Here's an update, as I have practically made up my mind about this topic. I'll go with the Athlon XP as the main retro PC multi-boot build and keep the Pentium 3 build as a fallback for natively running DOS games and Apps that use sound capabilities, if ever required.
The choice I'm making is based on audio constraints. Please let me know if I'm not making a sound choice (pun unintended).
I have a Sound Blaster Live! (which is PCI) for the AthlonXP build, and from several reports, it is a bitch to set up for DOS, with some games working and others not. An ISA card like the AWE64 I have on the Pentium 3 build, is reported to get by with most DOS games.
So this means I'll be putting my priorities on setting up the AthlonXP build for some DOS games that might work natively with the Live!. If they don't work properly after fifteen minutes of tinkering, they'll get the DOSbox treatment. In dire cases when I really need a true native treatment for a DOS game, the Pentium 3 build will be used. Seems like I'm going to keep the KVM switch connected after all.
Here are the specs for anyone in the future going through a similar project.
== Athlon XP Build ==
- Athlon XP 2500+ (Upgrade plan to 3200+)
- Asrock K7VT4A Pro Motherboard (Upgrade plan to DFI Lan Party Ultra B)
- Thermaltake V9 Black Edition ATX Mid-tower case
- Zalman ZM-MFC1 6 Fan Manual Control Panel.
- 2GB DDR400 RAM (Upgrade plan to 3GB on DFI motherboard)
- NVidia GeForce 5500FX (Upgrade plan to NVidia GeForce 6800 Ultra)
- Sound Blaster Live! with Live! Drive
- 2x 3Dfx Voodoo 2 (connected via SLI cable)
- 4 Hard Drives (3 IDE + 1 SATA) from 60GB to 320GB (magnetic spinning at the moment, upgrade plan to SSD/CF drives as capacity improves, prices fall and drives fail)
- 1 DVD+RW Drive (IDE)
- Two Floppy Drives (for playing with the Amiga floppy copying mechanism)
- Added a Network card and Video Capture card to keep all the PCI slots comfy and check if there are any request conflicts, though they are not crucial for the build;
- OSes (currently working): DOS 6.22 + Windows 98 SE, DOS 7.10 Unofficial Pack, Windows XP, Windows 7 and Gentoo Linux with SVGAlib working. (Upgrade plan for additional OSes by multi-booting, BSDs, other DOS brands, and alternate less known OSes like AROS, Haiku, Kolibri/Menuet).
== Pentium 3 Build ==
- Pentium 3 733MHz (I think), FSB 133MHz
- Asus MB (don't remember the model reference)
- 320MB RAM (I think)
- Creative Labs DXR3
- AWE64 Standard (1MB)
- 15GB Hard Drive
- DVD Playback with CD+RW recording Drive
- Floppy Drive
I'd just like to add that Mau1wurf1977's "Roland MT-32: The Ultimate Tutorial" has been an inspiration to find out more about audio hardware compatibility in the late eighties/early nineties. Good thing you keep it in your signature, Mau1wurf1977. And I'm only 24 minutes in; I've been pausing every two to three minutes to do some tangent research which eventually led me to this train of thought. A little more than three more hours to go, let me see where it leads... And no, I will not be getting an MT-32 (old) and/or subsequent modules with all their nuances. I'll stick to MT-32 emulation and recordings, thank you very much 😀.
EDIT: Added Thermaltake V9 Black Edition case to the list.
EDIT2: Added upgrade plan.