New PC 2024

I’d been wanting to make my next upgrade for the past few years but what delayed things is that I decided I wanted to run a more open BIOS next time around and that comes with various limitations and compromises to consider. Depending on how strict you adhere to the free/open-source software ideology, you could be relegated to ancient hardware circa 2008-2009. For my needs and preferences, I couldn’t do it, but I respect those who can. I wanted reasonably modern hardware, a desktop not a laptop, and a flash process that didn’t require hardware flash tools. So this is not 100% blob free and Intel’s ME is still present.

As far as the build goes, well, I decided on Dasharo coreboot so that narrows down my motherboard/platform options much like deciding to use GrapheneOS means you’re getting a Pixel. Towards the end of 2023, I came across this Phoronix post and that pretty much set the wheels in motion.

I chose the MSI PRO Z790-P WIFI DDR5 variant. No real reason besides it being the newer platform of the two options (Z690 vs Z790). I actually didn’t want wifi or bluetooth and I lost the optical out from my previous motherboard. Stuff like this is what you have to deal with when going down a niche path like an open source BIOS for your PC. It’s a lot of work to make happen for a single board and so options are understandably limited. This can change into more options if more people decide to reject proprietary BIOS firmware and support those making open source options.


I never heard of them until recently and so far it’s been a good experience. For 60 EUR (about $65 USD), I purchased a 1 year subscription to get access to the zero-touch initial deployment. This was real convenient and I’m happy to support the project as well. Credential provisioning was manual and it took a couple days to receive via email. I created a bootable USB stick with Dasharo Tools Suite (DTS) and followed the menu to enter my credentials (DES keys) and install Dasharo. As mentioned earlier, Dasharo is not completely blob free but they are transparent about this. See here and here. That said, it’s still an improvement from what I was running previously.

Intel ME

One of the main features I was interested in was disabling the Intel Management Engine (ME). This is basically another computer running inside your computer that is always running and has access to everything and you don’t have access to it. I’d like to not have this on my system. They say the main use case is remote administration in a corporate environment, for instance. I have no use for this at home so let me disable it. No? Why not? Anyway, Dasharo supports a soft-disable and HAP bit disable. More here.

On a related note, I recently came across this open letter by Andrew S. Tanenbaum, creator of MINIX, which is what Intel used for the ME. When I first clicked on it, I expected an entirely different sentiment! But Prof. Tanenbaum seems to be quite pleased by his claim that this makes MINIX “the most widely used computer operating system in the world.” As if users are choosing to use MINIX. The only thing that he wished happened differently was that Intel reached out to him and said, “Thanks for the OS, bro. It’s #1 now since we’re silently forcing it on everyone. Congrats.” At least he later followed up with citing the Fourth Amendment and calling this potential backdoor a “terrible development.” I agree.


As time goes on, I care less and less about raw specs and more about issues like, “Is this device restricting my freedom in some way?” or “Is this device or software potentially spying on me?” The number of cores, gigahertz, or gigabytes doesn’t make me ooh and aah anymore. But things like free software licenses, unlockable bootloaders, and self-hosted options do.

Notably, this is my first PC without any HDDs. Also, yes, I’m still hanging on to the optical drive as I still collect and rip CDs.

Full size photos on my Flickr.


Intel Core i5-13600K

Noctua NH-U12S chromax.Black

Kingston FURY Beast 32GB (2 x 16GB) DDR5 5600

Crucial T500 2TB Gen4 NVMe M.2 SSD

Crucial P3 4TB Gen3 NVMe M.2 SSD

XFX Speedster SWFT 210 Radeon RX 6600 8GB GDDR6

LG Blu-ray Burner WH16NS40

Seasonic Focus PX-650

Fractal Design Define 7