VOGONS


First post, by Chadti99

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I remember this machine on demo at Radio Shack with the ATI Rage version of Mechwarrior 2 running. Was quite impressive for 96. The machine didn’t look like much else at the time but it had a price tag to match. Recently got ahold of just the tower and I’d like to detail my journey into trying to make this machine work without the original media console or monitor.

Here she is after cleaning her up. And first up, where is the power button 🤣.

Specs:

200MHz Intel Pentium
256k Cache
64MB EDO memory, originally 32 from factory.
Onboard ATI Rage I w/2megs of video ram
3.2GB IDE HD

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Reply 2 of 14, by H3nrik V!

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I think I remember those. Pretty cool design!

Please use the "quote" option if asking questions to what I write - it will really up the chances of me noticing 😀

Reply 3 of 14, by Chadti99

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Totally agree, was cutting edge for 96 imo.

So here’s what the inside looked like, disgusting but not unusual given the age. It’s interesting how IBM was using flat head screws when the rest of the industry was using Phillips.

There are two screws underneath the top front handle you remove and the whole top case pulls forward and off.

Inside we find the dreaded MWave Modem Sound Card combo unit on the bottom. You can also see the “Media Console” ISA control board above.

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Reply 4 of 14, by Chadti99

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Discovered a way to power it up via IBM documentation!

Just press this microswitch on the ISA media control board. See where my finger is pointing.

Great success!

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Reply 5 of 14, by Chadti99

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Thank you for not trashing this machine Mr. Biggerstaff. After wiping this drive I installed an SD to IDE adapter and installed Windows 98SE. I was able to harness the power of the onboard ATI Rage 1 to fire up some Mechwarrior 2 Rage Edition! This is exactly what I remembered being demoed at Radio Shack. It was def a step above the original release with its texture mapped graphics but the frame rate, ouch. Still I find it playable with a couple adjustments, namely turning off texture filtering.

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Reply 6 of 14, by mr.cat

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Chadti99 wrote on 2021-02-13, 15:49:

Discovered a way to power it up via IBM documentation!

Just press this microswitch on the ISA media control board. See where my finger is pointing.

Great success!

I don't think I've seen that headline yet
"VOGONs member finds the power button - impressed with the results click here"
Yeah, it's a nice find 😁

I had something similar happen to me once. I had this Shuttle mobo that just wouldn't power up...
until I checked the manual and saw I'd been tapping the "Clear CMOS" button all along...talk about a "duh" moment...😳
(I suspect the previous owner had done that same exact thing 'cuz he sold it so cheap!)

Reply 7 of 14, by Chadti99

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Haha, thanks! I’ve had plenty of those moments myself. I was determined to make this thing work with just the tower. Here’s the section of the doc that clued me in. I’ve also found a two pin header that can power the system up and I’ll share my solution for adding an external power button soon!

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Reply 8 of 14, by Chadti99

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I’ve been testing a Spectra Evergreen K6-2 400Mhz upgrade in this machine and while the results aren’t spectacular it does perform a bit better. This is Unreal running on a Voodoo2 with Glide at 512x384 running Timedemo 1 before and after. High Texture quality setting.

I’ve got a K6-3 on the way, crossing my fingers it will post!

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Reply 9 of 14, by Chadti99

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Some quick performance numbers with GLQuake on a Voodoo2:

640x480 timedemo 1 with sound

P200=~40fps
K6-2 400@66bus=~50fps
K6-2 400@66bus+MiniGL1.47(K62 opt)=60fps

I’ve never owned a K6 so had no idea the right miniGL driver made a difference, cool stuff!

Would be cool if there was a specific K6-2 driver for Unreal, the game is just out of reach for this machine.

Reply 10 of 14, by Chadti99

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Fired up Tweak Bios and discovered some terrible factory bios settings in place. Was able to optimize a bit and hot damn almost a 50% gain, up 8fps in Unreal . It’s actually borderline playable now.

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Reply 11 of 14, by H3nrik V!

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https://www.facebook.com/groups/RetroMachines … 78214308872368/

Is this the same as this user on Facebook has?

Please use the "quote" option if asking questions to what I write - it will really up the chances of me noticing 😀

Reply 12 of 14, by Chadti99

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H3nrik V! wrote on 2021-02-16, 20:22:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/RetroMachines … 78214308872368/

Is this the same as this user on Facebook has?

I’m not on FaceBook so I’m unable to see the pic, if you can share it another way would love to see it.

Reply 13 of 14, by Chadti99

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Alrighty, got a K6-3 450Mhz and swapped out the K6-2 on the Spectra Adapter. To my surprise it booted and is working without issue at 66*6=400Mhz. I’m seeing a boost in Unreal from 27fps average to 32.5fps.

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Reply 14 of 14, by Chadti99

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Next up. I’ve got a 512k cache module and a newer version of the main board from a 2162 that has support for a 75Mhz FSB and an upgraded Rage II onboard with SGRAM.

In related news, I got ahold of the media console and original monitor but both were damaged in shipping 🙁 . I’m sure I’ll find another set eventually but it sucks to see these things get destroyed.