VOGONS


First post, by Namrok

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In the summer of 2004, I was very excited about Doom 3 coming out.  Dare I say, it was my Cyberpunk 2077.  Summer of 2004 was also my first college internship, which put some real money in my pocket for the first time in my entire life.  So goodbye hand me down parts!  Goodbye sketchy computer show RAM!  Hello, brand spanking new (but still modest) Newegg shopping list!  You know, back when Newegg was still good.

I don't remember the exact specs of the system.  Newegg has long since deleted my order records, and that email account is lost to me.  But it definitely had a Socket 754 Athlon 64 and a Geforce 6800 or a 6800 GT.  Recalling my budget at the time, I suspect it may have been a vanilla model, but I may have sprung for the GT.  It also had a Sound Blaster Live I scavenged from my old PC.

Shopping list in hand, I went about acquiring parts.  Someone on another forum sent me a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS that was taking up space in his closet.  Also sent along some OCZ DDR 500 memory.  I ordered an ASUS K8V Deluxe with an included Athlon 64 3200+ off ebay.  Also ordered an AGP Geforce 6800 GT, a BFG OC variant.  And lastly, I found a $20 case with a SATA disc drive on Facebook, and I had an old Intel 120 GB SSD from 2012 in my junk drawer.

Parts in hand now, things went sideways pretty quick.  The AGP slot was totally defunct.  Wouldn't POST with anything in it.  With a PCI card, a spare Riva 128 I had lying around, it would post about 25% of the time.  The rest of the time I just quietly heard what sounded like a capacitor discharging over the PC Speaker.  It always powered on as soon as power was applied, and the power and reset buttons didn't do anything.  Wasn't booting off anything I put in the SATA disc drive.  It was a mess.  

I pulled the IDE disc drive from my 1999 machine, got it to boot off that, and flashed the bios.  Then I had a new problem.  It acted like the del key was held down permanently, and always entered the bios.  I couldn't get it to boot off a device no matter what I did.

I cleared the CMOS, no improvement.  At this point I start a return on ebay, because the whole thing seems fubared.  After describing all my issues, dude just tells me to keep it and he'll refund me.  Doesn't want to pay for shipping to take a potentially worthless mobo back.

I give up on it, add it to a "practice recapping" pile.  One day I'll get around to it.  I order an ECS Nforce3 motherboard off ebay.  USPS eats it.  Just totally vanishes.  It's 2 weeks late at this point.  Tracking says it was never received, despite the seller swearing he dropped it off.  I've asked for a refund on this one too.  Still waiting for that to work out.  I order a Gigabyte board next.  A socket 939 nForce3 board with an AGP slot.  Even came with a CPU. It shows up with pretty much all the caps bulging, dead as a doornail.  No lights, no fans, nothing.  Once again, dude has me do some rudimentary troubleshooting steps which accomplish nothing, then just refunds me the money, doesn't want it back.

By this point, it's been about a month and a half.  I'm ready to build a god damned computer already!  I decide, you know what, that first motherboard wasn't totally dead, lets see what happens with it.  I clear the CMOS again, start off with the PCI graphics card, and it's POSTing pretty reliably now.  And it's not stuck always booting into the BIOS!  This is promising.  AGP slot still doesn't work.  In fact the top PCI slot doesn't work either.  Sometimes there is just no vga output, but a normal post code.  Other time it beeps twice, which if I have the version of the BIOS correct is a memory parity error.

By this point I've grabbed a spare IDE drive and some extra DDR ram locally off Facebook.  The IDE drive so I don't have to pull my only other IDE disc drive from my 1999 computer, and the spare ram to see if just maybe the ram is interfering with the AGP slot?  Never seen that happen before, but why not?

Oh well, I have some bare minimum functionality going, I try installing WinXP.  And it crashes out after it loads all the drivers.  I suspect because of the SATA disc drive.  I try the IDE drive again, and it works, but it doesn't see the SATA SSD.  I use nLite to add all the SATA drivers from the ASUS website to the WinXP cd.  Still doesn't work, for either problem.  Ok, I dig deeper into the junk drawer, pull out an old 100 GB IDE HDD, might be 20 years old.  Some old IBM model I used to swear by.  Now we're getting somewhere.  I get WinXP installed.

Now I circle back to the AGP slot.  The 2 beeps for memory parity error I'm getting is tickling my brain.  Like I said before, what if it's the RAM?  I mean, I'm used to bad RAM just straight up preventing a system from POSTing.  At various points I'd attempted to run memtest, but was always thwarted.  The SATA disc drive won't boot off that CD.  And when I had the IDE drive hooked up, the system was stuck always booting into the BIOS, and never off a device.  Anyways, I swap out the 2x1 GB of the OCZ DDR500 ram for a random 512 MB DDR400 stick and low and behold, now the AGP slot works!

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So now I get all the drivers installed in Windows, switch back to the SATA disc drive which is now working perfectly in Windows.  I install Doom 3, and it's just like I remember!  Finally, success!  Perhaps a bit more stuttery, I suspect because of the limited amount of ram I have installed.

Next, I try using the Intel Data Migration Tool to move everything over to the SSD, which is showing up just fine in WinXP now with all the drivers installed.  The process appears to complete successfully.  Unfortunately, trying to boot off it causes WinXP to crash and restart the machine.  Oh well.

So that's where things are at right now.  I did order some 2x1GB sticks of Kingston ram off the motherboards supported list.  Well, the 1GB version from a series of 256MB and 512MB sticks that are listed in the manual.  ASUS's website doesn't display any supported ram modules anymore for that motherboard.  But the motherboard manual doesn't list any 1GB sticks as supported, despite implying that some must be because it says it supports up to 3GB of ram on 3 slots.  I also ordered a SATA to IDE adapter on the off chance that helps the SSD work, because I do not trust the IDE HDD I have in there one bit.  But for now it plays the games I want it to play, so hurray!

Other weird quirks are that the motherboard has 2 SATA controllers.  A VIA one, and a Promise one.  The sata disc drive is only successfully detected by the VIA sata controller, and the Intel SSD is only successfully detected by the Promise SATA controller.  Go figure.

Trying to run hwInfo caused WinXP to blue screen and restart. Running it with sensors only works though.

What is the etiquette on eBay when you try to return something, they tell you to keep it and refund you, and then you manage to breath some life back into it?

Reply 1 of 7, by pshipkov

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Good story.
The classic retro opera in action, eh ? 😀
But you are getting somewhere.

---

That motherboard box in the pic !
I remember having a Slot1 board like this for a short period of time. It was probably around 1998.
It was very slow and clunky. Eventually died less than a year later.
It was one of those experiences where i was like "there must be decent non-Asus mobos out there" and bought that one.
Lesson learned, back to the Asus clubhouse.

Reply 2 of 7, by foil_fresh

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Love the BFG card! Very pretty with the blue fan LEDs. I have the "plain" Nvidia one with the mermaid on the front.

For the ebay dilemma I've had a similar situation where it was the wrong card sent but it still worked and I got a refund. I was after a Sound Blaster Live but was sent a Guillemot/Hercules Fortissimo. A real bad card from my testing so I dont feel bad about "taking" it. The only thing going for it was that it's a shiny blue PCB.

Reply 3 of 7, by Namrok

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@pshipkov So that motherboard box is actually storing a Shuttle HOT 591P. It needs recapping pretty badly. I was using it for a while before I replaced it with a PC Partner MVP3 board. The box is only out because I needed something to get the drives closer to the graphics card! I only have one strand of molex connectors, and at the time the graphics card, hdd and disc drive all needed one! It was quite precarious!

@foil_fresh The actual card I had at the time was a BFG card too, although not with that fancy cooler. It was really nice to get a BFG card again. While they were around, they were my absolute favorite brand.

Reply 4 of 7, by dr_st

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Namrok wrote on 2021-01-11, 16:01:

Other weird quirks are that the motherboard has 2 SATA controllers.  A VIA one, and a Promise one.  The sata disc drive is only successfully detected by the VIA sata controller, and the Intel SSD is only successfully detected by the Promise SATA controller.  Go figure.

One advantage of Intel 478 systems versus AMD 754/939 systems of those generations is that the SATA controllers were more compatible both with hardware and with Windows (I think drivers were included already with Win2K, definitely with WinXP). I never had issues on my ICH5R system; then again I never used a SATA3 drive, only up to SATA2.

Back in the day, I couldn't quite come to terms with going all out for a high-end video card, so I ended up playing DOOM3 on a 6600GT. It worked well enough as I recall.

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Reply 5 of 7, by The Serpent Rider

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I never had issues on my ICH5R system

That's because ICH5 SATA, by default, use IDE emulation. Which is compatible with generic Intel ATA driver. In fact, you can boot Windows XP on any ICH5+ based motherboard without any penalties. For example you can migrate OS from Pentium 4/865PE to Core i7 920/X58 and vice versa.

Same does not apply to earlier ICH south bridges. For example ICH2 and ICH5 both share ATA100 standard, but can't boot Windows XP from each other.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 6 of 7, by Namrok

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Well the 2x1 GB DDR400 Kingston sticks showed up today. Alas, one of them seems totally dead. Plopped both in, only had 1 GB of ram. Took out the second one, system still posted with 1 GB. So then I took out the working one, and tried the other with all 3 RAM slots. Nada.

Well, adding the working 1 GB to my previous 512 MB gets me to a gig and a half, which is still pretty good for 2004. Doom 3 sure is smoother than ever. It was tending to hitch between certain room transitions, or when it would play scripted scenes. And it took forever for the WinXP desktop to redraw after closing Doom as it paged things back into ram from the hdd.

The load times aren't even that terrible on the rust bucket. But I just have such a hard time trusting it. Here's hoping the SATA to IDE adapter shows up as scheduled Saturday. I may just start fresh with Win2k like I had wanted to initially, and move my save games over.

Reply 7 of 7, by duga3

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Doom 3 stutters by default. It runs internally at 1000/16=62.5FPS. This is an issue with 60HZ of an average monitor. Assuming you can OC your monitor to 63HZ you can do this:

Create "AutoExec.cfg" file in /base/ directory. For RoE expansion do it in /d3xp/ directory.

1. Add the following commands in that file:

# allows console and enables some extra tweaks from below
com_allowConsole "1"

# disables ingame 60FPS limit, makes the game too fast
com_precisetic 0
com_fixedtic 1

# -1 means activating custom resolution mode
r_mode -1

r_customHeight 1200
r_customWidth 1600

# 0 = 4:3, 1 = 16:9, 2 = 16:10
r_aspectratio 0

# 1 = vsync ON
r_swapInterval 0

# must force 63Hz refresh rate this way too
r_displayRefresh 63
r_fullscreen 1

2. Install "Rivatuner Statistics Server" (RTSS) and cap the framerate there to 63 FPS.

3. Create custom resolution of 1600x1200@63Hz

The above 3 steps should remove the stuttering. Technically speaking, 63FPS will make the audio (mainly voice-overs in long cutscenes) out-of-sync but so little that you should not be able to notice it.

Another method (when the above fails to work, in other games too) is to go for 62Hz (yes 62, not 63) custom resolution, do not use RTSS and turn on vsync.

Lastly, some notable details about the SOUND APIs in Doom 3:

EAX4 and OpenAL added in 1.3 patch but the game will keep using DirectSound3D if you do not have OpenAL installed on your PC (source: http://satsun.org/audio/). EAX4 removed in BFG Edition release. OpenAL replaced with XA2 in BFG edition.

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