VOGONS


Win98 monster

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First post, by ZeCHoW

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Hey guys. I had a plan that one day I'll have a Win 98 machine that can read a lot of different media:
- cd/dvd
- 3.5" and 5.25" floppies
- 3.5" HDDs
- usb disks
- sd/cf cards
- zip drives

So I was slowly collecting parts for this project but couldn't find a proper computer case to hold this.
But in the last few days, I got lucky and found a new big tower retro case in the store! 😀
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The parts: (from around 2002)
- Motherboard Gigabyte P4 Titan Rambus 850E
- CPU P4 2.53Ghz 533Fsb
- 1GB RAM :\
- ATI 9000 pro 64MB
- 2x Seagate 40GB 7200 HDD in RAID0
- Sound Blaster Audigy 2ZS

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So I assembled everything and I can say that it does its job
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.... but:
- benchmarks (3d mark 99, 00, 01) don't finish sometimes. Sometimes they run to the end, sometimes they just stop and it drops me into the desktop screen.
- so I read about how 1GB of memory can be a problem so I started to play with the System.ini file and with Catalyst driver for ATI
- after that, I started to get blue screens and system freezes

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So do you guys have any experience with similar systems? Do you have any advice on what to do, to make that system stable? Is it even possible or is this just a WinXp machine?

Possible plans for the future:
Maybe find a 128MB version of 9000 pro, or 9800pro, or Nvidia 5900xt.
Add 3df Voodoo 2 SLI

Reply 1 of 16, by bloodem

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Use PATCHMEM and everything should work perfectly. Although, if you don't want to have a dual boot WinXP/Win98 rig... I see no reason to go beyond 512 MB for Windows 98.
Also, very nice build and case! 😀

4 x Socket 3 / 4 x Socket 7 / 6 x Super Socket 7 / 5 x Slot 1 / 3 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 4 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 3 of 16, by Anonymous Coward

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Do you have any advice on what to do, to make that system stable? Is it even possible or is this just a WinXp machine?

I think you answered your own question there. Windows 9x is inherently unstable, which is why in pre-win2k period I would dual boot NT4 and 9x. 9x would only be used to play games (which by that point in time was not very often).
I know there are 9x fanboys who claim they can make it "rock solid", but I remain sceptical. At best I think you can make it less unstable. Even old Billy-Bob BSODed it while "showing off" the cool new USB features.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW7Rqwwth84

What I would do is first is make sure the hardware is working properly. Avoid using hardware that has crappy drivers. Then I would do some reading on which updates to install, and which ones to avoid. Maybe consider 98lite or something that strips out the useless crap. Avoid installing and uninstalling. From what I remember 9x works best on a fresh install, and doesn't always uninstall drivers properly.

...also, avoid multitasking as much as possible.

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Reply 4 of 16, by xcomcmdr

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It's stable as long as you use Win32 apps, and don't use bad drivers, no more than 512 MB of RAM, and you don't have hardware problems (obviously), nor shoddy software that touch the kernel in ways it doesn't like (like some antivirus software).

The moment you use DOS/16 bit apps (which use "good" old cooperative multitasking) problems can show up. Or not. Like drivers, it depends on how well they were written.

The NT line uses memory protection and preemptive multitasking for everything and has (eventually) a better driver model and better drivers. That's why it's rock solid.

All my Win9X machine are rock solid, but it took a while to get there. Hand picked hardware with excellent drivers, hand picked software, etc. ...
You COULD use Windows ME if you don't care about real DOS and believe its marketing about system stability and shorter boot times, but meh. It's really not worth it.

Reply 5 of 16, by ZeCHoW

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bloodem wrote on 2021-04-02, 12:32:

Use PATCHMEM and everything should work perfectly. Although, if you don't want to have a dual boot WinXP/Win98 rig... I see no reason to go beyond 512 MB for Windows 98.
Also, very nice build and case! 😀

It looks like that patch is a miracle! 😀 All the 3d marks now work great.
What about a web browser. I can't install firefox 3.6.28. What browser and what version are you using for win98?

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I will still try to test it a little, if it won't be stable, I will try to find different components for the win98 monster 😀

Reply 6 of 16, by flupke11

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A proper 2002 build!

Rambus is great, my go to win98 build is based around an Asus P4T533 with 32-bit ram. I have to stick to 512 MB of ram, since 232 rimms are almost impossible to find in 512 MB sticks. Nevertheless, it's a snappy combination for Win98.
I always liked how Gigabyte rounded off the edges of their mainboards, clever way of avoiding damage.

Reply 7 of 16, by cyclone3d

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flupke11 wrote on 2021-04-02, 15:18:

A proper 2002 build!

Rambus is great, my go to win98 build is based around an Asus P4T533 with 32-bit ram. I have to stick to 512 MB of ram, since 232 rimms are almost impossible to find in 512 MB sticks. Nevertheless, it's a snappy combination for Win98.
I always liked how Gigabyte rounded off the edges of their mainboards, clever way of avoiding damage.

There are quite a few listings on eBay for 512MB 1066-32P RIMMs right now. I almost bought another 4 but went and looked at what I already had so I just ordered 4 128MB sticks since I already had enough 256 and 512 sticks.

I've got the ASUS P4T533-S for a P4 build and the ASUS P3C-S for a P3 build.

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Reply 8 of 16, by flupke11

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cyclone3d wrote on 2021-04-02, 19:31:

There are quite a few listings on eBay for 512MB 1066-32P RIMMs right now. I almost bought another 4 but went and looked at what I already had so I just ordered 4 128MB sticks since I already had enough 256 and 512 sticks.

I've got the ASUS P4T533-S for a P4 build and the ASUS P3C-S for a P3 build.

The P3C2000 (infamous MTH) and the P3C are still on my wanted list. Unfortunately, I need 32-bit rdram (232 pins) for the P4T533-R. My P4T533-C eats regular 16-bit sticks.

Reply 9 of 16, by ZeCHoW

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Well, the benchmarks are working with the installed patch, but the system becomes unstable even though the patch is installed.
I guess I need to find a way how to
- limit the memory to 512MB or
- find "empty" sticks so I can remove two sticks of 256MB from the main board
- find 4 128MB memory sticks
- or ..... make the "all I can read media" thing to the Tualatin 1.4ghz system.

Reply 10 of 16, by bloodem

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I've used PATCHMEM many times in the past, on a heap of different chipsets, with up to 2 GB RAM and I've never had any issues with it.
If you're still experiencing instability with a fresh Windows 98 installation + PATCHMEM (emphasis on 'fresh'), then you probably have another hardware issue/incompatibility.

4 x Socket 3 / 4 x Socket 7 / 6 x Super Socket 7 / 5 x Slot 1 / 3 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 4 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k

Reply 14 of 16, by melbar

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OK, thanks. But with CPU score you can also see the impact on CPU different speeds.

I have built a P4 which will be my strongest Win98 system. It's not 100% finished, but i've already made some benches with differents clocks.

Spec: P4-2.8GHz / 512 / 533 , i845 chipset , DDR-RAM, Geforce4Ti-4200 , 3Dmark99 results :

@ 1.4 GHz , FSB 66MHz (QDR 268)
3Dmark99: 7790 ; CPU 3DMarks: 18181

@ 2.1 GHz , FSB 100MHz (QDR 400)
3Dmark99: 11426 ; CPU 3DMarks: 27313

OC @ 3.0 GHz , FSB 143MHz (QDR 572)
3Dmark99: 15398 ; CPU 3DMarks: 39160

Reply 15 of 16, by LightStruk

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Very nice huge tower! I like how you've really filled it out. Personally, I would much rather have the 3.5" floppy drive in the dedicated 3.5" floppy bay, and move the hard drive to a 5.25" bay, either with or without a drive sled. It's a nice molded plastic 3.5" floppy facade!

ZeCHoW wrote on 2021-04-02, 14:49:

What about a web browser. I can't install firefox 3.6.28. What browser and what version are you using for win98?

I use IE 6 SP1! I know, sounds like a terrible idea, but hear me out. I don't use it to connect to websites directly. The web has now finally and truly moved on from insecure HTTP, and no browser that runs on Windows 98 (even with KernelEx) supports the latest in TLS encryption. Besides, the rendering errors get pretty bad on any vintage browser. So, instead, I use Web Rendering Proxy.

WRP runs Chromium on a modern computer, whether it's one you already own or a VM in the cloud. You point your vintage web browser to the machine running WRP, and then you can browse the web through WRP, no worries about HTTPS, CSS, JS, or HTML5! It sends a PNG of the rendered page to your vintage browser with a clickable image map of the hyperlinks.