VOGONS


First post, by Namrok

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So about a month ago I got permission from the wife to build a retro pc that's been rattling around in my brain for a long time. In 1997, 14 year old Namrok got the parts for a PC from his father, and kindled a lifelong love of computers and technology. Before setting out on this build, I didn't remember much except the Diamond Viper V330 (PCI) it had. And I definitely did not have a Pentium MMX of any sort.

Still, I began picking out parts with a Riva 128 card as the center piece, attempting to keep it all as 1997 as I could. Found an ASUS TX97-E, picked up a 32 MB PC66 DIMM, and even found a PSU with a -5V rail. The only Riva 128 PCI version I could find that wasn't shipping from Europe was an STB Velocity 128, which was fine by me.

Frankly, the motherboard and the specific graphics card I wanted were more expensive than I anticipated, and I relaxed my hard 1997 requirements afterwards to make budget. For the sound card I went with an anachronistic Sound Blaster Live Value. And then I threw all pretense of period correctness to the wind with the cheapest IDE CD drive I could find, an 80 GB IDE HDD, a $5 case off Facebook Marketplace, and a free 1280x1024@75hz CRT I found on Craigslist. And while it was certainly not the CPU I had back in the day, I went for a bit of wish fulfillment on a Pentium 233 MMX.

Well, first thing that happens is the PSU explodes and fries the TX97-E. Sent both back and found a Shuttle HOT 591P. Dates a bit later than I was aiming for, but it was coming new in the box, with all the cds, manuals and cords. Hard to pass that up, right? Also found a new PSU on Ebay with a local pickup option. Then it turns out the floppy drive I ordered doesn't reliably read disks, so I can't boot off it to get Win95 installed. Figured out I can boot off a Win98SE OEM cd, and then fdisk, format, swap CDs, and install Win95 off that.

Except before I could get that to work, I discovered the motherboard can't recognize HDDs greater than 32GB. But it can be flashed! Except I don't have a working floppy drive. Eventually I work out that InfraRecorder can take floppy images and make bootable CDs out of them. Get all the flash files I need put on a bootable CD, flash the bios, and we're back in business.

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It's also around this time I decided that while I'm trying to keep things period appropriate, I have no interest in hearing the click of death from an ancient HDD that was old even when I bought it. I learn about SD Card to IDE adapters and get one of those, returning the HDD I bought without even plugging it in. End up going with a 64GB SD Card. Also now that I know how, in the future I may make a bootable Win95 cd, should the need to start over from scratch ever rear it's ugly head. Although now is probably also a good time to make a backup image of the SD Card.

Also turned out the CD-ROM wouldn't open unless I applied just the right amount of pressure to the top of it. Pushed through that, got Win95 installed, but sourced a $10 replacement locally off Craigslist, and returned the slightly busted one.

Got all the drivers installed, GLQuake, Dark Forces II, things were humming along. Or so I thought.

The Riva 128 drivers just refused to work. Kept saying the device wasn't functioning. Turned out the default setting in my BIOS was for the VGA adapter to not have an IRQ. Weird, but once I changed it, the Riva 128 was humming along.

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Next up the Sound Blaster Live produced no audio what so ever. Looked like it was. The volume mixer showed sounds being produced. But nothing ever emitted. Turns out I had a Dell OEM version. CT4780. The drivers off Creative's website just did nothing for it. Found some drivers on a random reddit thread, leading to another forum, which Chrome flagged as an unsafe file. Whatever, this PC is airgapped.

Link for posterity if anyone else has this issue.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/115903-compilati … for-windows-9x/

Although checking now, that may be the same driver package as this one from the Vogon's library?
http://www.vogonsdrivers.com/getfile.php?file … menustate=43,36

It's only obvious to me now, knowing the filesize to look for, and the fact the filename in the details is literally CT4780.zip.

Anyways, removed the old device drivers, installed the new ones from there, and bingo, we have proper audio.

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Next up, GLQuake is stuttering, badly. Found a few threads here that mostly blame Sound Blaster Live cards, which seemed plausible. But even running with no audio, or pulling the card completely, didn't fix it. I was growing to suspect some sort of memory issue, as where it stuttered was just too repeatable. Messing with GLQuake's heapsize helped to a point. Dropped the resolution to 518x384 or whatever it is helped a little too. But the issue was still so severe GLQuake was borderline unplayable. Turned out I was close, thinking it was memory related. For whatever reason, the PCI Max Texture Heap was set to 2MB for OpenGL. Looking up an old archived version of rivazone's tweaking guides appeared to indicate the default for this should have been 5MB. Fixing that in the registry cured my stuttering issues. No clue why or how mine was set at 2MB.

Oddly enough, this setting is accessible from assorted settings in the Riva128 driver display panel. But that specific part of the panel refused to open for me. Until I fixed that setting in the registry, and then it opened perfectly fine. Unclear what that was about. But it's fixed now. May have also been related to assorted bios tweaks I'd been experimenting with during this time as well. Hard to say.

Eventually a USB and a PS/2 bracket I ordered showed up. Had to get out the needle nose pliers and rearrange all the wires on their pin headers to match my motherboard. It had especially wonky USB pins, and I had to take a red hot safety pin and poke an extra hole in the filled in space of the bracket's pin header. But once done everything works great. Replaced the Microsoft serial mouse with an old Compaq branded Logitech S48 with a mousewheel. Finding an old Logitech Mouseware CD on archive.org even got the mousewheel working properly.

So nearly a month later, after much shipping, returning, more shipping, lots of troubleshooting and research, I got to enjoy a few nights this weekend playing GLQuake on one of the best gaming rigs 1997 had to offer. Checking old issues of Computer Gaming World, a PC of approximately these specs would have run around $2500, or $4000 in 2020 dollars. I got lucky on a few deals, unlucky on a few, and found myself having to spend a lot of money on brackets, cables, mounting hardware, etc, and probably $100+ in shipping alone. So my total bill came out to around $500.

Over the course of research, and browsing parts, more memories of exactly what I had that Christmas morning came back to me. Pretty sure it was a Shuttle HOT 555 motherboard, 16 MB PC66 SIMMs, A Pentium 90, and a generic Sound Blaster 16 sound card. So I clearly overshot. But what a fun project this has been.

Reply 2 of 21, by Namrok

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darry wrote on 2020-10-05, 18:57:

I would consider replacing that Powmax PSU with something with a bit more of a reputation . You have already lost one motherboard, do you really risk another ?

That is a concern I have. Any recommendations? Sourcing a PSU for this project has been one of the most exhausting and frustrating parts.

Reply 3 of 21, by cyclone3d

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Well, you don't need the -5v rail for that computer.

Seasonic is my brand of choice for power supplies.
EVGA , Corsair, and even Rosewill power supplies are fine.

Make sure you get one that is at least 80+ Bronze rated. None of that old power wasting stuff which also runs hotter because the power wasted is turned into heat which will also reduce the life expectancy of the PSU.

I don't generally buy used PSUs unless it is one that I know was very well made.

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Reply 4 of 21, by darry

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Namrok wrote on 2020-10-05, 18:59:
darry wrote on 2020-10-05, 18:57:

I would consider replacing that Powmax PSU with something with a bit more of a reputation . You have already lost one motherboard, do you really risk another ?

That is a concern I have. Any recommendations? Sourcing a PSU for this project has been one of the most exhausting and frustrating parts.

AFAICT, the Shuttle HOT 591P can accept an ATX PSU (and that is what you are currently using). A Pentium 1 does not draw that much power, so you should be fine with something from a reputable brand (Corsair, EVGA, Seasonic , etc see https://www.gamingscan.com/psu-hierarchy/ for a general idea) that provides at least 20A each on 5V and 3.3V rails (3.3V rail probably is not used on that board, considering it can use an AT PSU) and at least 120W or so combined . In fact, that's probably a bit overkill, but will leave some room for expansion and upgrades, if you decide on any . I'm more of a P2/P3 user (have not used (super) socket 7 in over 20 years), so don't implicitly trust my amperage suggestions. Somebody who actually uses (super) socket 7 hardware will hopefully chime in with more accurately real-life values .

Alternatively, searching the numerous PSU threads on Vogons should give you an idea about actual requirements .

EDIT: The 80% + efficiency recommendation is a good one . I also prefer new PSU or actually refurbished ones (i.e. capacitors changed). Older ATX PSUs are notorious for crappy leaking capacitors, even PSUs from reputable brands and with otherwise good designs .

Reply 6 of 21, by darry

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Macca70 wrote on 2020-10-06, 00:00:

Love that build , really cool , enjoy 😉

I agree . One of the fun things about a build is finding solutions to the problems/issues you face . Sometimes that takes you down a crazy rabbit-hole, but that's part of the experience .

Reply 7 of 21, by Namrok

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So, I got some recommendations, but I'm nervous about totally forsaking the -5V rail because the motherboard I'm using does have ISA slots, even if I'm not using them. I'm pretty sure my research yielded that -5V is used for ISA, or at least some, ISA cards? A part of me is tempted to downgrade (sidegrade?) to a Sound Blaster AWE64 at some point to be more period appropriate. Which is an ISA card.

I did find a line of new PSUs (at least I think they are new) from Sparkle, or FSP, with a -5V rail. Their FSP300-60ATV model. Searching around for it didn't yield anyone complaining about them being ticking time bombs like the current Powmax I got on the cheap. I even saw some talk of those specific models which sounded downright complementary. I know it's not one that was suggested, but any reason I should consider it off limits?

Over the course of sourcing parts, I ended up with quite a few spares. Won an auction for a $15 PC Partner MVP3BS7... from Russia. See what happens there I suppose. Eyeing a slightly more end of the line Super Socket 7 build I also got a Diamond Viper V770 (TNT2). And I found a cheap K6-2 500, but I'm strongly tempted to get a K6-2+ 500 too. Looked for K6-3+'s, but couldn't find any that weren't prohibitively expensive, and the K6-2+ seemed enough of an improvement. And I got 2x128MB of PC100 DIMMs. Which just about puts me at enough parts for an entirely other computer, minus a PSU & Case.

Tested out the K6-2, TNT2 and the ram on my current board, and they all work pretty well in Win98SE. As some may be anticipating, it was quite the experience. But that's a story for another day. Probably tomorrow.

Reply 8 of 21, by darry

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Namrok wrote on 2020-10-06, 01:19:
So, I got some recommendations, but I'm nervous about totally forsaking the -5V rail because the motherboard I'm using does have […]
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So, I got some recommendations, but I'm nervous about totally forsaking the -5V rail because the motherboard I'm using does have ISA slots, even if I'm not using them. I'm pretty sure my research yielded that -5V is used for ISA, or at least some, ISA cards? A part of me is tempted to downgrade (sidegrade?) to a Sound Blaster AWE64 at some point to be more period appropriate. Which is an ISA card.

I did find a line of new PSUs (at least I think they are new) from Sparkle, or FSP, with a -5V rail. Their FSP300-60ATV model. Searching around for it didn't yield anyone complaining about them being ticking time bombs like the current Powmax I got on the cheap. I even saw some talk of those specific models which sounded downright complementary. I know it's not one that was suggested, but any reason I should consider it off limits?

Over the course of sourcing parts, I ended up with quite a few spares. Won an auction for a $15 PC Partner MVP3BS7... from Russia. See what happens there I suppose. Eyeing a slightly more end of the line Super Socket 7 build I also got a Diamond Viper V770 (TNT2). And I found a cheap K6-2 500, but I'm strongly tempted to get a K6-2+ 500 too. Looked for K6-3+'s, but couldn't find any that weren't prohibitively expensive, and the K6-2+ seemed enough of an improvement. And I got 2x128MB of PC100 DIMMs. Which just about puts me at enough parts for an entirely other computer, minus a PSU & Case.

Tested out the K6-2, TNT2 and the ram on my current board, and they all work pretty well in Win98SE. As some may be anticipating, it was quite the experience. But that's a story for another day. Probably tomorrow.

Unless you expect to use one of the devices listed here ISA Cards & Devices Requiring -5V , you don't need -5V . ISA devices that required -5v were very uncommon past 1990-ish .

EDIT : AFAIK, that list is fairly exhaustive, at least for sound cards .

Reply 9 of 21, by chinny22

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Your introduction is very similar to a lot of us here, running into issues that we had back in the day and forgot about or new ones that didn't exist back then (like large HDD support)
Just be careful, alot of us found building the PC was more fun then playing the games and before you know it you have 5+ PC's and still looking to build more!

Re the PSU, I agree I doubt you'll need -5v, as you can see in that link darry's posted, it only a handful of cards that need it. I've 7 ISA PC's (486's and higher) and haven't needed it yet.
Bit more expensive but I like modular PSU's that way you can remove the SATA and PCI-E cables that come on modern PSU's that have no use.

Reply 10 of 21, by Namrok

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@darry: Well, good to know about the -5V being so rarely needed. I suppose it was gotten rid of for a reason after all.

@chinny22: While I effectively have the spare parts for a whole other computer already, minus the mobo which is in shipping, the missus acts as a good firebreak in me getting too crazy building more. I also have a fat stack of games I owned in the 90's I'm eager to take another crack at on period appropriate hardware.

This whole build was spurned on by a narrow band of games I've been dying to play again, which simple refuse to work to my satisfaction on modern hardware. Like Heavy Gear, or Mechwarrior 2: Mercenaries. Sure, MW2:Mercs runs in DOS, but I wanted to play the windows version fully patched up to 1.10, which I'm not sure the DOS version ever was. And Heavy Gear doesn't even have a DOS option. I even went so far as to submit a patch to 86Box so it could handle controller input more comprehensively! But all in all, I found both PCem and 86Box to be unsatisfactory solutions. Kind of amazing that they work, but everything about them feels somehow janky, hitchy and delayed. And the modern PC I have running them isn't any slouch either.

All in all, I'm kind of shocked at how responsive and up to the task this system is. Maybe it's the SD Card to IDE adapter getting rid of seek times. Maybe it's the fact that I have a really high end 1997 rig, as opposed to the bargain basement rig I actually owned at the time. Maybe it's a decade of virtual machines and emulators being pretty damned good, but still subtly less responsive than the real thing. Maybe it's the input lag free CRT compared to even the best LCD displays. Maybe it's all those things added together. I ordered the K6-2 and TNT2 upgrades thinking I'd immediately be chafing under a P233 MMX and a Riva 128, but I'm not. At all. GLQuake runs great. So does Quake 2. And StarCraft, and Diablo, and XCom, and Dungeon Keeper and a billion other CDs I have lying around. It's not until I start getting into most of those game's sequels that I may commit to altering the configuration to a more 1999 build.

Checking the minimum and recommended system requirements in old issues of Computer Gaming World, I think Heavy Gear II was the first game I saw that I intend to play that had 64MB of ram as a minimum requirement. After that things escalate quickly with Dungeon Keeper 2, System Shock 2 and Drakan recommending a Pentium II with 64MB of ram. Didn't say much about the graphics card in the requirements listed, but I imagine by the second half of 1999 that Riva 128 is really going to be struggling in anything that attempts to make use of it.

So at some point switching to a K6-2 (or a K6-2+), 256MB of RAM and a Riva TNT2 is in this rigs future. But by my count I have about 30 or 40 games between myself and then.

Reply 11 of 21, by svfn

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This was a nice read, really satisfying to see it all running well. About the TX97-E, would any generic USB2 bracket work, after reassigning the pins to fit the motherboard? where did you find a PS/2 bracket with the right pin amounts? the motherboard is a combined 17pin header right?

SS7: K6-2/350 | FIC PA-2013 2.1 | 32MB PC-100 | 3dfx V3 2000 AGP | AWE64 CT4520 | Win98SE
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Reply 12 of 21, by Namrok

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svfn wrote on 2020-10-07, 12:27:

This was a nice read, really satisfying to see it all running well. About the TX97-E, would any generic USB2 bracket work, after reassigning the pins to fit the motherboard? where did you find a PS/2 bracket with the right pin amounts? the motherboard is a combined 17pin header right?

So, I ended up sending the TX97-E back because it got fried by a bad PSU. Ended up with a new PSU (which I've since been sufficiently warned about and ordered another replacement for) and a Shuttle HOT 591P. So we're not talking about the TX97-E anymore.

But for the HOT 591P, I found a PS/2 bracket from cablesonline.net's ebay store. It has a 2x5 pin header that I just rearranged to fit the 1x5 pins on my motherboard.

As for the USB bracket, I just ordered a standard one off Amazon. It took some doing to get it to work on the HOT 591P because it had 2x5 pins, with 2 no connections, and my USB bracket had a filled in pin on it's header. So I had to melt a hole in the bracket's pin headers to make room for the extra no connection pin to fit.

It looks like for the TX97-E, it might not be that easy. The USB portion of it's 2x9 pin header looks standard enough, down to the filled in pin. But you may not be able to cram in the 2x5 USB header I bought, plus the 2x5 PS/2 header I bought into it side by side. You may need to source a 2x9 pin header (or 2x10 since the pins on the mobo are open ended) from a local electronics store, and attach the wires for the USB bracket and the PS/2 bracket onto it. But who knows, they may fit side by side!

Reply 13 of 21, by svfn

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Namrok wrote on 2020-10-07, 13:31:
So, I ended up sending the TX97-E back because it got fried by a bad PSU. Ended up with a new PSU (which I've since been suffic […]
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svfn wrote on 2020-10-07, 12:27:

This was a nice read, really satisfying to see it all running well. About the TX97-E, would any generic USB2 bracket work, after reassigning the pins to fit the motherboard? where did you find a PS/2 bracket with the right pin amounts? the motherboard is a combined 17pin header right?

So, I ended up sending the TX97-E back because it got fried by a bad PSU. Ended up with a new PSU (which I've since been sufficiently warned about and ordered another replacement for) and a Shuttle HOT 591P. So we're not talking about the TX97-E anymore.

But for the HOT 591P, I found a PS/2 bracket from cablesonline.net's ebay store. It has a 2x5 pin header that I just rearranged to fit the 1x5 pins on my motherboard.

As for the USB bracket, I just ordered a standard one off Amazon. It took some doing to get it to work on the HOT 591P because it had 2x5 pins, with 2 no connections, and my USB bracket had a filled in pin on it's header. So I had to melt a hole in the bracket's pin headers to make room for the extra no connection pin to fit.

It looks like for the TX97-E, it might not be that easy. The USB portion of it's 2x9 pin header looks standard enough, down to the filled in pin. But you may not be able to cram in the 2x5 USB header I bought, plus the 2x5 PS/2 header I bought into it side by side. You may need to source a 2x9 pin header (or 2x10 since the pins on the mobo are open ended) from a local electronics store, and attach the wires for the USB bracket and the PS/2 bracket onto it. But who knows, they may fit side by side!

Thanks, yeah I missed that about your changed motherboard. The USB could fit 2x5 but the PS/2 connector is harder to find a smaller 2x4 connector, so yeah maybe reassigning the pins and just leave the extra connector part hanging on the open ended side. I was wondering if it needed extra stuff to work since Asus boards come with its own combo card.

Worst case could just use a serial mouse haha, I am not too hanged up on getting PS/2 support, but USB is nice to have.

SS7: K6-2/350 | FIC PA-2013 2.1 | 32MB PC-100 | 3dfx V3 2000 AGP | AWE64 CT4520 | Win98SE
On MobyGames

Reply 15 of 21, by jakethompson1

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Namrok wrote on 2020-10-05, 18:48:

Well, first thing that happens is the PSU explodes and fries the TX97-E. Sent both back and found a Shuttle HOT 591P. Dates a bit later than I was aiming for, but it was coming new in the box, with all the cds, manuals and cords. Hard to pass that up, right? Also found a new PSU on Ebay with a local pickup option. Then it turns out the floppy drive I ordered doesn't reliably read disks, so I can't boot off it to get Win95 installed. Figured out I can boot off a Win98SE OEM cd, and then fdisk, format, swap CDs, and install Win95 off that.

Nice board, that's what I had around 2000, and somehow I actually kept it and still have it. Had a Pentium 233 MMX. I believe the VIA Apollo MVP3 Super Socket 7 chipset plays somewhat of the same role as the UMC UM8881F does for 486, so that is somewhat of an "ultimate" board for that socket. You should have a ton of jumpers to support any [Super] Socket 7 CPU. I always wanted a K6-2 or K6-III back then. I finally bought a K6-2+ off of ebay just this year and upgraded it.
You have a 128MB RAM cacheable limit I believe, if you ever bump it up to that, although the board supports multiples of that I believe.

Reply 16 of 21, by khyypio

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Namrok wrote on 2020-10-08, 23:46:

So am I correct in assuming this board has some recapping in it's future? Mostly the two on the right.

20201008_192007.jpg

Those caps are on their way out, you need to replace them. And if you replace those two, you might as well replace the next ones too. I recapped my motherboard with Panasonic FR caps: download/file.php?id=87643&mode=view

It seems that most people don´t bother with the smallest caps, just the biggest ones and that´s what I did too.

Reply 17 of 21, by Namrok

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khyypio wrote on 2020-10-09, 11:11:
Namrok wrote on 2020-10-08, 23:46:

So am I correct in assuming this board has some recapping in it's future? Mostly the two on the right.

20201008_192007.jpg

Those caps are on their way out, you need to replace them. And if you replace those two, you might as well replace the next ones too. I recapped my motherboard with Panasonic FR caps: download/file.php?id=87643&mode=view

It seems that most people don´t bother with the smallest caps, just the biggest ones and that´s what I did too.

Any advice? Once upon a time I bought a $20 soldering kit off Amazon for a Pi project I never actually got around to. Of course in all the videos I've watched people are rocking much more sophisticated soldering equipment.

I'm also seeing people just heating the existing solder enough to remove the cap, then shoving the new cap into it. This versus people removing all the old solder, and resoldering the joint fresh. Gotta admit, the first approach looks a lot more appealing to me. But it seems to be the minority approach.

Reply 18 of 21, by Namrok

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I suppose it's time for Part 2 of my build log.

Before I left the system turned off and unplugged out of the rightful fear of PowMax you guys put into me, I spent some time trying to find a decent compiler, and playing with upgrades.

As for the compiler, I only have one goal really. Play around with OpenGL 1.X from an old red book I bought in college. The first one I tried was Borland C++ 4.52. It had some OpenGL examples that worked well enough, but for the life of me I couldn't get GLUT to link in. Even using their IMPLIB tool to try to convert it. Next up, I heard tell that Code::Blocks could work under Win95, but working my way forward from the oldest version, with as few plugins as possible, I never once got the IDE to actually load. So after that I gave Visual Studio 97 a spin, and at first it couldn't link with GLUT either, but after I installed Service Pack 3, it could! Success! I have a development environment that's good enough I guess.

I may yet install Borland C++ 4.52 just because it can still build DOS applications, and that could be fun to dick around in too. See how well those two products play together on the same system.

Next I played around with the K6-2 500 and Riva TNT2 I got. Naturally, it didn't work. I'd seen chatter about how difficult it can be to get Nvidia AGP cards working on old Super Socket 7 chipsets, and sure enough, after installing the drivers off the CD that came with the motherboard, and the "nVidia Riva TNT2 Final Drivers" from the Vogons Drivers library, Win98SE just got to a black blinking cursor and refused to start. First I attempted to go for max compatibility in the BIOS to no avail. Then I found that Phils Computer Lab video where he tested a ton of nvidia cards on a SS7 board, used the drivers he recommended, and I was good to go! Slowly eased off the max compatibility settings, and things appeared to be fantastic. I was running 3DMark99 the whole time after each change, noticing little difference honestly. Except for the first benchmark, which scored about 25% higher than all the rest. But then even once I reverted to the same settings I'd used for it, the performance had then aligned with all the others. Go figure. Maybe I accidentally lowered the settings on the run making it easier or something.

Minus the first run, they were all around 2000 marks.

It's also at this point I see the Diamond Viper V770 has 16MB instead of the 32MB the ebay listing said... but good enough I guess. It works. When I ordered the STB Velocity 128 the listing said it was a Riva TNT, but I knew better and got what I wanted.

Today the new PSU finally showed up, so I got that put in. Successfully resisting temptation and didn't power it on even once with that PowMax. So that made about 5 days without playing around on my shiny "new" toy. With my luck, knowing what I know now, it would surely have blow up. Naturally the first thing I do is try to pick up where I left off with GLQuake... and it's stuttering again. Huh.

Trying to retrace my steps the last time I fixed this, I go into the registry and increase the MaxPCITextureHeap to 5MB. It reverts to 2MB immediately. Apparently the drivers only let you use a set portion of your total ram. What's weird is it lets you use 5MB for D3D, but only 2MB for OpenGL with 32MB of ram. Putting 128MB back in there lets me increase it to 14MB, but I only choose 5MB. When I fixed this the first time around, I believe I had in fact had 128MB in there from going HAM on GLQuake's heap size. The gap between what it allows for D3D versus OpenGL almost makes me wonder if it's a bug. Since it's a STB Velocity 128 I may try using their drivers instead, and see if it lets me allocation more ram to the OpenGL texture heap than the reference drivers do at 32MB, since that's the 1997 configuration I'm really aiming for.

I've found a smattering of STB Velocity 128 drivers. Archive.org actually had a "2.0" install CD with version 196 drivers, which is higher than I've seen anywhere else. Think I saw 194 on some FTP site I saw linked from here when I searched. So I'll probably be up to that this weekend while I think about what I intend to do about those bulging caps. Zero system instability at the moment. And frankly I've never soldered before, so I'll need time to learn and practice anyhow. I looked around at some recapping services, but they all look to be as expensive as a new board. So it seems like my economic choices are wait until the problem becomes functionally noticeable and take the risk of borking up recapping it, or just riding this thing till the wheels come off with the P233 MMX I'm not terribly attached to, and which isn't that hard to replace.

That is the conundrum isn't it? Do I enjoy something while I can, take the risk and try to fix something that isn't obviously broken, or leave it mothballed until I can more confidently fix it? I'm leaning towards A while working towards a confident repair. Or is that just retro computing abuse?

Reply 19 of 21, by Joseph_Joestar

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Namrok wrote on 2020-10-10, 05:24:

And frankly I've never soldered before, so I'll need time to learn and practice anyhow.

I strongly advise against doing this yourself until you have had a lot of experience. Use functional but useless hardware for recapping practice e.g. PCI dial-up modems. If you mess up with one of those, it's no big deal. But a recap gone bad can ruin a motherboard.

I looked around at some recapping services, but they all look to be as expensive as a new board.

There's a good reason for that. It takes quite a bit of effort to do this, even for a skilled engineer. In addition, a properly recapped board using high quality (expensive) capacitors will last you another 20 years or so. A newly bought but non-recapped board from the capacitor plague era could die any day.

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