VOGONS


First post, by JoaoAS

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Apart from my 2 work laptops, I have 2 desktops and been gathering some more parts to make other builds. I'm thinking of building a third one, as i shall explain later. For now, my current desktop which is running Windows XP (as for some reason is not coping well with windows 7, and later windows just don't install) and was built in 2005:

AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (lightly overclocked to 2.2GHz)
DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR (awesome board, a dream for overclockers back in 2005)
2x1GB Team Elite DDR400 (in the beginning it had 1GB Twinmos Speed Premium with BH5 chips, which benefitted from the board's higher vdimm, but one of the dimms broke down)
Radeon X850 Crossfire (cheap swap, used to have a regular X850XT but is in need of a reflow)
Maxtor 250GB sata2 + Samsung 200GB Sata + Seagate 80GB IDE
NEC 3500 DVD-RW, LG DVD-ROM, floppy drive, zip drive
LC Power modular 480w psu
All of the above inside a nice SuperFlower SF-561T2-BK

This system may remain more or less untouched, apart from an eventual change of psu, as i don't think it is in the best condition (a little whining, and it's not from the fan).

Now for my Windows 98 system:

Pentium 4 1.5GHz
ECS P4VXASD (socket 423 and supports SDRAM and DDR)
1x512MB DDR333 (used to have 1GB, but removed the other dimm for windows 98)
GeForce 2 MX 64MB
PCTV tuner/capture card
Maxtor 20GB (to be replaced with a Samsung 40GB) IDE
Samsung CD-RW, LG DVD-ROM, floppy drive
400w psu, all inside an oem case from around 2004

Thinking about an "upgrade" (not really) to this system. Since I managed to get 2 rdram sticks to add to the 2 I already have, I thought of replacing the motherboard with an MSI 850Pro2 (the one with the weird Rimm configuration) with 384MB RDRAM (2x128+2x64). What do you think? Worth it for the "rdram thing"? The only problem with this is that the MSI has some bulging capacitors so it won't be used without being recapped. I also have another cpu(1.4GHz) and could make another P4 build, but for now space is an issue so it is not in the plans, as I plan to build a third older system.

Here are both, AMD on top, P4 on the bottom:
desktop.jpg

Now for the third system...I have some parts, and my doubt is around the OS and the graphics card. The planned build:

Pentium II 350MHz (I also have a 333MHz, which is passive cooled, but is only 66MHz FSB)
FIC VB-601 (also have a VB-609 from an old HP vectra computer, but this only has 3 dimms, as opposed to the 4 of the vb-601, and also a weird front panel connector and a more limited bios)
Some SDRAM (the board has 4 slots and i have a lot of ram modules, so anything up to 1GB is possible)
Creative Ensoniq ES1371 or CT4810 (both pretty similar, so won't make much difference)
Maxtor 20GB (from the P4)
cheapo network card (i have some 3 or 4 3com cards somewhere)

For OS, i still don't know what to install here. The 3 possibilities are 95, 98SE or NT. If I install 98SE, the P4 may be upgraded to windows 2000. The purpose is playing win 9x era games, and also some dos games.

With that in mind, what graphics card should I choose? What I have available for it:

  • S3 Trio 64V+
  • S3 Trio 64UV+
  • Matrox Productiva G100 4MB
  • Matrox Millenium G200 8MB SGRAM
  • Riva TNT2 M64 32MB
  • Hercules 3D Prophet 4000XT 32MB (Kyro) (Needs to be recapped, but there are only 3 caps so should be easy)

Thanks for reading, and i'll appreciate all your comments!

Last edited by JoaoAS on 2020-06-13, 20:04. Edited 2 times in total.

Windows 10: Asus VivoBook 15 & Dell Inspiron 5520
Linux: Toshiba Satellite L40
Windows XP: A64 X2 3800+|DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR|2x1GB DDR|X850XT

Reply 1 of 13, by RaYaNt3

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Some things I'd like to comment:

-You can install W98 everywhere you can and later also install W2000 (automatically creates a dual boot menu when you install it), so I think you don't have to choose only one... For me is almost a must a proper OS convivence...

-Also you can try this before adding a second 512mb stick of ram in W98... You can put 1gb in total (just for sport)...

1. MaxFileCache: Set it to 512 MB (524,288 KB), or less, in the [Vcache] section of System.ini to reduce the maximum amount of m […]
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1. MaxFileCache: Set it to 512 MB (524,288 KB), or less, in the [Vcache] section of System.ini to reduce the maximum amount of memory used by VCache (use maxfilecache=524288) .
2. System Configuration Utility: Use the SCU to limit Windows to using 768MB, or 512MB, or less
- or - enter
MaxPhysPage=30000
in the [386Enh] section of System.ini.

http://www.thpc.info/ram/vcache98.html

I use maxfilecache=512000 <--- I don't know why but sometimes maxfilecache=524288 crashes some games...

And that's all I can say...

Retro hardware is like a drug... You know... So enjoy your shit!

Reply 2 of 13, by JoaoAS

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Yeah, I've thought about multiboot, and that will probably be the answer. Maybe 2k/98SE on the P4, NT/98SE on the P2. 95 should be out of the equation for the usb support, that ends up being very useful. I'll test with more ram and see if it works, if it doesn't, will definitely use that MaxFileCache trick.

RaYaNt3 wrote:

Retro hardware is like a drug... You know... So enjoy your shit!

Damn right, this is very addictive but also very fun. Perhaps the most fun is in testing and swapping...Good then that I have more parts to play with!

Windows 10: Asus VivoBook 15 & Dell Inspiron 5520
Linux: Toshiba Satellite L40
Windows XP: A64 X2 3800+|DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR|2x1GB DDR|X850XT

Reply 3 of 13, by repaxan

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Wow, someone else with a P4VXASD 😁

How is that motherboard working out for you? Mine seems really unstable and finicky but I can't figure out if it's normal for the board or not.

Were you able to get the DDR333 to actually run at that speed?

Reply 4 of 13, by JoaoAS

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I haven't lost much time with it, but so far it could be more stable. I've had one or two crashes, and sometimes it decides not to detect the video card. Besides that, the rear usb ports sometimes don't work. Those have been some factors that made me think about de MSI board, but it will be hard to have some time to recap it before the world ends 🤣

The ram I don't remember what speed it was running, but I may check that out during the weekend.

Windows 10: Asus VivoBook 15 & Dell Inspiron 5520
Linux: Toshiba Satellite L40
Windows XP: A64 X2 3800+|DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR|2x1GB DDR|X850XT

Reply 5 of 13, by chinny22

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As you already have a XP and Win98 PC you could make the P2 a crazy fast Dos/ Win3x PC.
All your Video cards have good DOS compatibility and 3.x drivers.

Otherwise I'd turn the P4 into a Win2k PC as that OS is actually plays 90% of WIn9x games fine and loads more stable (and gives you an excuse for the RAM upgrade)
And make the P2 your Win98 PC

Reply 6 of 13, by JoaoAS

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Well, i now have a little time to tinker with this 😀

So, a brought home the "new" P2. As it is now:

P2 350MHz
FIC VB-601
512MB SDRAM (should be 768, but it only detects 128MB per dimm, don't know why)
TNT2 M64
Creative ensoniq es1371
CD burner, dvd-rom, floppy
2x IDE HD, don't remember the sizes.

Plans?

-Ram: As it doesn't detect all the ram, I may reduce it to 256MB which is more than enough por W98
-VGA: TNTs is too new for this, I think. I have the original Matrox G200 it had, but since then i found a ATI Rage Pro AGP 2x. Is it any good?
-Sound: also found a Creative soundblaster pci 128 (ct4810 IIRC), but the sound should be similar. Besides that, I managed to find a mediaforte soundcard i had never heard of. Fetched of a P3 system, so newer than this. It is a SF-256-PCS-02 (like this one: https://f.aukro.cz/images/sk6930826386/400x30 … dd-f0221af73a0f), and from what i can see, i'm missing a cable (https://media2.24aul.ru/imgs/5142ac244ffdaa1ad8c3c7b2/), and it has a FM tuner. I can't find drivers for it, does anyone here know if it is any good? It would be cool to use the FM tuner.
HDD: Probably a pair of seagate 40GB, gives me a lot of space.
ODD: i may take out the dvd-rom, don't really need it in this pc.

What do you think of it?

On another subject, I found an Adaptec AHA-2940U SCSI card, but the bios doesn't seem to detect it (nor does the OS). It is a pity because I have a SCSI disk i'd like to test, but can't. The card powers up and the LED is on, but not much else. Ideas?

Thank you for your patience, I will bring updates during the week.

Windows 10: Asus VivoBook 15 & Dell Inspiron 5520
Linux: Toshiba Satellite L40
Windows XP: A64 X2 3800+|DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR|2x1GB DDR|X850XT

Reply 7 of 13, by JoaoAS

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More news!

Brought home another IDE cable (I managed to break the only replacement I had...), and will replace the LG cd-rw and Samsung dvd-rom with this awesomeness:
www.chip.de%2Fii%2F8%2F9%2F0%2F7%2F8%2F3%2F8%2F4%2F68b4d6fe9b6f5d2b.jpg

It's a Ricoh MP9060A, 6x4x24x4x Combo Drive! Will free another IDE plug for another hard-drive, which I will plug later.

The graphics card has also been replaced, installed the ATI Rage Pro, good enough for what I want.

The SCSI card powers up, but isn't detected anywhere...am I doing something wrong, or the card is just broken?

The MediaForte soundcard, does anyone know anything about it?

Windows 10: Asus VivoBook 15 & Dell Inspiron 5520
Linux: Toshiba Satellite L40
Windows XP: A64 X2 3800+|DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR|2x1GB DDR|X850XT

Reply 8 of 13, by JoaoAS

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Not much has changed in terms of hardware (a couple of HD swaps and that's it). But I'm having some ideas I'd like to discuss with you!

As I'm building the courage to recap the MSI to replace the ECS in the P4, I'm thinking of keeping it as the main Windows 98 PC.

But with that, I won't need 98 on the P2. I'm thinking of downgrading to DOS. Is this feasible? Or keeping Windows 98 and using the DOS shell will be good for most DOS games?
And what about sound? For now I only have 1 creative pci soundcards(ES1371, CT4810), are the good on DOS?
For graphics I can downgrade to an S3 pci.

Windows 10: Asus VivoBook 15 & Dell Inspiron 5520
Linux: Toshiba Satellite L40
Windows XP: A64 X2 3800+|DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR|2x1GB DDR|X850XT

Reply 9 of 13, by chinny22

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Sure you can!
Dos will install fine but I would stick with Win9x Dos 7 for the fat 32 support.
easiest way is to make a copy of c:\windows\command then Format c: /s froma boot disk
Copy the command folder back to the c:\ and rename it to dos.

TNT2 wont need any drivers and has good dos support
DVD drive should work with generic CD Rom drivers.
I wouldn't call either of the soundcards "good" but good enough. Really you want an ISA card, anything else is a compromise anyway.
Just make sure you configured it all up with Windows still installed and make up a backup copy that folder (usually DosDrv from memory)
As you wont be able to "install" it without Windows installed.

Or you can keep windows installed as well for system management and networking and have it boot into dos mode for gaming.

Reply 10 of 13, by SirNickity

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From my computer store days around the P4 era, ECS was... not great. I would definitely try to get that MSI back in working condition.

I'm going to take the other position on this. 😀 IMO, a PII for DOS is pushing it. It'll definitely work, but you're kinda squandering the advantages of that hardware, and exchanging it for compatibility issues. You have to decide for yourself whether you see a Pentium (or earlier) rig in your future though. If not, dual-booting with Win98 is probably the next best thing. And try running DOS games within Windows to take advantage of its driver support. You should have the horsepower to spare. Either way, I would absolutely recommend keeping 98 around on that box. Give it a chance to stretch its legs.

On that same thread, I think 98 is a bit out of style for a Pentium 4 -- better suited to 2K or XP. The 1.5GHz is a bit of a crossover chip from the PIII years, but still.

Strange that the Athlon 64 wouldn't run Win 7 well. It's maybe a little on the early side, but I would still expect that to be a pretty good fit. My experience with Win 7 around the beta period was that it was remarkably nimble on hardware that Vista just couldn't deal with.

My 2c. 😀

Reply 11 of 13, by JoaoAS

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I've found some dos drivers that work with the ensoniq card, but haven't managed to get them to work. I think it emulates the sb16, but not certain.
I still have to tweak a little bit more with autoexec.bat to get sound working, for now it is giving some environment variables issues, which i'll try to sort soon,

Windows 10: Asus VivoBook 15 & Dell Inspiron 5520
Linux: Toshiba Satellite L40
Windows XP: A64 X2 3800+|DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR|2x1GB DDR|X850XT

Reply 12 of 13, by JoaoAS

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Well, time for some small updates. (Yes I know I should post some pictures, I'll do that soon)

Had some time to mess with the P2, which is the only system running for now (the P4 sometimes has a bit of ECS "stability", and the Athlon 64's psu shorted on the AC side and died)

Will definitely keep Windows 98 on the machine, as I can play early windows games without much issues, and the DOS mode is good enough. The only problem has been with sound, the dos driver for emulation kind of works, but the results are far from great. On Doom, it does work, but the emulation is pretty poor. I wasn't expecting it to be great, but could be better. On pinball fantasies it got worse, although the sound itself was good, it soon got very noisy with added crackles and scratchiness, when setup for SoundBlaster. For Soundblaster 16 mode, it wouldn't work.

For now i only have 3 creative ensoniqs, so i'm not expecting it to be better, unless you have any suggestion?

I also have the mediaforte card i posted before...but I have managed to find almost nothing about it... Is it bad or just unknown?

Windows 10: Asus VivoBook 15 & Dell Inspiron 5520
Linux: Toshiba Satellite L40
Windows XP: A64 X2 3800+|DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR|2x1GB DDR|X850XT

Reply 13 of 13, by JoaoAS

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Well, time and space have been at a premium, and both the P4 and P2 had to be put in storage waiting for better times.

But meanwhile, a quite nice laptop found its way into my desk. Only one pic for now, more for later:

IMG-20200613-171045.jpg

It's an HP Omnibook XE3, with the following specs:

CPU: Intel Celeron Mobile 1.13Ghz (Tualatin)
RAM: 2x256MB SDRam (originally i think it would have 256MB)
HDD: IBM TravelStar 20GB (which is still alive! Or were just the DeskStars that would frequently die?)
GPU: Intel 830MG (uses 8MB of the system RAM, don't know if it can use more)
LCD: 15", 1024*768
Sound: ESS Allegro
Toshiba DVD-ROM, and a nice floppy drive as a bonus.

It is heavy, but looks quite sturdy, and has the nice feature of a front LCD which indicates date, time, battery charge (well, not really as the battery is more than dead), but it also dubs as a screen for the CD player, which can be operated without turning the pc part on, and control using those front buttons, great to get those old CDs playing in the office.

It was manufactured somewhere between early to mid 2002, still have to confirm.

It came with an original install of windows XP, on which i started playing with dosbox as shown above, playing Pinball Fantasies. But the results haven't been the greatest, despite playing a lot with DOSBox configs. I was thinking of installing Windows 98 SE on it, are drivers hard to find? And is the ESS Allegro any good under DOS / Windows 98 DOS?

I may try it soon, but i've run out of blank CDs and the nearest shops manage to not have any in stock. In order to burn it, I even bought an external enclosure for on old laptop drive, to connect to my new laptop, which was a nice addition.

We'll see how it goes...

Windows 10: Asus VivoBook 15 & Dell Inspiron 5520
Linux: Toshiba Satellite L40
Windows XP: A64 X2 3800+|DFI Lanparty nF4 SLI-DR|2x1GB DDR|X850XT