Retro Pentium 4 Rig - 27-year-span (PC) software supported *without* use of emulation

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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby dr_st » 2019-3-15 @ 13:58

ynari wrote:I have to admit I've not done much Dosbox with my main (E5 2600 Xeon) system. When I was rocking a 3GHz Core2Quad it was definitely too slow for a number of Dosbox games from GOG.
Interestingly, I'm typing this from a 3GHz Core 2 Quad, and I have never noticed it lagging in DOSBox. Which games do you recall had issues?
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby FrostyTheSnowman » 2019-3-18 @ 23:08

dr_st wrote:
FrostyTheSnowman wrote:I was born in '85, but my first real exposure to computers was around '91 or '92... my family was not able to afford the current computers at the time (and felt there was no need for one in the house) so in '93 (at the age of 8 ) I took it upon myself to restore one with thrift store parts. When I was done I had a fully working EPSON Equity I (8088) that ran DOS (and not much else). After the EPSON I decided to move on to laptops around '95 with the Toshiba T3200 (80286) running Windows 3.0 - shortly after that I built my first 'real' computer (80486) so I could play Doom and I have been addicted to hardware projects ever since.
We're not much different you and me, as it turns out. ;) Except that where I grew up, there were no thrift stores for this kind of thing, so the first computer my parents could afford was a Pentium 100MHz in 1996. Before that time I had some gaming experience on 386 and 486 machines at friends' places, and on my dad's work laptop - a Thinkpad with an i486SX 33MHz. I learned my way around DOS back then, but haven't tinkered with hardware until much later.

FrostyTheSnowman wrote:My original computers above are (of course) long gone, but over the last decade I found them again and added them into my collection - but those machines are sentimental to me so I don't actually use them. I also pieced together an 80386 (just for completeness sake) so I have that too, along with a Pentium 3.
Again I can see the similarities. :happy: When the P-100 system had died, it was replaced with a K6-2 system, and at that point the "bug" of tinkering with hardware and keeping it running got into me.

The P-100 went to the trash, the Cyrix 133MHz system which was used as a stop-gap so that my dad could keep on running his Windows 3.11 apps - also , as did some 'retro' P-MMX 200MHz rig that I got for free from a neighbor with the dream to set up DOS LAN games with the K6 rig (I think I did it a whooping two times in its lifetime). All these systems are gone (I kept the CPUs, though), but the K6-2 rig lives on (on its 3rd motherboard, I believe), with various ISA/PCI sound cards tested over the course of the years, and still on its original Voodoo 3000 (Yay!). I actually ordered a K6-2+ CPU for it, trying to beef up the performance just a tad (due to the extra level of on-die cache).

dr_st wrote:For example, many people speak of running Windows 98 under DOSBox (which certainly does work) but it doesn't fully support 3D hardware for later generation games, and even if it *does* work it will still be unplayable on even modern computers with huge processing power.
Yeah, I don't advocate running Windows 98 under DOSBox (or VirtualBox, or any virtualizer) at all, for all the reasons you mentioned. I would rather keep a separate system for Win98SE (which I do, that's what the K6-2 computer does), rather than try to blend it into my main system. Win98 really imposes a lot of restrictions on the hardware, and I don't want the other, modern OSes, to have to deal with these restrictions. At the same time, a single, strategically picked Win98SE system can cover 99% of DOS and early Windows games, and the few that will not work, can either work in DOSBox (DOS games) or natively on a modern rig (Windows games), perhaps with some patches.

The main compatibility issue with many early 3D Windows games is the 3dfx Glide API, which they are optimized for (and sometimes downright require it); nGlide seems to handle it pretty well nowadays.


I also have fond memories of the AMD K6-2/3 and the Cyrix processors - if I recall I beat FF7 on an AMD K6-2+ 450 in the late 90's (1999 I think) and Cyrix used to be my go-to for low budget builds for friends and neighbors before then. Ahh the memories! :D

I've also heard a lot of good things about Glide wrappers these days - they are likely a better option than any of the original hardware at this point, but I do love my Voodoo 2 card as it was probably my first real 3D GPU. :D

eviljoeclark wrote:Nice set up!

I used the same motherboard for my main retro rig, with an fx5950 in the AGP, and a Voodoo 5 5500 in PCI for Glide; but I'm getting rid of the Voodoo, as its just not that useful. Maybe I'll try something like you and broaden the range of games I can play!


Thanks! This motherboard has been a champ thus far - my only complaint is that it does not have a power LED connection (or at least not one I could find) so I had to create a molex-to-3.3v-regulator adapter to light up the power LED. :D

I really wish there were PCI-based FX cards with higher-spec'd GPUs (limited to FX 5200 and FX 5500 I think)... I would LOVE an FX 5950 in PCI form (even though it doesn't exist) for my Windows 98 OS. Personally I feel like I need my Voodoo card though, it is definitely limited compared to the FX 5200 and the HD 3870 but my retro build would just feel incomplete without one. ;)

dr_st wrote:
ynari wrote:I have to admit I've not done much Dosbox with my main (E5 2600 Xeon) system. When I was rocking a 3GHz Core2Quad it was definitely too slow for a number of Dosbox games from GOG.
Interestingly, I'm typing this from a 3GHz Core 2 Quad, and I have never noticed it lagging in DOSBox. Which games do you recall had issues?


I'd be willing to bet that Carmageddon can't run properly under DOSBox, even with a beefy processor... if I recall it needed at least a Pentium 200 to run 'correctly' - it required a Pentium 75 at a minimum. :(
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby vorvek » 2019-3-19 @ 00:29

How do you deal with games that run too fast? I have a similar computer, albeit much more limited (P4@3GHz, 865 chipset) and so far I've been using Throttle and halving the FSB for games like Dragon Lore or Azrael's Tear, but even though that makes the games run at a speed that looks proper, they *feel* wrong when actually trying to play (mouse feels somewhat laggy, speed is inconsistent during gameplay...). I've read the thread about slow-down utilities, but they seem to be aimed at unlocked CPUs and/or specific older chipsets.

What tool(s) has given you the best results?
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby FrostyTheSnowman » 2019-3-19 @ 03:57

vorvek wrote:How do you deal with games that run too fast? I have a similar computer, albeit much more limited (P4@3GHz, 865 chipset) and so far I've been using Throttle and halving the FSB for games like Dragon Lore or Azrael's Tear, but even though that makes the games run at a speed that looks proper, they *feel* wrong when actually trying to play (mouse feels somewhat laggy, speed is inconsistent during gameplay...). I've read the thread about slow-down utilities, but they seem to be aimed at unlocked CPUs and/or specific older chipsets.

What tool(s) has given you the best results?


I use Mo'Slo Deluxe ($25 @ http://www.hpaa.com/moslo/deluxe.asp) myself under DOS (real-mode), works great with my P4 3.4 and 865 chipset - I usually disable hyper-threading and L1/L2 CPU cache in my BIOS first, then I load Mo'Slo Deluxe to accomplish near-8088 speeds.

I haven't tested Dragon Lore or Azrael's Tear, but I have tested other games designed for 8086/8088/80286 and they seem to work fine for me. :)
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby dr_st » 2019-3-19 @ 05:34

FrostyTheSnowman wrote:I'd be willing to bet that Carmageddon can't run properly under DOSBox, even with a beefy processor... if I recall it needed at least a Pentium 200 to run 'correctly' - it required a Pentium 75 at a minimum. :(
Challenge accepted. :) I'll have not really played Carmageddon, ever. Will be a nice opportunity to try.

FrostyTheSnowman wrote:I use Mo'Slo Deluxe ($25 @ http://www.hpaa.com/moslo/deluxe.asp) myself under DOS (real-mode), works great with my P4 3.4 and 865 chipset - I usually disable hyper-threading and L1/L2 CPU cache in my BIOS first, then I load Mo'Slo Deluxe to accomplish near-8088 speeds.
I used to also use SlowDown by Bret Johnson (you can still get it for free from Bret's page); I recall that it worked better than MoSlo on some titles for me, but that was a long time ago and I don't remember any details. Nowadays, these are exactly the game that I would use DOSBox for, to not bother having to disable/reenable caches in my BIOS all the time. ;)
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby vorvek » 2019-3-19 @ 11:31

FrostyTheSnowman wrote:I use Mo'Slo Deluxe ($25 @ http://www.hpaa.com/moslo/deluxe.asp) myself under DOS (real-mode), works great with my P4 3.4 and 865 chipset - I usually disable hyper-threading and L1/L2 CPU cache in my BIOS first, then I load Mo'Slo Deluxe to accomplish near-8088 speeds.

I haven't tested Dragon Lore or Azrael's Tear, but I have tested other games designed for 8086/8088/80286 and they seem to work fine for me. :)


Thanks, although I was thinking more about 90s games. I understand you can completely cripple the CPU, but that's the thing, I find it hard to fine tune the lower speeds, like maybe getting something that's close to a Pentium MMX 200, or things like those. I did notice that Mo'Slo Deluxe claims it can approach the speed of the CPU to Pentium 166 levels, so that might be good enough. I'll give it a try.

dr_st wrote:I used to also use SlowDown by Bret Johnson (you can still get it for free from Bret's page); I recall that it worked better than MoSlo on some titles for me, but that was a long time ago and I don't remember any details. Nowadays, these are exactly the game that I would use DOSBox for, to not bother having to disable/reenable caches in my BIOS all the time. ;)


I'll give that one a try too! I was happy using DosBox, but over the years I've found many perks that I don't really want to deal with, like games that require different cycle counts for different sections to play properly. I've found myself using PCEm more and more, but the project still has a long way to go.
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby FrostyTheSnowman » 2019-3-21 @ 17:08

FrostyTheSnowman wrote:I am incapable of sitting still, and I *much* desire to increase the supported software time frames for my build... my head is swimming with dreams of my Sound Blaster 16, Xeon X5470 and Nvidia Geforce 1070 Ti co-existing in the same build.

I have done more research into the post-865-chipset industrial motherboards and DMA issues, and I found this page:

https://flaterco.com/kb/ISA_chipsets.html

The above page indicates that the RUBY-9719VG2AR (G41-based chipset, 775 socket, ISA+PCI+PCI-E) *can* be made to work with ISA DMA via 'RUBYISA.EXE', which is a DOS-based tool to configure the IO port ranges to forward through both the ICH7 southbridge and the Fintek FG85226 LPC to ISA bridge - the tool itself was made by Tiido Priimägi (TmEE in this thread: http://www.techtalk.cc/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=80&start=50) and is reported to work with some ISA cards (but not all, due to ISA slot power limitations).

I have found the above motherboard brand-new on eBay for $300 - I have ordered it and I will be performing testing with the above utility to see how well it works with my Sound Blaster 16, and if it works acceptably I will be replacing my current CPU/motherboard/RAM/PSU with a new configuration based on this motherboard.

Updates on this adventure to follow in the next few weeks.


The motherboard has arrived (Portwell RUBY-9719VG2AR, G41/ICH7R/LPC-to-ISA based) and it is EVEN BETTER than I expected - when using Tiido Priimägi's RUBYISA tool/driver I am indeed able to get FULL IRQ and DMA support on it's ISA slot under DOS/Win9x *and* the built-in Intel GMA X4500 appears to fully support CGA/EGA/VGA/VESA 1.0/VESA 2.0/VESA 3.0 under DOS too! The DOS compatibility with the built-in GPU is especially surprising as no other modern video card i've tested yet has been able to properly support VESA 2.0 *and* VESA 3.0... the closest I was able to get before was via UNIVBE and my Riva GPU (which is no longer needed now).

I have tested the motherboard/ISA slot with my Sound Blaster 16 (CT1740) *and* Crystal Aztec (50-0038AZ-2S-2) and both sound cards were fully functional under DOS - synth/FM/MIDI/joystick all work properly with zero compatibility issues when compared to the same cards being used with my Advantech AIMB-742 motherboard.

I also tested my entire DOS game collection last night and found (to my surprise) that the built-in Intel GMA X4500 is equal to my Nvidia Riva TNT (compatibility-wise) under DOS, all games worked perfect - even Commander Keen works without the scrolling issue!

Mo'Slo Deluxe also seems to be working properly for slowing the CPU, including it's on-the-fly L1/L2 cache disabling features (I had to disable those manually in the BIOS on my old AIMB-742 motherboard).

I also tested Windows 98 and it seems to work fine too, I don't have SATA drivers for it though (unsupported chipset) so I will probably have to purchase Rloew's SATA patch to ensure I have full drive performance.

My current plan is as follows:

- Remove Advantech AIMB-742 motherboard, P4 3.4 CPU, 4GB DDR1, Nvidia Riva TNT GPU and AMD Radeon HD 3870 GPU from my current build
- Remove AGI 350W ATX PSU
- Install Corsair 550W Modular ATX PSU
- Install Portwell RUBY-9719VG2AR motherboard, X5470 3.33 CPU, 8GB DDR2 and AMD Radeon RX 570 GPU (I decided not to use my Nvidia Geforce 1070 Ti after all due to CPU/PCI-E 1.1 bottleneck - the RX 570 will be a better match) into my current build
- Update microcode on Portwell RUBY-9719VG2AR motherboard to support all features of the X5470 CPU
- Add RUBYISA to my DOS 'autoexec.bat' file (RUBYISA.EXE /W87 /W164)
- Install Rloew's SATA patch on Windows 98 SE
- Convert DOS/Win98 HDDs to SSDs (might as well)
- Add another SSD with Windows 10
- Add another SSD with Hackintosh (most likely Sierra)
- Purchase and internalize Kryoflux floppy controller for my 3.5"/5.25" drives (this motherboard lacks a floppy controller)

Now I will have a true freak show PC, with support for PC software from 1981-2019 (38 years!) *and* support for Macintosh software from 2006 - 2019. :D

I will document this 'new build' in a separate thread once it is completed (because this P4 build is still worth keeping separate) - it will be called '38-year-span (PC) and 13-year-span (Mac) 'Ultimate' Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)', I should have this new thread up in a few weeks (still waiting on shipments to come in).

NOTE: I have attached my testing screenshots, the RUBYISA driver (made by Tiido Priimägi) and the specs/manual from Portwell for reference.
Attachments
Portwell RUBY-9719VG2AR Testing Screenshots.zip
(1.16 MiB) Downloaded 11 times
RUBYISA.zip
(15.53 KiB) Downloaded 8 times
RUBY-9719VG2AR Specs.pdf
(170.08 KiB) Downloaded 10 times
RUBY-9719VG2AR Manual.pdf
(1.79 MiB) Downloaded 8 times
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby Doomn00b » 2019-3-27 @ 16:56

Hmm.

I am of two minds about this build... it's both very, very impressive, in its devotion and skill, but also somewhat concerning when it comes to the immense cost, as well as the Bios-flashing needed to "mode-change" it! 0_o

May I ask, how did you obtain these industrial boards? And how much do they cost for a private citizen to obtain? I looked into some of these industrial boards earlier, but they are very, very hard to come by via stuff like Newegg, eBay and the like.
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby FrostyTheSnowman » 2019-3-27 @ 22:39

Doomn00b wrote:Hmm.

I am of two minds about this build... it's both very, very impressive, in its devotion and skill, but also somewhat concerning when it comes to the immense cost, as well as the Bios-flashing needed to "mode-change" it! 0_o

May I ask, how did you obtain these industrial boards? And how much do they cost for a private citizen to obtain? I looked into some of these industrial boards earlier, but they are very, very hard to come by via stuff like Newegg, eBay and the like.


This build is pricey for sure (especially the research/development cost, fortunately I got most of that back by re-selling the parts on eBay)... but not much more expensive than a typical 'high-end gaming computer' build, just from a different era. :)

As far as the BIOS flashing of the FX 5200 - it's not ideal... but it does work and carries very little risk (Nvidia cards are easy to recover from bad flashes anyway). Fortunately I have moved to the Portwell RUBY-9719VG2AR motherboard for the next iteration of this build which has solved the BIOS flashing requirement of the FX 5200 (I dropped the Riva TNT as the Intel GMA X4500 seems to work equally well under DOS) as I can now switch between my PCI-E, PCI and IGP directly in the BIOS settings, plus now I can run high-end PCI-E GPUs, 771 server processors, 8GB RAM *and* my ISA Sound Blaster in the same rig! :D

As far as locating the industrial motherboards - I found mine on eBay, but the prices fluctuate WILDLY depending on who is selling them. The Advantech AIMB-742 (478) motherboard goes for between $150 - $300+, whereas the Portwell RUBY-9719VG2AR (775) motherboard goes for $650+ on average (I got lucky and the seller accepted my offer of $300).
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby Doomn00b » 2019-5-08 @ 16:58

Hey, so what's been happening with your next build, since last time? Are you close towards finalizing it?
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby FrostyTheSnowman » 2019-5-08 @ 20:39

Doomn00b wrote:Hey, so what's been happening with your next build, since last time? Are you close towards finalizing it?


The next build is complete, I actually just started taking pictures of it for the build thread. :blush:

I decided to keep my Pentium 4 build 'as it is' and use it is a secondary retro build (yay IPX LAN parties!), but I took it's monitor and speakers for the new build and instead I coupled the Pentium 4 with a 5:4 LCD and some period-correct Yamaha speakers (pictures of this new combo will be updated on this thread too).

Here are the current specs of the next build - a.k.a. the 40-year 'Ultimate Xeon' build:

Core Components:

• Video Cards: EVGA (Nvidia) Geforce GTX 1060 PCI-E, XFX (Nvidia) Geforce FX 5200 PCI (DVI version), Intel GMA X4500 IGP, Diamond (3dfx) Voodoo 2 PCI
• Sound Cards: Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZX PCI (SB0350), Yamaha OPL3-SAx ISA (YMF719E-S w/6.8nf Low-Pass Filter mod and Reversed-Wavetable fix)
• Hard Drives: PNY 120GB SSD (SATA), PNY 120GB SSD (SATA), PNY 240GB SSD (SATA), Intel 500GB SSD (SATA), Seagate 1TB HDD (SATA)
• CD/DVD Drives: Sony DVD-RW (PATA)
• CD/DVD Controller: Startech ICUSB2IDE USB 2.0 to IDE
• Floppy Disk(s): Epson SD800/SD700 Combo (3.5”/5.25”)
• Floppy Controller: KryoFlux Personal Edition USB 2.0 to Floppy
• RAM: Edge DDR2-800 (2x4GB)
• Motherboard: Portwell RUBY-9719VG2AR Industrial (G41-based chipset, 775 socket, ISA+PCI+PCI-E, ISA IRQ & DMA redirection possible via Tiido's RUBYISA utility)
• CPU: Intel Xeon X5470 3.33Ghz (Quad-core 771 Server CPU w/775 mod)
• Power Supply: Corsair RM550 (550W) ATX
• Keyboard: Mitsumi PS2
• Mouse: Microsoft Mouse (USB/PS2-based)
• Monitor: ASUS VX238W 23” 1080p HDMI/VGA LCD
• Speakers: Sony SA-SPC5 2.1 Reference (Studio-grade)
• Game Controllers: Gravis 10-button Gamepad, Sony PSOne Dual Shock w/USB adapter

Operating Systems:

• Windows 10 (64-bit)
• Windows 7 (32-bit)
• Windows 98 SE
• MS-DOS 7.10
• Macintosh OS X 10.13.3 (Hackintosh)

I have attached a few high-resolution (but still crappy phone pics) pictures of the new build (looks exactly like the P4 build but with new guts) and I will have a fully detailed build thread up by tonight. ;)
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stickers.jpg
Xeon_guts.jpg
SSDs_and_HDD.jpg
DVD_and_floppy.jpg
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby FrostyTheSnowman » 2019-5-23 @ 09:27

2 weeks later and I finally got the new Xeon rig posted!

Here's the link for those who are interested in the Xeon X5470 build:

viewtopic.php?f=25&t=67181

I will be posting a current picture of the Pentium 4 build in this thread in the next few days too, as I got lucky and found a *perfect* condition period-correct 5:4 LCD (NEC) and a nice speaker set (Yamaha) that really ties the Pentium 4 build together. :D

I also removed the SB16/CR-563-B combo from the Pentium 4 build and replaced the SB16 with a modded Yamaha OPL3-SAx ISA (YMF719E-S w/6.8nf Low-Pass Filter mod and Reversed-Wavetable fix), which is also the same card I installed in my Xeon build. I bought 2 of these YMF cards, then cleaned them up and then replaced the filter caps/fixed the wavetable header traces in preparation for purchasing a pair Dreamblaster S2's. ;)
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Re: 27-year-span 'Ultimate' PC Gaming Computer (built with compatible hardware *only*, no emulation)

Postby FrostyTheSnowman » 2019-5-25 @ 07:53

I have attached current pictures of the Pentium 4 build to this post. :)

Changes:

- 24" 1080p LCD replaced with 17" 1280x1024 LCD (24" 1080p LCD was moved to my new Xeon build)
- Sony 2.1 speakers replaced with Yamaha speakers (Sony 2.1 speakers moved to my new Xeon build)
- 3.5"/5.25" combo floppy drive replaced with 3.5" floppy drive (3.5"/5.25" combo floppy drive moved to my new Xeon build)
- CR-563-B CD-ROM drive removed (CR-563-B was sold)
- SB16 replaced with Yamaha OPL3-SAx ISA (YMF719E-S w/6.8nf Low-Pass Filter mod and Reversed-Wavetable fix) (SB16 was sold)
- 500GB SSD (SATA) replaced with 320GB HDD (SATA) (500GB SSD moved to my new Xeon build)
- 750GB HDD (SATA) replaced with 320GB HDD (SATA)
- FX 5200 VGA GPU was replaced with a DVI-enabled FX 5200 GPU
- Added U.S. Robotics 56K Faxmodem (external)
- Case stickers have been re-applied (and replaced in the case of the 3dfx sticker)
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