My Socket 423 trash-can case build

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My Socket 423 trash-can case build

Postby 386DX40 » 2019-7-01 @ 03:23

Figured I'd post my latest (and currently only) retro gaming PC that I have settled on after going through several different generations of parts/builds and never finding something that meets my particular needs. I am also on an extreme budget these days, and Socket 423 hardware can still be found very cheaply (I bought this stuff a few months ago)....and everything else is getting expensive! It's also not a common set of parts to build around, though it represents a time of interesting transition in the computer hardware industry.

Case: Some not very pretty silver mid-tower ATX that I got literally from the trash (it had a dead Athlon X2 setup in it with failed caps). The front panel was being held on by glue as several of the standoffs that allow the panel to attach to the case with screws were all broken. I spent time melting in some extra plastic and creative tie-wrap placement to strengthen/repair the stand-offs and was able to reattach the front panel with all six screws. I then fixed the wiring problems with the front panel USB connection, and lots of cleaning. I also stuck some 3M rubber feet on it since originals were long gone. It actually turned out rather well for being free. It's not super period correct, but oh well! I installed a 120mm exhaust fan in the rear that I had laying around, as well as a 92mm fan attached to the side cover blowing air at the video card (not shown - plugs into motherboard fan header). Cost = free

Power Supply: Thermaltake 400w ATX that I had in my spare parts box. It originally came from a PC that was thrown away at work many years ago. I checked it for obviously bad caps, cleaned it up, and found that it seems to work fine. Cost = free

CPU: Socket 423 Pentium 4 'Willamette' @ 1.7 GHz. Socket 423 P4s get no respect, but for Windows 98SE and most games up to 2003/2004 they are adequate. SSE2 instruction set is a nice plus as well. I wanted a faster one like a 1.8-2.0GHz but they are mostly too expensive over what I paid for the 1.7GHz and the speed-boost isn't that impressive for the extra cash. Cost = $6 + $12 for a new aftermarket heatsink/fan/mounting clips.

Motherboard: Intel D850GB OEM Gateway version. Came with a 1.3GHz P4 which I tossed in my spare parts box. Has the Intel 850 chipset, is full size ATX, and support for AGP 4X video cards. Since this was a premium product in it's day to go along with the new P4 CPU, motherboard seems very well built and has all Japanese capacitors so no worries there. I had issues with the original Gateway P06 BIOS, and the Intel P18 BIOS wouldn't install with either it's DOS or Windows based flasher. But figured out that removing the recovery jumper and booting with the DOS based P18 BIOS floppy worked and board updated to latest BIOS, solving my stability issues. Cost = $20

Memory: 512MB Samsung 800MHz RDRAM (4 x 128MB). Ahhh the infamous Rambus RAM. Memory passed memtest86 diagnostics, and really doesn't run as hot as I've heard. I have no intentions of using anything other then Windows 98SE on this system so 512MB is just right. Cost = $6

Video card: Ultra cheap Geforce 4 MX 440 64MB DDR AGP with VGA/DVI outputs so I can use a DVI to HDMI adapter connected to my 24" Samsung TV/Monitor that I also use with my primary computer. Card is actually a Quadro 4 380 XGL, but I'm using the 44.30 drivers so it's seen as Geforce 4. Card has a passive cooler and because it's a Quadro, seems very well made. At some point I may try and find a Geforce 3 or Geforce 4 Ti to have DirectX 8 pixel/vertex shaders but not a big deal to me at the moment. Cost = $17

Sound card: PCI based card with ESS Solo 1 chip. I have found these seem to have some of the best DOS support of any PCI sound card I have tried now and back in the day, learned about these cards because of helpful Vogons discussions in the past. So far every DOS game I have tried works well with this card. Cost = free (I have several of these in my spare parts box - bought years ago)

Hard / Optical drives: Samsung 7200rpm 40GB 3.5" IDE from my spare parts box and a beige Samsung DVD-ROM/CD-RW IDE optical drive (hidden behind black 5.25 door that came with case). Teac 1.44MB floppy drive was in case when I found it and after a cleaning it works fine. Cost = $15 for optical drive

I have Windows 98SE (using my old Windows 98Lite 4.7 installer to remove bloat) installed, and this thing is blazing fast (boots in around 20 seconds). Currently playing through Max Payne 2 and Unreal II / UT2004, and performance is great at 1024x768 med/high settings. I will run some benchmarks and post them here when I get more time/motivation! :blah:

If you are dismayed by high ebay prices for Slot 1, Socket 370, etc parts - look at Socket 423 the red-headed stepchild of 2000-2001. RDRAM is cheap, CPUs are cheap, motherboards are cheap, and if you don't need insane power a DirectX 7 era card like the Geforce 4 MX series is a good match here. I have around 80 dollars in this system, though it helps I had many of the parts used already in my possession.

Anyone else got any Socket 423 builds?
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Re: My Socket 423 trash-can case build

Postby chinny22 » 2019-7-01 @ 12:12

Yep, the writing has been on the wall for a while now that P4' s will become affordable Win98 gaming rigs.
Windows games have an advantage over dos in CPU speed issues are much less common, so having the extra horsepower in reserve isn't a bad thing.
Socket 478 may be a better option simply due to numbers, but they are boring, rambus is much more interesting...anyway rambus, socket CPU, mayyybeee if you squint it'll look like a 133FSB Pentium 3 ;)
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Re: My Socket 423 trash-can case build

Postby soviet conscript » 2019-7-01 @ 18:55

I don't have any pics ATM but I have a socket 423 build. Going for a top of the line Pentium 2001 build right before the Northwoods came out.

Pentium 4 Willamette @ 2GHz
Legend QDI Plantinix 4x motherboard
Windows 98SE
512MB RDRAM
Geforce 3 TI 500
Sound Blaster Live!
standard 1.44mb floppy drive along with a DVD drive
Dual 15000RPM Seagate Cheetah SCSI hard drives, cant recall the size but there pretty small, 16GB eatch maybe? Also can't recall the PCI SCSI controller card ATM either.
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Re: My Socket 423 trash-can case build

Postby SirNickity » 2019-7-02 @ 18:06

Yeah! I missed the boat on 423 back in the day. I went straight from a ~800-something MHz PIII to a 2.0GHz Northwood. Decided I needed to experience that ill-fated platform for myself.

In contrast to your build, I do have thermal issues. I can't leave the box running, even idle, without overheating it. It's entirely a problem of my own making, though -- I'm trying to shoe-horn a 1.7GHz Willamette and 1GB RDRAM into a micro-ATX SFF desktop case. I've got my work cut out for me improvising a way to move enough air through that thing to keep it cool. I would be leagues better off swapping cases with my (mini-tower) 478 Northwood, but now it's personal.
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Re: My Socket 423 trash-can case build

Postby 386DX40 » 2019-7-02 @ 20:44

SirNickity wrote:In contrast to your build, I do have thermal issues. I can't leave the box running, even idle, without overheating it. It's entirely a problem of my own making, though -- I'm trying to shoe-horn a 1.7GHz Willamette and 1GB RDRAM into a micro-ATX SFF desktop case. I've got my work cut out for me improvising a way to move enough air through that thing to keep it cool. I would be leagues better off swapping cases with my (mini-tower) 478 Northwood, but now it's personal.


Ooooh yeah, with the heat these parts put off I could see a tiny case being an issue. In fact now that I have been using the system more, heat output is my only complaint. I decided to switch to 2x256 RDRAM from the 4x128 RDRAM in an effort to see slightly less heat generated. All the RDRAM I have is single sided so I'm thinking getting rid of two RIMMs should help a bit. RDRAM really heats up after extended gaming, and the CPU already runs hot as it is.

I'd like to put a 120mm fan blowing in the bottom front of the case, but the front panel is fragile even after repairs and I don't want to remove and replace it to install a fan.

I have a spare board a got cheap awhile back, that is an OEM Intel with the 845 chipset and SDRAM. It came with a 1.7GHz Willamette in it but I ordered a 2.0GHz Northwood figuring the extra L2 cache and architecture improvements in the Northwood core should cause the SDRAM to kill performance slightly less? I also have 512MB of CL2 PC133 SDRAM ready to be installed. I have to replace some bad 3300uf caps, so maybe I will throw a system together on my test bench and run some benchmarks between the 1.7 Willamettes to compare RDRAM to SDRAM after I get spare board going again!
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Re: My Socket 423 trash-can case build

Postby SirNickity » 2019-7-03 @ 19:20

Definitely. That would be interesting to see what the latency vs. bandwidth argument yields. I remember holding out to buy a P4 because of that. I was ready around a year before Intel started shipping DDR boards, but they were still tied up in RDRAM, with only PC133 as an alternative. I waited, impatiently, for DDR on an Intel chipset, and also for the Northwoods because they were supposed to be cooler, more efficient, and overclock like a mother.

Oh, about the RIMM heat: I thought it was cute when I first saw the "caution: hot" stickers on my RIMMs. Haha.. yeah.. memory gets warm.. I guess? Not sure it merits a warning sticker though. But after 15 minutes running, I tapped the spreader with my knuckle and YOWZA... they're not kidding! O_o It was something like 70c!
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Re: My Socket 423 trash-can case build

Postby Munx » 2019-7-06 @ 18:01

I never had any issues with RIMMs getting hot in my S423 system. They get warm, but not hot. Maybe its because I used ones that have chips/heatsinks only on one side?
My builds!
The FireStarter 2.0 - The wooden K5
The Underdog - The budget K6
The Voodoo powerhouse - The power-hungry K7
The troll PC - The Socket 423 Pentium 4
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Re: My Socket 423 trash-can case build

Postby SirNickity » 2019-7-08 @ 19:59

Could be. Mine are 256MB modules... I don't recall if they're double-sided, but I would assume they probably are. That was a fairly large capacity module for the time. Airflow through my case is about equivalent to a flatulent gnat though.
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Re: My Socket 423 trash-can case build

Postby 386DX40 » 2019-7-10 @ 02:03

Well I can report that going from 4 to 2 RIMMs has helped reduce heat output from the system. Interestingly the new 256MB x 2 single sided RIMMs are made by Samsung as well but are ECC, yet they run noticeably cooler the the old Samsung 128MB x 4 non-ECC single sided RIMMs I removed.

I have been playing with driver versions and have settled on 56.64 right now being the most stable and offering good all around performance. The 44.03 and 45.23 drivers were basically flaky in this system, in particular changing Quake III Arena graphics settings would result in a lock-up every time, and this has resolved with the 56.64 drivers. I also had visual problems with a few DOS games that also have cleared up.

I did find a 64MB Geforce 3 cheap that will be replacing the Geforce 4 MX440, so I may revisit the driver situation once I get the card and install it.

I have been playing through Unreal II The Awakening lately, and performance is great, though game is OK but doresn't have the 'Unreal' feel to it!
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