VOGONS


First post, by CelticDubstep

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This evening I completed my "retro" Windows XP system with parts I've had laying around for a good while, and some I've bought used/new recently. The specs are as follow:

Case: Antec VSK4000E-U3
Motherboard: Intel DZ68BC (One of Intel's few gaming motherboards)
CPU: Intel i5-3570K
RAM: 2x 2 GB DDR3 (unsure of specs)
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 500W
Sound: Sound Blaster X-Fi
GPU: GeForce GTX 470
SSD: Mushkin 512 GB
HDD: WD Black 2 TB
DVD1: DVD-ROM (Unknown Brand)
DVD2: DVD-RW Drive/Lightscribe
3.5" Drive Bay Media Card Reader (SD Card, Sony, Compact Flash, etc)
Capture Card: WinTV-PVR-500

Building Process: The case most of these parts were pulled from was an old Antec Sonata III. For the time, they were great cases and the build quality is amazing. However, these days I find them a pain to deal with as they are heavy & large and various other reasons. I have a total of 6 of these cases (retired workstations), I've slowly extracting the parts out of them and putting the empty cases into storage for the time being. I bought the Antec VSK4000E-U3 due to its smaller footprint, minimalist look, no door, plenty of drive bays, and USB 3.0 ports on front. My initial impressions of the case fresh out of the box wasn't good and it was a pain to work with. However, now that it is completed, I honestly couldn't be any happier with it. To my surprise, it's extremely sturdy once it's loaded with parts. There is even a removable plastic bracket thing for long video cards which is a nice touch.

Configuration: The board originally had an i7-2600K on it, but I swapped it out for the i5-3570K because the per core performance is higher, it has a lower TDP, and doesn't have hyper threading which I didn't want. I also disabled two of the four cores, so it's simply a dual core system. The reason I did this is because I've that a few XP games actually have trouble with more than 2 cores and that back in the day, people used to have to disable cores on Core 2 Quads to get some games to run correctly. The board wouldn't boot with the i5-3570K, so I had to track down an updated BIOS which wasn't easy since Intel has removed all drivers and BIOS from their site, but I got it updated and it works perfectly. Snappy Installer was able to install all the missing Intel drivers thankfully. I was unable to use Easy2Boot... tried for hours with multiple ISO's, completely nightmare. I gave up, burned an ISO to a CD, and it installed flawlessly out of the box with no additional drivers needed. The ISO I have was updated in 2015 and includes SATA drivers. I went with two optical drives "just because". I have tons upon tons of them and it will make it easy to copy discs if needed. I threw the memory card reader in there because, well, for one I don't have any other memory card reader and didn't have a floppy drive to put in there so why not? I have the WinTV-PVR-500 Capture Card in there so I can convert VHS tapes (we have hundreds) to digital (aka Plex). A lot of these tapes are home videos, stuff recorded off TV (like news events), and movies that were never released on DVD. I also have like 3 of these cards and have read horrible things about the USB dongle ones so decided to stick with this one, but it only works with Windows XP/7 32 Bit and less than 4 GB Ram. This is also why the 2 TB drive is in the system, plus I have over 10 of them laying around collecting dust. I was going to go with a GeForce GTX 550 Ti because of the power TDP and I feel like it would still have enough power and it had a better selection of video outputs.. VGA, Full HDMI, and DVI. The 470 has Two DVI and a Mini HDMI. I was hoping the 550 Ti would have worked with my 27" 1440P 165Hz monitor since it has HDMI input and aspect ratio settings, but it didn't work out as expected so I tried a DVI to HDMI cable and had same results. This is when I swapped it out with the 470, which is more powerful anyway, and had the exact same results. The 470 was actually able to detect my native monitor resolution but when I attempted to switch to it, black screen. I finally gave up and went to my old monitor which is a 27" 1080P AH-IPS screen with VGA and two HDMI inputs and the monitor came with a DVI to HDMI cable. It has an aspect ratio setting when using HDMI/DVI. I do have two 19" 4:3 (or 5:4) VGA LCD monitors, but they aren't IPS so the colors aren't nearly as good and the response time is slower. I went with X-Fi for EAX obviously 🤣 😀

Summery: All in all, very happy with the build. I've been running various 3DMark's on it and so far has been flawless.

Next Project? Windows 98SE build which I am EXTREMELY torn and confused on that I'll be making another post about later as I really need guidance because right now, because as of now, to do what I want, I feel like I'm going to need to build 3 Windows 98SE systems, so there has to be a more simple way to do this.

Reply 1 of 6, by WildW

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Regarding 1440p monitors via HDMI - I've run into similar issues. After experimenting with a few different video cards, as well as HDMI or DVI-to-HDMI cables, I believe the problem is the Nvidia drivers for XP just won't drive 1440p over HDMI. The same computer and same video card + monitor + cable will work at 1440p in later versions of Windows, just not in XP. I gave up and used an AMD card (Radeon HD5850) instead, which will drive 1440p over the HDMI input without issues.

Don't get me started on 98se machines. I have three at the moment and am trying to convince myself to slim down to just one. Or maybe two. There are just too many edge cases that seem to justify each one.

Reply 2 of 6, by matze79

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Hm guess when i read XP Build i usually expect a Pentium 4/Athlon 64/maybe a early Dual Core.
I would not consider this even a Retro Build.
Its still so modern it could run everything except few games 😁

https://dosreloaded.de - The German Retro DOS PC Community
https://www.retroianer.de - under constructing since ever

Co2 - for a endless Summer

Reply 3 of 6, by CelticDubstep

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WildW wrote on 2020-05-17, 06:50:

Regarding 1440p monitors via HDMI - I've run into similar issues. After experimenting with a few different video cards, as well as HDMI or DVI-to-HDMI cables, I believe the problem is the Nvidia drivers for XP just won't drive 1440p over HDMI. The same computer and same video card + monitor + cable will work at 1440p in later versions of Windows, just not in XP. I gave up and used an AMD card (Radeon HD5850) instead, which will drive 1440p over the HDMI input without issues.

Don't get me started on 98se machines. I have three at the moment and am trying to convince myself to slim down to just one. Or maybe two. There are just too many edge cases that seem to justify each one.

It's good to know I'm not the only one struggling with 98SE systems. I have a Motherboard with a PII 333/66 sitting on the shelf behind me screaming at me to be thrown inside a case, but on the flip side I have an Athlon TBird 1333 Mhz in a tower as a unfinshed project. It's very unique as it takes SDRAM vs DDR, and has an ISA Slot, 6 PCI slots, Onboard IDE RAID, Regular IDE, and AGP. I also have a Voodoo 5 5500 AGP I just bought sitting on a test bench with a AMD Athlon XP 1800. I also 2nd motherboard (same as test bench) that has an Athlon XP 2400 (or 2600) that is sitting there. Of course I have two Voodoo 3 3000's (AGP) sitting here... and two PIII 500's in the shed and a couple PII's out there (400 or 450). There's also a Packard Bell 166 Mhz tower out there. I really dunno. I'm thinking maybe one 98SE geared towards DOS and early Windows games (3.1/95 era) with a Voodoo 3 3000 (since it apparently works great in DOS) and an ISA sound card. The 2nd system could be geared towards the Voodoo 5 5500 with maybe a Sound Blaster Live, or may pick up a Vortex since I've never owned one. The final system could be all decked out with early XP era gear but running 98SE and a GeForce (with DVI) with nGlide so that I can play games in 4:3/5:4 since my monitor doesn't have an aspect ratio setting for VGA which is the only thing the Voodoo's have.

I have a AMD Radeon R9 270 sitting here that I had thought about throwing into the XP build, plus it has every output you can think of.. DisplayPort, DVI/VGA, HDMI, etc. However, it's in rough shape. It only has two fans and one of them has failed so I'd have to figure out a cooling system for it and give it a good cleaning. I have TONS of other AMD Radeon cards which are modern and have DisplayPort, 1-2GB Ram, etc... but they are extremely low end budget cards.

I'm probably going to save the R9 270 for my daughter though so I can build her a desktop (for her moms house). She's playing on a Latitude i5 5200U laptop that I gave her a couple years back which only has Intel HD Graphics and she's almost always pushing that CPU to 100% usage and normally only sticks to Roblox or Minecraft because anything else is a slideshow. As much as I've spent on Robux for her, she could have an AMD Threadripper with 64 GB Ram and two 2080 Ti's in SLI... seriously.... like, dead serious. Thousands of dollars. I can't say much though, I just spent nearly $300 to buy a 20 year old graphics card 🤣.

Reply 4 of 6, by CelticDubstep

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matze79 wrote on 2020-05-17, 08:13:

Hm guess when i read XP Build i usually expect a Pentium 4/Athlon 64/maybe a early Dual Core.
I would not consider this even a Retro Build.
Its still so modern it could run everything except few games 😁

Ha. Yeah. It's overkill for sure. It shouldn't have even been a "project" right now as I have tons of others going on at the moment, but at least this is one off the list anyway. My next project is to replaced the "server", which is mostly used for plex but also some file storage. It's a frankenstein system held together with duct tape and is bless upon daily to keep trucking along. It's a tower I bought (for $5 or $10) from an old employer I worked for when they were slowly decommissioning desktops and going to notebooks. It was a very early Core 2 Duo that had I think 2 GB Ram, a 250 GB HDD, IDE Optical Drive, and a 3.5" floppy drive. The "guts" are the same, but it's been upgraded to a Q6600, 8GB Ram, and 8 TB Storage. In the time I've had it, I had some RAM fail, a GPU fail, and at least one PSU fail (a couple months ago) which I think is actually the 2nd PSU I've had to replace. At the moment, it's running with some crappy HP PSU with cables barely long enough to reach the hard drives and motherboard. There are no molex connections so the optical drive, floppy drive, and case fan (molex only) have no power, so the case has been sitting open for the most part. No clue how many watts the PSU is, but it clearly isn't much at all because anytime the system is put under stress (like first loading up a moving off plex, or windows doing updates) the PSU fan spins up rather high and is blowing out some extremely hot air.

The really sad part of it is that there are two i7-4790's with 32GB Ram and 1 TB SSD storage each sitting just feet away from it that I use for "lab" systems. However, those systems are 100% proprietary. No standard power connections internally, no drive bays to speak of, non-standard motherboard, etc. They are full towers, but the PSU internally only has a single 6 pin (maybe 4 pin) cable going out directly to the motherboard.... then on the other side of the motherboard, another 4 pin cable is plugged in and goes off to everything else. It's such a dumb proprietary design. Besides those systems though, I have several i5 and i7 systems around and a couple FX-8350 systems as well. I have another Q6600 and a couple Core 2 Duo's. Aside from those, just vintage systems.

If I can help it, I avoid systems from the 1999 to 2007 era like the plague due to all the cap issues. I actually just tossed out a Core 2 Dou that was given to me, didn't know anything about it. I saw the date on it... 2007 and sure enough, most of the caps around the CPU were leaking, so I scrapped the system which is actually where I got the memory card reader and one of the optical drives from. I live in a busy street and we have scrappers drive up and down it all day long, so after I scrapped it of the useful parts (hard drive was still in it) I stuck it by the street and not even 10 minutes later, it was gone. I've put everything out there... old Dell PowerEdge Servers, Dell PowerVault's, various Towers, monitors, etc... someone always picks it up. We have no recycling centers here for electronics at all, so it all gets trashed or donated to places like Goodwill. I had a coworker a couple years ago who ran a small part time recycling business on the side and he'd go around to various companies picking up old hardware. I ended up getting two Cisco PoE switches from him... a 48 port and a 24 port, both looked brand new. From my understanding, the company bought them thinking they were gigabit switches but were only 10/100 switches (yep, they still make them for enterprises... just had a couple installed at my workplace) and being only 10/100, no one wanted them. I did some IT work at a church a while back and replaced a switch for them and they ended up giving me a Cisco 52 Port Gigabit PoE Switch, so I have 3 Cisco switches simply sitting here because they're too loud to run as you could say I live in a 220SQ FT Studio.

Reply 5 of 6, by Srandista

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matze79 wrote on 2020-05-17, 08:13:

Hm guess when i read XP Build i usually expect a Pentium 4/Athlon 64/maybe a early Dual Core.
I would not consider this even a Retro Build.
Its still so modern it could run everything except few games 😁

Nothing wrong with that, overkill rig is fine too after all. I would use "retro"in quotes, like I do with my 775 build, but that's just a detail. For late XP games in high resolution, P4/A64 wouldn't be enough.

Socket 775 - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 4GB RAM, Radeon X800 XT, ESS Solo-1, Win 98/XP
Socket A - ASRock K7S41GX, AMD Sempron 2200+, 512MB RAM, GeForce4 Ti4200, SB Live!, Win 98

Reply 6 of 6, by chinny22

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Damn, LGA1155! it's what I've got planned for my "ultimate XP build" but prices haven't fallen enough yet for What I have in mind.
That said I've got a number of working workstations/servers in the garage just waiting.

I like the idea of having ALL the bells and whistles turned on and having power to spare, and XP based on LGA1155 gives you that and then some 😀

Also like Antec cases, Not quite as well designed as the premium brands but Don't attract their pricing either also a fan of nice simple face which they do well and not "gamer cases"