Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

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Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby doogie » 2019-1-31 @ 21:08

Recreating "extreme" in Y2K: Dream Machine 2000

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Windows 2000 released to manufacturing on December 15, 1999.

Although it may not be the overwhelming favorite in this forum, Windows 2000 was a landmark for my career, in that it was the OS that I first studied and was certified on. I got my first sysadmin gig in large part because I knew this OS well and could really make it sing. Nearly 20 years later, it seems appropriate to really celebrate this beginning - and what better way than building a machine that was completely ridiculous at the time; to really showcase the extent of possibility (and the limits, too).

But wait..who would have documented such an insanely expensive, total overkill beast?

Maximum PC, of course.

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I heed your warning, MPC. Challenge Accepted. The original article is preserved on archive.org if you'd like to take a look.

So, given a mission to pay tribute not just to NT5, but to the turn-of-the-century hardware enthusiast - the parts gathering began. Sadly, the magazine didn't get down into model numbers for every single component, so a decent amount of research was required. Thankfully, much of this is also documented elsewhere. Here's the recipe that I eventually came up with:

  • Motherboard: Intel "Outrigger" OR840 Dual Slot 1 Workstation Motherboard
  • Processors: Dual Intel Pentium III 1GHz
  • Memory: 512MB (2x256MB) Kingston PC800 RIMMs
  • Video: 64MB Hercules 3D Prophet II AGP, Sigma Designs REALMagic MPEG II Decoder
  • Audio: Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! CT4760, Live! Drive
  • Hard Disks: Dual Seagate Cheetah 18GB, 15K U160 (ST318751LW) and IBM 75GB Deskstar 75GXP
  • Optical Drives: Dual Plextor PX-W124TSi CD-RWs, Plextor PX-40TSi CD-ROM, Pioneer DVD-115 DVD-ROM
  • Storage Controller: Adaptec 39160 Ultra160 SCSI
  • Other Storage: Iomega ZIP 100, floppy

20 years later, give or take, this stuff is available (surprisingly, in some instances); but why stop there? I'll stay in the spirit of the build - but I did say "Plus!": let's MAX THIS PUPPY OUT.

Modern Convenience
I don't want a museum piece - I want a machine that runs (and will keep running for hopefully some time).

My thoughts went along these lines:
  • Chassis and Cooling: The PC Power and Cooling tower that the original Dream Machine went into was very nice, but we've come such a long way. (No, not RGB. Let's not go there.) Maximum PC tended to use very nice cases for all of their DM builds, but there's one in particular that really caught my eye as a way to show off the hardware (because we should) and still manage to shove the copious amounts of 5.25" form factor I/O in. That'll just have to be a cliffhanger for now.
  • Memory: At the time the mag was published, they're saying PC800 cost about $3.87 per megabyte. Whoa. Now with the Rambus fiasco long behind us, we can go for a full complement of two gigabytes of memory (and ECC, to boot) -- something that would have cost in the neighborhood of $7925 USD or more given ECC.
  • Power: I've loved the Corsair RMx series power supplies for their build quality and unusually strong 3.3/5V rails, and, well, the fact that you can buy new ones. I'm going with a Corsair RM750x here.
  • Video: although it was launched a whole month after the DM2K issue went to circulation, I felt the NVIDIA Quadro2 Pro was a much better fit for what is, after all, a workstation build. Performance should be somewhere between the GeForce2 Ti and Ultra cards, based on clocks.
  • Floppy: sorry, but I just plain prefer the Gotek emulator for all of my builds.
  • Additional Storage: I'd like to run Windows 2000, perhaps Windows 98 SE, but also a semi-modern Lubuntu looks possible - the latter would eat 18GB for lunch. A larger SCSI disk seems appropriate.

Enough already, show me the goods!
You got it.

The Main Event - Intel OR840

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i840. Dual Slot 1s. Rambus. This is, just - it's a weird board. A weird, awesome board. It's an early revision (44th week 1999), but following a recap using primo Nichicon and United Chemi-Con organic polymers, it's fully able to support our four 512MB RIMMs, something that Intel swears it wouldn't do. (in your face, Intel.)

Zero BS - SL4BS 1GHz Coppermines

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I picked up some NOS Vantec coolers to keep these mad lads under control - after a wet sand to a mirror smooth shine and some new school thermal paste, they're ready for action. Both of these processors seemed to come out of Dell workstations; a good thing in my opinion, as they had massive heatsinks attached in those days if I remember correctly.

Direct RDRAM to the Rescue

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Four 512MB Samsung PC800-40 ECC sticks. Another NOS acquisition. Clean, nice looking heatspreaders in my opinion - fits well with the build.

Pixel Pushers

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NVIDIA Quadro2 Pro AGP, and a Sigma Designs REALMagic MPEG decoder card (the latter NOS). Thankfully in the case of the MPEG decoder, I've got the necessary DIN to VGA cable. I'm not sure this was truly necessary given the dual processors, but I suppose for a bit of multitasking capability it would be nice to offload video decode to this card. We'll have to see what the benchmarks say!

The Voices - I Hear Them

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Nothing wrong in my opinion with the choice of a Sound Blaster Live! (and its now incredibly difficult to find Live! Drive). I normally use the later SB0100 variant for retro builds, but this fit the spirit of the DM2K machine a little better.

Speeds and Feeds

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Oh, SCSI. I do not miss SCSI. This was an especially fun nostalgia trip, though - I was reminded of the workstations and servers I ran when all of this was in its prime. The 15K drives are hot, loud, but fast..and that IBM disk, well, I'm hesitant honestly to put very many hours on it.
The legendary Plextor drives held up incredibly well and all work great. I look forward to making the best of this and trying to find what would have been the true advantages of SCSI - simultaneous access of multiple devices comes to mind, for example.
A Pioneer DVD-ROM as well as a (crisp, clean NOS) ZIP 100 drive round out the gaggle of I/O.

Next: Well, the majority of the gang's here (and bench tested), so there's no going back now. I'll post more pictures when this thing gets built, and then we're going to run some benchmarks!

In the meantime, one more picture for a more complete dose of nostalgia..which Windows is right for me?

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Last edited by doogie on 2019-1-31 @ 22:21, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby Eleanor1967 » 2019-1-31 @ 22:01

Thats some nice gear! Really enjoyed reading the post, too. Eager to see the system completed! The motherboard sure is a weird looking beast.
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby chrismeyer6 » 2019-1-31 @ 22:31

This is going to be a great machine when your all done. I can't wait to see if completed and some benches as well.
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby rasz_pl » 2019-2-01 @ 00:39

Whoever followed that advice in 2000 got rimmed pretty hard.
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby Unknown_K » 2019-2-01 @ 01:16

I have a few dual P3 Slot-1 systems running Win2k but with SDRAM and they rock. If you had the cash the huge XEONs would be fin to have.
Collector of old computers, hardware, and software
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby chrismeyer6 » 2019-2-01 @ 01:25

Excellent choice with 2000 it's one of my favorite operating systems. I have fond memories of using it on my dual P3 500 system with a gig of ram and a SCSI raid 5 array with 6 9gig Seagate 7200 rpm drives that system just flew and was rock solid reliable. I need to dig that system out again and use it
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby Intel486dx33 » 2019-2-01 @ 15:05

That's going to be one LOUD beast !
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby slivercr » 2019-2-01 @ 15:41

Nice to see it taking form! Congrats!
Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby DaveJustDave » 2019-2-01 @ 17:58

First of all i want to say this is a killer build. I do have one oh-so-small nit to pick though.

I can see using a gotek on really old XT/286 builds, but this is a modern machine with ethernet, USB, and an OS that supports them as well as the ability to take optical and zipdisk media. I don't see any situation that would warrant using a gotek when there are so many easier options already on this machine.

I know you want a modern, workable machine, but since this motherboard can support a floppy, i think a floppy drive would work just fine in this build and allow you to read and more importantly write floppies for your other, older machines. In fact, if you have enough bays, i'd get TWO floppies, a 5.25 and a 3.5, in matching white. Plus IMHO the aesthetic would look way nicer than an ugly gotek.

ALTERNATIVELY, if you want it to stand out more, you can opt for a rarer 2.88mb 3.5 floppy drive, or one of those dual 3.5/5.25 epson/teac drives.

Good work, can't wait to see the final result!
I have no clue what I'm doing! If you want to watch me fumble through all my retro projects, you can watch here: https://www.youtube.com/user/MrDavejustdave
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby doogie » 2019-2-01 @ 18:36

slivercr wrote:Nice to see it taking form! Congrats!


I really appreciate all of your help! Your OR840 thread is pure gold.
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby Intel486dx33 » 2019-2-01 @ 18:47

In year 2000 I use to use Dual 21-Inch Sony CPD-G500 CRT Monitors with a Matrox G450 graphics card in my HP Kayaks ( Dual Pentium-3 500mhz. ).
But some Wide screen Sony Displays would be awesome.
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby doogie » 2019-2-08 @ 21:52

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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby chrismeyer6 » 2019-2-08 @ 23:41

That's a good looking machine you got there!
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby doogie » 2019-2-09 @ 04:15

Thanks!

To try and strike a compromise between wanting to show the hardware and extending the useful life of the machine, alongside trying to stay true to the time period, I went with something kind of right in the middle - Silverstone's TJ07, in silver. It's a beast of a case and ticks all the boxes for this build.

I spent quite a bit of time today training and tidying up the power cables, and measuring for the slew of data cables I'll need. Thankfully I was pretty close - I want the last few details to look pretty dead on, so I'm building up a small shopping list.

The case isn't perfect - for example I needed to protect wires from a few sharp edges by insulating with gaffer's tape, but not a huge deal.
Same story with the hard drive cages - there's metal tabs that are there to support the drives, but I don't see how they wouldn't make contact with the controller board on the bottom of the drives. Again not a biggie, just funny for what was a very high end chassis.

Also worthy of note: this case was used for the Dream Machine 2005 build.

Everything's otherwise assembled, so left on the to do list:
-More data cables (IDE, floppy, ..) on the way.
-Make the Live! Drive cable.
-de-yellow the optical drive bezels.
-find a larger capacity hard disk for Lubuntu.
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby doaks80 » 2019-2-09 @ 05:36

I never knew p3 came with RDRAM. Thought it came in with the p4. And you're never going to use all those burners ;)
k6-3+ 400 / s3 virge DX+voodoo1 / awe32(32mb)
via c3 866 / s3 savage4+voodoo2 sli / audigy1+awe64(8mb)
athlon xp 3200+ / voodoo5 5500 / diamond mx300
pentium4 3400 / geforce fx5950U / audigy2 ZS
core2duo E8500 / radeon HD5850 / x-fi titanium
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby gdjacobs » 2019-2-09 @ 23:05

Yes, in the late P3 generation, RDRAM was going to be the thing. Intel had two main chipsets -- the i840 which was actually fairly impressive and the "mainstream" i820 which was better off forgotten.

Then they came out with the i815 and i865/i875 (for P4) and that little experiment was over.
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby Intel486dx33 » 2019-2-10 @ 14:38

Are those Klipsch Pro Media 2.1 desktop speakers in the photo ?
I did not know they had those back in 2000.
I use klipsch desktop speakers today but back in late 1990’s I used
Yamaha YST-M15 2.1 Speakers with subwoofer
and Advent 2.1 speakers with subwoofer.
What about some Terratec sound cards like the DMX 6 fire with break-out box
or the EWS 88-MT with break-out box.

About SCSI :
Two SCSI controllers ?
Two SCSI drives in a Raid 0 config. as boot drive.
And three SCSI drives in Raid 5 for storage.

What ? No Voodoo card ?
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby Intel486dx33 » 2019-2-10 @ 15:39

Did you see my Ultimate Audio PC posts ?
https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=62057
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby oeuvre » 2019-2-11 @ 13:54

Quite oeuvre the top!
Retro PC Intel i5 2500, 8GB RAM, AMD HD7770 1GB, SSD + HD, XP/7
Main Desktop Intel i7 6700K, 32GB, AMD RX580 8GB, NVMe SSD + HD, 10
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Re: Recreating MaximumPC's Dream Machine 2000 (Plus!)

Postby D3FEKT » 2019-2-11 @ 14:09

Very nice, Can't wait to see it all come together
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