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rashdanml

Free and/or Open-source Alternatives to many Common Programs

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Why there is OBS but no Streamlabs OBS?

On 12/6/2013 at 5:21 PM, rashdanml said:

Free and Open-source Alternatives to Common Programs

 

Revision History
1.0 - Thread created
1.1 - Thread revamped with new info and added links.
1.2 - Added Index (placeholder)
 
Introduction
With the advent of SteamOS, a good portion of gamers will likely switch to using it for their gaming needs. It won't really be long before more games start supporting Linux natively; newer games will definitely be supporting it as early as 2014, older games are constantly being ported over. Gaming on Linux is gaining momentum, but what about other productivity tools? Windows is still the king of OS's due to the wide range of applications natively supported, from Office to Graphics tools to 3D modelling, CAD/CAM and many other areas. Most of these applications are proprietary and closed-source and won't run on Linux natively. 
 
The purpose of this topic is to highlight some of the many free and/or open-source alternatives to many proprietary Windows programs. Free doesn't necessarily mean open-source, and that difference will be highlighted where applicable. Open-source software isn't restricted to Linux only - many of them can be cross-platform. Many of them can also be cross-compiled from Linux source to run on Windows. Proprietary alternatives are only included for programs that are both low-cost and worth paying for. 
 
One caveat to be aware of: The programs listed are merely alternative options to proprietary tools. In some specific cases, they won't act as replacements for the paid programs, due to paid programs having a vastly superior feature set. However, for the average user, the free alternatives are more than adequate. I personally tend to look at what people have done using the free alternative and compare them to the paid option, comparing their capabilities and not their specific feature sets. Of course, this may change in the future, due to the open-source nature of most of these programs: the necessary functionality can be added in my anyone. 
 
So, let's begin!
 
Index
1.0 - Microsoft Office
2.0 - Adobe Photoshop
3.0 - Adobe Illustrator
4.0 - Adobe Premiere/After Effects
5.0 - 3D Graphics (Modelling, Animation)
6.0 - Digital Painting
7.0 - Development Tools 
8.0 - Desktop Recording/Streaming
9.0 - Media Player
10.0 - Gaming
11.0 - CAD/CAM/CAE 
12.0 - Torrent Clients
13.0 - Instant Messaging/Chat Clients
14.0 - Email Clients
15.0 - Linux Terminal-based 
16.0 - Antivirus
17.0 - PDF Tools
18.0 - Virtualization
19.0 - Miscellaneous
 
Microsoft Office
Perhaps the most widely used and adopted set of tools for productivity. There are, however, more than a fair share of free and open-source options that are on par with Office, with one key exception: the free alternatives aren't capable of saving to .docx or any of the newer Office formats, but they are capable of reading them. That's not a major problem though: it's recommended to use the older .doc format due to being easier to work with. PDF is also a far superior format for sharing documents. 
 
Open-source
1) OpenOffice.org - This is usually the first option to come to mind, and it's been around for a while. Contains all of the replacement tools for Office. However, as some of you already know, it's somewhat lacking in features. Cross-platform.
2) LibreOffice - a fork of OpenOffice, with a wider range of features, and is more updated. I personally use this instead of OpenOffice and it's amazing. Cross-platform.
3) KOffice/Calligra Suite - Built into KDE. It may be possible to install it as a standalone application with the necessary dependencies. Contains a wide range of tools for everything Office related. Some older versions of KOffice is available on Windows.
4) TexLive - Alternative for MS Word. Specifically useful for Scientific documents (LaTeX).
5) WPS - Formerly known as Kingsoft Office, WPS is a newly updated version. Runs on iOS, Android, Windows and Linux, and capable of working with .docx and .xlsx files (compatibility and formatting issues aside). Exports to PDF as well, much like LibreOffice. 
 
Freeware/Online
1) Google Drive - Can't say much more. Full range of Office tools online, seamlessly synced between devices. Google has also been promoting QuickOffice, which is a set of tools available on Mobile devices with Drive integration. 
2) OneDrive - Microsoft's own set of online Office tools, similar to Google Drive. 
 
Adobe Photoshop
High up on the list of productivity tools used by graphics designers and digital painters. 
 
Open-source
1) GIMP - widely seen as the best Photoshop alternative on Linux. It is also cross-platform. 
2) GIMPshop - Similar to GIMP, both open-source and cross-platform.
3) Krita - part of Calligra Suite. It's primarily a digital painting program, which Photoshop is capable of. Linux only, with an experimental version available for Windows. 
4) Scribus - Specialized tool for creating publications. Cross-platform. 

Freeware
1) Paint.NET - An advanced version of MS Paint, but contains many of the basic features found in Photoshop. Available on Windows only, as it depends on .NET Framework. 
 
Adobe Illustrator
Perhaps the best Vector-based graphics tools. Photoshop has some vector capabilities, but Illustrator is far superior. 

Open-source
1) Inkscape - great replacement for Illustrator. Cross-platform as well.
2) LibreOffice Draw - part of the LibreOffice package. Cross-platform. 
3) Karbon - integrated into KDE in the Calligra Suite, making it Linux only. However, there are ways of installing KDE packages on Windows. Should be able to install it without KDE with just the dependencies. 
4) Xara Xtreme - Looks to be an excellent Vector-graphic editor. Available on Linux and Windows. 

Adobe Premiere/After Effects
These two are generally combined as each performs a specific group of tasks. Premiere focuses on editing, while After Effects focuses on compositing and visual effects. Most open-source options combine these features into a single application - which is great. 

Open-source
1) Cinelerra - perhaps the best option available. There are two versions, a community maintained one as well as an official one. The community version is called cinelerra-cv and is available on most Linux distributions. Not cross-platform afaik.
2) Kdenlive - Similar feature set to cinelerra, but more along the lines of Premiere. Kdenlive is available on Windows through a VM image. 
3) OpenShot - Another option instead of Cinelerra. Primarily on Linux, but can be cross-compiled on Windows with the right set of tools (Cygwin, etc). 
4) Avidemux - Cross-platform and open-source. Very simple video editing, and encodes in multiple formats. 
5) LiVES - Available on Linux and OS X. Similar feature set to Cinelerra. 
6) Blender - primarily a 3D modelling program (will go into more detail below), but includes a non-linear video editor. Runs on python, which is cross-platform. 

Freeware
1) Lightworks - there's a free and premium version available. The free version is free forever. So far, Lightworks is Windows only. The Linux version is in beta.  

There are many other free video editors out there. A Google search will reveal at least 10 other options. 

Autodesk Maya/3ds Max, Cinema 4D
3D modellers have perhaps used these applications. In fact, Cinema 4D's R15 was just released (as of October 2nd, 2013). 

Open-source
Blender. I'm not even going to bother mentioning other options for now, as I have yet to find an option that beats it. There are plenty of projects out there done using Blender (Sintel is a perfect example of a short movie made entirely in Blender). It does everything you could possibly expect from it, along the lines of Cinema 4D and all of the other paid applications. Best of all, it's free and fully open-source.

Corel Painter
Perhaps the best digital painting tool out there. Has the widest range of brushes, painting media, etc. 
 
Open-source
1) Krita - mentioned it already. One of the best free digital painting applications available. Has excellent support for Wacom tablets. 
2) MyPaint - similar to Krita. Cross-platform. 
3) Alchemy - more of a niche program. Great for random sketching, doesn't have an undo function. 
4) Gimp Paint Studio - Set of tools integrated into Gimp to provide digital painting tools, brushes, etc. 

Development Tools (IDEs)
Microsoft's Visual Studio is probably one of the most common proprietary options, with development environments for C, C++, C#, among many others. On the OS X side, there's Xcode for developing in Objective-C. This section will list some of the alternatives to using the paid programs. 
 
Open-source
1) Eclipse - In my humblest opinion, one of the best IDEs available. Free, completely open-source and extensible through plugins. I've personally set my installation of Eclipse to work with Python, C, C++, Java, Android, and PHP/MySQL, and that's barely scratching the surface of the amount of development environments that can be integrated into Eclipse through plugins. 
2) Code::Blocks - Another open-source IDE primarily for C++, but has a plugin system to easily extend functionality. Cross-platform. 
3) Netbeans - free and open-source, comes default with the Java Development Kit, as an optional addon. It does support development environments for multiple languages. 

 
Freeware
1) Programmer's Notepad - Supports syntax highlighting for multiple languages. Windows only. 
2) Visual Studio Express - The free version of Visual Studio. It's perfect for people who want to get started developing on Windows. Naturally, Windows only. 
 
Proprietary
1) Sublime Text - Technically paid, but a free, unlimited trial is available. It is cross-platform, and widely regarded as one of the best Text-based development environments. 
2) IntelliJ - Specifically for Java and Android development. 
 
Cloud
This is a pretty unique category, as there are literally dozens of cloud-based IDEs for various languages. I'll try my best to highlight some of the best ones based on languages supported. Feel free to link me to any Cloud IDEs you know of and I will add it to the list. 
1) Cloud9 - Code anywhere. Free and subscription available. Doesn't appear to have language restrictions. 
2) Codenvy - Free and premium subscriptions available. There are free premium packages if you plan on developing open-source projects (the way I interpret it). 
 
FRAPS/Dxtory, Xsplit
By far the best video recording and streaming tools available. However, there are more than a fair share of free and open-source options. 

Open-source
1) Open Broadcaster Software - capable of streaming to Justin.tv, Twitch.tv and other streaming sites. Optionally, it'll also record to the HDD using a range of compression settings. While it is open-source, a Linux version currently doesn't exist. There is plenty of interest in a Linux version. 
2) GLC - The Linux FRAPS. GLC is a bit tricky to install, but is excellent on Linux. Needs to be built from source. 
3) Yukon - Similar to GLC. Needs to be built from source. 
4) SimpleScreenRecorder - Name is self-explanatory. Supports desktop and game recording, as well as streaming to Twitch.TV and other streaming services.
5) Twitch Streamer - A minimal shell script designed to stream directly to Twitch. Captures from the X server directly. 

Freeware
1) FFsplit - a free streaming software available primarily on Windows. 
2) MSI Afterburner - one of the best free options for recording gameplay. 

Media Players
Everyone needs a media player, whether it's combined or just for music. 

Open-source
1) VLC - easily the best media player available. Also capable of recording the desktop and there's also the possibility of a video editor being added later on. Supports Bluray with some workarounds. 
2) MPlayer/SMPlayer - along the lines of VLC. Cross-platform.
3) aTunes - iTunes equivalent on Windows and Linux. 
4) Amarok - feature-rich media player. 
5) XBMC - great open-source media player, capable of all types of media. Particularly good for an HTPC setup. 
6) Audacious - open-source and available on many Linux distributions. Also cross-platform.
7) Clementine - cross-platform and open-source music player. 
8) Plex - media streaming option along the lines of XBMC, but designed to run as a server. Ideal for a centralized media server and streaming to multiple devices (Mobile, PC, HTPC, etc).
9) Windows Media Player classic - plays a wide range of formats, specifically rmvb (RealPlayer). Simple and easy to use interface. A great alternative to VLC media player, but is Windows only despite being open-source.  
10) Banshee - Open-source and cross-platform media player. Great replacement for iTunes (supports iPod syncing). 
11) Apollo - A music player for Android. One of many options on Android.
12) MPV - Fork of mplayer2 and MPlayer, lightweight and easy to use.
 
Freeware
1) Foobar2000 - IMO, one of the best and most configurable music players.
2) Winamp - This is only included because it's one of the more popular options. I personally would not recommend it, as it is more bloated compared to other options. 
3) KMPlayer - Free media player on Windows. 
4) iTunes - self-explanatory. Windows and OS X only, with alternatives above for Linux. 
5) MusicBee - Free Music player available on Windows. 
6) PotPlayer - Free music player for Windows operating systems.
 
Gaming
This section is perhaps no longer needed due to SteamOS. However, for games that don't run natively on Linux (and ignoring Steam's in-house streaming option), here are the best ways to get games running on Linux:

Open-source
1)WINE - The easiest way, supports a wide range of Windows applications and Games. Check the AppDB for specific issues with some applications. Generally, anything rated Gold and above in their database will run well. 
2) PlayOnLinux - essentially WINE, but with a simple GUI to make managing Games easier. Also supports various Windows applications. A full list of supported software is on their website. 

Proprietary
I know the topic says Free/Open-source, but I feel like this deserves an exception:
1) Crossover - basically a paid version of WINE with better support. 

CAD/CAM/CAE
Stands for Computer Aided Design/Manufacturing/Engineering. Prime examples of proprietary software are: SolidWorks, Unigraphics NX, Catia, ANSYS, Pro Engineer, AutoCAD, among many more. The following is a list of free and open-source alternatives. 

Open-source
1) FreeCAD - the perfect AutoCAD and Solidworks replacement. 
2) OpenFOAM - The best open-source alternative to ANSYS tools (primarily used for numerical simulation in Structural and Mechanical Engineering). 
3) Scilab - excellent replacement for MATLAB (which is cross-platform, while still proprietary). Scilab is the free and open-source equivalent based on Python.
4) Octave - very similar to Scilab and MATLAB. 
5) Scipy - a python extension specifically for scientific and simulation-based calculations. 
6) CAElinux - Should really belong in a section of its own, as it's an entire distribution built around CAE. 

Torrent clients
The most common ones are BitTorrent and uTorrent, among others. Most of these clients are free, but aren't open-source. Some of them are more bloated than others. The following is a list of free and open-source clients. 
 
1) Deluge - Great torrent client. I used it briefly; supports extra features through plugins. Cross-platform.
2) Transmission - Same as Deluge, free and open-source. Runs on many Linux distributions. 
3) rtorrent - Generally installed through the repositories of whichever distribution. Terminal based, very simple yet powerful. Optionally, rutorrent can be installed to give it a web-based interface. These two are a very popular choice for a dedicated server running as a Torrent box (frequently referred to as a seedbox). 
4) qBittorent - Cross-platform and open-source. 
5) Tixati - Heard about this one more recently. Runs on Windows and Linux. 
 
Instant Messaging/Chat programs
Not really a category that needs to be included, as most are free. However, not all are open-source. The only proprietary paid program I know of is mIRC, which is a commonly used IRC program. Some alternatives to mIRC:

1) Hexchat - an improvement over xChat. Cross platform (Windows, Linux) and open-source. Lots of features. xChat Aqua is an option for OS X.
2) Irssi/Weechat - minimalist IRC program. Not suited for everyone, but has a clean interface, and fun to tinker around with. Weechat is similar to Irssi.
3) Pidgin - mutli-protocol chat program. Supports IRC as well as many other common ones: Windows Live, Facebook, Jabber, Google Talk, AIM and many more.
4) Jitsi - similar to Pidgin, has some nice security features.

Email Clients
This section contains tools that run from within the Linux terminal, and don't exist as a standalone application. Nevertheless, they are quite powerful when used correctly. 

1) Mozilla Thunderbird - probably one of the most well-known email clients. Cross-platform. 
2) Claws Mail - An open-source email client for Linux. Cross-platform. 
3) Mutt - Terminal-based email client.
4) Squirrel Mail - Personally used it to set up an Email server on a dedicated server (Kimsufi 2G), works wonderfully. Simple web interface for checking email. 
 
Linux Terminal-based Tools
This section contains tools that run from within the Linux terminal, and don't exist as a standalone application. Nevertheless, they are quite powerful when used correctly. 

1) Vi/Vim - excellent text editor for Linux. Comes pre-packaged with many Linux installers.
2) Nano - also comes pre-packed with Linux installers. 
3) Emacs
4) cmus - Terminal-based music player. 
5) Mutt - Terminal-based email client.
 
Antivirus
Generally not a problem for Linux due to its security features; however, there are some open-source and free options available for Windows, OS X and Linux. I haven't used the open-source ones below, so I cannot comment on its effectiveness. Nevertheless, I'll list them for people to try out. 
 
Open-source
1) ClamAV - Available as source code for various Linux distributions. 
 
Freeware
1) Avast - free and pro versions available. One of the most recommended free options. 
2) AVG - same as Avast. Personally find it to be a bit bloated.
3) Microsoft Security Essentials - comes built into Windows 8, available for Windows 7 as well as other Windows OS's. 
4) Malwarebytes - Anti-malware software. 
 
PDF Tools
The following section contains software used to view and manipulate PDF files (annotations, editing PDFs, combining, etc). 
 
1) PDFCreator - print to PDF, among other features. 
2) Bullzip PDF - A printer driver which can be installed to print any document type as a PDF. Particularly useful for obscure file formats that can't be converted directly to PDF. 
3) SumatraPDF - A free PDF and ebook (.epub, .mobi) reader. 
4) Evince - A replacement PDF viewer that supports other file formats. 
5) Xournal - free and open-source software specifically replacing OneNote or other Journal applications. Supports tablet PCs, and is able to annotate PDFs. 
6) Stylus Labs - So far, of the Journal applications I've tried, this works the best in terms of writing performance. Xournal had an input lag that I noticed on Windows, not sure how it runs on Linux. Saves as .html files, with optional PDF export. Quite the quirky website design too. 
7) PDFLite - PDF Viewer and printer (converts multiple formats to PDF). Source code is freely available for compiling on Linux. 

Virtualization
This section contains software used for virtualization, whether it be development environments (virtual servers), or virtual machines. It's a fairly broad category. Some of the software under development tools were moved to this section to be a bit more accurate. The list includes free and open-source options.

1) Oracle's Virtualbox - the go-to option for free virtual machines. Supports a wide range of guest and host operating systems.
2) VMWare Workstation Player - available in Free and Pro versions (for commercial use).
3) Xen - Open-source virtualization, supports many guest operating systems and also supports various cloud platforms (OpenStack, etc).
4) KVM - another popular open-source virtualization program for Linux.
5) XAMPP - Web development environment.
6) Vagrant - creates a Virtual Server and sets it up as a development environment. Easily create and re-create (in any desired configuration) development environments to suit your needs.
7) WPN-XM - Web development environment built around Nginx (alternative web server to Apache), PHP, and Mariadb (faster alternative to MySQL).

 
Miscellaneous
This section contains mostly things that don't fall into the above categories, generally free. Some of them are cross-platform. Some of the summaries below may not be very accurate, so correct me if I'm mistaken. I've only used a couple of them in the past.
 
1) 7-zip - Everyone should have this, everyone should love it. Much better features compared to winzip and works with many different compression formats.
2) KeePass2 - encrypts and stores all of your passwords.
3) Xming - view/run X (Unix/Linux) based programs on Windows.
4) Cygwin/MinGW - Linux environment on Windows, can be used to compile programs from source on Windows. More involved, so usually ideal only for the tech savvy. Nice to have though, for people who want to tinker.
5) PuTTY - Simple SSH Client. Good for managing servers via command line.
6) Filezilla FTP - One of the best free FTP clients. Believe it also has SSH built in, but never used it.
7) Ghostscript/Ghostview - viewer/interpreter for Postscript, a programming language for creating vector graphics.
8) TrueCrypt - one of the best free disk encryption. Has automatic and real-time encryption of data. 
 
----------------------
 
I haven't personally used many of the above applications, but it's a starting point for people interested in making the jump to Linux or SteamOS. Some of these options are a bit more involved to get running, but don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! It's an immense learning experience, and well worth learning.

 

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On 12/06/2013 at 9:08 PM, SirReallySam said:

I would suggest Kingsoft Office, free edition, it saves .doc not .docx like libre office and can read .docx but the new presentation extension only works with some documents for me which is a shame :) but all in all I like it better than libre office :)

That's renamed to WPS

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10 minutes ago, Alexinlovewithwindows said:

Guys! I need some help. I’m really terrified by windows start menu and I’m looking for some alternative decision. Right now I’m using this start menu  but what could you suggest except this tool? Thanks

It has like a month free trial and only costs $2 for the lifetime license. Also when the trial is up you can keep using it if you don't mind the popup but honestly they deserve the $2.
http://www.startisback.com/

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On 8/16/2018 at 3:00 PM, Alexinlovewithwindows said:

Guys! I need some help. I’m really terrified by windows start menu and I’m looking for some alternative decision. Right now I’m using this start menu  but what could you suggest except this tool? Thanks

Classic Start is great and free and you can download it from ninite.com (one of my fave websites)


PROFILEYEAH

What do people even put in these things?

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Plex alternatives?


I have Plex installed on a dedicated server, it works mostly fine but I stopped updating it when they dropped opting out of telemetry option, after that I tried Kodi, Emby, but both were much worse than Plex. I need a way to watch something on a PC and/or a phone, transcoded or not. Including anime so .ass subs and 10bit video, which is the source of problems with most things.

 

So some time have passed, is there any new, sexy app to fulfil my needs? One time unlocking like in Plex app for Android is acceptable, but I don't want monthly fees or high prices.

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23 minutes ago, Loote said:

Plex alternatives?


I have Plex installed on a dedicated server, it works mostly fine but I stopped updating it when they dropped opting out of telemetry option, after that I tried Kodi, Emby, but both were much worse than Plex. I need a way to watch something on a PC and/or a phone, transcoded or not. Including anime so .ass subs and 10bit video, which is the source of problems with most things.

 

So some time have passed, is there any new, sexy app to fulfil my needs? One time unlocking like in Plex app for Android is acceptable, but I don't want monthly fees or high prices.

Maybe... Universal Media Server ???

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23 hours ago, kendoka said:

Maybe... Universal Media Server ???

Looks very promising, thank you!

 

I'm not sure it it was mentioned in this topic before, but [url=https://www.voidtools.com/]Everything[/url] is a free and much better alternative to Windows search. I've 240GB SDD + 3TB USB 2.0 HDD + 4TB SATA HDD and in ~10 seconds it scans them all, then provides real-time search results. I can look for .pdf, sort by date and find where that invoice I closed by mistake is located. It's worth the 40 MB of ram it'll use if you add it to startup.

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Not seeing it in the first post, and I think it keeps updated, so, here I go : Not as a full 3D package that does it all, which is Blender, and which 2.8 incoming version, (pretty stable betas out now) will be beyond revolutionary, but the modeler with which I got to convince every boss at every company, to let me use for all my character modeling, props modeling and etc, Wings3D, is fully open source (BSD license), fully free for commercial or whatever usage, versions for linux, mac and windows. Once you get the handle of it, is immensely efficient. I have used it professionally for my modeling, but of course, needed to do a lot of things in Max/Maya, Zbrush, etc. Is a GREAT 3D modeler, strongly recommended. http://wings3d.com

As I have read certain comment, I'd say WinSCP can be also used as a complementary tool for Putty. I used both (and Skype...) as super essential tools for 2 years as a remote worker, part of the staff.  Worked great to have a tunneled communication with the company, that is, to communicate through it from my Windows machines to the Linux servers at the company.

 

In the Premiere / After Effects realm, I do miss there Davinci Resolve. Now Fusion is included in it, and I believe it can be used apart, and has functions similar to After Effects. You can use the free version, I believe it just wont let you render at full 4k, but at quite some resolution. A very similar case with hitfilm: hitfilm express is free, limited to non 4k, etc. Of the two, probably Davinci is more pro. And of course, hitfilm could never make it to this list, as is Win/Mac only.

https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/

You would need to scroll till the very end to see the free version download, and the commercial 300$ one. Linux, Windows and Mac versions.  :).  A real powerful suite.

 

Maybe Dark Table, as for a free tool with functionality for Photographers (more like Light Room, etc, not Photoshop-like functionality) could be a good addition. https://www.darktable.org

 

A note about Inkscape, Gimp and Scribus. The interfaces are hand to handle, but Gimp is evolving pretty faster this year, inkscape is very solid in functionality, and Scribus is started to be used in several POD print companies (online print shops), something I would not have expected.
 

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I'd like to suggest a correction to the OP. 

 

LibreOffice can save in .docx now. 


Ryzen 1600x @4GHz

Asus GTX 1070 8GB @1900MHz

16 GB HyperX DDR4 @3000MHz

Asus Prime X370 Pro

Samsung 860 EVO 500GB

Noctua NH-U14S

Seasonic M12II 620W

+ four different mechanical drives.

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