VOGONS


First post, by EpsilonP

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Hello,

I am currently working on a Slot 1 Pentium II build. The goal with this system was to replicate my first computer.

Specs:

Gigabyte GA-6BXC
Pentium II 400 Mhz
Asus GeForce 2 MX400 V7100PRO / 64MB
128MB Ram
Seagate 20GB IDE HDD
Realtek 8139 Ethernet Adapter
CF to IDE adapter
Sound Blaster CT4620

I wanted to go with a beige tower but I was not able to source one. I've decided to go with a relatively simple modern case, with a side window, good cable management possibilities and an optical bay for a CD/DVD drive Unfortunately, all the cases I looked at with the drive bay were either ugly as sin or wrong form factor - I've decided to cross out the optical bay requirement (not a good idea for anyone considering a Win9x build). I've done some minor appearance tweaks to the case. Removed the front RGB leds and replaced all fans. The front fans are addresable RGB, and can be regulated for color and brightness or turned off altogether.

I wanted to go with a 3DFX VooDoo 2 but as we all know the ship has sailed for those cards in terms of buying one for a reasonable price now. GeForce 2's are relatively plentiful and still can be had for a low price. Additionally the card should be able to run all the games from the 98/99 time frame fairly well.

I am still in process of putting everything together but wanted to share a few pictures.

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Reply 1 of 21, by slivercr

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Its looking good!
If you're open to suggestions, I would say a USB2 card with front panel headers is very convenient.
What are you using the CF for, storage, OS?

Outrigger: an ongoing adventure with the OR840
QuForce FX 5800: turn your Quadro into a GeForce

Reply 2 of 21, by EpsilonP

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I've installed Windows on the CF initially to test but the performance was noticeably worse than the IDE drive, so I'm using it for additional storage now. I also have this machine connected to a separate vlan with access to a dedicated NAS, so storage should not be an issue.

Any recommendations for the USB card?

Reply 3 of 21, by chinny22

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Nice your first PC is very similar to mine I got in 98 and quite the upgrade from the family 486/66

I upgraded the base Video option to a 16MB TNT on a friends recommendation. Voodoo (I think still V1 at that time) was also an option but alot more expensive.
I do know he got a V2 later in the year but got rid of it after not very long for a Nvidia card as even then the shift the D3D was strong.

I did upgrade the graphics about 2 years later to very similar Asus V7100 (GF2MX 32MB) one of the most expensive upgrades and stuck with that setup till 2005.
That card now lives in a dual P3 600 paired with V2 SLI setup, rest of the PC is at my parents 1/2 a world away.

Win98SE is a better OS now but I also ran Win95c back then, it was only for gaming I dual booted into NT4 and later 2000 for serious stuff

These days I hardly use the CD drive on any of my PC's I have a separate partition with OS install files and at the very least network drivers.
After that everything's available on the network.
Large enough hard drive to hold a few iso's and daemon tools ( 3.47 been the latest for Win95) is more convenient.

Personally I'm not sold on needing USB as you have networking. I never use USB sticks myself but then I do have floppy/CD drive on the very rare occasions I may need it (usually when working on a "new" retro PC)
You have USB on the motherboard so would wait to see how often you actually use it or if you just want the ports to do something . NEC based USB cards are the most common, more info can be found here
A (Very Short) Guide to Having USB 2.0 in Windows 98 SE with a NEC-Chipset USB 2.0 PCI Card

Reply 4 of 21, by EpsilonP

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@Chinny22

The main issue I'm running into with lack of the optical drive, is that Daemon Tools is unable to emulate RedBook audio on games that used to play music from CD (Quake I / Quake II for example). I have a separate thread on that, but it doesn't look like it's going to work, so I might have to cut the case front panel and install a drive, or just play those games on another machine.

I might put in another hard drive in this system and try to dual boot Win98SE, maybe with System Commander.

Reply 5 of 21, by bloodem

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You need WDM audio drivers for CD audio to work with Daemon Tools.
Unfortunately, WDM drivers are usually buggy in Windows 98, so I personally avoid them.

4 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x Super Socket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 6 of 21, by chinny22

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I'm lucky that my favourite games don't use redbook but for the few I do I've 3 options, none are ideal
Play the game without music or play my own mp3's as background -Most common
Rip the music and play in Winamp -Depending on the game this works ok or terribly
Insert the CD - almost never as majority of my CD's are packed away.

I keep meaning to try out the WDM option but off the top of my head I can think of only 3 games in my personal library so its very low on my to do list

Reply 9 of 21, by bearking

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-12-30, 19:41:
Back around 1995 For Windows-95 I built my own PC. […]
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Back around 1995 For Windows-95 I built my own PC.

Specs:
Pentium ll 400mhz
Riva TNT video card
Sound Blaster or Aureal sound card.

PII 400 in '95???

Reply 10 of 21, by bloodem

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Nice build!
Personally, I avoid CF & SD to IDE adapters for Windows 9x builds. I tried many and even though synthetic benchmarks say that they are fast, in real world usage they are plagued by many glitches and hiccups (which are noticeable even during gameplay). More modern HDDs or, for total overkill, SSD + SATA to IDE adapters will work much better.
I do like CF & SD to IDE adapters for 386/486 platforms, though.

4 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x Super Socket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 11 of 21, by Katmai500

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I’ve had good luck with SD to IDE adapters and high quality U3 rated SD cards like Sandisk Extreme for Windows 98 builds. I only use CF cards for 486 or older systems though.

Reply 12 of 21, by EpsilonP

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Thanks for the feedback.

A quick update on the progress. I started a playthrough of Thief The Dark Project to test out the system, and it looks like there is an issue somewhere. I've noticed that in some instances during the game, I get what can only be described as a massive stutter/framedrop, maybe even a total 'skip' of the frames if that makes sense. It is very evident in Down in the Bonehoard level, where the magic traps are going off and are producing the whooshing sounds - I believe it might be related to the sounds, as that is when I am noticing the frame drops.

After installing Fraps, there is indeed a drop to around 20 fps in the situation described above.

I've decided to play around with the system a bit and have done the following (hoping that one of those things will fix the issue but no luck):

Swapped out the HDD to an SSD with an IDE adapter and installed Windows 98SE.
Overclocked the PII to 450mhz.
Cleaned AGP and PCI slots, as well as all installed card contacts
Tried different PCI slots for SB Live! card
Temporarily installed a GeForce FX5200
Rolled back Nvidia drivers to 5.32
Reinstalled chipset drivers
Temporarily installed an Audigy2 sound card with VXD drivers
Reinstalled Win98

So far the problem in Thief is still occurring, but I think I'll keep Win 98 on the SSD for now anyway as the system feels snappier and more responsive.

Reply 14 of 21, by Tali

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Always a pleasure to see a "Slot machine", and in a modern case too! 😀

Regarding stuttering, does it occur "randomly" or in a specific spot? May be a wild guess here, but what I've noticed with a much newer (but still hopelessly retro system) is that game programmers sometimes think "faster is better". I know, a lame joke, but bear with me. Sometimes having too fast a HDD/SSD is bad, because the game tries to stream in new assets as fast as they come. Now, with period correct HDDs that may not be a problem at all, since those are the limiting factor. But nowadays we have SSDs that work faster than RAM on a 486. And even if that IDE channel may be in one of the smarter modes, someone still has to process the data.

So next time you get some stuttering, perhaps, take a look at that HDD bulb?

And congratz on a great build!

Reply 15 of 21, by bloodem

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Tali wrote on 2021-01-04, 08:52:

[...]But nowadays we have SSDs that work faster than RAM on a 486.[...]

How old are your SSDs? 😁
Today's fastest NVMe SSDs match or exceed the memory speed even for late Pentium 4 platforms (in sequential read/writes, anyway - but even in 4k random reads/writes we are talking about 3 GB+/s). 😀

4 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x Super Socket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 16 of 21, by Tali

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bloodem wrote on 2021-01-04, 11:44:
Tali wrote on 2021-01-04, 08:52:

[...]But nowadays we have SSDs that work faster than RAM on a 486.[...]

How old are your SSDs? 😁
Today's fastest NVMe SSDs match or exceed the memory speed even for late Pentium 4 platforms (in sequential read/writes, anyway - but even in 4k random reads/writes we are talking about 3 GB+/s). 😀

I was being gentle to older hardware 😜

On a more serious note, I am actually using PATA SSDs on most of my retro rigs. So far I've found only one motherboard that didn't like those (but liked a 5400 rpm laptop HDD). I know some people go the SATA -> converter route, which is also damn fast. Suffice to say, those drives can output tons of performance, as far as retro rigs are concerned. But I doubt anyone would be pairing a NVME drive with a 486, or a P2 in this case.

On second thought... maybe... should try? ........ processing....... definitely should! When I get to building a S423 P4.

Reply 17 of 21, by EpsilonP

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I've done some further testing and the issue seems to be CPU related, which I did not really expect.

I've underclocked the CPU down to 300 Mhz, and loaded a saved level in Thief where I noticed the slowdown initially - I was now getting around between 15-30 fps.

I've overclocked the CPU back to 450 Mhz, loaded the same save and was getting 30-50 fps.

Out of curiosity I've installed Q2 and ran the Timedemo, it was around 140 fps the whole time.

Is Thief engine that CPU hungry? 450 mhz CPU is well above recommended specs (I believe that even 300 mhz is above recommended specs). By the way the slowdowns seem to be occurring in large open areas.

Reply 19 of 21, by Robin4

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Nice build.

Iam almost going to do the same. Already have the correct beige case that where sold in my country.
I decided to make this build because building an PentiuM 233Mhx doesnt make sense if i already want to build a pentium classic 133 / 150 / 166 mhz system
Because i already owning a Pentium III 550 that would be upgraded with a S370 coppermine 800Mhz.

I think going for this.. I want to have it between pentium and pentium II area.
Dont know if a Pentium II 333 Mhz is fast enough for my build.

But would start with:

Windows 95 (maybe windows 98 first edition)
Pentium II 350mhz slot 1
440BX motherboard -> i have Gigabyte GA-6BXE, Abit Be6, A-Trend ATC-6240 V2.0
256MB PC-100 sdram (memory is cheap)
Diamond Viper 770 32MB AGP
Creative Sound blaster gold. (option could be a diamond monster sound mx300)
HDD-> have laying some around.. If possible ill take a WD 60GB IDE disk
Think doing voodoo 2 SLI (or maybe a single)

~ At least it can do black and white~