VOGONS


First post, by Dochartaigh

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I wanted a brand name computer (for the aesthetic), built to the highest specs during my college days (thus no main parts released after 2000), which I could play late DOS and early Windows games on (just like I did back then!), with some modern convenience upgrades.

I went with a Dell Dimension XPS T700r for the aesthetics, based off the 440bx chipset.
Upgraded to a 800MHz Coppermine Pentium III Slot 1 Processor (released 12.1999)

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(yes, I still have 5.25" discs!, and the .Zip drive comes in handy since some of my other computers don't have USB for USB drives)

Beauty shot of some of the main components:

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I LOVE how the GeForce 256 matches the color of the Thermaltake Golden Orb heatsink:

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Component list:

384 MB SDRAM, PC-100, 100Mhz, Non-ECC (wanted to stay below 512)
Nvidia GeForce 256, 64 MB DDR, AGP Video Card (12.1999)
ESS ES1869F ISA Sound Card w/ Dreamblaster X2 General MIDI module (Buran V10 SoundFont)
Audigy 2 ZS PCI Windows Sound Card (think this is cheating and came out later...but I had slurred speech on some later Win98 games with the ESS)

I went overkill on SSD's. Could have gone 32gb for the main C:\ drive but the 120gb's were cheaper. Then wanted ALL the games (many with large ISO images) on the D:\ drive which truly needs to be 120gb to fit everything. The original 7200rpm mechanical I cloned is still in there too.

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I went with 2x Voodoo2 12mb's in SLI because A.) It's the first proper SLI setup released which I think is cool, B.) It benchmarks even (if not above in some cases) with a Voodoo3 which is circa the 1999 era I wanted to keep to, and C.) I wanted to be able to compare 3dfx/Glide to Nvidia's best offering from 1999.
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This Noctua fan blows directly on the 2x Voodoo2's and the GeForce 256 (just in case they needed some extra cooling).
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Full album if you want more pics.
https://imgur.com/a/XeTkQ7w



Thank you to everybody who helped me get this running through my numerous (probably annoying 😉 topics here. I wont lie, it was an absolute nightmare. I had to organize all my photos for this project to get the keepers above... and just noticed there's 244 pics and videos of the literally hundreds of errors I had left and right in building this... Still don't know what made this build work - I think it was the updated Chipset drivers but who knows. All that matters is it's been stable for several weeks now and I'm happy!

Reply 1 of 7, by chinny22

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Nice, The 700R is is fairly uncommon in my experience, The 500 is common in slot form then faster systems are usually the socket370 based PC's
Only difference is the CPU and case badge but does make yours a bit different.
SLI is sexy no need to justify it.
Even back in 98 I had an old SB16 for dos sound so second ISA card period correct in that regard.
ZS is totally wrong but really its just a live version 3 so its close enough 😉

Reply 2 of 7, by Dochartaigh

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chinny22 wrote on 2020-03-22, 17:36:

Nice, The 700R is is fairly uncommon in my experience, The 500 is common in slot form then faster systems are usually the socket370 based PC's
Only difference is the CPU and case badge but does make yours a bit different.

This one actually has the T500 front panel on it now - the T700r has an inside tab work down so it doesn't sit quite as flush with the case unfortunately (have a T450 too 🤣). But it's just a small number written on the case so I don't care! They actually made a T800r as well - that would have had the same 800MHz P3 in it that I upgraded this one to. I'm still amazed that the same exact MB could come with a ~450mhz all the way up to 800. That's crazy that things moved so fast back then!

In hindsight I should have gone with a 133mhz MB... but couldn't find any with the aesthetics I wanted from around that time (many didn't have an ISA slot either which is important to me for DOS), and I REALLY like how the Dell looks... plus it seems to play all games at the correct speed with the slightly slower MB bus so it's all good.

chinny22 wrote on 2020-03-22, 17:36:

Even back in 98 I had an old SB16 for dos sound so second ISA card period correct in that regard.
ZS is totally wrong but really its just a live version 3 so its close enough 😉

I actually didn't want to use the Audigy 2 ZS at all towards the end, as I ended going for a pre-2000 build (although the processor and graphics card pushed that with December 1999 release dates 🤣), but some Windows-only games were giving me slurred/slow speech with the ESS, which was fixed when I installed the Audigy.

I'm open to any recommendations for a period correct PCI sound card though... I am worried about that messing up which games play through which card though. I don't know how they do it, but with the ESS and Audigy running at the same time Windows seems to know to play new games from the Audigy, and old games (where I don't even setup the IRQ's and such) from the ESS automatically so that's nice at least. Somebody mentioned a Diamond Monster Sound MX300, but I'm not about to drop another ~$90 on this computer (it's already mind-blowing how much I've spent on this...). I have those original Turtle Beach Montego II's but since those are stock Dell parts and I'm going for a high-end build I didn't feel like they would match this build.

Reply 3 of 7, by Asaki

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I've got something similar right now, but it's a 440bx-2, 500 mHz.

I don't know about yours, but this one has integrated Yamaha audio...I was planning on using my Vortex 2 card, but I've been playing Build engine and other DOS games, and the MIDI on this thing sounds a lot more awesome than what I grew up with.

Reply 4 of 7, by Dochartaigh

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Asaki wrote on 2020-03-23, 16:49:

I've got something similar right now, but it's a 440bx-2, 500 mHz.

I don't know about yours, but this one has integrated Yamaha audio...I was planning on using my Vortex 2 card, but I've been playing Build engine and other DOS games, and the MIDI on this thing sounds a lot more awesome than what I grew up with.

What's the difference with the 440bx vs. 440bx-2 design?

I know some of these had integrated audio. None of my three do though.

Good luck with your build!

Reply 5 of 7, by chinny22

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You can go higher then 800 😀 my T500 has a 1Ghz CPU, Post test is funny as it shows T@00, Dell obviously only allowed 3 figures everywhere else shows the correct details.
The Motherboard is manufactured by Intel and 440BX-2 was their part number for OEM systems, Gateway also used Intel boards at this time so also given the -2 part number despite numerous small differences like the ATX connector and different onboard sound.

Some common period correct PCI sound options are in order of premium
SBLive! (basically an earlier version of the ZS)
Aureal Vortex 2 Supports A3D 2.0, You also have the original Vortex but that only supports A3D 1 and no EAX, Creative cards support both EAX and A3D 1
Ensonic AudioPCI/Soundblaster 64 Both are the same card with different names. Next step down from the Live! (This is what gateways had onboard)

Reply 6 of 7, by Joseph_Joestar

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Dochartaigh wrote on 2020-03-22, 19:22:

I actually didn't want to use the Audigy 2 ZS at all towards the end, as I ended going for a pre-2000 build (although the processor and graphics card pushed that with December 1999 release dates 🤣), but some Windows-only games were giving me slurred/slow speech with the ESS, which was fixed when I installed the Audigy.

For a period-correct setup, you can use a SBLive instead of the Audigy2 ZS and get similarly good sound clarity, as well as EAX 1 and 2 support in Win98 games. You would lose EAX 3 and 4 but the games which support those are best played on WinXP anyhow.

The Live can also load sound fonts, but unlike with the Audigy2 ZS, they only work in DOS games if you use WDM drivers. Also, to my surprise, I discovered that the DOS compatibility of the Live isn't as good as that of the Audigy2 ZS, at least not on the SB0100 model that I have while using the DOS drivers from the install CD. Many DOS games which worked fine on the Audigy2 ZS crash with weird errors on the Live.

On the plus side, the card was pretty cheap. I got my SBLive 5.1 with the accompanying LiveDrive front panel for 15 EUR.

Your next line is...

Reply 7 of 7, by Dochartaigh

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chinny22 wrote on 2020-03-24, 10:43:

You can go higher then 800 😀 my T500 has a 1Ghz CPU, Post test is funny as it shows T@00, Dell obviously only allowed 3 figures everywhere else shows the correct details.

It wouldn't be period correct though! People are telling me that even my 800MHz isn't period correct since Intel didn't start shipping it until early 2000 despite them saying it would be available in December of 1999 (thus making me technically cheat for this pre-2000 build right there 😉

1GHZ and 1.1's are also hard to find and/or expensive, especially in Slot 1. I have a $10 1Ghz Socket 370, but the FOUR different Slot 1 to Socket 370 adapters (ALL which say compatible with Coppermine) don't work and I don't feel like manually modifying pins for those! (plus I changed direction since then and went with 1999 - which is also why the beautiful GeForce 4 ti 4600 is in the parts bin for now...).

chinny22 wrote on 2020-03-24, 10:43:

SBLive! (basically an earlier version of the ZS)

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-03-24, 11:08:

For a period-correct setup, you can use a SBLive instead of the Audigy2 ZS and get similarly good sound clarity, as well as EAX 1 and 2 support in Win98 games. You would lose EAX 3 and 4 but the games which support those are best played on WinXP anyhow.

Which the above (being as period correct as much as I can) is why I just bought a SBLive CT4760 circa 1999! I can't tell which exact version it is, but the connector ports are gold plated, and aren't the multicolored plastic on the back so hopefully it's a nicer version. I'll save the Audigy for another project.