VOGONS


First post, by foey

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Cyrix Instead MK2 Build

Hey, I've taken a little break from the Retro scene, but over the past few months found myself wanting to get another build together. Some of you may of seen the first Cyrix build I did a little while back (6 years!) Cyrix Instead - Desktop Build Well that machine has changed quite a bit since, running an Intel Pentium 133mhz and various other bits.

I wanted to put together a dedicated DOS machine for my vast collection of DOS Games.

I bought a used AT Intel Pentium MMX 233mhz machine a while back. It's probably the least used machine of them all! I remember powering it up and it went back into the loft. Had a number of builds going on at the time. Well, I've decided to get it down and it's actually not in good shape. The front panel has yellowed quite badly and the bottom has Rust forming on it (Not from my ownership, my loft is watertight) Time for some work!

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So I stripped the power down cleaned everything, it was filthy and started to tackle the rust!

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All cleaned off!

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Time for some Rust Converter. I used a product called Krust. You basically paint onto the affected areas and leave until dry

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After it dried, more wirewheel treatmeant, I also removed the old Case feet this time.

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One I was happy with the finish, I had a can of BMW Silver Meltalic paint in the garage I bought for a project which never happened which would suit. A couple of coats in freezing cold conditions, it actually came out quite well (Wet paint in the photo!)

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On to rebuilding, Once everything was clean I started to piece it all back together. Some of you will notice this is the same model board as the previous build. Yes, but not the same board. This is another that came with this PC. I really like this AB-PX5 motherboard. Pretty much jumperless and support a vast range of processors.

New BIOS Battery installed.

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The heart of the machine, Just something about this processor - apart from the very poor Quake performance, it was the first time Cyrix got close to Intel on the 6x86. Notice this is not the L version and gets quite hot. It uses a PR rating of 166mhz, but actually runs at 133mhz.

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Heatsink and some cable management. 2x32mb (64mb) of SD100 Ram which will be running at 60mhz.

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The Graphics Card, I managed to find a Diamond Stealth 3D 2000 2mb (Upgradable to 4mb) S3 Virge. Fantastic DOS support and I was interested in some of the wrappers and patches for the S3 Versions of Games. There's some great info on Vogons and managed to find most of the patches for Games that run on the card. I'll call it out now, it's terrible for 3D 😀

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Onto the Sound Card. I believe this card came with the machine. It's period correct and actually not bad. It's an ESS AudioDrive with the ES1868F Chipset. It's a decent compatible Sound Blaster compatible Sound Card. I've also noticed in a number of games I am able to select the ESS AudioDrive selection. However, I have noticed that some of the sound effects are 8bit. It has a Wavetable header.

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Time to tackle that front panel... I managed to rip everything out of our boiler cupboard and put together a little Retrobrite station. It's nice and warm in there which should help with the process. I used a 30w UV light and applied Truzone Cream Peroxide 12% 40 Volume all over the case and kept on coming back to it every 20-30 minutes to re-apply. This was the first time I had not used any Clingfilm.

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The smaller bits, Front panel blanks, and the floppy disk drive front panel. I put together a little station in the Kitchen sink, much to my wife's surprise! Again throughout the day re-applying when I could before going dry. I left both for around 8 hours. I think probably 12-24 is the sweet spot, depending on the hardware.

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So results, I'm happy! I tried to find some natural light. As I said, I could have probably left them for longer but worried about them drying up overnight and another day with all the mess... I decided I can always re-apply at a later stage. The transformation to what it was is great though. It's a shame I didn't get a shot of the floppy disc drive as that was the worse.

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So back to rebuilding, The period-correct Sony 8x IDE drive is a perfect edition, in great shape. Then, of course, new Case badges!

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Hard Drive is an IDE Quantum Fireball 2.1Gb, mounted in the top cage. Love the noise of these drives. There is a Intel Pro100 PCI NIC in there, but have ordered a 3COM ISA Network card so I can use mTCP.

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Completing the installation of Windows 95 SR2

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Specifications

Cyrix 6x68 PR166+ @ 133mhz Cyrix MII PR300 @ 233mhz (66x3.5)
Abit PX5 Socket 7 430TX Motherboard
64mb SD-RAM (2x32mb)
2mb Diamond Stealth 3D 2000 S3 Virge
2.1 Quantum Fireball Hard Drive
ISA ESS AudioDrive, ES1868F Chipset with Dreamblaster S2 MIDI Wavetable Card
PCI Intel Pro100 Network Card (Running DOS Packet Driver, mTCP Tools)
1.44 Floppy Drive
Sony 8x CD-ROM Drive
200w AT Power Supply

Windows 95 SR2, MS Plus Pack, With IE4.0 Edited to boot directly into DOS.
Microsoft Office 95 Pro

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Running the S3 patched version of Tomb Raider @ 512x400. It runs well in places and then tends to chug. I need to play switching it down to 320x240. These are fantastic cards for DOS. Very compatible and provides a fantastic image to my DELL 4:3 2007FPb Monitor.

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I'll get some benchmarks up and try and notswitch to the Intel Pentium 233mhz MMX that I've got sitting on the shelf next to me! It's a great DOS box so far. Quake runs terrible thanks to the poor floating point (21fps @ default res) but I've got loads of machines to play that one accelerated.

Theres quite a few games running in SVGA, RAC Rally Championship (Not full screen, one down) Big Red Racing and Nascar all run very well and look great. I'm currently playing through Rise of the Triad.

Last edited by foey on 2021-03-02, 16:05. Edited 3 times in total.

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 1 of 24, by LightStruk

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foey wrote on 2021-02-17, 21:57:

The Graphics Card, I managed to find a Diamond Stealth 3D 2000 2mb (Upgradable to 4mb) S3 Virge. Fantastic DOS support and I was interested in some of the wrappers and patches for the S3 Versions of Games. There's some great info on Vogons and managed to find most of the patches for Games that run on the card. I'll call it out now, it's terrible for 3D 😀

Yes. Yes it is terrible. I had an 8 MB (upgraded!) Virge/VX back in the day, and it totally lived up to the "3D decelerator" name. You could always get a cheap PCI Geforce or Riva TNT2 for 3D that doesn't suck, although they don't do 3D accelerated DOS games. The only DOS 3D accelerator worth having remains a 3dfx Voodoo, and those are so very expensive nowadays...

foey wrote on 2021-02-17, 21:57:

Onto the Sound Card. I believe this card came with the machine. It's period correct and actually not bad. It's an ESS AudioDrive with the ES1868F Chipset. It's a decent compatible Sound Blaster compatible Sound Card. I've also noticed in a number of games I am able to select the ESS AudioDrive selection. However, I have noticed that some of the sound effects are 8bit. It has a Wavetable header.

It's nice there are so many wavetable boards to choose from now, and they sound so much better than the original WaveBlaster too.

foey wrote on 2021-02-17, 21:57:

There is a Intel Pro100 PCI NIC in there, but have ordered a 3COM ISA Network card so I can use mTCP.

That's unnecessary AFAIK. The Intel cards have DOS packet drivers available. The PCI card will perform so much better and be dramatically less hassle.

Reply 2 of 24, by foey

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LightStruk wrote on 2021-02-17, 22:54:
Yes. Yes it is terrible. I had an 8 MB (upgraded!) Virge/VX back in the day, and it totally lived up to the "3D decelerator" nam […]
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foey wrote on 2021-02-17, 21:57:

The Graphics Card, I managed to find a Diamond Stealth 3D 2000 2mb (Upgradable to 4mb) S3 Virge. Fantastic DOS support and I was interested in some of the wrappers and patches for the S3 Versions of Games. There's some great info on Vogons and managed to find most of the patches for Games that run on the card. I'll call it out now, it's terrible for 3D 😀

Yes. Yes it is terrible. I had an 8 MB (upgraded!) Virge/VX back in the day, and it totally lived up to the "3D decelerator" name. You could always get a cheap PCI Geforce or Riva TNT2 for 3D that doesn't suck, although they don't do 3D accelerated DOS games. The only DOS 3D accelerator worth having remains a 3dfx Voodoo, and those are so very expensive nowadays...

foey wrote on 2021-02-17, 21:57:

Onto the Sound Card. I believe this card came with the machine. It's period correct and actually not bad. It's an ESS AudioDrive with the ES1868F Chipset. It's a decent compatible Sound Blaster compatible Sound Card. I've also noticed in a number of games I am able to select the ESS AudioDrive selection. However, I have noticed that some of the sound effects are 8bit. It has a Wavetable header.

It's nice there are so many wavetable boards to choose from now, and they sound so much better than the original WaveBlaster too.

foey wrote on 2021-02-17, 21:57:

There is a Intel Pro100 PCI NIC in there, but have ordered a 3COM ISA Network card so I can use mTCP.

That's unnecessary AFAIK. The Intel cards have DOS packet drivers available. The PCI card will perform so much better and be dramatically less hassle.

Thanks for this, I've actually downloaded the packet drivers from the website last night. However, looking at them - I may of grabbed the Pro/1000 instead of the 100. Will give it another go!

Edit - Got it working, thanks!

Any suggestions on the Wavetable boards? I've never had one before. Assuming any will fit?

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 5 of 24, by LightStruk

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foey wrote on 2021-02-17, 23:03:

Any suggestions on the Wavetable boards? I've never had one before. Assuming any will fit?

Any but the very largest will fit on your sound card. The DreamBlaster S2 or X2 are popular choices around here; they are sold on serdashop. The S2 in particular is inexpensive.

Reply 6 of 24, by foey

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Benchmarks (Using DOS Benchmark Pack (PhilsComputerLAB)

3DBench 1.0C - 1822
Chris's 3D BenchMark - 172.0
Chris's 3D BenchMark 640x480 - 53.5 (32.1 FPS)
PC Player Benchmark 640x480 - 16.7

Doom Min Details (Slower PCs) - 2134 Gametics in 324 Realtics
Doom For Faster PCs (Max Details) - 2134 Gametics in 1090 Realtics

Quake Timedemo - 24.6fps
Quake Timedemo 360x480 - 11.3fps

Speedsys

Processor Benchmark: 91.24 (With the 6xopt80B TSR, using "6x86opt.exe -x -F -A -v" - 91.41)
VESA Memory : 16462 KB/S

Last edited by foey on 2021-02-18, 14:15. Edited 1 time in total.

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 7 of 24, by foey

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LightStruk wrote on 2021-02-18, 13:23:
foey wrote on 2021-02-17, 23:03:

Any suggestions on the Wavetable boards? I've never had one before. Assuming any will fit?

Any but the very largest will fit on your sound card. The DreamBlaster S2 or X2 are popular choices around here; they are sold on serdashop. The S2 in particular is inexpensive.

Thanks, just ordered a S2.

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 8 of 24, by foey

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Installed SciTech Display Doctor 6.53 to enable some games to run in SVGA VESA.

Psycho Pinball
Really pleased with the image quality here. Very Sharp on the DELL 4:3 2007FPb Monitor.

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Duke 3D. Colors look a little washed out?

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Blood 640x480, again colors looked washed out here?

Starts to chug later into the level. Need to resist swapping out the Cyrix for the 233MMX..!

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Install brand new (Old stock) rubber case feet...

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Really pleased for DOS to be communicating on my network. Thanks to LightStruk I now have the Packet driver for the PCI Intel Pro100 running. I had tried to get this working previously but it looks like I was using the Pro1000 packet driver which obviously failed to work.

I'm using the fantastic Brutman mTCP tools http://www.brutman.com/mTCP/. Upon booting, the packet driver is loaded via Autoexec.bat. Then I'm able to use the mTCP DHCP program for the card to get a DHCP address, then we are able to use FTPSRV, FTP File Server which is so valuable on transfer files in/out of the machine. Thanks to this, I'm booting directly to DOS and have disabled the Windows 95 splash screen.

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mTCP FTP Server

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Last edited by foey on 2021-02-18, 16:40. Edited 2 times in total.

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 10 of 24, by foey

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SpeedSys Benchmarks

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I've had a considerable amount of issues with the Intel Pro100/S card in Windows. I've managed to find the driver that works and with a little configuration, it's working. The mTCP tools are working perfectly in DOS with the Intel100 Packet driver. So handy for dumping the contents of the hard drive before rebuilding Windows e.t.c.

Further testing of "S3 Specific" games with patches is quite fun, in most cases actually runs and looks worse than the default software version. Decent 2 is the exception here. It runs well (Most of the time congested areas the frame rate dips) and looks very sharp. Probably the best experience I've had with the card. Very playable.

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Screamer Patched looks much worse than the SVGA version (STARTH) Blurry in places, such as the rear of the car, the frame rate is comparable with the SVGA version but constant clipping - don't think the screenshot picks these up. Running this on the Medium setting. The installer for the patch is great however, very easy and a High, medium and low settings scaling for different setups is welcoming.

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I've ordered a Cyrix MII 300, waiting for that to arrive. From what I can see, there should be no reason why it should not work on the ABIT PX5, given that the actual clock speed is 233mhz. Some SVGA games are struggling in SVGA mode. This will hopefully prevent me from sticking in my Intel Pentium MMX 233! 😀

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 11 of 24, by badmojo

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foey wrote on 2021-02-23, 15:35:

I've ordered a Cyrix MII 300, waiting for that to arrive. From what I can see, there should be no reason why it should not work on the ABIT PX5, given that the actual clock speed is 233mhz. Some SVGA games are struggling in SVGA mode. This will hopefully prevent me from sticking in my Intel Pentium MMX 233! 😀

This is the path I went down with my Cyrix machine and I've been really happy with the performance of the MII 300 - it's the only retro machine I use these days and I play some SVGA games like Duke3D, Descent 2, Europress Rally, etc. Having a good VGA card is important though too - I don't know how that S3 compares to the usual suspects (ARK2000, Tseng 6000, Matrox, etc). I've also found that using 6x86OPT to enable a LFB helps noticeably with your SVGA framerate - you might need to use Univbe as well depending on the VGA card.

For comparison my processor benchmark score in speedsys is 165.29

And my SVGA score in PCP bench (640X400 8bpp LFB) is 32.7

I've also found that with a combination of SETMUL and AT-SLOW I can get a nice smooth slowdown to 486SX33 speeds, so games like Ultima7, etc play perfectly.

Good times!

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Reply 12 of 24, by foey

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badmojo wrote on 2021-02-23, 22:29:
This is the path I went down with my Cyrix machine and I've been really happy with the performance of the MII 300 - it's the onl […]
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foey wrote on 2021-02-23, 15:35:

I've ordered a Cyrix MII 300, waiting for that to arrive. From what I can see, there should be no reason why it should not work on the ABIT PX5, given that the actual clock speed is 233mhz. Some SVGA games are struggling in SVGA mode. This will hopefully prevent me from sticking in my Intel Pentium MMX 233! 😀

This is the path I went down with my Cyrix machine and I've been really happy with the performance of the MII 300 - it's the only retro machine I use these days and I play some SVGA games like Duke3D, Descent 2, Europress Rally, etc. Having a good VGA card is important though too - I don't know how that S3 compares to the usual suspects (ARK2000, Tseng 6000, Matrox, etc). I've also found that using 6x86OPT to enable a LFB helps noticeably with your SVGA framerate - you might need to use Univbe as well depending on the VGA card.

For comparison my processor benchmark score in speedsys is 165.29

And my SVGA score in PCP bench (640X400 8bpp LFB) is 32.7

I've also found that with a combination of SETMUL and AT-SLOW I can get a nice smooth slowdown to 486SX33 speeds, so games like Ultima7, etc play perfectly.

Good times!

Thanks for the tips - I'll try the switches and report back. Are you using the same switches on the MII?
I'm sure I've stumbled on your post of your setup whilst I was in the middle of building mine. Was your setup with the Wheel playing RAC Rally Championship? Love that game - It was my first game I had on my Family's P75. I've just received the X-MILES Add on which I found on ebay. Adds around 10 tracks - Nothing to write home about TBH, I was expecting more! Although some of the new tracks are wider.

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 13 of 24, by foey

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Using UniVBE 6.53 with the 6xopt80B TSR,

"6x86opt.exe -x -F -A -v -linbuf"

(UniVBE has to be loaded into memory before 6x86Opt is run)

I'm seeing some slightly higher results...

3DBench 1.0C - 1822 > 1832
Chris's 3D BenchMark - 172.0 > 172.4
Chris's 3D BenchMark 640x480 - 53.5 (32.1 FPS) > 65.6 (39.3 FPS)
PC Player Benchmark 640x480 - 16.7 > 18.5

I also went back to sense check that just UniVBE was not making the difference. I rebooted and just loaded up UniVBE and got the slower results. So this switch is working! Thanks!

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 14 of 24, by badmojo

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Nice! Yes I'm using those switches with the MII, and yes that was my post with the wheel 😀 It's such a great game, the only driving sim I play these days. And lolz yes I saw your post RE the X-Miles add-on; I didn't know that existed so I've set up an eBay alert.

I think the main benefit that 6x86opt provides is enabling the framebuffer, which is great for SVGA. Something else I've just 'discovered' recently is unirefresh, which you can use if univbe is able to get you VESA3 support. It doesn't improve the frame rate but it does allow you to set a higher refresh rate in DOS (I've gone with 75Hz) which makes things easier on the eyes in SVGA modes. Duke3D feels smoother for example.

I hope your board accepts the MII 300 and I'll be interested to see what your benchmarks look like with that bad boy installed - even Quake runs well with that chip which is obviously a big achievement for a Cyrix!

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Reply 15 of 24, by badmojo

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Actually something I should have mentioned is that for me, using those performance tweaks causes corruption in the Europress Rally menu - the only game that does it of course! Actually driving is fine, but the menu uses an 8 bit 640X480 mode where as driving is a 16 bit mode.

Does it happen for you? If not then I guess it's graphics card specific, but it's happened on 2 cards I've tried. I'm trying to work out if I can still use Univbe and fix it somehow, will let you know if I do.

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Reply 16 of 24, by foey

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badmojo wrote on 2021-02-24, 06:28:

Actually something I should have mentioned is that for me, using those performance tweaks causes corruption in the Europress Rally menu - the only game that does it of course! Actually driving is fine, but the menu uses an 8 bit 640X480 mode where as driving is a 16 bit mode.

Does it happen for you? If not then I guess it's graphics card specific, but it's happened on 2 cards I've tried. I'm trying to work out if I can still use Univbe and fix it somehow, will let you know if I do.

Yes! Just remembered this was the very reason why UniVBE is not in my autoexec bat, instead I’ve got a batch file called SVGA and which loads up UniVBE and now the 6x68Opt program.

For me though, its solely UniVBE is causing the issues.

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Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 17 of 24, by Joseph_Joestar

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foey wrote on 2021-02-24, 07:42:

For me though, its solely UniVBE is causing the issues.

Since you're using a Virge card, try S3 VBE instead.

Regarding performance in S3D games, some of them really want 4MB of video RAM. Overclocking the card using MCLCK can provide a boost as well. Running Tomb Raider in S3D mode, my overclocked 4MB Virge DX2 delivers ~20 FPS at 640x480. You can toggle the FPS counter by pressing F2.

Fun fact, a Virge can actually accelerate games when used on less powerful hardware.

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 18 of 24, by foey

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Thanks Joseph, will that a try!

Regarding the RAM, I have 4 RAM Slots on the card which are empty. I've been looking on eBay for some RAM chips, they are marked up as

Em614163A-50

I can't find anything locally, may have to import them! There is a seller from Israel, may drop them a message.

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**

Reply 19 of 24, by foey

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I've been testing s3vbe20 (s3vbe318 Package) as suggested by Joseph. I cold booted, installed the TSR via...

s3vbe20 /install

Once loaded, I loaded the 6x86Opt program, which loaded and found the Graphics Card just like UniVBE. I ran the DOS benches and scored exactly the same as my previous benches (The faster optimised set) I loaded Network Q RAC Rally Championship and loaded without any corruption and was able to play perfectly!

@Joseph_Joestar - Many thanks for the suggestion!

Cyrix Instead Build, 6x86 166+ | 32mb SD | 4mb S3 Virge DX | Creative AWE64 | Win95
ATC-S PIII Tualatin Win9x Build :- ATC-S PIII Coppermine Win9x Build Log [WIP] **Photo Heavy**