A tale of 2 Slot1’s or my attempt to relive glorious past

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A tale of 2 Slot1’s or my attempt to relive glorious past

Postby vutt » 2019-8-18 @ 09:48

TLDR - my little story how I ended up with 2 retro rigs while attempting to relive my youth. And despite some frustration and excess costs (of course) I loved every bit of it. Entire adventure described below lasted almost 12 months.

Mission statement: Build retro rig for authentic DOS gaming based on Win98SE real time DOS boot solution.

Choosing platform:
While I owned various 386,486 DIY based PC’s from used parts my brightest memory involves Am5x86-P75 133Mhz@166Mhz (of course) built from brand new components. It would have best nostalgia go to system, but being older system with leaking NiCd/NiMH batteries and with more often than not requiring old AT PSU it’s too much hassle.

I actually had my old early 2000-s Athlon XP2000 rig with broken KT600 motherboard, SB Live sound and cheap 17” LCD monitor laying around. So I went I bought cheapest KM400 PCChps motherboard and managed to get it running more or less stable in DOS. btw KM400 chipset sports good built-in video for DOS gaming, but somehow I could not get this platform working stable in Win98SE. Also last but not least hardware felt wrong as authentic DOS rig.

So what’s the best most recent most compatible and reliable DOS/Win98 platform with ISA support then? i440BX of course!

Getting parts:
At some point I managed to acquire SB16 Value CT2770 with authentic OPL3 FM chip and the stage was set to go all the way in with 440BX adventure. Then shortly after that used Intel SE440BX-2 MB with 500 Mhz Katmai and 128MB SDRAM popped up at local auction site and went for it. As usual with these sites there is always one other fellow retro enthusiast who drives price up. I got full set at 55EUR.

I have no problem mixing up modern parts as long as MB/GPU/Sound core system delivers authentic outcome. So my first Slot1 iteration shaped up as follows:

CPU: P3 500Mhz Katmai
MB: Intel SE440-BX2 (Made in Ireland btw)

RAM: 1 noname stick of 128MB CL3 SDRAM
GPU: ATI 9200SE (From my old early 2000 rig)
Sound: SB 16 Value

Net: Cheap Realtek (from my old early 2000 rig)
HDD: 160GB SATA Seagate with SATA->IDE adapter.
Optical Drive: LG generic IDE DVD drive (from my old early 2000 rig)
Monitor: Viewsonic 17” LCS (from my old early 2000 rig)
Speakers: Creative Inspire T7900 (I bought it back in 2003, still working)

Apart from my shitty Viewsonic 17” LCD monitor bought back in 2003 and jumpy failing mouse this rig run very stable both in DOS and Win98SE.

So normal cost conscious retro PC fan would stop there and will just enjoy what’s built. Well I could not stop there. So bits by bits following upgrades were done over the course of a few months:

Sound upgrade:
Since I bought SB16 Value edition w/o wavetable header I planned to get external MIDI device. SoundCanvas was my initial target. Well before I seriously started to hunt down on ebay. Pricey!! So I decided to switch to modern better sounding in my opinion alternative - Serdaco’s X3MB. It turned out that CT2770 has buggy v4.13 DSP with external MIDI sound.
SB16 is also bad Win98 card. It has issues with 48khz->44khz sampling rate conversion while watching my old concert DVD collection.
Since I didn’t want to give up authentic Yamaha OPL3 sound I went for AOpen AW744-II. It’s 2002 card so sound output is cleaner than any mid-90 SB with almost perfect SB Pro 2 compatibility. I even hard-modded SB-LINK connector there in order to enjoy TSR free sound experience in DOS mode.

Video upgrade:
ATI 9XXX series cards are DX9/Win XP era cards. So it doesn’t feel right. I draw for myself artificial line at DX8.1 mark with this project. So GF4 it is then. I managed to score cheap MSI GF4 TI4200 128MB version from local auction site. But by now I’m addicted. So over the course of couple of months I monitored ebay and managed to snatch MSI 8872 (TI4600) with decent price. It was w/o cooler so I bought cheap 2 slot Chinese one. This is another retro build area where I’m more than happy to use modern quieter designs.

CPU upgrade:
Now I’m reaching the point where tale of 2nd Slot1 PC starts. I wanted faster processor in order to cover all Win98 era. So I went for cheap 650MHz 100MHZ FSB Coppermine without reading fine print in SE440BX-2 manual. Of course it turned out that I have earlier revision without lower Coppermine voltages support.

Decision time: By now I had almost 2 sets of each component except the motherboard. So since Slot1 is timeless hardware for DOS/Win98 nostalgia seeker and old components will eventually fail and for sure they are not getting cheaper in the future, I decided to go for ultimate 440BX motherboard - Asus P3B-F. Again after patiently waiting for a couple of months I managed to snatch one for only 34EUR+shipping and it has been working now for couple of months perfectly.

end of part 1/2. cont next post...
Last edited by vutt on 2019-8-18 @ 10:24, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: A tale of 2 Slot1’s or my attempt to relive glorious past

Postby vutt » 2019-8-18 @ 09:48

part 2/2

Slot1 ver 2.0 spec:
CPU: 650MHz Slot1 Coppermine @ 866Mhz (w/o voltage increase, full load temp ~50C)
MB: Asus P3B-F
RAM: 2 sticks Infineon 128 MB SDRAM PC133 CL2 (Yeah another upgrade because I can ;)
GPU: MSI 8872 - G4Ti 4600-VTD (4x AGP)
Sound: AOpen AW744-II, Serdaco X3MB and CVX4
Net: 3C905B-TX-NM Fast Etherlink XL PCI

HDD: IDE adapter for SD card from ebay - Sandisk Extreme Pro 32GB
Optical: new LG SATA DVD drive on SATA-IDE adapter (old IDE drive emits funny noise)
Monitor: HP1955 19” LCD (another upgrade because of old 17” back light is uneven)
PSU: HEXA+ 400W with decent 23A +5V output. Fan speed is just enough for extracting hot air from case. No need to add extra case fan.

3DMark 2001SE score (CPU 650@866Mhz, GPU Core 300@332, vmem 660@732:

p3@833MHz is also nice CPU with disabled level 1 cache for speed sensitive games like Ultima 6 and Monkey Island.
topbench is rating my rig with l1 cache disabled around 386DX33

System and setup pics:

[*]Need to solder SB-Link pin-outs to P3B-F so I can use my AW744 in DOS without TSR
[*]Add SB16 in parallel but first I need to figure out how to distribute IRQs and ports without conflicts. Especially tricky will be OPL 388h remapping for one of the cards.
[*]Get one of the 3DFX-es working. See side story below
[*]Need to find period accurate case. Current one is the cheapest one I found from my local PC shop.

Side story - tale of 2 non working 3DFX2-s
Every respectable DOS/Win98 retro rig needs native Glide card. I had Diamond 3DFX card back in a days so I wanted one for my build as well. Well unfortunately both 3DFX2 I bought from ebay are not working. One is completely cold and another one is detected by windows, but main chips are cold. So I learned my rather costly lesson to set my expectation buying old PC parts from ebay. Search for 3dfx is therefore suspended atm.
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Re: A tale of 2 Slot1’s or my attempt to relive glorious past

Postby jaZz_KCS » 2019-8-18 @ 10:33

Maybe you want to upload some more close-up high resolution pictures of the afflicted Voodoo2s. Not for me personally, but there are a lot of very well versed 3dfx fanatics - I MEAN connoisseurs here on the forum which might just be able to see what may be wrong with these cards by merely looking at them.

Although the symptoms you described sound more like internal problems.
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Re: A tale of 2 Slot1’s or my attempt to relive glorious past

Postby dries_86 » 2019-8-19 @ 07:53

I'm by any means not specialized in 3Dfx cards but it looks like both cards have some damage on the PCI connectors . Could have nothing to do with the issues though. And the general state of the cards is pretty bad, especially the bottom card. I hope you purchased them as untested / not working ? Otherwise if you paid by Paypal I would request a refund !
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Re: A tale of 2 Slot1’s or my attempt to relive glorious past

Postby vutt » 2019-8-19 @ 10:39

Well it looks like my 3dfx side story developed a twist!

It's literally twist, because if you look closely at upper Gainward card top chip with heat sink is little bit twisted. I noticed that when I bought it, but at that time I missed the fact that 4 legs were also detached. I noticed it only yesterday when I was thinking about taking hi res pics for this thread.
So I managed to solder them back and test card again...
--- and it started to work. YAY!

However there seems to have a problem:

Gainward Dragon 3000 is 12MB card. I think texture memory should be 8MB not 4MB. If that twisted chip is one of the TMU-s then it appears that it isn't working properly even after my solder fix. Then again chip is hot to the touch like the rest of heatsinked chips so it's doing something for sure.
Weirdly enough Quake 2&3, Half-Life, Final Reality and even 3DMark2001SE worked flawlessly without any visible errors in 800x600 16bit modes.

Edit: Nevermind. After another round of basically feeling with needle each and every TMU chip leg I found the culprit - another leg was loose.
Now it shows correctly 2 TMU-s with 8MB texture memory. YAY I got my 60EUR back!!
Thanks @jaZz_KCS for kind of pushing me to have another round with this card.
Last edited by vutt on 2019-8-19 @ 14:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A tale of 2 Slot1’s or my attempt to relive glorious past

Postby svfn » 2019-8-19 @ 11:32

The parts looks rather snug in that case :) I personally don't mind modern cases since old ones are hard to come by in good condition and not yellowed. Modern cases also has better cutouts for airflow and option for a side window in some cases.
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Re: A tale of 2 Slot1’s or my attempt to relive glorious past

Postby chinny22 » 2019-8-20 @ 12:37

"So normal cost conscious retro PC fan would stop there and will just enjoy what’s built"
Nah they are quitters, you only stop when you have no more room! ;)

160GB HDD, Ti4600, Maxing out hardware makes me happy for some reason :)
Slot 1 BX systems are also my favorite, and best thing of owning 2, lan games! even if it is with yourself
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Re: A tale of 2 Slot1’s or my attempt to relive glorious past

Postby vutt » 2019-8-24 @ 14:03

A little update!

+ Gainward Dragon 3000 (12MB Voodoo 2) - since I got it working
+ Soundblaster 16 Value (CT2770) - since I want 16bit card in DOS mode
+ Samsung SH-S182 IDE DVD device - It has dedicated audio out for DOS red book CD games and it's IDE. Less clutter, no need for SATA-IDE adapter.

My monitor sports dual input. So I do not need to use pass-trough cable. So no 2D hi-res video degradation.

Getting 2 Audio cards working in DOS turned out to be more tricky one. Creative PnP DOS tools refused to work in DOS 7. So I let windows to manage resources. Still in order to get typical configuration I had to choose manually resources.
So DOS looks like:
SB16 - A240 I5 D3 H5, MPU401 disabled
Yamaha 744 - only OPL3 388h and MPU401 is enabled for my external MIDI module. O plan to add SB-Link pins to motherboard then I will enable SB Pro2 at A220 I7 D1.

I'm using modern external 5 channel portable sound mixer so I can avoid looping sound trough sound cards probably inferior on board mixers.
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