VOGONS


First post, by Srandista

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Since my first "retro" PC was such a overkill and kinda pointless for Win 98 use (it was really geared mainly for XP use), I told myself, that this time I'll try to make actually 98 build, with reasonable specs for this OS.

So, which parts I used for this one?
MTB: ASRock K7S41GX
CPU: AMD Athlon XP 3000+ Barton
COOLER: Arctic Cooling Copper Silent 2 TC
RAM: 512MB (2x256MB) DDR-333
GPU: GeForce4 Ti4200 64MB
HDD: 4GB CF card
SC: Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 SB0100
DVD: LG GDR-8163B IDE DVD-ROM
FDD: Gotek + OLED display
PSU: Eurocase 400W (23A 5V rail)
CASE: Eurocase MC X203 EVO mATX

This time, I started from motherboard. I went with K7S41GX in mATX format (if I would knew back then...), because it's one of the few motherboards, which officially supports Geode NX CPU. I bought one quite some time ago, because I was planning Socket A build, but wasn't sure, if my PSU would be up to the task, and Geode really just sips the power. Board came with Sempron 2200+ and cooler. Then I took DDR1 RAM from my previous build, along with the PSU and DVD drive. For a GPU, I went with GeForce4 Ti, since it should be more compatible for this kind of build then ATI cards, and I finally want to use some Nvidia card (never had one before). I would have to do something with fan though, because man, that thing is LOUD! Then, I was pretty sure, that BIOS will have to be updated and since this is pretty old board, update from DOS is the only way for it. So I bought Gotek, and also swap the default display, which is next to useless, for OLED one. Good thing I've done that, since board came with initial BIOS, of course. Last, but not least, I got Sound Blaster Live! 5.1.

Once I got all the parts, I started to putting them into new mATX case and let me tell you, what a pain it was... I never build mATX machine before and now I know, that I'll never build another one again. Building in full ATX case it's just such a better experience, especially if you build older machine with IDE and floppy cables. I mean, I can't argue how compact this mATX PC is, even with optical drive installed, but man, I really didn't enjoy building this machine, especially the finish with connecting all cables to board and drives. Speaking of drives, since my recently bought SLC SSD hasn't arrived yet, I used one of my spare CF card, and was pleasantly surprised, how drama free it was. Installation of Win 98 on it went without a hitch.

Currently, I did test mainly Win 98, and everything works so far. Did some quick benchmarks, and machine was getting predictable scores. Next it some DOS testing, I'm curious, how will SB Live! fare in this matter.

As for the upgrades, as I said previously, SSD will definitely find a home in this machine, once I receive it. And also, I recently bought Athlon XP 3000+ with Barton core, I'm really curious, if PSU would be able to power it.

Once again, like in my another topic, I know that 1 picture speaks for 1000 words, so here you go, I present you my new Socket A machine :)

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RetroPC_SocketA_2.jpg
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And as with previous build, I'll update this topic with any relevant upgrade.

Last edited by Srandista on 2020-04-23, 08:47. Edited 2 times in total.

Socket 775 - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 4GB RAM, Radeon X800 XT, ESS Solo-1, Win 98/XP
Socket A - ASRock K7S41GX, AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 512MB RAM, GeForce4 Ti4200, SB Live!, Win 98

Reply 1 of 8, by BinaryDemon

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Nice, that’s a powerhouse Win98 machine, though it has a definitely modern look.

Check out DOSBox Distro:

https://sites.google.com/site/dosboxdistro/ [*]

a lightweight Linux distro (tinycore) which boots off a usb flash drive and goes straight to DOSBox.

Make your dos retrogaming experience portable!

Reply 2 of 8, by Srandista

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Yeah, I don't really like old beige cases, so I'm building everything in modern black ones. This way I also have easier times getting Gotek/optical drives in right colors. And I can do at least basic cable management instead of just stuffing all cables inside the case (although as I mentioned previously, you can't do anything about those floppy and IDE cables).

Socket 775 - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 4GB RAM, Radeon X800 XT, ESS Solo-1, Win 98/XP
Socket A - ASRock K7S41GX, AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 512MB RAM, GeForce4 Ti4200, SB Live!, Win 98

Reply 3 of 8, by chinny22

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I like beige but something has got to be said about the better airflow in modern cases. problem is finding a nice simple design really like yours.
Benefit of MATX is you can stack more PC's into the same space as a full tower 😉
Cant think of any 9x only games that won't work on that PC, should be loads of fun

Reply 5 of 8, by foil_fresh

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nice build man, i can attest to the ssd idea - i got a 2nd hand 60gb sata 1 SSD (some patriot ssd, looks about 8-9 years old) for real cheap in a box of cables off a local trader site, and i am impressed at how nice it is on the 133 bus. dual cd games install in under a minute (from daemon tools obviously) and the absense of seek time and spin up makes these old pcs rocket fast.

what games you planning on using it for?

Pentium MMX 166MHz / Shuttle HOT591-p / S3 Trio3d2x / SB 16
Pentium II 266MHz / Lucky-Star 6ABX2V / Riva128 / AWE64 / AW744L
Pentium III 950 MHz / SY-7VBA / Voodoo 3000 / Aureal Vortex 2
Pentium IV 3.4GHz/ GA-8S655FX / Geforce 6800 GT / Audigy

Reply 6 of 8, by Srandista

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So i did a little test. I swapped GF4Ti 4200 for my unlocked 9500@9700 (since I finally started using X800 XT in my overkill build), just to see, how much performance I'll get. And it wasn't nice...

I tried my standard set of benchmarks for Win98, which consist of 3DMark99MAX, 2000, 2001SE and Q3A. Everything on stock, how it's set OOTB. These are results (GeForce on ForceWare 40.71 first, Radeon on Catalyst 3.10 second):

3DMark99MAX: 12586 - 12423
3DMark2000: 11424 - 11328
3DMark2001SE: 9673 - 11071
Quake 3 Arena: 183.5 - 171.2

So, definitely not, what I was expecting. It seems, that my CPU is bottlenecking rig like crazy, 99MAX and 2000 scores are for all intents and purposes identical, and only in 2001SE I'm seeing some performance boost. Fortunately, I have more Athlon XP CPUs on the way, and after this, I definitely want to upgrade, since there's clearly more performance on the table. I just need to unlock it. Hopefully my PSU will not be against this idea...

Socket 775 - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 4GB RAM, Radeon X800 XT, ESS Solo-1, Win 98/XP
Socket A - ASRock K7S41GX, AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 512MB RAM, GeForce4 Ti4200, SB Live!, Win 98

Reply 7 of 8, by Srandista

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Well, now after upgrading my CPU from Sempron 2200+ to Athlon XP (Barton) 3000+, I can definitely confirm, that old CPU was bottlenecking Radeon 9700 quite hard. Here are new results, same test suite, same driver, just upgraded CPU.

3DMark99MAX: 12423 - 15770
3DMark2000: 11328 - 15646
3DMark2001SE: 11071 - 13170
Quake 3 Arena: 171.2 - 213.6

I should receive Radeon 9600XT later this week, I'm really interested, how will smaller GPU without need for external power compare to big R300 brother.

Socket 775 - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 4GB RAM, Radeon X800 XT, ESS Solo-1, Win 98/XP
Socket A - ASRock K7S41GX, AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 512MB RAM, GeForce4 Ti4200, SB Live!, Win 98

Reply 8 of 8, by Srandista

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Again, as promised, here are some more benchmarks. Received 9600 XT today, so I swapped 9700 with it, and here are the results (9700 first, 9600 XT second). Same CPU (Barton 3000+), and same GPU drivers (Catalyst 3.10).

3DMark99MAX: 15770 - 15220
3DMark2000: 15646 - 15021
3DMark2001SE: 13170 - 11817
Quake 3 Arena: 213.6 - 207.7

So yeah, almost the same performance, especially in older titles. Once more modern benchmark is introduced, you can see that 9700 is pulling ahead. But that doesn't really matter for me in this build, since for ludicrous speed under 98 I have my overkill build. For this build I much more appreciate that 9600 XT (just like GF 4Ti) doesn't require any additional power besides the one from AGP slot. And as a bonus, repasting the card was a breeze and I don't have to worry about that infamous shim around R300 core anymore.

Socket 775 - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 4GB RAM, Radeon X800 XT, ESS Solo-1, Win 98/XP
Socket A - ASRock K7S41GX, AMD Athlon XP 3000+, 512MB RAM, GeForce4 Ti4200, SB Live!, Win 98