VOGONS


First post, by Munx

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...AKA "The Little K5 that Could 😎 "

So what happens when AT cases go out of production?
You make one yourself! AND etch/burn some game graphics on it!

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What is inside this case? AT case era hardware and software ofc.!
-Windows 95 (original release w/o the service packs for the most bloat-free performance)
-Acer V55-2 Motherboard with its ALI ALADDiN III chipset with maxed-out 512KB of cache
-S3 Virge/DX 4MB video card (Wanted to put a Cirrus Logic 5446 in here due to Virges black-level issues, however the drivers for it don't play nice with other hardware in here. Luckily the Samsung SyncMaster 740n I'm using has some very nice color and gamma settings which help a great deal)
-ESS Audiodrive 1869 sound card paired with a Dreamblaster S1
-32MB of EDO memory
-and and anAMD K5 PR133 processor!

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"BUT MUNX!", you shriek at me with the power of an overpriced Pentium, "why would you use a CPU that doesn't have a good FPU and can't run Quake well in a build with a big Quake logo?!"

Well, that's because the 100MHz K5 won't be going at it alone! It will have 4 megabytes of dark Voodoo magic on its side!

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And so, in the Cozy Computer Corner we have the Case with the K5!

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And so how does the Firestarter 2.0 run Quake? At a blazing fast, cinematic 28.2 FPS, that's how!

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Not only that, but it easily powers through other great games like Tyrian 2000, Dune 2, Doom, and even Duke Nukem 3D @ 640x480! AND while sounding good too, thanks to the great sound and music provided by the ESS Audiodrive and Dreamblaster combo!

Due to the upload limit I'm placing some other pictures of the hardware, terrible cable management and games, as well as the Firestarter 1 prototype here: https://imgur.com/a/vTKeI

My builds!
The FireStarter 2.0 - The wooden K5
The Underdog - The budget K6
The Voodoo powerhouse - The power-hungry K7
The troll PC - The Socket 423 Pentium 4

Reply 2 of 10, by x0zm_

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Awesome case man. I love custom work like this.

How long did it take you to make?

WIP:
[Dimension95 - Building] 233MMX|64MB|Canopus Trio64V+ w/ Scenic/MX2|SB16|All the MIDI & More!
[BlackLight: NT4.0 Multimedia Workstation] - PII 350 | Matrox VGA | 768MB RAM | Hand Made Water Blocks!

Finished:
[TOXIC - P3 on Water]

Reply 3 of 10, by Munx

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^^ Around 1 hour of work a day for a week. Though I'm sure I could have cut this time in half if I did proper planning.

My builds!
The FireStarter 2.0 - The wooden K5
The Underdog - The budget K6
The Voodoo powerhouse - The power-hungry K7
The troll PC - The Socket 423 Pentium 4

Reply 4 of 10, by Munx

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Decided to make some small changes to the build and run some basic benchmarks 😀

Time to fire it up again!

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On the visual and cooling front a red 80mm LED fan from Deepcool was added. Surprisingly silent even when powered from a molex cable. Provides steady airflow for every component that gets warm. CPU heatsink is still quite warm even with a socket A cooler. I'm doubting the 14watt TDP listed in Wikipedia.

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The other upgrades are:
-IDE CF adapter with a 2GB CF card that is replacing the 60GB Seagate ST360020A, which helps not only with cable management but also heat.
-2MB Cirrus Logic GD 5446BV in the place of the 4MB Virge DX. This is mostly due to Virges washed out blackness level. Surprisingly gave a nice performance boost in Duke3D - 640x480 now runs @~25fps, as opposed to ~20 on the Virge.

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As for what performance this K5-Voodoo duo provides @640x480?
Quake - 28.2 FPS
Quake 2 - 11.7 FPS
Unreal - 12 FPS
Turok - 19.1 FPS
MDK performace test - 40 (P90 is shown to have 44). 273 with the 3DFX patch. Very smooth with the Voodoo as expected. Some dips in the regular Windows version, but still not too noticeable.

Other games were tested, however getting Fraps, early DirectX and vanilla W95 to cooperate is no easy task, so I can't provide numbers.

Duke3D runs ~25FPS @640x480
Screamer 2 feels very playable with the 3DFX patch (slideshow in software)
Mechwarrior 2 (original version) runs very well.
Tomb raider 3DFX is quite smooth with some dips in complex areas
Need for Speed SE is borderline playable with the highest settings
Blood is smooth @320x200 and never drops below 30FPS. Runs terrible, ~15FPS, at higher resolutions. 3DFX patch doesn't really help and makes the game look REALLY ugly
2D games like Diablo, Starcraft run super well.

3Dmark99 does not score the poor K5 kindly...

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On the media side, Mpeg video is not an option, even @ 320x240. Just a slideshow with sound. Maybe this could be fixed with an upgrade to a Rage card, but I don't think media is what this PC is really for 🤣 Plays 320kbit MP3's just great though 😀

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My builds!
The FireStarter 2.0 - The wooden K5
The Underdog - The budget K6
The Voodoo powerhouse - The power-hungry K7
The troll PC - The Socket 423 Pentium 4

Reply 6 of 10, by Munx

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mrau wrote:

pure curiosity: how much cpu does a HQ mp3 take?
the 25 fps for duke is from dos or from windows?

Everything in this build is running under windows.
A 320kbps MP3 playback is showing ~55% CPU usage.

My builds!
The FireStarter 2.0 - The wooden K5
The Underdog - The budget K6
The Voodoo powerhouse - The power-hungry K7
The troll PC - The Socket 423 Pentium 4

Reply 7 of 10, by keenmaster486

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Methinks you could play a 320 kbps mp3 file with a high-end 486.

Munx, that's a highly impressive build!

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

Reply 9 of 10, by Munx

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keenmaster486 wrote:

Munx, that's a highly impressive build!

Thank you! 😀

mrau wrote:

ever considered a tnt2 or better to shove in there?

Voodoo2 is the most powerful PCI card I have, however it just can't fit due to the the motherboards layout. I doubt it would give a noticable performance boost anyway.

My builds!
The FireStarter 2.0 - The wooden K5
The Underdog - The budget K6
The Voodoo powerhouse - The power-hungry K7
The troll PC - The Socket 423 Pentium 4

Reply 10 of 10, by Munx

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Small update time - (poorly) tested out how an ATI card from the era would compete.

ATI Mach64 VT2 vs Cirrus Logic Gd5446

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I'm not sure how I thought 25fps was the average fps for CL in Duke3D as this time I rarely saw the framerate drop below 30. In places where Cirrus Logic would get ~35FPS the Mach64 would give ~30. This very small performance decrease seems to be present in all games, be it DOS or Windows - e.g. during this final zerg push the game felt like it slowed down just a bit less on the Cirrus Logic, though all of the games are still very playable.

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One of the bigger issues I ran into was noise coming from my speakers whenever I moved the mouse. I had some sound card drivers cause this, so I don't think it's the hardware that's at fault.

There are some good sides to the Mach64 VT2. First, the image quality is WAY better. Colors are more vivid and visuals look much sharper. Secondly, it somewhat delivers on it's multimedia features. High quality MP3's show 0% processor usage! Nice to see a video card process sound 🤣
Video is a different story. I could not get any video of mine to play on ATI's dedicated video player, only the included clips, all of which are 352x240.

When played in Windows Medial Player, the CPU showed ~95% usage. These clips actually played nicely on the Cirrus Logic card too, though with 100% usage. I guess these clips are just compressed better than the crappy 320x240 ones I converted myself. Anything higher is still a slideshow, just slightly faster on the ATI card.

So a recap:
Mach64 VT2 - better image, slightly better multimedia capabilities vs slightly worse performance, worse DOS compatibility
GD5446 - better performance, better DOS compatibility vs less sharp and colorful image, no multimedia

My builds!
The FireStarter 2.0 - The wooden K5
The Underdog - The budget K6
The Voodoo powerhouse - The power-hungry K7
The troll PC - The Socket 423 Pentium 4