"Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

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"Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-12-13 @ 01:28

Hello,

This is one of my most beloved machines. High resolution pictures can be found here

Image

It originally belonged to my uncle who got it in the mid 2000s for basic office tasks. It apparently died relatively quickly and sat in a corner for nearly a decade.
I always saw it but never gave it much thought since it was just some old system. As my interest in old computers grew I asked my uncle if I could take it home.
Happily he said yes and I got to work as soon as I had lugged it back home.

I opened it up and I was pleasantly surprised to see it was an Intel 440BX based motherboad with a 450MHz Pentium III.
My joy quickly turned sour as I saw that three capacitors near the CPU were bulging.
1,40€ and some soldering later the machine turned to life!

I gave the system a good scrubbing and some upgrades and here we are.

These are the current specs:

Model: IBM 300PL 6862
Chipset: Intel 440BX
Processor: 550MHz Pentium III "Katmai"
RAM: 256MB of PC100 SDRAM
2D Graphics: Miro S3 Trio64V+, (Onboard S3 Trio3D disabled)
3D Graphics: Orchid Righteous 3D II 12MB (3dfx Voodoo 2)
Sound: Onboard Crystal 4236
Networking: Onboard 10/100 ethernet controller
HDD: 13GB Seagate
CD Drive: Compaq CRD-8400B
Floppy Drive: Alps 3 1/2' 1.44MB

Peripherals:

Monitor: Fujitsu Siemens C775 (This one was paired with the machine when I picked it up.)
Keyboard: IBM Model M
PS/2 Mouse: Microsoft IntelliMouse 1.2A
USB Mouse: Logitech G5
Speakers: NEC stereo speakers.


It is running Windows 98 SE with an adapted version of Phil's DOS Starter Pack.

Here is an inside view.

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A closer shot of the hardware.

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The rear I/O

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Here it is running some games. Starting with Need for Speed II SE

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The original Quake.

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Half Life!

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One of my childhood favourites, Star Wars Episode I Racer!

Image

Unreal Gold.

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Of course the machine can run DOS games as well. Here's some Descent 2.

Image



Overall I really like this machine. I certainly have more powerful systems from the same time period but I like this one because it is something "achievable".
Something that the family can use for their office needs but with a Voodoo 2 for some games for the kids. If I had been born a few years earlier I might have used something quite similar to this.

Some of you might ask yourself why I'm using an S3 Trio64V+ instead of the onboard Trio3D. Well, the answer is simple, the loop cable for the Voodoo2 isn't quite long enough.
I'm going to see if I can find a more suitable card for the system in my collection but for now it's working just fine.

I didn't put in another soundcard because in my opinion the onboard Crystal solution works just fine.
It might not be as fancy as an Aureal Vortex 2 or a Soundblaster Live! but I really like the way it's Soundblaster Pro emulation sounds. It's actually pretty damn good.

Now, I am interested in upgrading the CPU if possible but I couldn't find out if it is possible.
According to the chart inside the PC I have the fastest CPU it can run but I'm thinking that maybe because the faster ones didn't exist yet.
If anybody knows how to get something like a 700MHz Coppermine PIII running, please tell me!

So, that's all, I hope you like it!
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby clueless1 » 2016-12-13 @ 02:01

Beautiful system, man. Very clean, good job. :)
The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-12-13 @ 02:17

clueless1 wrote:Beautiful system, man. Very clean, good job. :)


Thank you very much, I appreciate it!
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby maximus » 2016-12-13 @ 03:38

Ah, very nice! Perfect specs for games from 1997 to '99. Thank you for keeping the CRT as well. That machine just wouldn't look right with an LCD perched on top.

I've always liked the idea of somehow jamming a good graphics card into a desktop case. I'm guessing that riser card doesn't have an AGP port, so the Voodoo2 was a good choice. You could also try a Voodoo3 PCI, or even something as new as a Quadro NVS 100 (GeForce4 MX for workstations), but the Pentium III 550 will quickly become the limiting factor. I think there were some options for further CPU upgrades on 440BX boards. (PowerLeap comes to mind; maybe somebody on here knows more.)

Glad to see you're fan of Star Wars Episode 1 Racer. That game is a blast! Last time I played it, I used an original Xbox controller with the XBCD drivers. Would highly recommend. The dual analog sticks and analog triggers come in handy in that game. (Ditto for Rogue Squadron - those two games go together for me.)
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby Jade Falcon » 2016-12-13 @ 04:31

I have yet to see any system of yours that I would not want for myself.

Your systems are grate.
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-12-13 @ 13:57

maximus wrote:Ah, very nice! Perfect specs for games from 1997 to '99. Thank you for keeping the CRT as well. That machine just wouldn't look right with an LCD perched on top.


I actually prefer CRTs over LCDs overall. The generally higher refresh rate, low to nonexistant input lag and the black reproduction is why I love them. The only exceptions in my mind are 85Hz+ LCDs.
On my modern Machine I have a 144Hz 1080p Monitor for example. I like to dream of a world where CRTs weren't dropped after the mainstream adoption of LCDs. Can you imagine something like a WQHD 144Hz CRT?

maximus wrote:I've always liked the idea of somehow jamming a good graphics card into a desktop case. I'm guessing that riser card doesn't have an AGP port, so the Voodoo2 was a good choice. You could also try a Voodoo3 PCI, or even something as new as a Quadro NVS 100 (GeForce4 MX for workstations), but the Pentium III 550 will quickly become the limiting factor. I think there were some options for further CPU upgrades on 440BX boards. (PowerLeap comes to mind; maybe somebody on here knows more.)


The riser card doesn't have an AGP port but the motherboard does! Check the shots of the internals. You can see it on the bottom left.
The only problem is, the case only fits graphics cards with the VGA connector at a certain height. Other cards won't fit.

I have found a Diamond Viper 550 (Riva TNT) in my collection that might fit. However I'm not really sure it's worth replacing the Trio64V+ with it.
The Voodoo2 only has a bit of a resolution disadvantage compared to the TNT and putting it in there to take over the Direct3D stuff probably isn't worth it.

It's not really an issue with 440BX boards but this one in particular. I can't find any information about it supporting faster ones and what settings I'd have to change for them to work.
For now the system runs well enough for what I want to use it for.

maximus wrote:Glad to see you're fan of Star Wars Episode 1 Racer. That game is a blast! Last time I played it, I used an original Xbox controller with the XBCD drivers. Would highly recommend. The dual analog sticks and analog triggers come in handy in that game. (Ditto for Rogue Squadron - those two games go together for me.)


That game was a big part of my childhood. I was devastated when I got a new rig back in 2008 and it didn't run on Vista (I know, just, Ugh).
However, this game not running well on modern hardware was the reason I started collecting and building old computer systems.
Funnily enough I played it with a Logitech F510 on my Dual PIII rig some time ago. Worked great!


Jade Falcon wrote:I have yet to see any system of yours that I would not want for myself.

Your systems are grate.


Thank you very much! I try to keep my systems clean and well thought out. It usually takes me quite a long time to get a system to where I want to show it off.
I'm only showing off so many right now because I had time to get them sorted.
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby raymangold » 2016-12-13 @ 22:28

The Pentium 2 300PLs can use up to 768 MB of SDRAM (3x 256 modules), I've had mine configured that high before I recycled it in favour of the Pentium 1 unit instead. The capacitors in the Pentium 2 units for some reason occasionally got low quality batches--which looks like yours suffers from. Fortunately it's not that hard to recap, and I went through my Pentium 1 unit to replace everything even the riser card despite it using quality caps, they're just getting old at this point.

One irritating problem of the Pentium 2 300PLs are the variable fan noise. You could bypass the main fan and feed it off of the PSU, and then build a circuit to simulate a tachometer signal if the 300PL insists on seeing a system fan present.

You can get a matching web camera to prop on top of the monitor for fun (IBM Pro webcam):
Image

maximus wrote:Ah, very nice! Perfect specs for games from 1997 to '99. Thank you for keeping the CRT as well. That machine just wouldn't look right with an LCD perched on top.

I've always liked the idea of somehow jamming a good graphics card into a desktop case. I'm guessing that riser card doesn't have an AGP port, so the Voodoo2 was a good choice. You could also try a Voodoo3 PCI, or even something as new as a Quadro NVS 100 (GeForce4 MX for workstations), but the Pentium III 550 will quickly become the limiting factor. I think there were some options for further CPU upgrades on 440BX boards. (PowerLeap comes to mind; maybe somebody on here knows more.)

Glad to see you're fan of Star Wars Episode 1 Racer. That game is a blast! Last time I played it, I used an original Xbox controller with the XBCD drivers. Would highly recommend. The dual analog sticks and analog triggers come in handy in that game. (Ditto for Rogue Squadron - those two games go together for me.)

Racoonrider did a thread about the Pentium 2 300PL NLX adapters:
https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=37640&start=20
You need a specific form factor video card and mounting bracket, fortunately the mounting bracket can be reused for certain cards.
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-12-14 @ 01:54

raymangold wrote:The Pentium 2 300PLs can use up to 768 MB of SDRAM (3x 256 modules), I've had mine configured that high before I recycled it in favour of the Pentium 1 unit instead. The capacitors in the Pentium 2 units for some reason occasionally got low quality batches--which looks like yours suffers from. Fortunately it's not that hard to recap, and I went through my Pentium 1 unit to replace everything even the riser card despite it using quality caps, they're just getting old at this point.


I think I'm gonna keep the RAM at 256MB, it works just fine for what I'm doing. I might upgrade it though. (EDIT: Turns out I forgot that I got 384MB in there!)

After the recap the machine is working great.

raymangold wrote:One irritating problem of the Pentium 2 300PLs are the variable fan noise. You could bypass the main fan and feed it off of the PSU, and then build a circuit to simulate a tachometer signal if the 300PL insists on seeing a system fan present.


I haven't actually noticed it much, although I have a higher tolerance for "loud" computers.

raymangold wrote:You can get a matching web camera to prop on top of the monitor for fun (IBM Pro webcam):
Image


That looks neat but I doubt I'd have much use for it. :lol:

raymangold wrote:
maximus wrote:Ah, very nice! Perfect specs for games from 1997 to '99. Thank you for keeping the CRT as well. That machine just wouldn't look right with an LCD perched on top.

I've always liked the idea of somehow jamming a good graphics card into a desktop case. I'm guessing that riser card doesn't have an AGP port, so the Voodoo2 was a good choice. You could also try a Voodoo3 PCI, or even something as new as a Quadro NVS 100 (GeForce4 MX for workstations), but the Pentium III 550 will quickly become the limiting factor. I think there were some options for further CPU upgrades on 440BX boards. (PowerLeap comes to mind; maybe somebody on here knows more.)

Glad to see you're fan of Star Wars Episode 1 Racer. That game is a blast! Last time I played it, I used an original Xbox controller with the XBCD drivers. Would highly recommend. The dual analog sticks and analog triggers come in handy in that game. (Ditto for Rogue Squadron - those two games go together for me.)

Racoonrider did a thread about the Pentium 2 300PL NLX adapters:
https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=37640&start=20
You need a specific form factor video card and mounting bracket, fortunately the mounting bracket can be reused for certain cards.


Thanks for the tip. I actually have some cards that might fit it. I just need to get one of those brackets or make something myself.
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby chinny22 » 2016-12-15 @ 14:35

My fist work had 2 of these in the office, cant remember the exact specs but I remember. one was Celeron based and the other was a P2 or P3 both with Win98, and may have been upgraded to XP? Whatever the point is I never had to do any work on them, they just worked and worked.
I ended up taking them home when they were decommissioned, round the same time as your uncle got his. Never did anything with them, and sadly think I took them to the tip in the end.

1/2-ish height AGP is bit of a pain, but think this makes a great voodoo PC as is. Smaller case is always a bonus when you have a few PC's lying around the house.
I would think at the very least you can upgrade to a 600Mhz Katmai, Its after this the voltage changed and older motherboards struggle, you could always try one of your 1GHz CPU's It wont hurt them, It just wont start.

Oh, and the pass though cable is just a standard vga cable if you wanted to use the onboard video,
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby Tetrium » 2016-12-15 @ 21:36

I was never a fan of desktop-style cases, but that IBM logo at startup looks totally awesome :D
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-12-15 @ 22:04

chinny22 wrote:My fist work had 2 of these in the office, cant remember the exact specs but I remember. one was Celeron based and the other was a P2 or P3 both with Win98, and may have been upgraded to XP? Whatever the point is I never had to do any work on them, they just worked and worked.
I ended up taking them home when they were decommissioned, round the same time as your uncle got his. Never did anything with them, and sadly think I took them to the tip in the end.


When I got the machine it had a horribly slow install of Windows XP on it. I couldn't wipe that fast enough. I really like those older IBM machines.

chinny22 wrote:1/2-ish height AGP is bit of a pain, but think this makes a great voodoo PC as is. Smaller case is always a bonus when you have a few PC's lying around the house.
I would think at the very least you can upgrade to a 600Mhz Katmai, Its after this the voltage changed and older motherboards struggle, you could always try one of your 1GHz CPU's It wont hurt them, It just wont start.


Well it's not really half height it just uses a different mounting bracket and needs a bit of a PCB cutout. I actually have several cards I could put in the machine if I had the mounting bracket. A Diamond Viper V550, ATI Rage IIC, and some other ones I think.

Aah so it's the voltage that's the problem! I didn't know that. I think I'm gonna stick with the 550MHz for now. An extra 50MHz won't change much.


chinny22 wrote:Oh, and the pass though cable is just a standard vga cable if you wanted to use the onboard video,


I know that but the thing is I can only find like 2M VGA extension cables and the image significantly degrades over that distance. I might cut one up and make it shorter but for now this is working fine.

Tetrium wrote:I was never a fan of desktop-style cases, but that IBM logo at startup looks totally awesome :D


I actually quite like Desktop style cases. They use less space, since you can remove the monitor stand most of the time, and it only adds a little height to the monitor, which I like. Brings it more to eye level.

I love that IBM logo!
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby jheronimus » 2016-12-15 @ 22:23

Hellistor wrote:
chinny22 wrote:Oh, and the pass though cable is just a standard vga cable if you wanted to use the onboard video,


I know that but the thing is I can only find like 2M VGA extension cables and the image significantly degrades over that distance. I might cut one up and make it shorter but for now this is working fine.


Not really. When I've got my first V2, I've been warned against using long extension cables, but had to do it for a while since I couldn't find any proper passthroughs. However, I've never noticed any significant difference. But I don't see a lot of difference between the quality output of S3 and Matrox cards, too.
Socket 7: Pentium 166; 64MB RAM; Matrox Millenium+Voodoo 1; AWE32 PnP w/28MB + GUS PnP Pro w/8MB
Slot 1: Pentium III 500; 384MB RAM; Voodoo 5 5500 AGP; AWE64 Value w/8MB + Diamond Monster Sound MX300 + SoundBlaster Live!
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby Hellistor » 2016-12-15 @ 23:26

jheronimus wrote:
Hellistor wrote:
chinny22 wrote:Oh, and the pass though cable is just a standard vga cable if you wanted to use the onboard video,


I know that but the thing is I can only find like 2M VGA extension cables and the image significantly degrades over that distance. I might cut one up and make it shorter but for now this is working fine.


Not really. When I've got my first V2, I've been warned against using long extension cables, but had to do it for a while since I couldn't find any proper passthroughs. However, I've never noticed any significant difference. But I don't see a lot of difference between the quality output of S3 and Matrox cards, too.


I tried using a 2m VGA extension with my Dual Pentium III machine. It looked washed out and blurry. After I got the correct passthrough cable it looked much sharper. But yeah, I can't really tell a difference between S3 and Matrox cards either.
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Re: "Chief Blue Meanie", My Voodoo2 powered IBM 300PL.

Postby Tetrium » 2016-12-17 @ 18:18

Hellistor wrote:
Tetrium wrote:I was never a fan of desktop-style cases, but that IBM logo at startup looks totally awesome :D


I actually quite like Desktop style cases. They use less space, since you can remove the monitor stand most of the time, and it only adds a little height to the monitor, which I like. Brings it more to eye level.

I love that IBM logo!

True. Though most desktop cases use non-standard parts, which is why I decided to go tower-only when I had just started collecting parts :)
And towers generally also have a bit more room.

But in the end it's mostly a matter of personal preference, there's no definitive "wrong" here I think, to each his own :D (I gotta have to get me a board with that blue logo now lol!)
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