Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

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Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

Postby xjas » 2018-11-30 @ 01:55

No long-form build thread this time, I don't think anyone was reading those anyway. This machine is already done. I'd call it a "quick & dirty" build, but naturally I vacuumed and dusted everything that went inside & it's pretty tidy. "Quick & clean" has a nice ring to it.

1b.jpg

Current hardware loadout: (mostly things I had lying around)
K6-2/500 on an ASUS P5A-B
384MB PC133 (@100) SDRAM
20GB Seagate Barracuda
Zip100 drive
Floppy drive
Voodoo3 3000 AGP
Turtle Beach Montego II
NEC PCI USB2
Win98SE

Special features of this build:
Way oversized ATX case
WAY too new PSU
Wrong-colored DVD drive (was out of beige ones, and I really wanted DVD+/-RW instead of a DVD-ROM or CD-RW)
What cable management?!
Shiny metallic "Powered by ASUS" sticker, just because

So how about that backstory?

In 1998-2000 I did a lot of the 'big' competitive LAN party events that were springing up all around the east coast of North America (Toronto, Atlanta, Windsor, Chicago, Indianapolis, Niagara Falls, etc... honestly I've forgotten all the events I managed to hit.) The config I lugged to those (in a huge full-size AT minitower no less!) varied over those years, but the backbone was always a K6-2/400, overclocked to 450, on an Asus P5A-B. Initially I was using a Rendition Verite but quickly upgraded to a Voodoo Banshee.

(IIRC when I started the "hot" config was already a Celeron 300A @ 450 and TNT2 + Voodoo2 SLI, so I was always a step or two down from the high-end players.)

I never scored all that well in the rankings, and my system went from decently capable to severely underpowered in very short order. I made one attempt to upgrade to a Duron 850 on an ECS K7VMA and keep playing, but my skills got outclassed just as quickly. My once-flagship K6-2 setup (re-housed in a more pedestrian minitower) went to my mum to replace her 386SX/25 & she used that as her word processor and email sender for several years. Eventually it retired altogether and made its way into my storage room of old family PCs.

So what's inside this thing and how does it relate?

2.jpg

There it is! Earlier this week, I rescued the old PC this was in out of the storage room. I couldn't bring the whole thing home, but I took the board & expansion cards to have some fun with. I have no idea when the 400MHz CPU got upgraded to a 500 (I might have done that myself and just forgot??), but this is my P5A-B, which has probably travelled more than a lot of the humans who live on my current island.

Incidentally I've had this cool case sitting empty for a while (& posted about it a few times.) Neither of the projects I'd planned for it managed to gain any traction, but this seems like a suitable use too. I find it hilarious how much the tiny AT board is dwarfed in there.

4.jpg

Here's the support hardware. I actually have a specific purpose for this build, and I want Glide & A3D for it, so we have a Voodoo3 3000, Turtle Beach Montego II, and a super-convenient NEC USB2 card (these work great on Win98 with the generic USB Mass Storage driver. The P5A-B actually has onboard USB, but I don't have the header bracket, and USB2 is so much nicer anyway.)

That's all that's going in for now. :P No SCSI, no ethernet... well, maybe later.

BTW I could have used my original Banshee; I still have it! But I figured the extra oomph from the V3 would be worth it, and the Banshee is installed in something else. I would've loved a V3 back in the day.

3.jpg

"Fully built" on the inside. Honestly not too messy. I hate the way the ribbon cables have to stretch all the way across like that though, wish they'd put the IDE/FDD ports on the other side.

1c.jpg

Closed up. Runs great, fairly quiet, fairly quick. Actually I'm pretty impressed how fast Win98SE boots & shuts down on such an early platform. I'm used to running it on things like Athlon XPs and P3s but this one chugs along really well.

Unfortunately I'm having driver trouble with the Montego II, so I stuck an old ESS card in to get sound just to try the thing out. I'll sort that out in good time though.

Anyway that's it for now! I had fun putting this together; it's pretty cool to have my old competitive rig back, at least in a way.
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Re: Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

Postby Weebob » 2018-11-30 @ 08:59

Looks great!, what games are you planning to run on it?
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Re: Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

Postby xjas » 2018-11-30 @ 18:36

Ahaha. So it turns out the swapping the 400@450 to a 500 may have been a significant downgrade on this board. I really have no recollection of when that was done or why, or who was using it at the time. If I was still gaming on it, you'd think I'd have noticed the performance drop. I wish I still had the original CPU to compare. Looks like a resistor mod is in the cards...

Weebob wrote:Looks great!, what games are you planning to run on it?

I have a special, secret game that will be getting its own thread soon, but for now I'm enjoying some Descent 3 which I haven't played in ages. ;) Albeit at 10-20 FPS (512x384, highest details.)

Screenshot002.tga.png
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Screenshot007.tga.png
^^ check out that crunchy ordered dithering. I like this look way more than I should.

This is my first Windows machine with a (working) 3DFX card in a WHILE so I'm also going through the back catalog of Glide demoscene prods. There aren't that many, but they're fun to watch.

virhe2.jpg
future.jpg
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Re: Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

Postby oeuvre » 2018-12-01 @ 14:51

Certainly an interesting case. Looks clean and well done, nice work.
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i7 9700K, 32GB, MSI GTX1060, NVMe SSD + HD, Windows 10
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Re: Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

Postby chinny22 » 2018-12-11 @ 16:17

Nice bit of history, sentimental vale always makes the PC's more fun to use.
Also always fun finding out about hardware upgrades you have absolutely NO memory of where/when they happened. had a few systems like that myself
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Re: Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

Postby Tetrium » 2018-12-11 @ 22:08

I love your system! :D

Internal ZIP drive, ss7 that is not K6-3+ but just a plain jane K6-2, 20GB Seagate drive, V3, Turtle Beach, you seem to have picked all the right parts haha! :D

The only thing I personally don't like is the case, but that's mostly because I have a personal preference fro cases that look a bit more sleek and more boring :P
But the case definitely looks period correct, nice tough!

And the Asus P5A-B, the motherboard that has one of the mounting screws located actually inside the CPU socket, what were they thinking? lol!
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Re: Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

Postby xjas » 2018-12-12 @ 03:35

Thanks guys! I've done a few upgrades and changes, so time for an update. Firstly, I sourced a beige DVD-ROM and extra front panel cover, which tidied up the look tons. Couldn't find a DVD+/-RW I liked, but I don't really need to burn anything on this machine anyway, so this'll do. The two panel covers aren't exactly the same, but the color match is extremely good, so not complaining. The new one needed a bit of modding.

CameraZOOM-20181211125202528.jpg
CameraZOOM-20181211125243050.jpg
I also moved the DVD drive down so it could be on the same cable as the Zip drive, instead of having the Zip & HDD share.

Secondly, I got the Vortex II working. This was NOT an easy thing to do, and actually involved this:

CameraZOOM-20181204170653975.jpg
...twice.

For the life of me, I could not get the official Turtle Beach drivers to work, either in Dell OEM or native form. They would always BSOD when it tried to install the DOS SB-Pro emulation device. Something about either my hardware or Windows install just will not work with this. There's an apparent solution out there, but I didn't even have the right line in my .inf to change.

Eventually I found a modded reference driver on Phil's website which omits the SBPro compatibility device altogether - fine by me. Even using this, I still got a BSOD once during the install process, but I just rebooted and tried again & it worked. I have yet to see if the software on the Turtle Beach CD will work with the reference driver installed, but I hope it does; there's some neat stuff on there.

Big props to Phil or whoever made that modded driver up.

chinny22 wrote:Nice bit of history, sentimental vale always makes the PC's more fun to use.
Also always fun finding out about hardware upgrades you have absolutely NO memory of where/when they happened. had a few systems like that myself


The funny thing is it turns out going from the 400@450 to the 500 was a downgrade, as the 500 is a later CPU known to trigger a bug on this specific board. It's hard to tell how much that's affecting overall performance, but I'd think if I were still using it when the CPU was swapped, I'd have noticed.

I can resistor-mod the board to work around the bug, but I'm looking around for a non-bug-triggering 400 or 450 to try first. I tested the current CPU against a Cyrix MII at the same clock speed & the K6-2 was a fair bit slower in just about everything, but at its native 500MHz it seems to go pretty well.

Tetrium wrote:I love your system! :D

Internal ZIP drive, ss7 that is not K6-3+ but just a plain jane K6-2, 20GB Seagate drive, V3, Turtle Beach, you seem to have picked all the right parts haha! :D

The only thing I personally don't like is the case, but that's mostly because I have a personal preference fro cases that look a bit more sleek and more boring :P
But the case definitely looks period correct, nice tough!

And the Asus P5A-B, the motherboard that has one of the mounting screws located actually inside the CPU socket, what were they thinking? lol!


I actually love this case, it's so weird & such a product of its time. It's also super roomy and easy to work on inside. It came with a 1.7GHz Willamette P4 in it & has a date stamp of 2002, so it's a little newer than a K6-2 setup, but I'm using a pretty late CPU (2000) and I swapped cases a bunch of times along the way with this board, so I figure it's totally suitable. It even has screw holes for baby-AT drilled & marked (including the one in the middle of the CPU socket, which naturally I didn't use. :P ) I wish I had an AT I/O shield; there's a big gaping hole back there right now, but not a huge issue.

On this note, I figured out what the top lid and that weird cavity underneath it are for:

CameraZOOM-20181211125339278.jpg
CameraZOOM-20181211125352744.jpg
AHAHAHA. Is this the coolest thing ever or what? Well, I'll go with 'or what'. But I still love it. SOMEBODY thought this was just the most genius idea they'd ever had, and didn't shut up until it got built.
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Re: Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

Postby xjas » 2018-12-12 @ 03:56

BTW, here's what this board was in in (probably) late 1999 or so - a cluttered teenager's bedroom, but also the big, somewhat disassembled full-AT tower on the left.

1999_hardware_remastered.jpg

I used to run my cases open for cooling then; can't stand doing that these days because of dust build-up. :P I think my Quantum Bigfoot (bottom left) had just failed & was replaced by a full-height, 3.5" 4GB SCA drive on an ISA SCSI card using a bunch of adapters. Hey, this was premium gear so I ran what I could get my hands on! I had a 350W AT PSU in there which was the biggest thing I could afford at the time & the first CD burner of anybody I even remotely knew, which I was exceedingly proud of.

I swapped the case at least one more time after this but I'm about 99% sure I lugged the big tower to Uberfest '98 or '99 in Atlanta. I lived near Toronto then, so you do the math. Sadly the tower got scrapped a few years later when I was moving & desperately trying to make room.

(That said... I just recently went through my storage room where all this stuff ended up; It's amazing how much of the junk in that pic I still have.)
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Re: Quick & clean K6-2 build, with some cool history

Postby treeman » 2018-12-12 @ 04:01

enjoyed reading the story!
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