VOGONS


First post, by johnyept

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About 2 years ago I started messing around with the idea of building retro machines with a 3dfx Voodoo 3 2000 and a Pentium 3 1Ghz, plus a bunch of Athlon XP I had collecting dust, but as usual life/work got in the way and the project was put on hold... over the last month I started watching a bunch of videos (damn you Phil!) and I decided to restart the project by checking a bunch of "new" parts I was given over time. The purpose of this computer will be to play retro games up to the year 2000 at a more than decent frame rate, probably a few of the later DOS games too. This is the current selected parts for the computer, that I'll try to build this weekend, if I'm lucky enough they all work:

Initial hardware (2021-02-17):

TOWER: black NOX (mini?) tower
PSU: OEM 350w
BOARD: Asrock P4S61 rev1.10 (SiS 661FX chipset, FSB800, 3xDDR400, AGP 1.5v 4x/8x, 3xPCI 2.2, 2xATA 133, USB 2.0)
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 SL7PM Prescott (3.00 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 1M Cache)
RAM: 2x512MB or 2x256MB, board doesn't seem to have dual channel
VGA: GeForce FX 6200 256MB AGP 8x
SOUND: Sound Blaster Live! PCI CT4830 (wish I had something with "Gold" in the name :] )
HDD: 2x80GB 7200rpm IDE
ODD: black DVD-RW with Lightscribe
FDD: physical floppy Drive, eventually an Internal Gotek Floppy Emulator

Is this "beefy" enough to run games up to around the year 2000, and possibly a few more?

Current hardware (as of 2021-02-21):

TOWER: black NOX (mini?) tower
PSU: NOX Hummer Alpha 500w 80+ (only component I bought so far)
BOARD: Asrock P4V88 rev1.10 (VIA PT880 chipset, FSB800, 4xDDR400, AGP 1.5v 4x/8x, 5xPCI 2.2, 2xATA 133, 2xsATA, USB 2.0)
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 SL7KC Prescott (3.20 GHz, 800 MHz FSB, 1M Cache)
RAM: 2x512MB DDR400 in dual channel
VGA: GeForce FX 6200 256MB AGP 8x
SOUND: Sound Blaster Live! PCI CT4830
HDD: 80GB 7200rpm Seagate ST380215A + 160GB 7200rpm Seagate ST3160215A
ODD: black DVD-RW with Lightscribe
FDD: physical floppy Drive

Peripherals:
INPUT: Lifetech USB Multimedia Keyboard + Optical Mouse (both black)
AUDIO: Trust USB powered stereo speakers (black/silver)
VIDEO: Philips 17" 170S6FB/00 (silver)

Software (2021-02-28):

OS: Windows 98 SE (C: / FAT32) + Windows XP (D: / NTFS)

To avoid clutter in the drive root, I organized the folders in this form:
C.\GAMES\DOS -> DOS games
C.\GAMES\WIN -> Windows games
C:\INSTALL\DRIVERS -> board/sound/graphics drivers for Win98/XP
C:\INSTALL\SOFTWARE -> programs to install on Windows 98
C:\INSTALL\WIN98 -> Win98 installation folder
C:\INSTALL\WINXP -> WinXP CD content
C:\UTIL\BOOTSWAP -> BOOTSWAP.BAT + BOOT98.INI + BOOTXP.INI switches default boot, shortcut in startup folder of both Windows
C:\UTIL\DOS -> CTMOUSE.EXE + VIDECDD.SYS
C:\UTIL\My Documents -> Windows 98 documents folder, includes My Music and My Pictures, requires tweak in registry for the 3 folders
C:\UTIL\NTFS -> required WinXP files for "NTFS for Windows 98", read-only so Windows 98 can't mess up files above 127/137GB
D:\BACKUP -> Backups of Windows 98 essential files/folders from within XP, allows me to restore a previous/clean setup in seconds

Pictures (2021-02-28)

My Windows 98 Retro Gaming machine, in a nice black tower with very simple lines:
qOGFb0H.jpg

Here's the front of the tower, neat and clean:
vwMNbtS.jpg

The expansion slot covers were painted black, as well as the sound card plate:
KAamBAw.jpg

Everything nicely folded and out of the way, so the air can flow freely:
LrIJw3X.jpg

EDIT 2021-02-21: updated changes to Board/CPU/HDD/RAM and brand new PSU. Due to having >512MB RAM, Windows 98SE now requires: F8 after first reboot, run command line, EDIT C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM.INI, add MaxPhysPage=1FFFF to [386enh], add MaxFileCache=524288 to [vcache].

EDIT 2021-02-23: It seems having more than 1GB of RAM creates even more problems for Windows 98SE, so the best workaround for computers with more than 512MB but less than 2GB of RAM is adding Franck Uberto's RamDisk to autoexec.bat after first reboot, and occupy everything above 512MB with a RamDrive. In my case I added "XMSDSK 1572864 R: /C1 /T /Y"to autoexec.bat to create a 1.5GB RamDrive. Windows 98SE now boots without any problems whatsoever, displays 512MB of RAM in System Properties, requires no tweaking to system.ini, and I can still have the 2GB of RAM for dual booting with Windows XP.

EDIT 2021-02-28: Scratch that, having more than 1GB RAM brings loads of problem with drivers, programs, windows, etc. The sweet spot seems to be 1GB, so I went back to 2x512MB, with the following lines added to C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM.INI: DMABufferSize=64 + MaxPhysPage=40000 in [386enh], and MaxFileCache=524288 in [vcache]. No extra programs nor patches required so far. When I find the time and patience to replace the swollen caps on the board, I'll try to get 3DMark 2000/2001 results for every compatible drivers with this graphics card on Windows 98/XP and post them here.

Last edited by johnyept on 2021-02-28, 18:43. Edited 8 times in total.

Reply 2 of 11, by johnyept

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Great!
I just couldn't wait for the weekend so I quickly put it all together in the tower where the motherboard is currently installed. Other than having to stick the GPU fan wires up a molex (doesn't have a plug for some reason), and having to replace the DVD-RW and IDE cable for another set because of the BIOS claiming the DVD-RW was ATAPI incompatible, it seems to boot perfectly fine. I'll bring the NOX mini tower from work tomorrow and complete the setup over the weekend. Totally forgot how formatting through Windows 98 SE setup was so... freakin'... slow...

Reply 3 of 11, by chinny22

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Only potential issue I can see is the graphics card.
The GF6 series are the last to officially support Win9x so that side of things its a great card.
But they were the first cards to start dropping backwards compatibility, namely palettized texture support.
Try out all your games and see if you have any problems before swapping the card. Out of all my games only C&C Generals didn't like my 6800 so may not be a beg deal for you either.

Other then that you've actually got a rig that's beefy enough for mid 2000's XP games let alone Win98

Reply 4 of 11, by Tetrium

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johnyept wrote on 2021-02-17, 21:55:
About 2 years ago I started messing around with the idea of building retro machines with a 3dfx Voodoo 3 2000 and a Pentium 3 1G […]
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About 2 years ago I started messing around with the idea of building retro machines with a 3dfx Voodoo 3 2000 and a Pentium 3 1Ghz, plus a bunch of Athlon XP I had collecting dust, but as usual life/work got in the way and the project was put on hold... over the last month I started watching a bunch of videos (damn you Phil!) and I decided to restart the project by checking a bunch of "new" parts I was given over time. The purpose of this computer will be to play retro games up to the year 2000 at a more than decent frame rate, probably a few of the later DOS games too. This is the current selected parts for the computer, that I'll try to build this weekend, if I'm lucky enough they all work:

TOWER: black NOX (mini?) tower
BOARD: Asrock P4S61 rev1.10 (SiS 661FX chipset, FSB800, 3xDDR400, AGP 1.5v 4x/8x, 3xPCI 2.2, 2xATA 133, USB 2.0)
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 SL7PM (1M Cache, 3.00 GHz, 800 MHz FSB)
RAM: 1x512MB or 2x256MB, board doesn't seem to have dual channel
VGA: GeForce FX 6200 256MB AGP 8x
SOUND: Sound Blaster Live! PCI CT4830 (wish I had something with "Gold" in the name :] )
HDD: 2x80GB 7200rpm IDE
ODD: black DVD-ROM or DVD-RW
FDD: physical floppy Drive, eventually an Internal Gotek Floppy Emulator
OS: Windows 98 SE, possibly dual boot with Windows XP to take advantage of Hyper Threading on some 200x games

Is this "beefy" enough to run games up to around the year 2000, and possibly a few more?

With the exception of your graphics card, your rig should even be enough to run something like for instance BF2 (just to give you some reference of how beefy it is from my own experience).
As been mentioned, the most important issue could actually be (a lack of) backwards compatibility due to the 6200.

Whats missing in your collections?
My retro rigs (old topic)
Interesting Vogons threads (links to Vogonswiki)
Report spammers here!

Reply 5 of 11, by johnyept

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chinny22 wrote on 2021-02-18, 09:23:

Out of all my games only C&C Generals didn't like my 6800 so may not be a beg deal for you either.

Not planning to play C&C, mostly "mainstream" games. There's always GOG + XP in case something goes south, but that's kinda cheating...

Tetrium wrote on 2021-02-18, 19:09:

With the exception of your graphics card, your rig should even be enough to run something like for instance BF2 (just to give you some reference of how beefy it is from my own experience).
As been mentioned, the most important issue could actually be (a lack of) backwards compatibility due to the 6200.

Thanks, it's good to know it's up to the task. When I find the time, I'll throw everything at it and see what problems arise. I was initially going for the Voodoo 3 2000 AGP because it was THE brand to have back when I was a teen, but combining a newer GPU + Windows 98 SE + Windows XP allows me to run many more games, and that alone makes up for some compatibility I might lose in the process. If I had a PCI version of the Voodoo it would make the perfect combination, maybe I'll get lucky one day and one pops up out of nowhere...

Now all I need is a new 80+ PSU to replace the old unreliable one, a cheap 19" TFT, a custom animated boot screen for Windows 98 and I'm all set 😁

Reply 6 of 11, by framebuffer

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The 6200 is out of place here, but if it's your only option I guess will do the job, somehow.

In fact I'm curious what it can do compared to a GeForce 256DDR or GeForce 2 GTS with half of the ROPs, almost double the core frequency and less memory bandwidth
If you can, post 3DMark 2000/2001 and some UT/Q3A timedemo results 😉

https://framebuffer.io

Reply 7 of 11, by johnyept

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framebuffer wrote on 2021-02-19, 10:22:

The 6200 is out of place here, but if it's your only option I guess will do the job, somehow.

In fact I'm curious what it can do compared to a GeForce 256DDR or GeForce 2 GTS with half of the ROPs, almost double the core frequency and less memory bandwidth
If you can, post 3DMark 2000/2001 and some UT/Q3A timedemo results 😉

Of all the GPUs I have, this is only decent one, it was either this one or a bunch of Geforce2/4 MX, possibly a Geforce FX 5200 somewhere. I'm mostly aiming for high FPS, and if I'm lucky enough to find a Voodoo 3 PCI I will gladly add it to the system. I'm guessing it will work OK with the AGP card?

I'll run the benchmarks over the weekend, plus a few pictures of the system if I manage to buy a black 80+ PSU with black cables tomorrow to match the tower, It's just too ugly with all those colored wiring everywhere. It's not visible with the side panel closed, but it's still ugly in my mind 😀

I already have 3D Mark 2000 and 2001 SE. How do I run the timedemos? For Quake III Arena, I just type "\timedemo 1" ou "\demo" for in the console? And for Unreal Tournament, I found UTbench.dem but I don't know what to do with it.

Reply 8 of 11, by framebuffer

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johnyept wrote on 2021-02-19, 12:35:

Of all the GPUs I have, this is only decent one, it was either this one or a bunch of Geforce2/4 MX, possibly a Geforce FX 5200 somewhere. I'm mostly aiming for high FPS, and if I'm lucky enough to find a Voodoo 3 PCI I will gladly add it to the system. I'm guessing it will work OK with the AGP card?

I'll run the benchmarks over the weekend, plus a few pictures of the system if I manage to buy a black 80+ PSU with black cables tomorrow to match the tower, It's just too ugly with all those colored wiring everywhere. It's not visible with the side panel closed, but it's still ugly in my mind 😀

I already have 3D Mark 2000 and 2001 SE. How do I run the timedemos? For Quake III Arena, I just type "\timedemo 1" ou "\demo" for in the console? And for Unreal Tournament, I found UTbench.dem but I don't know what to do with it.

For Quake 3A type

timedemo 1
demo dem001

(ore demo-four if you have the last version of the game)

You can also try disabling the audio with

s_initsound 0
snd_restart

this should give you a little boost

For Unreal Tournament, open the console and type

timedemo 1
open cityintro

and then ESC
when it finishes (it will loop) re-open the console and you'll find the result

https://framebuffer.io

Reply 9 of 11, by johnyept

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Thanks for the info. I always wondered how Phil was running those demos 😀

I looked for the cheapest PSU with 80+ certification and found these two:
https://kolink.eu/Home/psu-1/core-series/koli … ---80-plus.html
https://www.nox-xtreme.com/en/power-supplies/ … mmer-alpha-500w

I'm leaning towards the NOX because of the 4 molex connectors for the 2 HDD + ODD + fans, black cables, and because the tower is also NOX 😁
Both PSU don't have -5v, but it seems only ISA slots use it so they should be compatible with my motherboard.

Reply 10 of 11, by johnyept

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I went with the NOX Hummer Alpha 500w 80+. It has 3x 4pin molex instead of 4x like indicated in the page, and the 24pin ATX power connector is really 24pin instead of 20+4pin, so I had to divide it in 20+4pin with a knife 😈 With the previous PSU the board would lock up once every 2 ou 3 reboots, now it reboots perfectly.

The GPU had a tiny cooler and a tiny fan with bare wires, and no plug on the GPU board (no clue what the previous owner was up to). I replaced it with a slightly bigger passive cooler from an FX 5200, and placed a 12cm fan on the side panel blowing directly at the GPU. Idle temperature stays at 36ºC and goes up to 51ºc under load (UT timedemo).

Drivers used are the Forceware 81.98, with DX9.0c, and only now I noticed I didn't install the soundcard/lan drivers because I'm only using a monitor for now.

Now for the benchmark scores:
- 3DMark 2000: 9159
- 3DMark 2001SE: crashes when starting the 3rd test, if I disable it it crashes on other tests
- Q3Arena: 294.9fps on default settings, 155.1fps with all on/high @ 1024x768
- UT: average 59.24fps in full screen @ 1024x768, but jumps to 114.75fps in window mode @ 1024x768, not sure if I did it right

I attached 2 snapshots of the 2 memory types I have available, a pair of Kingstons and a pair of unbranded ones, I don't know which ones are faster, if that even matters in this setup.

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Reply 11 of 11, by johnyept

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Well, I died a little on the inside... the motherboard refuses to install Windows XP, it either fails to copy files from the CD during text setup, or BSODs on setupdd.sys. Also Windows 98 started complaining about a bunch of missing files during startup. I tried replacing everything to no avail: different CDs/DVDs (original/burned/AIO), HDDs, ODDs, sticks of RAM (all pass on MemTest86), IDE cables, removed PCI/AGP cards, nothing worked, so by exclusion the problematic part has to be the motherboard.

I have a second Asrock P4S61 board that doesn't power on, so now my reserve board is an Asrock P4V88 rev1.10, very similar in specs to the P4S61, but with VIA chipset instead of SIS chipset and no onboard graphics. It has slightly bulged caps around the CPU which will need to be replaced, but it installed Windows XP at first try with the initial HDD and ODD. While I'm at it I might replace the ones on the P4S61, there's no bulging in sight but it doesn't hurt to try.

Unfortunately this means I'll have to put the project on hold until I can buy those darn caps! And the computer was starting to look so nice...