A very long post about my retro pc

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A very long post about my retro pc

Postby forteller » 2017-9-29 @ 12:34

Hello everyone!
I wanted to present my retro PC build I’ve made recently, but since I've got nostalgic I think I will start with a little background about me and my history with PCs :P

###### ABOLUTELY IRRELEVANT STUFF STARTS HERE ######
(wish there was a spoiler bbcode tag supported)

As for now I am 26 years old and I started my journey with PCs early but slowly – I never had any alternatives at home. First computer which my parents owned was equipped with 386DX-25MHz, 4MB of RAM and 130MB HDD. Machine was very expensive in 1992 in my country, and not many people could afford anything x86 based – most of friends had NES clones named Pegazus during 1990s. Because of that it was more of novelty to me, because I didn’t know anyone I could share my experiences with. I remember that it had Wolfenstein 3D, Mamba and Colgate games installed along with some clones of Tetris, Mahjong, Solitare etc under Windows 3.11. Somewhere around 1997 and 1998 most of them were removed to make space for Office 4.0 which was painful experience on that machine anyway (I remember that Excel took few minutes to start).

I started to lose my interest in that PC totally, because during late 1990s many people were buying new PCs as they were becoming more affordable. Most of them had P54’s with 16MB RAM, so not awesome at all, but I was totally shocked by how NFS3 and GLQuake looked (one of my neighbors had a Voodoo card!). It was totally new level experience to make a jump from Wolfenstein3D to GLQuake.

In 2000 my parents finally decided to buy next PC. It was low-budget machine, underpowered even back then; it had Celeron 500MHz, 64MB of RAM and Riva TNT2 M64 which later became my nightmare. It had few nice things though – my father insisted on DVD playback and bought necessary drive. I believe it was Pioneer DVD-106 and it failed pretty soon (2-3 years later), but we also got nice flat CRT screen, although it was far too small for watching DVDs – Sony Trinitron E100. (side note: 12 years later, I found on attic boxes from this PC laying around – for GPU, CPU and mobo. Apparently, I had Abit BX133. If only I have known anything about overclocking CPUs back then! (and if Celeron 500 was Coppermine and not Mendocino)).

I can say with all honesty that my history with computers started for real in 2000. I spent hours and hours playing on that PC and learning about it. I installed OS for the first time on my own, got dial-up connection to Internet and was really sucked by it.

Moving forward into the more recent times: in 2002 my father got this PC upgraded, although it couldn’t go more badly: we’ve got Pentium 4 1,6GHz Willamete, but most of other components remained the same, so it was painfully slow equipped with SDRAM (now on 192MB) and Riva TNT2 M64. I remember seeing 4FPS in GTA3. This was last upgrade made by my father, all further PCs I’ve built on my own starting from Barton 2600+ and Radeon 9550 in 2004, but it is not so relevant.

I became interested in retro PCs around 2006 when I graduated to high school. There were months I went to commodity market 2 times a week (so every time it was open) and I was buying MASSIVE amount (or so I thought) of “old junk”. That’s how I became owner of bunch of Pentium PROs, Intel Confidence 865 board, dozens of CPUs etc etc. I also bought my first digital camera there, so I got some pictures from those times.
Image Image Image Image Image
Time passed by and I shifted my focus from retro PCs to modern ones to keep up with studying. Most of the components I had were somehow lost in time – I either given it away to someone, or disposed it if it wasn’t working. And that’s how we end up now.
I have kept few things from those times though:
- More than 100 cpus including few interesting ones
- 2 boxes of RAM sticks
- Intel Providence PR440FX board with two Pentium Pro 200Mhz 512k, VRM, and 192MB of RAM (definitely my favorite platform, but not suitable for Win98/DOS)
- My favorite AT case (you saw it already ;) )
- Creative CT3990
- Quite few other things

###### ABOLUTELY IRRELEVANT STUFF ENDS HERE ######

Recently I wanted to go back in time, and play games that I enjoyed during late 1990s with my friends, but also those that I was playing in early 2000s on Celeron 500 PC. Choice was obvious: my PC will be based on Socket 7 platform for extended compatibility. I will also try to “max it out” as far as I can so I could run games from around 2002 such as GTA3. I didn’t thought that so many obstacles will occur, so let’s start!

Luckily, one Super Socket 7 board survived all those years in my basement, so I thought that the worst part is out of my way, as those boards are getting very pricey lately. I couldn’t be more wrong, but more on that later. The board itself is Shuttle HOT-591P, so one of slower ones, but from benchmarks I’ve done, it is on par with other MVP3 / Alladin V boards. It has one issue though – PCI slots are in line with CPU socket, so basically any cooling solution will prevent me from using Voodoo 2 card which I really wanted to put in my PC.
Image
First tests were done using some really small GPU heatsink with fan laying around:
Image
I started to dig around and after few days I found cooling solution right for me. I don’t know where it was applied, but it has label saying “P4 2.0” so that’s a clue about it’s cooling capabilities. Should be enough for any CPU designed for Socket 7. It looks like cooling solution for some tiny PC though.

Mods done to make it work:
- Mount it upside-down so it will actually touch the CPU
- Drill mounting hole for Socket A bracket using CNC mill
- Modify bracket so it will fit on this board and push cooler onto the CPU (basically some bending and cutting)
- Solder 3-pin FAN connector (it used proprietary 4-pin connector with separate +12V for each fan)
- Attach Noctua Ultra-Low Noise adapter (at max speed, those fans are louder than hairdryer)
- Rotate fans so the actually push air through heatsink (done after pics were taken)
- Cut a hole in case, as the cooler collided with lower 5,25” bay
Here is how it looks like:
Image Image Image Image
In the meantime, I started to seek for AT case. As I stated above, I have kept my favorite one but unfortunately not in some very good conditions, so it corroded badly. I managed to find another case, but it must had fell at least a few times and it was bent so badly, that I spent 15 minutes just trying to open it. I didn’t know that obtaining nice AT case is so hard today, so I decided to stick with it. I managed to straighten it, but front panel was in very bad condition after those drops. Then I had an idea – maybe I will exchange only front panels? To my surprise it was 100% fit! I could enjoy my favorite case (or front panel to be precise) in good condition. I was very pleased with that.
Image Image
What is so special about this front panel?
Image
I absolutely love this display and LEDs. They look awesome, and with complete setup it gets even better (you will see). Only one problem though: my board doesn’t support Turbo button, so I hardwired it and it lights up as soon as I switch power on. All in all, Super Socket 7 is “Turbo” considering AT era PCs, right? ;)
Then the PSU – the only properly working one I own had a proprietary switch soldered into the cable and it was broken anyway (there wasn’t a way to turn the unit off) so soldering again!
Image
All it took to make a complete setup was to find properly working expansion cards and here you have it: my ultimate retro gaming PC:
Image Image Image
(TURBO!! :D)
It is equipped with:
- AMD K6-III+ 400ATZ @ 600MHz 2,2V
- Shuttle HOT-591P
- 384MB of SDRAM @ 100MHz 2-2-2-5
- MSI GeForce 3Ti 200 (MS-8850)
- Diamond Monster 3D II 8MB
- Creative SoundBlaster AWE32 CT3990 (I only have 1MB 30-pin SIMMs, so currently 2MB but looking for upgrade!)
- Realtek RTL8139C
- Seagate ST3160215A (Barracuda 7200.10 160GB)
- Old Samsung DVD drive
- Sony FDD
- 230W AT PSU
I also got:
- Sony G200 CRT screen (identical to my E100 but bigger and supporting two inputs)
- A bunch of keyboards, but none mechanical yet. I’ve got some foam and foil Unitek and bunch of IBM and Dell rubber domes from 1993-1998. I also used Cherry MY keyboard borrowed from my brother but didn’t liked it.
- Two ball mice from MS and A4Tech

Few more observations and questions to you guys:
- Do anyone have an idea why memory performance suffers badly when I exchange 128MB stick with the 256MB one (drop from 130MB/s to 80MB/s write performance in Everest Home)? I have two the same 256MB PC133 sticks and with only one + 128MB it works fine.
- I have big music collection stored on NAS in FLAC format. When I try to play it with foobar2000 0.8.3 it clicks and cracks constantly and I observed the same behavior with PR440FX and AWE32 under Windows XP with FLAC files stored locally. Using Winamp2 with FLAC plugin makes playback almost perfect (although there are come cracks still) and playing MP3 320k doesn’t reveal such problem in either foobar and Winamp. Is it related to pushing too much data through ISA slot?
- I thought that such modern HDD will run quietly, but it is quite loud. I will replace it with some single-platter Barracuda 7200.7 as I remember that those were very quiet
- I have put another low speed fan adapter from Noctua on GPU fan as it drove me crazy, but it is still loud and GPU became so hot, it warms up the whole case and I need to keep it open
- I am about to exchange GF3Ti with Kyro II 64MB, but I don’t have a cooler on it yet. I think it will do just fine with a passive cooling from some GF4MX card and performance wise it should be more than enough for K6 machine. I will miss those fancy shaders and T&L but not much :)
I think that’s all! I wonder if someone will read it, as my English isn’t my strong point and my post became a little overwhelming. But I hope someone will enjoy my journey at least partly as I did. Now let’s play Rayman 2!
Last edited by forteller on 2017-11-17 @ 22:00, edited 6 times in total.
2017: 7800X@4,6G / X299 / 32GB / GTX 1080 / SM961 256GB+2x256GB RAID0 / G710+ / G402 / U2713H
2003: P4 2,8C@3,4G / IS7 / 2GB / AIW9700Pro / 160GB+2x40GB RAID0 / SK-8000 / IMO 1.1A / G200
2000: K6-3+@600M / 591P / 384MB / Voodoo3+1 / GUS+AWE32 / 40GB
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby F2bnp » 2017-9-29 @ 13:04

That is a mighty awesome system and a lovely post. I will return to comment further once I have more time!

Edit:

This is really a great all-rounder. I really like your story behind it and how you started messing with this sort of hardware. I've dabbled with Super Socket 7 quite a bit, so I'll try to help you with some of the questions you raised:

a) The memory performance is probably a chipset issue. I know that ALi Aladdin V (the other big chipset for super 7) also drops performance when using 256MB instead of 128MB. I'd just use 128MB, it should be enough for Win98SE and the sort of games that you're going to play on this system. Unless you want to try out WinXP, in which case the more the merrier!

b) FLAC is much more demanding than MP3 320KBps as far as I know, so you could just be running out of CPU here. You could also try a PCI card and see if that fixes the problem.

c) I don't know what to tell you here, I use an Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM HDD from around the same era and it is pretty quiet, all things considered.

d) That sucks! You could try replacing the cooler, there are some very cheap zalman-like chinese knock offs on ebay that cost 3-5$ each and they do a magnificent job with those old GPUs. I wonder if it will fit however, as I see that you have the PCI slot right below it populated! By the way, what card have you squeezed in there? In the list you made, I only see the Voodoo2 and the Realtek card. However, before you go buying anything...

e) Both the GF3 and Kyro 2 are great cards. However, they are kind of excessive for Super Socket 7, as the CPU is still a little too slow. At 600MHz, it usually falls around the Pentium 2 350-400MHz ballpark. So, unless you try something like GTA3 like you mention, games will always be CPU limited, to the point where even a Voodoo3 will be bottlenecked by this CPU. And even in the case of GTA3 in which you would need a better GPU, the CPU performance will still be way too low and you won't have an enjoyable experience. TnL enabled games will also run quite a bit faster on TnL enabled cards, but again are you going to play these games on this system other than perhaps fooling around with them for half an hour?
On top of that, both Aladdin V and MVP3 chipsets are notorious for lame AGP support (and many issues arise on both platforms). That's why, I prefer to use 3Dfx cards for these systems. A Voodoo3 will be more than enough and usually bottlenecked by the CPU, so you can even underclock it a little and still enjoy the same performance at reduced temps. You can even go for the Voodoo5 which will allow you to use anti-aliasing with little performance hit.

3Dfx cards tend to work best in these platforms because they did not really take advantage of AGP features, merely using it as a 66MHz bus as opposed to 33MHz on PCI. Also, 3Dfx did a lot of optimization in their drivers for K6 processors, probably taking advantage of 3DNow! and they did so more than their competitors. So, in most games, where you will be CPU bottlenecked and not able to use TnL, 3Dfx cards actually produce slightly better framerates. I've seen this with Voodoo3 vs GeForce3 even, the Voodoo3 pulls ahead slightly (nothing major, 3-5fps in most cases) just because it helps the CPU a little bit due to the optimizations.
So, this is definitely something to consider for this system.

In any case, see if you can get a 12MB Voodoo2 just to max this thing out :lol: .
Last edited by F2bnp on 2017-9-29 @ 16:38, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby Munx » 2017-9-29 @ 13:14

That front panel looks amazing 8-o
My builds!
The FireStarter 2.0 - The wooden K5
The Underdog - The budget K6
The budget Thunderbird - The powerhungry K7
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby Mister Xiado » 2017-9-29 @ 13:57

Very nice. Also, turbo mode was originally to slow computers down, IIRC, if you were running an application that was going way too fast at the processor's default clockspeed. I think it flipped around after years of confusion so that it had the opposite function. I resurrected my first computer a few weeks ago, after nearly 20 years of its motherboard sitting in a cardboard box. Alas, being a K6-2 300 with Win98, there's not much for me to do with it, since I seldom play games anymore, but it's satisfying to resurrect that which would otherwise be relegated to the scrapheap.
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby cyclone3d » 2017-9-29 @ 14:11

Great story and build. I absolutely love the heatpipe cooler you modded to fit.

I am still looking for a Super Socket 7 board for a K6-III+ build. They are so pricey now days.

I got an ASUS P5A quite a while ago, but it is dead. :depressed:
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby Jade Falcon » 2017-9-29 @ 14:44

That has to be one of the most well thought out and nicest sk7 systems I seen in a long time.
By the way were did the heatsink from?
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby chinny22 » 2017-9-29 @ 15:11

Munx wrote:That front panel looks amazing 8-o

+1 with ones supporting 199 being rare and yours goes up to 999!

Read the story, always interesting to see where someone started from. I jumped from Dx2/66 to a P2 400 with 16MB TNT and like you said NFS3 was beautiful!

AWE cards are noisy old things, nothing to back it up but would blame the card especially if you have tried 2 PC's. later cards also support decoding which may be why flac is worse affected the mp3. Either way I recommend PCI card for WIn9x.

HDD should make the same amount of noise in any PC. maybe its just a noisy drive?

Old cases have terrible air flow, you can try mounting fans in places to force airflow over parts but in the end hot air as very little way of escaping.

Your English is fine btw!
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby Jade Falcon » 2017-9-29 @ 16:05

looks like there is spot in the front for a 50/60mm fan, and room in the back to mod a found mount for a 40-60mm fan.
Id just add a fan in the front and call it a day for cooling.
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby Deksor » 2017-9-29 @ 16:43

In 2000 my parents finally decided to buy next PC. It was low-budget machine, underpowered even back then; it had Celeron 500MHz, 64MB of RAM and Riva TNT2 M64 which later became my nightmare.


We had worse : a celeron 633 with 64MB of ram and a 10GB HDD with windows 98SE installed on it and ... integrated GPU ... FROM SiS ! and no agp slot ! And we bought it in 2001 !


That crap died from badcaps in 2008



Your K6-3+ seems really good ! I need a K6-3+ chip, but I can't find one for a decent price (30/40€ for an old chip that gets crushed by a pentium 3 ? You have to be kidding me !)
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby forteller » 2017-9-29 @ 18:21

That's a great response from all of you guys! Thank you very much - it really makes me willing to continue work with this PC. I will try to make general response, and respond to certain posts.

First of all, it is still work in progress. I am experimenting with cards and setup every day, and photos were made few days ago. System got few additions and few things were removed and I will describe it when answering to people asking about those.

I managed to fit 120mm fan on front of the case. It think about cutting front part of the case to properly mount 120mm fan. Another thing is, that front panel collides with the frame of the case and is slightly pushed away.

I also recorded a movie showing problem with sound. From this video you can clearly see that:
- My setup is far from complete and I have big mess on that desk :D
- I try to search for google within google (well, almost ;) )
- My sister yells a lot
- FLAC playback is generally ok, but there are those cracks sometime. In this example I tried to open AWE32 properties in Device Manager as I earlier found that doing so makes it pop more frequently, but it wasn't the case this time
- Very interesting for me is that crack is visible on foobar's spectrum visualisation
- MP3 playback is flawless even under high system load
F2bnp wrote:That is a mighty awesome system and a lovely post. I will return to comment further once I have more time!

Edit:

This is really a great all-rounder. I really like your story behind it and how you started messing with this sort of hardware. I've dabbled with Super Socket 7 quite a bit, so I'll try to help you with some of the questions you raised:

a) The memory performance is probably a chipset issue. I know that ALi Aladdin V (the other big chipset for super 7) also drops performance when using 256MB instead of 128MB. I'd just use 128MB, it should be enough for Win98SE and the sort of games that you're going to play on this system. Unless you want to try out WinXP, in which case the more the merrier!

b) FLAC is much more demanding than MP3 320KBps as far as I know, so you could just be running out of CPU here. You could also try a PCI card and see if that fixes the problem.

c) I don't know what to tell you here, I use an Western Digital 80GB 7200RPM HDD from around the same era and it is pretty quiet, all things considered.

d) That sucks! You could try replacing the cooler, there are some very cheap zalman-like chinese knock offs on ebay that cost 3-5$ each and they do a magnificent job with those old GPUs. I wonder if it will fit however, as I see that you have the PCI slot right below it populated! By the way, what card have you squeezed in there? In the list you made, I only see the Voodoo2 and the Realtek card. However, before you go buying anything...

e) Both the GF3 and Kyro 2 are great cards. However, they are kind of excessive for Super Socket 7, as the CPU is still a little too slow. At 600MHz, it usually falls around the Pentium 2 350-400MHz ballpark. So, unless you try something like GTA3 like you mention, games will always be CPU limited, to the point where even a Voodoo3 will be bottlenecked by this CPU. And even in the case of GTA3 in which you would need a better GPU, the CPU performance will still be way too low and you won't have an enjoyable experience. TnL enabled games will also run quite a bit faster on TnL enabled cards, but again are you going to play these games on this system other than perhaps fooling around with them for half an hour?
On top of that, both Aladdin V and MVP3 chipsets are notorious for lame AGP support (and many issues arise on both platforms). That's why, I prefer to use 3Dfx cards for these systems. A Voodoo3 will be more than enough and usually bottlenecked by the CPU, so you can even underclock it a little and still enjoy the same performance at reduced temps. You can even go for the Voodoo5 which will allow you to use anti-aliasing with little performance hit.

3Dfx cards tend to work best in these platforms because they did not really take advantage of AGP features, merely using it as a 66MHz bus as opposed to 33MHz on PCI. Also, 3Dfx did a lot of optimization in their drivers for K6 processors, probably taking advantage of 3DNow! and they did so more than their competitors. So, in most games, where you will be CPU bottlenecked and not able to use TnL, 3Dfx cards actually produce slightly better framerates. I've seen this with Voodoo3 vs GeForce3 even, the Voodoo3 pulls ahead slightly (nothing major, 3-5fps in most cases) just because it helps the CPU a little bit due to the optimizations.
So, this is definitely something to consider for this system.

In any case, see if you can get a 12MB Voodoo2 just to max this thing out :lol: .


a.) it got me thinking that maybe problem lies with double-sided sticks. All memory used during my testing is based on the same Micron 7,5ns chips the only difference being that a 128MB module is single-sided. There is nothing wrong with having 384MB of RAM instead of 512MB under Win98 and performance is the same as with just single 64MB stick, so for now I will just stick with this setup. As you said - if I ever try to launch WinXP I will remember about it and experiment further. But I don't see why would I want it - maybe just to see how underperforming K6 is under modern software? ;)

b.) I was always thinking that MP3 being lossy format is more demanding because of whole "erase what human ear doesn't hear" thing and algorithms to mask it out. As I have little knowledge about exact MP3 lame implementation I just checked and MP3 playback yields 4-5% CPU utilization, and FLAC - 25%. Either way, I think there is enough CPU power for decoding both formats and I am still suspecting that ISA might be bottleneck. I haven't tried undocumented jumper settings, but if I could get FSB to 112MHz I would see if that would help, as ISA slot would be overcloked by 12% too. I might use 75MHz or 83MHz setting just as well just to see if that helps.

c.) There is nothing to say - this drive just sucks :) but it is very fast even under UDMA33. I will swap it when I finalize my hardware setup and reinstall Win98 again to make it clean.

d.) What I already tried was to replace the thermal paste and put some Arctic Silver 5, but it didn't helped at all. The thing with this card is that seller said it was brand new, just laying in the box for last 15 years. I don't know if that's true, but card looked mint, and this ugly little fan actually works. I haven't seen working one for some time (someone remembers Abit's IS7 boards? It's like one of these). GF3Ti is just huge power hog - even displaying desktop (I actually haven't run any 3D application yet, as I only tried Rayman 2 under glide) it gradually warms up and after 2 hours by just putting hand near that card I can feel warm air around it. It actually has two thermometers measuring... ambient air. One is placed under heatsink (but doesn't touch it) and after those 2 hours, it says 55*C. Chip itself must by much warmer, and it's only displaying desktop.

I am about to complete few games that were unplayable with TNT2 M64 - mainly Aquanox 1, Giants Citizen Kabuto and some others. I tried them, but got pushed away by low framerates. And it is always nice to finish Rayman 2 yet again :)

You could ask why GF3 then? Matter of fact, there is little reason behind this choice: it's the only GeForce series card I never had. Apart from that, I remember going to computer store in 2001 when I had TNT2 M64 just to ask for the price and go out thinking that I could never afford one (remember that I was only 10 back then ;) )

Reason why I haven't listed card under GF3 is that I removed it very quickly. It was USB2.0 card based on ALi chip which was very unstable with this PC (it got better after installing Via 4in1 driver, but it still was conflicting with others). I managed to make myself working USB cable from my motherboard (as you can see in photos), so there was no reason to keep it. I can copy data between my main PC quickly by LAN.

e.) That's a very interesting point you have. I haven't thought about it, but what you say makes perfect sense. I will have a problem obtaining Voodoo3+ card, as they are very expensive (Voodoo2 was only 20€, Voodoo3 2000 is more than twice of that as well as Voodoo2 12MB...) but who knows, maybe I will find one somewhere cheap. Anyway I am aware of the performance of this platform and I know i will be CPU limited. That's why I don't really mind going back with Kyro II. I just need to find heatsink that will fit.

Mister Xiado wrote:Very nice. Also, turbo mode was originally to slow computers down, IIRC, if you were running an application that was going way too fast at the processor's default clockspeed. I think it flipped around after years of confusion so that it had the opposite function. I resurrected my first computer a few weeks ago, after nearly 20 years of its motherboard sitting in a cardboard box. Alas, being a K6-2 300 with Win98, there's not much for me to do with it, since I seldom play games anymore, but it's satisfying to resurrect that which would otherwise be relegated to the scrapheap.

I believe that I read somewhere about it, but Socket 3 and Socket 5 boards I dealt with had +2MHz to FSB speed with Turbo swtiched on. Maybe it was the case on even older platforms? I dunno, for me it just looks nice :)

Jade Falcon wrote:That has to be one of the most well thought out and nicest sk7 systems I seen in a long time.
By the way were did the heatsink from?

Well... from the same commodity market I used to go to so often 10 years ago :) It was just lying in the box among other coolers, so it will be hard to pinpoint where it came from. But it is nicely finished and fans are nice too (quiet when ran on lower voltage and the motor is inaudible)

chinny22 wrote:
Munx wrote:That front panel looks amazing 8-o

+1 with ones supporting 199 being rare and yours goes up to 999!

Read the story, always interesting to see where someone started from. I jumped from Dx2/66 to a P2 400 with 16MB TNT and like you said NFS3 was beautiful!

AWE cards are noisy old things, nothing to back it up but would blame the card especially if you have tried 2 PC's. later cards also support decoding which may be why flac is worse affected the mp3. Either way I recommend PCI card for WIn9x.

HDD should make the same amount of noise in any PC. maybe its just a noisy drive?

Old cases have terrible air flow, you can try mounting fans in places to force airflow over parts but in the end hot air as very little way of escaping.

Your English is fine btw!

I am aware of the poor sound quality of those, but I won't be using headphones (I tried. Never wanna try again :D) Using Gigaworks T40 II it sounds ok and I will try to find some 2.0/2.1 used white speakers which will sound probably even worse, but that's ok since I will use it mainly for video games. I could stick Audigy SB0090 which has great Win98 support and good performace, but I find it awesome just to use this old card. Another thing is, this board has only 3 PCI slots, so I have to be that wise chosen one that chooses wisely ;) (Borderlands 2 is a great game by the way ;) )

HDD is just noisy regardless of case - it makes high pitched noise which is very annoying. During seek it is ok though. I will replace it when I will be reinstalling my system.

Yea, I know that. Those ribbon cables doesn't help either. I actually managed to fit 12cm in there and mounted it on 2 screws. Works ok, but heat builds up still in the case and GF3Ti is my main culprit.

Thanks about this point with my English. I am practical learner, so I am never really sure if I used certain sentences correctly. I just keep watching movies without subtitles and kept reading foreign articles and that how I learnt :)
Last edited by forteller on 2017-9-29 @ 18:45, edited 2 times in total.
2017: 7800X@4,6G / X299 / 32GB / GTX 1080 / SM961 256GB+2x256GB RAID0 / G710+ / G402 / U2713H
2003: P4 2,8C@3,4G / IS7 / 2GB / AIW9700Pro / 160GB+2x40GB RAID0 / SK-8000 / IMO 1.1A / G200
2000: K6-3+@600M / 591P / 384MB / Voodoo3+1 / GUS+AWE32 / 40GB
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby cliffclaven » 2017-9-29 @ 18:36

Great post and I love that case!
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby amadeus777999 » 2017-9-30 @ 15:38

The case housing the K"600" looks pretty sweet.
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby forteller » 2017-10-01 @ 13:00

I managed to find a small heatsink suitable for Kyro II and so I got it up and running. I did a little comparision in power consumption between my cards and here are my findings:
no card: 66,8W
Radeon 9200: 73W
Kyro II: 77W
GeForce 3: 86W
I done this test measuring power of whole system displaying post screen for a while to get stable result. I didn't thought that Radeon will be so much better, but I am satisfied with my result. Kyro runs cool just displaying the desktop.

I bought some other nice things, namely Seasonic SS-200G AT power supply and Sony VAIO PCVA-SP2 speakers. Both are working, but speakers surprised me a lot as they can produce very nice sound with more than expected low end. Seriously! They will look awesome next to my Sony screen :)

Next step is to modify or change fan in Seasonic as it runs loud, modify case to fit front panel properly and make mounting holes for 12mm fan. Then I will change HDD and call it a day I think ;)
2017: 7800X@4,6G / X299 / 32GB / GTX 1080 / SM961 256GB+2x256GB RAID0 / G710+ / G402 / U2713H
2003: P4 2,8C@3,4G / IS7 / 2GB / AIW9700Pro / 160GB+2x40GB RAID0 / SK-8000 / IMO 1.1A / G200
2000: K6-3+@600M / 591P / 384MB / Voodoo3+1 / GUS+AWE32 / 40GB
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby F2bnp » 2017-10-01 @ 14:17

Pretty cool! Keep us posted :).
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby forteller » 2017-10-02 @ 18:09

Today I've spent whole day trying to figure out why I have so much lower performance under 3dmark2000 than anyone else using GeForce 3Ti. I found what I think are the best settings for memory performance in BIOS. It was enough for so-so result
Image
Only then I found my drivers to be reason behind poor result. Using 7.58 version I came with this result
Image
Far from the best, but almost twice as much nevertheless. Done that result using latest DirectX 9.0 redist so it could be higher, but I cannot aim for the top anyway with this board. I also ran some CPU tests and entered Phil's Ultimate VGA Benchmark Database with result of 427FPS which is among the best results using K6. There was also SuperPI to confirm Win98 performance.
Image Image Image
However I clearly overestimated K6-III+ performance. I was thinking that difference between K6-2 is much bigger. After all those changes GTA3 became passable (there are drops into sub15FPS, but usually 20-30FPS), but Aquanox is out of the league. I will finish few games (MDK1/2, Rayman 2, Giants and few more) and will build some nice Tualatin system that will put this GeForce 3 to proper use. Actually, I have a platform (Celeron 1000A capable of 1600MHz and 815EPT board) but I will look after nice looking case and buy PIII-S 1,4GHz.

Another problem with this platform is that is quite unstable. Clearly drivers issue as I can for example read from usb stick whole day, but trying to write something will bring BSOD.
Last edited by forteller on 2017-11-17 @ 22:05, edited 1 time in total.
2017: 7800X@4,6G / X299 / 32GB / GTX 1080 / SM961 256GB+2x256GB RAID0 / G710+ / G402 / U2713H
2003: P4 2,8C@3,4G / IS7 / 2GB / AIW9700Pro / 160GB+2x40GB RAID0 / SK-8000 / IMO 1.1A / G200
2000: K6-3+@600M / 591P / 384MB / Voodoo3+1 / GUS+AWE32 / 40GB
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby forteller » 2017-10-05 @ 20:39

Shopping time!
Image
I found those boards on local scrapyard. I picked up each board for $4 which is fantastic, although I wanted to buy more :D Many of them had defects, there was Asus TUSL-C available which had corner of chipset ripped off :( They are not handled nicely out there...

So today I was soldering and flashing whole day. I managed to fix Abit VP6 which had many pins bent and missing BIOS chip. So having Abit BX6 fixed today (more info here), I did some hot-flashing:
Image

And here we got it, up and running!
Image

I always dreamt about dual-socket 370 board like BP6 or VP6, but never actually got any. Now I have one and I am so excited!

But let's go back to my retro PC. I was complaining about poor performance of my K6 build and was thinking how can I improve performance with AT system a little further. I think that this is as far as I can push it: Tualatin in AT format!
Image

As you can see, board can't recognize CPU properly but system launched. I am yet to find out what CPU voltage is, or if system remains stable enough to actually use it, but so far so good! The CPU used is Celeron 1100A which I got modified back in 2006. I used it for one year and I gave it to my friend who built a Internet machine for his sister, but after few years it became too slow and ended up in my pile of CPUs. It never overclocked well reaching only ~1386MHz with BE6-II and SA6 boards, and as such I will be forced to use it on stock with this board, as it only supports 100 and 133MHz FSB settings.

Regarding the board, it is OEM one with very little information about it: Procomp BVC2B. It is based on VIA Apollo 133 chipset, so it only supports AGP x2, but that shouldn't be a problem. I think the only way to push AT system further would be to get Asus P2B-B or similar board based on 440BX chipset, but they are very rare and VIA apart from being slower, should be okey. We will see, I won't disassemble my K6 system unless I prove that this board is stable and works properly.

Will keep you posted :)
Last edited by forteller on 2017-11-17 @ 22:08, edited 1 time in total.
2017: 7800X@4,6G / X299 / 32GB / GTX 1080 / SM961 256GB+2x256GB RAID0 / G710+ / G402 / U2713H
2003: P4 2,8C@3,4G / IS7 / 2GB / AIW9700Pro / 160GB+2x40GB RAID0 / SK-8000 / IMO 1.1A / G200
2000: K6-3+@600M / 591P / 384MB / Voodoo3+1 / GUS+AWE32 / 40GB
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby forteller » 2017-11-03 @ 15:34

It's been almost two months since my quest for retro gaming PC started and almost a month since last post. I think it's about time to post some updates :)

First of all, I think I came to conclusion what will be in my build(s). Yep - that's right, for now I settled with more than one build.

First one is almost the sime as the first - basically only graphics and HDD changed. And I added Gravis Ultrasound clone, but I don't know if it will be of any use to me. Here is how it looks like:
Image
Here are specs:
- AMD K6-III+ 400ATZ @ 600MHz 2,2V
- Shuttle HOT-591P
- 384MB of SDRAM @ 100MHz 2-2-2-5
- STB Voodoo 3 2000 16MB @ 175MHz w/fan
- Britek - ViewTop B3D-FXG2 Voodoo 1 6MB (for those games with hardcoded voodoo1 dlls)
- Creative SoundBlaster AWE32 CT3990 2MB
- Primax SoundStorm Wave SOUND-M16C (GUS Classic clone w/512k RAM)
- Realtek RTL8169 Gigabit
- Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 8 6E040L0 40GB 7200RPM
- Sony DVD/CD-RW Combo
- Sony FDD
- Seasonic SS-200 AT PSU

But there were SO MANY countless setups that I cannot remember all of them. I wanted to get as much performance as possible with AT form factor but I ended up realising that without proper BX440 board I won't hit desired performance levels. Best I could get was this setup:
Image

On pictures you see PC with PIII 1000/133, GF3Ti200, 256MB RAM, SB Audigy, Voodoo 2 and OEM VIA Apollo 133 (non-A) board. I managed to run Tualatin on this board, but no matter what modifications I made, I couldn't run it reliably at more than 100MHz bus, even though it supports 133MHz officially and runs with 133MHz Coppermines just fine. PIII-S @ 1,05GHz and Celerons 1,1A and 1,2 were slower than Coppermine 1000/133 so I ended up trying this. Unfortunately, performance was much lower than what I expected from PIII 1GHz and I think that mostly because of VIA chipset. Aquanox 1 had dips to 15FPS on lowest settings...

In the meantime I found ATX case that I am willing to accept, so I wanted to build some nice ATX retro-setup. First was Abit VP6 with dual-Tualatins, but it failed for some unknown reason. I know reports of people getting it to work, but for me board stays dead as soon as I put second PIII-S in. One Pentium III-S 1,4GHz works absolutely fine just as multiple Tualerons and dual PIII 1GHz setup. I had very high hopes for this setup and it's really a shame that I failed to get it working, but I opted for classic BX-modded setup and it worked flawlessly.

In order to make this particular setup interesting I picked oldest BX board I had. I could have used Abit BX133-RAID but BX6 seemed like bigger challenge. In fact I tried both, but I liked Slot-factor more. BX133-RAID overclocked a lot better as I could get system posted at FSB166MHz and BX6 failed past 138MHz (143MHz hanged in some games, 148MHz hanged during Windows boot and 153MHz wouldn't even POST).
Image Image
It was so big improvement over Cumine1000/VIA I couldn't belive it. In places where I got 15FPS in Aquanox previously, I got around 40! Finally I was getting what I was aiming for, but then... guess what, I thought that maybe I will be wanting to play Half-Life 2? :)

Well, here is final build I came up with. I think it's mostly period-correct with components from around 2002-2003. Radeon 9800 Pro / XT would fit better, but I always liked 9700 Pro more just because of a breakthrough it was.
Image Image Image
Setup you see above has:
- Pentium 4 2,8GHz (Northwood with HT)
- Abit IS7
- 2x1GB Corsair XMS Pro TwinX 433MHz CL2
- Radeon 9700 Pro 128MB
- Voodoo 2 (just waiting for second to make SLI setup for fun)
- Creative SoundBlaster Audigy SB0090
- SiliconImage RAID card
- Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 160GB
- 2x Seagate Barracuda IV 40GB in RAID0
- Sony DVD-RW
- Antec SmartPower SP-400 recapped with Nichicon caps

First of all I wanted to build this PC with Asus P4C800-E Deluxe which should be better board by all metrics (basically the best for s478 by many reviewers) but it overclocked so poorly... My P4 wouldn't even boot past 3304/236MHz, but with Abit it works just fine at 3724/266MHz! Also Abit looks much better in my opinion. What I lose is integrated SATA/PATA RAID controller which I added by myself (on Asus it's connected through PCI interface anyway) and some nice Intel Gigabit LAN connected via already forgotten CSA interface. While Intel LAN is something nice, I can live without it with overall faster and nicely looking system. I also swapped this horrible Abit northbridge cooler with bigger heatsink that does it's job nicely.

I think that only thing left is to swap this BOX cooler and I will call it a day. Overall, i took much more effort than I anticipated, but it was so much fun! There are also so many nice components I picked in the meantime:
- Genuine Gravis Classic rev 3.74
- Proper Riva TNT2 (not M64)
- Proper GF2GTS (not MX)
- Voodoo 3 2000 mentioned above
- Savage4
- 3D Labs Permedia 2V
- S3 86C805-P VLB graphics card
- Dual Slot 1 DTK mobo based on BX440 I couldn't get to work
- Asus P2B rev 1.02
- All-in-wonder Radeon 9700 Pro (I didn't used AIW because I don't need TV capabilities of this card)
- Asus VL/I-486SV2G
and many many more! If there is experiment or benchmark someone would want me to try, I will do my best to try it so feel free to ask! It may seem like the end of journey but I feel I can finally start to do some gaming!
Last edited by forteller on 2017-11-17 @ 22:11, edited 1 time in total.
2017: 7800X@4,6G / X299 / 32GB / GTX 1080 / SM961 256GB+2x256GB RAID0 / G710+ / G402 / U2713H
2003: P4 2,8C@3,4G / IS7 / 2GB / AIW9700Pro / 160GB+2x40GB RAID0 / SK-8000 / IMO 1.1A / G200
2000: K6-3+@600M / 591P / 384MB / Voodoo3+1 / GUS+AWE32 / 40GB
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby forteller » 2017-11-03 @ 15:50

Maybe I can ask someone to move my thread here?
viewforum.php?f=25

I didn't knew that dedicated section exist.
2017: 7800X@4,6G / X299 / 32GB / GTX 1080 / SM961 256GB+2x256GB RAID0 / G710+ / G402 / U2713H
2003: P4 2,8C@3,4G / IS7 / 2GB / AIW9700Pro / 160GB+2x40GB RAID0 / SK-8000 / IMO 1.1A / G200
2000: K6-3+@600M / 591P / 384MB / Voodoo3+1 / GUS+AWE32 / 40GB
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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby Stiletto » 2017-11-03 @ 16:43

Moved.
"I see a little silhouette-o of a man, Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you
do the Fandango!" - Queen

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Re: A very long post about my retro pc

Postby forteller » 2017-11-03 @ 17:39

Thanks!
2017: 7800X@4,6G / X299 / 32GB / GTX 1080 / SM961 256GB+2x256GB RAID0 / G710+ / G402 / U2713H
2003: P4 2,8C@3,4G / IS7 / 2GB / AIW9700Pro / 160GB+2x40GB RAID0 / SK-8000 / IMO 1.1A / G200
2000: K6-3+@600M / 591P / 384MB / Voodoo3+1 / GUS+AWE32 / 40GB
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