VOGONS


First post, by Boohyaka

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Hey guys,

Another builds topic! Two interesting things happened last week:

- Orpheus! I was lucky to be get one from the first batch
- For the first time ever I found a "retro" computer abandoned at the local waste disposal. Granted, it was a shitty early P4 OEM config, but still it had an acceptable (yet very yellow and dirty) y2k-style mid tower, which was the only missing part for me to get into another build. So I gave it a good bath and a good scrub, ready to go.

So I decided to update my 2 existing configs and plan a new one that would sit in between using stuff I had around (including some swapping) while waiting for the Orpheus.
The lineup:

Build #1 - DOS6.22/Win3.11

CPU: 486DX33
RAM: 16MB
GFX: VLB CL-5426
SND: TNDY 3-Voice / Aztech NXPro (SBPro2, WSS, Covox) / ALS100 (SB16) / MIF-IPC-B (MPU)

Build #2 - DOS7/Win98SE

CPU: PIII-600 on GA-6BXS (i440BX), 3 ISA slots
RAM: 2x128MB PC100
GFX: GeForce 4 MX440 + 3DFX Voodoo1
SND: Orpheus w/ PCMIDI (SBPro2, WSS, MPU), AWE32 CT3900 (SB16, WT), Live! CT4760 with its cool tray (Windows, EAX)

Build #3 - DOS7/Win98SE/Early WinXP(?)

CPU: PIII-S 1400MHz on P3B-F (i440BX/slotket), 1 ISA slot
RAM: 2x256MB PC133
GFX: GeForce 4 Ti4200 + 3DFX Voodoo2 12MB SLI
SND: ESS 1868f (SBPro2, WSS), Audigy 2 ZS (Windows, EAX)

I believe this ticks a lot of the right boxes! Would you do anything differently and why?
I have a PCMIDI spare card I'd love to use for the 3rd build, but unfortunately only 1 ISA slot. So I guess 1868+SoftMPU it will be. If I ever need it, I think the Audigy 2 ZS also has decent SB16 DOS compatibility?
As another notable spare I do have a Voodoo3 3000, but I don't know where it would fit. I prefer the more versatile and compatible combos I've got in builds 2 and 3.
I'm wondering if the P3-600 Katmai isn't already a tad fast as a late DOS machine and to properly fit in between the two other builds, and I'm wondering if I should get a cheap PII instead...

Happy to get feedback, thoughts, remarks, advice, whatever 😁

Last edited by Boohyaka on 2020-09-16, 21:28. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 1 of 14, by Joseph_Joestar

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Boohyaka wrote on 2020-09-15, 15:58:

I ever need it, I think the Audigy 2 ZS also has decent SB16 DOS compatibility?

It's ok most of the time, but I did notice sound crackling/echoing in a couple of games like WarCraft2 and Quake. You can also use it as a soundfont loader for General MIDI music in DOS games that run under the Win98 DOS prompt.

I have a guide for setting up DOS compatibility if you want to try it out. Works fine with a second sound card too, as long as you set up different resources for each card in Device Manager.

As another notable spare I do have a Voodoo3 3000, but I don't know where it would fit. I prefer the more versatile and compatible combos I've got in builds 2 and 3.

Depends on what you want to play. If you're aiming for late-era Glide games like Deus Ex and Unreal Tournament '99, definitively put it in the faster P3 build. It will slightly outperform the Voodoo2 SLI, but more importantly, image quality will be nicer on the Voodoo3.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 2 of 14, by Warlord

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Build 2 I'm guessing it's a sort of inbetweensy build. Might be fine if you under clock the CPU or throttle with CPUSPD. Voodoo 1 is fine for "certain games" The MX is a great alternative to a geforce 2. I'm guessing all other glide games can run on the 3rd build. You maybe run into IRQ hell with all the sound cards on it I think it might be too many. Id probably put the voodoo 3 and voodoo 1 in build 2. Just use voodoo 1 in dos with OVL fiels for the only couple games that it can be good with. Use voodoo 3 for everything else. There are some games that do not like Voodoo 2 SLI. And will only run with just 1 voodoo2 or a voodoo 3.

Reply 3 of 14, by PC-Engineer

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Build #1 has a little bit Sound Overkill and the CL5460 doesn't exist, for games until 1993 - maybe take a DX4 Overdrive as spare
Build #2 in addition to Build #1 and #3 i would go with AWE32 + Live! (without Orpheus) and a Voodoo2 + S3 Virge GX (8MB) for games 1991 - 1998 - you don't need intelligent MPU
Build #3 i would go with the Orpheus (instead the 1868) here with added DB50XG and a Geforce 5900 --> for games 1995 - 2002

1994/1995 - Socket3 - ASUS SV2GX4 / POD 100MHz / 64MB / SCSI - Windows 95

Reply 4 of 14, by chinny22

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Can't see any benefit of downgrading to a P2.
You'll take a performance hit in Windows gaming, and doubt you'll notice any difference in DOS at all

Systems 2 and 3 are very similar. Ideally you want to go a generation earlier for DOS and/or generation later for XP for a meaningful difference.
Slot 1's are loved as they fit nicely in between Dos/Win9x in theory reducing the need for 2 separate computers.
That said I'm a fan of Slot 1 and have 2 Slot 1 Games rigs. The 1st running Win98/Dos7 and the 2nd Win2k/Win98/Dos7. Personally I think Windows 2000 is a better match for P3 then XP and offers nice stable 9x gaming.

It's really hard to decide where to put your voodoo's
I had a Ti4600 paired with a V2 SLI in the 1Ghz, and it ran all my games fine that didn't like XP.
I've swapped it round now so the 600Mhz gets the V2 SLI paired with a GF2 MX, this is my "sentimental pc" (the GF2 I had since new and SLI is just cool)
The 1Ghz now has the Ti4600 and a V3 2000 PCI as I dont have anywhere else to put it.

all in all I think your setups make sense with your currant hardware, but ideally you need another retro box 😉

Reply 5 of 14, by Boohyaka

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-09-15, 16:30:

Depends on what you want to play. If you're aiming for late-era Glide games like Deus Ex and Unreal Tournament '99, definitively put it in the faster P3 build. It will slightly outperform the Voodoo2 SLI, but more importantly, image quality will be nicer on the Voodoo3.

Thanks for your guide, I did end up on it looking for info 😉 but it's not really a use case I have. Interesting none the less!
Yeah, I did notice the big image quality improvement of Voodoo3. The Voodoo2 is pretty poor in that regard. I have a mismatched SLI and tried both cards, one is better than the other, but still nothing to write home about. Mmmh. Maybe Warlord's idea makes sense:

Warlord wrote on 2020-09-16, 05:21:

Build 2 I'm guessing it's a sort of inbetweensy build. Might be fine if you under clock the CPU or throttle with CPUSPD. Voodoo 1 is fine for "certain games" The MX is a great alternative to a geforce 2. I'm guessing all other glide games can run on the 3rd build. You maybe run into IRQ hell with all the sound cards on it I think it might be too many. Id probably put the voodoo 3 and voodoo 1 in build 2. Just use voodoo 1 in dos with OVL fiels for the only couple games that it can be good with. Use voodoo 3 for everything else. There are some games that do not like Voodoo 2 SLI. And will only run with just 1 voodoo2 or a voodoo 3.

Mmh something I didn't even consider, would my Voodoo3 AGP and Voodoo1 PCI happily live together? Isn't that incest? 😁 thank you, that's interesting. I'd rather keep the Ti4200 in the fast build to have a fast non-Glide card, doesn't that make sense? I believe that performance wise it shouldn't be too bad of a difference even in DeusEx or UT99? I'll have to make some benchmarks 😁

PC-Engineer wrote on 2020-09-16, 05:58:

Build #1 has a little bit Sound Overkill and the CL5460 doesn't exist, for games until 1993 - maybe take a DX4 Overdrive as spare
Build #2 in addition to Build #1 and #3 i would go with AWE32 + Live! (without Orpheus) and a Voodoo2 + S3 Virge GX (8MB) for games 1991 - 1998 - you don't need intelligent MPU
Build #3 i would go with the Orpheus (instead the 1868) here with added DB50XG and a Geforce 5900 --> for games 1995 - 2002

1. Yep typo it's a 5426, corrected it thanks. I do have a DX2-66 spare. I may get a DX4 at some point for the sake of it and because they're cool, but not sure I'll ever have a real need for it to be honest. I can probably slow down my P3-600 enough if needed, and in any case I'd probably replace build 2 with something slower.
2. I want intelligent MPU as I may toy with my MT32 and CM32L on this as well. I have a pretty extensive MIDI setup. Why the S3 Virge? The high DOS compatibility? MX440 is very compatible as well (according to this for example or am I missing something? I don't have one anyway and don't plan on buying one, I'll do with that I currently have but still interested about your rationale.
3. Same question basically, why the GeForce 5900 that I don't have over the GT4 Ti4200 that I do have? I don't think it would do that much of a difference. I don't have a don't need a DB50XG, I have a MU80 in my MIDI setup.

chinny22 wrote on 2020-09-16, 09:11:

all in all I think your setups make sense with your currant hardware, but ideally you need another retro box 😉

Thanks for the comments 😀 yeah in the end I guess there's a pretty strong overlap between builds 2 and 3 to make build 2 really significant. Still I like that yellowed beige OEM tower and would like to do something with it and use some of those sound and gfx cards. Maybe hunt another earlier generation mobo and cpu... In any case what would be that additional box you'd recommend and why? 😉

Reply 6 of 14, by tincup

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Having just finished tinkering with my own "Build 2 equivilent" the only thing I'd consider is bumping the Voodoo1 up to a Voodoo2 if you have the part. The P3-600/V2 will make good work of 800x600 games of this "mid era" something the V1 will struggle with. Of course the V1 will provide you with your own private window into the the dawn of true 3dfx - and *that* may be reason alone to stick with it... since you can always use the faster V2/SLI when getting down to Glide business. You have a nice trio planned...

Reply 7 of 14, by Warlord

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Boohyaka wrote on 2020-09-16, 21:28:

Mmh something I didn't even consider, would my Voodoo3 AGP and Voodoo1 PCI happily live together? Isn't that incest? 😁 thank you, that's interesting. I'd rather keep the Ti4200 in the fast build to have a fast non-Glide card, doesn't that make sense? I believe that performance wise it shouldn't be too bad of a difference even in DeusEx or UT99? I'll have to make some benchmarks 😁

its essentially a stop gap because even though a voodoo 3 is the most compatible 3dfx accelerator. Not every game will work with a voodoo 3. "Certain games" like Dreams to reality only work on a voodoo 1, and there are a couple early glide DOS games that might be the reason to have a voodoo 1. Besides that just about any glide game will run a a voodoo 3. And any Direct3d game will run on a voodoo 3 without issue and without patching like Final Fantasy 7 for example.

So a voodoo 3 + a voodoo 1 gives you maximum glide and direct3d coverage. What you do is just either not install the voodoo 1 in windows and only install the voodoo 3, or you install the voodoo 1 1st then you install the voodoo 3. For the glide games you want to run on the voodoo 1 which is probably less than 5 you just put the Voodoo 1 ovl file in the game directory and it will use it from dos. You should be able to utilize the 3dcc program to make windows games prioritize the voodoo 1 over the voodoo 3 in windows if you install both drivers But I cant think of a good reason to do that.

I would leave build 3 alone. Therese no reason to change it really. And I don't think having a geforce MX in build 2 helps you much becasue u have to use Newer drivers to run that card something like 40.xx drivers. Preferably you would want a pure geforce 2 or 3 that you can run like 14.xx drivers or older. There are plenty of really badly made games that have glitches or don't want to run right without very old geforce drivers. So whatever doesn't run on build 3 becasue a later card and later drivers of the geforce or SLIed voodoo will work better on a voodoo 3.

Reply 8 of 14, by Joseph_Joestar

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Boohyaka wrote on 2020-09-16, 21:28:

I'd rather keep the Ti4200 in the fast build to have a fast non-Glide card, doesn't that make sense? I believe that performance wise it shouldn't be too bad of a difference even in DeusEx or UT99?

Deus Ex tends to be hungry for CPU performance, even when running in Glide mode. UT a bit less so.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 9 of 14, by PC-Engineer

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Maybe i misunderstood the focus of your systems. Your systems have much redundancies and there is no Red thread visible. If your goal is to just build some systems, then keep it as it is.

For pure DOS the were 1993er games like Doom, Strike Commander, Privateer, Magic Carpet , ... which need more than a DX2/66 for fluid experience. Ok, in 1993 15fps was the lower limit for exelent gaming. The iDX4 has some improvements for speed sensitive applications and would fit well. For many games from this period the PIII600 would be too fast and the DX33 too slow.
What is the focus of your PIII600? The intelligent mode you need in some games before 1993 which are mostly speed sensitive and which you can all play on your 486. For all other games with MT-32 support and more CPU requirements, like Tie-Fighter SVGA you don't need intelligent mode MPU. But keep your Orpheus here it's not bad and has no bugs with MPU like the AWE (like slow-downs in Ti-Fighter). In sum you have too many redundancies and the risk of resource conflicts (IRQ/DMA) - feels wrong to me. The GF4MX is a decent card with good drivers and D3D speed in Win98, keep it. I would go with a combination of VirgeGX and V2-SLI, because it is more compatible with your focus on DOS, is very authentic and speedy for Win9x Games (until 1998) and keeps more distance to your third system.
I made a lot of bad experiences with GF4 cards. I had three cards, which all were broken after years and all had bad and noisy fans. The FX5900 has much better quality of PCB and Fan design, it is as compatible as the GF4 and it has a much better AA and AF performance.

Keep your systems, they are not bad. But without a clear focus or a personal story - just a system, boring. My opinion.

1994/1995 - Socket3 - ASUS SV2GX4 / POD 100MHz / 64MB / SCSI - Windows 95

Reply 10 of 14, by Warlord

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u can under clock a PIII, and disable the l2 cache. with cpuspd. That gets you to around pentium 133 performance. I haven't played with a 600mhz but I can do this with a 850mhz pIII no problem. You can also lower the FSB to 66mhz. That might get you to around 100MHZ pentium speed altogether.

So theres no reason to think a 600mhz pIII is too fast. It's actually quite flexible if you know what you are doing.

It just doesn't get you to 286/386/486 speeds.

I think a DX2 66 is just about the perfect 486 cpu. But thats not what he has. As you can de-turbo it to 33mhz and disable the L2 that gets you to 386 speeds. which is about right for the most speed sensitive games. Like Ultima VII. And its fast enought to run everything up to games that really want a Pentium to run.

Reply 11 of 14, by chinny22

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Boohyaka wrote on 2020-09-16, 21:28:

Thanks for the comments 😀 yeah in the end I guess there's a pretty strong overlap between builds 2 and 3 to make build 2 really significant. Still I like that yellowed beige OEM tower and would like to do something with it and use some of those sound and gfx cards. Maybe hunt another earlier generation mobo and cpu... In any case what would be that additional box you'd recommend and why? 😉

Personally I'd do something like.
Build 1 -No change perfect Dos/3x PC

Build 2 - Late dos, Win9x if you wish
Socket 5 or SS7 https://www.vogonswiki.com/index.php/Socket_5 … -7_Motherboards
Sound: SB AWE
Reason? more flexible down clocking but mostly better match for the Voodoo1

Build 3 - Win98 Glide and dos
CPU: PIII-600 on GA-6BXS
GFX: Voodoo 3
Sound: EAX and ISA cards of your choosing
Reason? this will be your primary glide PC, a 600Mhz will be fine for majority of glide based games.

Build 4 - Win98 D3D and dos
CPU: PIII-S 1400MHz on P3B-F
GFX: GeForce 4 Ti4200 + 3DFX Voodoo2 12MB SLI
Sound: EAX and ISA cards of your choosing
Reason? this will be your primary D3D PC, but would be a shame not to use the V2 SLI somewhere!

Honestly though, you could get away with the 486 and just one of the P3's and cover 99% of dos/Win9x games. so build whatever interests you personally.
1/2 my retro builds are redundant if I'm honest with myself.

Reply 12 of 14, by Boohyaka

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PC-Engineer wrote on 2020-09-17, 06:53:

Maybe i misunderstood the focus of your systems. Your systems have much redundancies and there is no Red thread visible. If your goal is to just build some systems, then keep it as it is.
Keep your systems, they are not bad. But without a clear focus or a personal story - just a system, boring. My opinion.

Fair enough mate. The focus feels pretty clear to me though: toying with several builds that cover all kind of periods and use cases, I don't mind some overlap or redundancy, and having a blast doing it because I'm having more fun playing with the hardware, swapping things around, testing, benchmarking and overall giving an extended or second life to all that stuff I've grown up with, than actually playing games.

So yeah I guess we could say you misunderstood my intentions and missed *my* point, and it feels like you're actually trying to push *your* personal story. You're recommending very specific items that I don't have to replace things I have for very anecdotal or (in my opinion) poorly justified reasons.

I do have a DX2-66 in a drawer as said before. I switched it to a DX-33 because it's at the perfect spot for early DOS, and with disabling caches I can really slow it down to allow very speed sensitive games.
You're recommending a DX4, and while it is a very cool and interesting CPU in itself and I may get one for preservation's sake, it doesn't do anything particular. As said by Warlord, the P3-600 can be heavily slowed down and probably to DX4-100 level. And anyway (and I'll get to it later) I'm now thinking about trying to find a more relevant in-between build, not having a faster CPU of the same generation. Honestly my 486DX-33 is perfect to me and has handled 100% of what I wanted to do with it beautifully. I've settled for simply using it with the TNDY 3voice (love me some Sierra games Tandy music, I had no idea this existed as a kid!) and the NXPro (it's a real OPL3 and proper SBPro2). It's good enough and it's probably my favorite machine of the bunch that represents most of my childhood. And for the graphic cards, I'll keep using what I have. If you have specifics to support your DOS compatibility differences between a S3VirgeGX and a MX440, I'm interested out of curiosity, but what I read didn't really support that claim I believe? Also as I already have a Ti4200 I'll use it as well in spite of your poor experience with them. I'm aware the FX5900 is a well regarded and sought after alternative though, and if the Ti4200 fails or if I see a FX5900 at some point, I'll remember it.

Also noted for the intelligent mode you are right, I was confused about the limited list of games that actually require it, and indeed it's well covered by the 486. I also calmed down on the soundcards hysteria 😀
Again thanks for your comments anyway, discussion and opinions is why we're here.

Warlord wrote on 2020-09-17, 07:36:

I think a DX2 66 is just about the perfect 486 cpu. But thats not what he has. As you can de-turbo it to 33mhz and disable the L2 that gets you to 386 speeds. which is about right for the most speed sensitive games. Like Ultima VII. And its fast enought to run everything up to games that really want a Pentium to run.

As said actually I do 😀 but haven't found a real use to it yet! I'm happy with the 33 so far and it allows me to get to ludicrously slow speed territory.

chinny22 wrote on 2020-09-17, 10:30:

Reason? this will be your primary D3D PC, but would be a shame not to use the V2 SLI somewhere!

Hehe well I like we're you're going with this, seems like you and I have our hearts in the same place 😀

I'm really starting to fancy the idea of your build 2 to properly fill the gap. I believe a Pentium 200 MMX to pair with the Voodoo1 and the AWE32 would be a pretty cool and relevant addition to the lineup..what do you guys think?

Then it's true what would be builds 3 and 4 in your list are still pretty redundant, but that's still cool none the less and it would let me play with two different configs. I like you idea of splitting them as Glide and D3D builds, almost makes me feel like a justification I could serve my wife when she asks what the new computer is for and who would most probably answer with an uninterested eye roll as she would have no idea what I'm talking about and be bored already 😁

Reply 13 of 14, by chinny22

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An excuse to tell the wife is a bonus (important one at that) but not the main reason. More importantly it forces you to actually use all your pc's

The fact is your going to have your favorites, For me it's my DX2/66 and the P3 600 SLI, which funny enough are the slower of their "counterparts"
To force myself to use the POD83 I've a S3 Virge to play S3D games (although its a bit slow really) The 1Ghz Slot 1 has the faster hardware for games that struggle on my favorite.
I've also a Slot A with a Banshee and Vortex 2 for something completely different. Hardware is installed but haven't gotten round to installing Windows yet.
They still don't get used that often but at least they DO get used now.
(I've more PC's setup then days of the week which is stupid as I don't even get to play every day, maybe I've got a problem? Nahhhhh)

Actually that's a good point, if your looking for a 2D card for MMX build I recommend one of the "lesser" 3D accelerators. Their not really worth an entire build of their own but fun to mess around with and will work with a V1 just fine.
3D Accelerated Games List (Proprietary APIs - No 3DFX/Direct3D)

Reply 14 of 14, by Warlord

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I had a 233 MMX with 128mb EDO with awe64 on I think it was a Intel 430 something chipset AT. I still have the sound card but the computer is gone. If I were to rebuild it Id go for an ATX 430FX board.

Thing is I have a socket 7 K6 III+ build with voodoo 3 already and I do not use it becasue I have a proper 486. Now that utility CPUSPD is around i dont see any need for a inbetweeny build if you have a 486 33.

Like Chinny I am just using a PII800mhz EB and my 486 DX2 66 . Those 2 system give me all the flexibility I need. I kinda think 600mhz is a little slow and 800mhz is the sweetspot as far as max speed an multipliers.

A intresting build is a C3 EZRA in a slotket on a BX. That give you better flexibility than a K6 and more stability than a VIA or ALI chipset. I might make that next and sell my SS7.