VOGONS


First post, by wouterwashere

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I have been reading a lot on this forum, but today I decided to register and share my build project. I have been working with computers as hobby and semi-professional since 1995, so I have seen everything growing since the Pentium 1. Now my son is interested in how things worked "back then", so we decided to go back in time.

The goal for this build is to make the "Ultimate" Windows 98 gaming PC. With this I mean to make a PC with components that were available at the time that Windows 98 was actual. Windows ME was released on 14 september 2000. All components had to be on the market before this date.

Motherboard
The best available chipset at this time was the VIA KT133. I found an Asus A7V133-C. Unfortunately it has the later released chipset VIA KT133A. The biggest differences are that KT133A supports ATA100 where the KT133 doesn't that the KT133A supports a 133 MHz FSB, while the highest FSB for the KT133 is 100 MHz.

Processor
The fastest available processors were the 1000 MHz Athlon Thunderbird with 100 MHz FSB and the Pentium III Coppermine 1000 MHz. The Pentium 4 1500 MHz Willamette wasn't released until 20 november 2000 and is thus not an option. I have got a 1200 MHz AMD Athlon Thunderbird with 133 MHz FSB which is factory unlocked, so it can run on 10x 100 MHz. If I recall correctly, most of the higher end Thunderbirds were factory unlocked. It was the most desired AYHJAR stepping, so maybe it will go a lot faster. A nice footnote is that it came with the motherboard as a 900 MHz. The original owner apperently didn't know that it had to run on a 133 MHz FSB and it might have been running on only 900 MHz ever since it was new. The warranty labels on the cpu and the motherboard were identical. I don't even think the heatsink has ever been removed until I got it.

Memory
I have got 2 pieces of 256 MB PC133. Unfortunately it is CL3. Maybe I will find some CL2 modules later on, but it will do the job for now.

Graphics
The fastest graphics card available were the GeForce2 Ultra, the the 3dfx Voodoo 5 5500 and the ATI Radeon DDR. None of these cards are very cheap these days, so I found a very cheap Asus V7700 Deluxe with a GeForce2 GTS 32 MB. Unfortunately it didn't arrive yet, but I am excited to test it, since it has 3D glasses. Maybe I will get some more graphic cards for testing later on.

Harddisk

Anandtech, July 26, 2000: The IBM 75 GXP is undoubtedly one of the fastest IDE drives we have tested to date.

I decided to go for the fastest ATA harddisk available at the time, the IBM Deskstar 75GXP. It has a size of 46.1 GB, runs at 7200 rpm and has 2 MB cache memory. These disks are also know as the IBM Deathstar. Although this in the first place is about the 75 GB version and possibly the 60 GB version, I thought it was best to play it safe and found 2 of the even smaller 45 GB version. If one will crash, I have still one spare. Unfortunately this motherboard is the stripped version without a Promise RAID controller. I am still waiting for these to arrive.

Optical devices
About every old ATA optical device I own doesn't work anymore. I am running with a black 16x DVD-RW for now. This has to be solved.

Sound
I got a Soundblaster Live! 5.1, which was released in 2000. Not only one of the best soundcards at that time, but even fully SoundBlaster 16 compatible in about every (DOS) game.
I haven't thought about speakers yet.

Power supply
Searching through lots of old power supplies on the attic, I found the highest rated with 28 amps on the 5,0 volt line, which should be enough to do some serious overclocking.

Case
I can't say much about this. A white / lightgrey timeworn (little yellowish now) ATX miditower, approximately from Windows XP time I guess, unknown brand, all 5,25" panels missing. I will find something fancy later on. Maybe someone has a suggestion for a specific brand or model?

Monitor
A very fresh, high quality 19" AOC CRT monitor. Maybe not from the right year, but at least it is a usable CRT with a high refresh rate. According to the previous owner of which I got it last week, it hasn't been running for more than 5 hours since it was new. This has at least been doubled or quadripled this week.

Input devices
I have a white PS2 keyboard from approximately that time and a white Microsoft Intellimouse Optical 1.1.

Software
I will be running Windows 98 SE on this machine, and test several drivers to see how to get the best performance. 3DMark99 has to be there to do some testing. And of course the games we are going to play. UT99 for me and maybe some other games that still are stored somewhere on the attic.

Projects to do
[*]Overclocking the CPU. How far will it go and how will the performance be affected.
[*]Overclocking the GPU. GeForce2 cards are known to be restricted due to low memory speeds. Maybe we can speed it up a bit.
[*]Testing other GPUs from this era.
[*]Finding a nice case.
[*]Finding a nice white(ish) CD-ROM drive with a speed of like 32x - 48x speed.

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To be continued when the other parts arrive and we can get some things done. Hopefully it was some nice reading. Please, let me know if I gave some wrong information or if you have any tips.

Reply 1 of 5, by PcBytes

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What case is that in the picture? I think I might have one just like that, but I'd need a pic to confirm that.

Just curious, that's all.

"Enter at your own peril, past the bolted door..."
Main PC: i5 3470, GB B75M-D3H, 16GB RAM, 2x1TB
98SE : P3 650, Soyo SY-6BA+IV, 384MB RAM, 80GB

Reply 2 of 5, by wouterwashere

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It looks like this:

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Case
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A bit of a mess right now.

Reply 3 of 5, by gex85

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I used that case when I built a Socket A system for my parents in 2002 (or maybe 2003). Although the system was sold or trashed (don't know) quite some time ago, my dad might still have the invoice for that system in some old folder. I happen to be at their place tomorrow, so I can ask him. Maybe the place that sold me the components back in the day put the name/brand of the case on the invoice.
However, it's not exactly nice anyway and as far as I remember build quality isn't too good either.
The obvious choice would of course be the Chieftec CS-601 midi tower. The earliest reviews I could find for this case are actually from 2000, so it's safe to say this case would be a perfect fit for your build. I remember that Chenbro already had some pretty decent cases in its lineup by that time as well. But since most sellers of used cases don't know the make or model I found it hard to source a specific case from eBay or classified ads because the model usually does not show up in the title or the description. Good luck anyways!

My retro computers

Reply 4 of 5, by gex85

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So I actually did find the invoice for that machine. I built it in Dec. 2001. But the invoice item just says "1x Midi-Tower, 300W Power Supply". No make or model.
The other hardware that went into the build:
- EpoX EP-8KHA+
- Athlon XP 1600+
- 2x 256MB DDR CL2
- Matrox G550 Dual Head
- Maxtor 40GB / 7200rpm Hard Disk
- DVD 16x Toshiba
- CD-RW 10/24/40x Lite-On
- 3.5 inch floppy drive
- Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Player
- 17 inch Belinea CRT
These components summed up to 2855 DM (would be a value of roughly 1925 EUR / 2260 USD today).

My retro computers

Reply 5 of 5, by wouterwashere

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Thank you for looking up!

I wasn't too much off by thinking that it looked more "Windows XP era". Always cool to dig up some history and prices. Nice specs for back then. The Athlon XP was only out for like two months then with the 1900+ as fastest option. Anyway, I will use the case for now.

I didn't know that the Chieftec CS-601 dated back so much. I actually had one (a black one) when I made my first Core 2 Duo build in 2007. I scrapped it a few years ago because the plastics were bad. The legs under the case were broken and the pins to hold the plastic front were broken as well. Very unfortunate, because the metal was well made. I actually did a RMA on this case because some pins to hold the front were broken when it came by postorder. Maybe I was unlucky to have had two cases from a bad batch.

I have an update as well, the harddrives have arrived. Two pieces of IBM Deskstar 46,1 GB dated AUG-2000. Time-wise, it couldn't have been better. I will make some more pics when the graphics card arrives within a few days and I can get the system running.