Pentium III-S Windows 98 SE Retro Gaming Machine: My First Retro Gaming Machine - Upgraded

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Pentium III-S Windows 98 SE Retro Gaming Machine: My First Retro Gaming Machine - Upgraded

Postby the_ultra_code » 2018-11-08 @ 21:56

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An Intro Narrative

It has been nearly 9 months since I build my first retro gaming machine, and I felt it was time for an upgrade. I felt that, for the early/near-late Win9X games that I was playing on it, I wasn't getting the level of performance that I wanted to get from the machine. Sure, the 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 wasn't helping matters too much, but I wasn't going to replace that for a non-3dfx card, since I still wanted to maintain that strong native Glide performance. Besides, I have a more powerful Pentium 4 system that could emulate those Glide games at insane graphics settings at high framerates, but I felt like using that P4 of mine would kind of defeat the purpose of this machine, and if I tried to use that machine exclusively for all of my Win9X retro gaming, I would most certainly run into compatibility issues with some games.

So, I decided that I would go ahead and try to upgrade the core specs of the system instead. Since my upgrade route for the GPU was going to be... expensive, plus, taking into account that an 800MHz 100MHz FSB CPU wasn't going to be the best pair with a Voodoo4 or -5, I decided to instead focus on upgrading the CPU. I though about going the route of buying the most powerful CPU for the platform (in my case, a 1GHz 100MHz FSB PIII), but after seeing the insane prices and rarity of the CPU, I eventually game up on that idea. Next, I tried the route of the slocket, but that was more trouble than it was worth. Finally, I decided to do the most "drastic" of the options available - upgrade the platform itself.

Recently, I had acquire both a Tualatin-compatible Asus TUSL2-C motherboard and a Intel Tualatin PIII-S 1.4GHz for it for, in my opinion, a steal, but both have been sitting on my shelves, only to be pulled out when I wanted to test an AGP GPU, since the motherboard has a universal AGP slot. This was its opportunity. Now, upgrading to this platform was going to come at the cost of DOS compatibility, since this board has the newer 815EP chipset with no ISA slots, but since I have a complete Pentium 1 DOS 6.22 system on hand if I want to play DOS games natively, or the always-present option of emulation, I was willing to leave behind DOS compatibility needed for DOS games (which I rarely play anyways) for better Win9X performance.

And so, I went through with the upgrade, and this is the result: The ultimate P3 platform RGM.

Details

Check out my full Imgur album (titled Pentium III-S Windows 98 Retro Gaming Machine) showing off this build from many different angles and ways. When I add to this machine of mine, I will periodically update the pictures in this Imgur album.

For a complete list of nearly every part in my build and the cost of each part, check out my "Financial Accounting for Pentium III-S Windows 98 SE Retro Gaming Machine" Google Spreadsheet.

A list of specs:
  • Intel Tualatin Pentium III-S 1.4GHz SL6BY
  • Asus TUSL2-C Motherboard w/ 815EP chipset
  • Kingston KTM0055/512 PC-133 512MB SDRAM stick
  • 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 AGP Graphics Card
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 ST380013AS 80GB 7200RPM 3.5" SATA I HDD
  • Toshiba Samsung Writemaster SH-S202N IDE CD/DVD Optical Drive
  • GOTEK 3.5" USB Floppy Drive Emulator (SFR1M44-U100K)
  • NEC Chipset-Based 5-Port USB 2.0 PCI Controller Card
  • Creative Sound Blaster Live! (CT4760) PCI Sound Car
  • StarTech 1-Port PCI Gigabit Ethernet Network Card (ST1000BT32)
  • EVGA 430 W1 (100-W1-0430-KR) 80+ White 430W Power Supply
  • Arctic Cooling F12 Silent 120mm Case Fans (Qty 2)
  • Cougar Solution ATX Mid-Tower PC Case with 120mm Cougar Turbine Hyper-Spin Bearing Silent Fan

Experience

Upgrading to this platform was relatively easy. In fact, it was simple. I took all of the data I wanted to off the Western Digital hard drive before the upgrade, popped the hard drive out, took out the expansion cards, took the motherboard out, threw the new motherboard it, put all but the AWE64 (since it's an ISA card) back into the system, popped in a similarly specced Seagate HDD (just in case I forgot to get some data off the original HDD - which I actually did, or, if I wanted to put the old system back together, I could), installed Windows 98 SE, reconfigured the OS as I had it, reinstalled the games from the original machine and transferred the save-game data, and BAM!, all done. Didn't have to touch any of the front bay drives, nor really had to touch the cable management, which also helped make the upgrade quick.

Once the upgrade was done, it was time to do some retro gaming and see just how the platform upgrade helped the system. I went ahead and played the same games that I played on the original config and... not much of a difference. Sure, I was able to turn up some of the quality settings a tad bit (if I am not mistaken) or maintain the same settings and achieve slightly better performance in NFS3, -4, and -5 (the games I care about on this system), but overall, nothing noticeable. I'm obviously being GPU bottlenecked in this scenario by the Voodoo3, which I'll touch on in a little bit.

There's really not much to say. This upgrade has just mostly been a lot of small quality of life upgrades - really small. The only, major advantage that I will get out of this upgrade will be that I won't be CPU/I/O bottlenecked when I hopefully upgrade the GPU to a Voodoo4 or -5, which I will need to achieve the desired results for this systems - to become the ultimate (or close to it) native Glide machine.

Think of this upgrade as a stepping stone to a final goal. :)

Benchmarks

Okay, to finish off this post, and to show what I mean my "small improvments", it's time for some benchmarks.

For comparison's sake, I also overclocked the Voodoo3 to the same "max overclock" that I attained with the original system. I didn't, however, see if I could get a higher stable overclock, since I didn't want to waste any more of my time overclocking, nor stress out my Voodoo3 anymore than I had to (currently, I have the Voodoo3 overclocked at 180MHz, an around 8% overclock). However, as you will see, overclocking the Voodoo3 doesn't do too much.

Here are the results, both for the new config and for the original build:
  • 3DMark99 (all tests enabled, "maxed-out" @ 1280x1024, in "3DMarks"):
    • 166MHz (Base Clock) = 2838 (originally 2727)
    • 188Mhz (Max "Stable" Overclock) = 3253 (originally 3132)
    Image
  • 3DMark2000 (all tests enabled, "maxed out" @ 1280x1024, in "3D Marks"):
    • 166MHz (Base Clock) = 2124 (originally 2008)
    • 188MHz (Max "Stable" Overclock) = 2433 (originally 2289)
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  • Roadkill's Disk Speed Version 2.0:
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    (original result)
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As you can see, the platform + CPU upgrade only earned us around 100 points in both 3DMark benchmarks, even with an overclocked Voodoo3 3000 - not the biggest jump in performance. Also, in Roadkil's Disk Benchmark, we don't see that much of an improvement when it comes to HDD speeds; those results aren't entirely comparable, since two different hard drives were used (a 120GB Western Digital in the original config, and a 80GB Seagate in this new config), but since both drives are very similarly specced (except for capacity), the result differences are not entirely invalid. Overall, a small drive I/O performance increase is noticed.

So, overall, you might say the upgrade was pointless, but again, this build is not complete. Once I get a Voodoo4 or -5, I'll revisit these tests again, and I'll cover the performance increase in a new section below this one, so you can see how in every step in the way the performance increased, and by how much. :)

Some Tidbits

For now, that concludes this post. But this project is not over yet (I hope :) ).

If you want to see the complete results of all of the graphics benchmark runs I ran (which are saved to the ".3dp" files which can be viewed in each of the benchmarks' respective "Result Browsers"), you can find them in this public Google Drive folder of mine named "PIII-S_Win98SE_RGM_Graphics_Benchmarks". In that folder, there is a file named "GBQRDT.txt", which lists the results for all of the runs for both benchmarks at each of the GPU clocks, like I kind of did here. By going into the "3DMark99" or "-2000" folders, the results are ordered based on GPU clocks. In any of the "3DMark99" and "-2000" folders, you can use any of the ".3dp" files to run the same benchmark as I did.

If you want an offline version of the 3DMark2000 Result Browser, you can find a copy of the installation executable here in my Google Drive, straight from Futuremark's servers (find out more here :)).

If you want to go to where I store anything I have linked from my Google Drive here click here. That link will take you to the "root" directory I created to store all of my "public" files and folders for this post of mine.
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Re: Pentium III-S Windows 98 SE Retro Gaming Machine: My First Retro Gaming Machine - Upgraded

Postby appiah4 » 2018-11-09 @ 05:30

Very nice build, would appreciate shots of its interiors as well.
1989:A500|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
1992:HIPPO-VL+|DX2-66|8M|GD5428|CT2290|S2
1995:PCI597-1|P133|32M|Trio64|V1|CT3980/2M
1998:S1573S|K6-2/400|64M|RagePro|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
2001:GA-6OXT|PIII-1200|512M|GF3Ti200|MX300
2004:K8V-D|3200+|2G|X1950P|SB0350
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Re: Pentium III-S Windows 98 SE Retro Gaming Machine: My First Retro Gaming Machine - Upgraded

Postby the_ultra_code » 2018-11-09 @ 06:43

appiah4 wrote:Very nice build, would appreciate shots of its interiors as well.


My friend, I think you missed the link to the Imgur album, where I have plenty of interior shots, I can assure you. :lol:

Here's one shot of the interior from the album, for your convenience.
Image
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Re: Pentium III-S Windows 98 SE Retro Gaming Machine: My First Retro Gaming Machine - Upgraded

Postby chinny22 » 2018-11-13 @ 10:02

I have to agree with you.
Slot 1 makes a great DOS/Win9x crossover but as with any crossover you have to compromise, It's too fast for alot of dos games but slow for later Win9x games.
Cant think of any games that wont run full settings on the the MMX anyway, may as well make the P3 a pure Win9x gaming rig in which case the slot 1 is holding you back
and of course you can still play the dos games from within Win98 if needed

PS
IMHO get a hold of a socket 478 for your future V5 so you can really max everything out, it doesn't give the same retro feel but it is nice to know your getting every little bit out of the voodoo
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Re: Pentium III-S Windows 98 SE Retro Gaming Machine: My First Retro Gaming Machine - Upgraded

Postby the_ultra_code » 2018-11-14 @ 04:26

chinny22 wrote:I have to agree with you.
Slot 1 makes a great DOS/Win9x crossover but as with any crossover you have to compromise, It's too fast for alot of dos games but slow for later Win9x games.
Cant think of any games that wont run full settings on the the MMX anyway, may as well make the P3 a pure Win9x gaming rig in which case the slot 1 is holding you back
and of course you can still play the dos games from within Win98 if needed


Yep, that's why I built a Pentium 233 MMX machine for DOS games, if I ever wanted to play DOS games on a different machine. Now it's necessary. :)

chinny22 wrote:PS
IMHO get a hold of a socket 478 for your future V5 so you can really max everything out, it doesn't give the same retro feel but it is nice to know your getting every little bit out of the voodoo


Really? I mean, yeah, you are right. You would get better performance with a P4. But, I'll be fine with a small performance loss with this P3 - I mean, I think this system is great as it is, and with the addition of a V4 or -5 would be perfect. Also, compatibility is a concern. For example, NFS5 has trouble running properly on CPUs faster than ~2GHz, and that's the point where P4s equal P3s, more or less, as shown in this semi-recent PCL video (https://youtu.be/FqCPnO97Vl0).
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Re: Pentium III-S Windows 98 SE Retro Gaming Machine: My First Retro Gaming Machine - Upgraded

Postby Flakchak » 2018-11-14 @ 14:19

Awesome machine! Good call on the CX450M. I've been using one on my test desk and it's so quiet you wouldn't even think it's on.

I've been throwing around the idea of a P3 build with the same mobo you used, but I'd really like the ability to use my ISA peripherals. That leads me to either a P3V133 or a P3V4X along with a modded Tualatin and slocket.
Searching for a Packard Bell 15" CRT Monitor - 1511SL or 1512SL
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