though their newer models are covered in gaudy LEDs.
Full-tower metal cases are good for building and for cooling, and often come with handy features that are less common on smaller cases (e.g., front panel ports for SATA HDDs and other I/O, large/slow/silent fans), though tend to be heavy. Thermaltake ones are fine, NZXT looks nice too. Unfortunately annoying and ugly LEDs are common on full-towers. Maybe smaller and lighter cases would be fine too.
APC seems to be fine (except for its software, which is awful, but it's usable without that software). An RBC7 battery may last for about 5 years, though it's a pain to recycle one properly.
The "Truly Ergonomic" keyboard has a relatively nice layout, though custom keyboards may suit one better (and are fun to build).
Gaming hardware tends to be unreliable, but mice advertised as gaming ones tend to be handy. Logitech mice seem to live longer than others (and particularly than those made by gaming companies).
Home router
So far I had D-Link and ASUS routers that died, Linksys that lived until it got outdated, and TP-Link router that lives, though it's not much of data points. LibreCMC and OpenWRT maintain supported hardware lists, which are handy for choosing from.

Generally it's a good idea to look up the models on websites of vendors in order to get accurate and complete specifications, though it doesn't guarantee availability in local stores, and may take a few iterations. As of 2019, tech companies didn't adopt structured/machine-readable data exchange/publishing, so hardware search/picking services tend to provide and use incomplete information. Though they still may be easier to get information from, since official websites tend to be infested with JS and marketing.