VOGONS


First post, by Bruno128

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Hi Vogoners I present you the build I’ve been working on for the past few months.
The general idea was to create a single super compatible system overlapping many time periods in terms of software support and featuring a mix of old and new technologies without compromising too much on either side.
Let’s start with the specs.

  • ASRock 775Dual-VSTA. (2006)
  • Core2Duo E7600. (2009)
  • Corsair XMS2 DDR2 4GB. (2007)
  • Asus V9520-X (FX5200) AGP 128MB. (2004)
  • Sapphire HD6670 LP PCI-E GDDR5 1GB. (2013)
  • CMC Orbit3D (3DFX Voodoo 2) PCI 12MB. (1998)
  • Terratec SiXPack 5.1+ PCI. (2001)
  • Serdaco Dreamblaster S2 WT. (2019)
  • Dell OEM Creative CT5807 ES1373 PCI. (2000)
  • NEC OEM USB 2.0 PCI T055C12012C. (2006)
  • Samsung (Apple) HM160HC IDE 2.5. (2008)
  • Crucial BX500 SATA 2.5. (2020)
  • Chieftec UNI UK-02B. (2022)
  • CH-528 IDE 5.25 media dashboard. (2021)
  • HIPRO 450WT PSU. (2012)
  • CoolerMaster Z50. (2022)
  • Arctic P12 case fans. (2022)
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Complete build photos:

The mainboard is well-known among this community featuring a lengthy thread full of invaluable information which I appreciate however there is strong inclination towards overclocking / maxing out so let me explain what I’m trying to achieve here instead.
As you noticed the components are installed upside down due to the special design of the case which I find a cool quirk and there are also a few half-height cards. The reason is I’m trying to make it really quiet so 120mm fans for case airflow are used. While a fan facing directly at expansion cards is great it comes with a cost of some space. The constraint being I could only use 2 full-height cards.

The time periods I’m trying to bridge in this build are the following:

  1. DOS / SB FM-Synthesis.
  2. Win98 / Glide / Waveblaster.
  3. WinXP / D3D9.
  4. Win10 / D3D11 / Steam and GOG.

Let’s start with updating to v.3.19 unofficial BIOS from Soggi. Many thanks for this mod.
That allowed for E7600 support which is fast and cold. The aftermarket cooling solution does the job and it stays well below 60 degrees C range.
That also allowed for 3.5 GB RAM support which is enough to run Windows 10. At the same time to cap memory at 256MB for compatibility purposes in Windows 98SE I used HIMEMX by Till Gerken. Many thanks.

Given the task I needed 3 graphic solutions in one build with AGP assigned as a primary adaptor in BIOS settings:

  1. For Glide I’m using a 12MB 3DFx Voodoo 2 by CMC which is connected to an AGP FX5200 using a VGA splitter cable. One reason is not having the original one the other is that occasionally I’d need to bypass Voodoo desktop display passthrough.
  2. For D3D8 and below I’m using the FX5200 which is considered a staple card and I’m sort of rooting for the underdog here. It’s far from being fast but it’s actually great in terms of compatibility. I use “golden standard” ForceWare v.45.23 in Win98, a v.81.98 in XP and a v.96.85 Vista WDDM driver in Windows 10. One more thing to consider here is this mainboard has AGP Fast-writes and GART issues reported in Win98 systems and as a result it would not be smart to squander FX5900 levels of performance on this system. Many thanks to VDNKh for the research on control registers that is some serious work going on. Besides FX5200 an easily-obtained half-height card that is supported by proper driver version (unlike FX5700LE and FX5500 later post-2004 variants). I’m avoiding GeForce 6-series cards altogether because of well-known fullscreen corruption problems in non-VESA modes on newer ForceWare as well as the general need for the card to be old and backwards compatible in this scenario. One example is NFS5 menu labels disappearing and the other is table fog support.
  3. For newer D3D11 applications I’m using a HD6670 from 2013. Marketed as a HTPC solution and based on Turks-XT core it’s among the fastest half-height cards supported by this mainboard in PCI-E gen.1 compatibility mode with the only notable competition being a Palit GTS450 which unlike this card requires a 6-pin external power. That choice however would cause a conflict and NV control panel weird behavior because it detects matching PCI VEN_ IDs while the cards are to be used in mixed-GPU multi-monitor configuration simultaneously so they have to be from different vendors (i.e. you have CCC and nView running on one system). On the account of speed there has been a lengthy discussion on the top graphic solutions this board would accept and the key takeaway is it’s somewhere in top-tier HD5800-GTX580 series barring some high-end dual-chip cards. Many thanks to fellow enthusiasts partaking in benchmarking runs all in all the thing to consider is by about Juniper-LE (HD5750) performance levels we’re starting to hit the PCI-E 4x bottleneck which means diminishing returns for any extra juice so I’d say the card I’m using roughly equals 8800GTS performance levels while staying in modest power footprint is about the sweet spot and the fact that it’s GDDR5 equipped is more important than you’d might think (benchmarks below). On a sidenote there is a project called VBEMP, a generic driver that can be used with this new card in Win98 but that is not what I'm after here so the card is disabled in device manager. Many thanks to the developer nevertheless.

Given the task I needed 3 sound solutions and I’m not counting a beeper and the disabled integrated HDA for its lack of support:

  1. For Win98/WinXP/Win10 I’m using a Terratec SiXPack 5.1+ PCI. It is a short-lived CS4630CM based enthusiast product which has a lot in common with Voyetra TurtleBeach Santa Cruz such as supporting A3D, EAX and Sensaura. I’m describing the driver situation in a dedicated post below but in short, the answer is: it works. Many thanks to Phil for reviewing the more well-known version. Not only does they both have a wavetable header but there is a TOSLink in/out as well as an extension bracket for standard game port. I’ve disabled the mainboard game port in BIOS for that matter.
  2. For MIDI I’m using a Dreamblaster S2. Many thanks to Serdaco for this amazing product.
  3. For DOS/Win98 I needed some kind of SB-compatible synthesis in pure DOS and of course this mainboard has no ISA. The Aureal Vortex2 are getting harder to acquire and bear in mind I’m looking for a half-height card that works in Win10. The solution was an obscure Dell OEM AudioPCI64 Creative CT5807 card which is effectively a stripped-down version with no game port but there are 2 already present in the system. This card is still a post-merger Creative-rebranded variant of Ensoniq AudioPCI meaning I can use anything from a Vista WDM driver to a DOS TSR driver which I must admit does not produce exactly beautiful FM but still detects stuff properly and exposes P220 IRQ5 to the older games that need it. I use a separate Autoexec configuration with BootGUI=0 and SET BLASTER variable etc. when this stuff is required. Second thing is it can play music in Ensoniq-compatible games such as Duke3D and I was really after this particular style of sound for nostalgia reasons. Apart from that it’s worth noting that there is a 8MB ECW soundbank available for this card. Many thanks to Vogonsdrivers.
  4. Oh and there is still AMD HDMI sound for newer systems.

So a lot of sound is going on and I can choose a fitting output device and MIDI instrument set from the “multimedia” control panel item.

For storage I’m using one of the integrated ATA133 channels, a VT8237A and two USB controllers one being a NEC PCI add-in card with the onboard one switched to USB1.1 compatibility mode in BIOS.

  1. While some people succeeded in installing a Win98 on a SATA SSD this was not necessary for my build. Scandisk and DOS FDISK like classic ATA HDDs and I had just the right Samsung 2.5 IDE drive from Apple PowerBook partitioned in a manner where there is a small primary FAT16 partition storing Win98 installation and a bigger logical FAT32 partition storing WinXP installation and data.
  2. The VT8237A SATA is then switched to RAID mode in BIOS with no array built for the sake of compatibility (many thanks to the community for discovering this trick) and the SATA-RAID controller is outright disabled in Win98 and WinXP device manager hardware configurations so that it won’t mess up the drive. For example, when controller was left enabled WinXP would get stuck in a CHKDSK startup cycle and it will then fight with a Win10 CHKDSK version eventually leading to NTFS_FILE_SYSTEM BSOD. With this issue tackled I can confirm a SATA-III SSD working very well in Win10. The SSD stores Win10 installation and newer stuff such as Steam. Many thanks to Henk for uploading a modded chipset driver v.5.14HM.
  3. I wanted to use this 5.25 bay USB-connected panel for convenient drive mounting and it comes with 3x 9-pin USB MB headers as well as one SATA cable. It comprises of a USB hub, a card reader, and a JMicron bridge. While this device is very handy the onboard USB controller did not have the right amount of USB headers so after extensive search, I’ve acquired a half-height PCI add-in OEM USB 2.0 card featuring 3x internal 9-pin headers but with a messed up pinout that was not hard to guess. This controller is not found on google but it works in Win98 with NUSB 3.6 (many thanks to the developers). On WinXP and Win10 this controller works natively.

To arrange triple boot I installed the systems independently starting from Win98 then WinXP in a logical partition and then Win10 on a separate physical drive. One caveat here is this board being non-UEFI compatible you’ll have to use a specifically created bootable media. Many thanks to the team developing a software called Rufus which does this trick. After installations instead of using boot loader menu I’m just hitting F11 BIOS prompt to choose the bootable drive when I have to switch OS. There’s another caveat though that Win10 doesn’t really like a Voodoo2 passthrough as a primary display so it may or may not throw a “Out of range” error on the monitor which doesn’t affect the HD6670 being used in that scenario. Many thanks to Koolsmoky for the modded Glide driver anyway. One more sidenote here is there is a tested way of dualbooting to Win98 from a Win7 bootloader but in the end I decided not to use it. Many thanks for this tip.

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Boot order logic

During this build I’ve among other ideas found out two things which to my knowledge didn’t receive much google coverage previously. One topic is Windows 10 AGP support another is Terratec SiXPack 5.1+ driver support. My findings on these matters I will describe in dedicated posts below.
I’d like to thank all the users for keeping the community alive and I hope you found that post interesting. Have a nice day.

Reply 1 of 3, by melbar

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Very nice build !! 😀

But actually i see here only 2 sound cards installed. The Dreamblaster is a wavetable board, an addon to a soundcard, not a soundcard.
When you are talking about standards, the MIDI: Dreamblaster, the terratec has MIDI also : 64 voices polyphony(hardware), 1024 voices polyphony(software).

So, i would call this build more: Triple-graphics / Double-sound / Triple-OS build

#1 K6-2/500 [VIA MVP3]
#2 Athlon1200 [VIA KT133]
#3 Celeron1000A [i815EP]
#4 P4-2800 [i845]

Reply 2 of 3, by Bruno128

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melbar wrote on 2022-05-21, 05:07:

terratec has MIDI also : 64 voices polyphony(hardware), 1024 voices polyphony(software).

Thank you very much for your feedback melbar. |'m using AMD HDMI audio device in Win10 that's why I count it. As you pointed out SiXPack 5.1+ does indeed have great DLS-capable playback and in some games I'm definitely picking it.

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Terratec SiXPack 5.1+ control panel.

I'm also posting some graphics benchmark results below.

  1. This score checks against slower PCI solutions such as TNT2M64 and Radeon VE.

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    3DMark2001SE / Win98 / Voodoo2 (640x480x16, triple buffering) = 974pts.
  2. This score checks against entry-level AGP solutions such as GF4-MX440 and Radeon 9250.

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    3DMark2001SE / Win98 / FX5200 (1024x768x32, default) = 4532pts.
  3. This score checks against older midrange single-GPU solutions such as 8800GTS and Radeon 3870.

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    3DMark06 / WinXP / HD6670 (default) = 10739pts.
  4. This score checks against newer entry-level and mobile solutions such as GT630 and HD520.

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    3DMark11 / Win10 / HD6670 ("Performance") = P1720pts.

While the score is hardly impressive this demonstrates how the build can cover tasks ranging from pure MS-DOS to Glide to D3D8 to even simple D3D11 applications.

Reply 3 of 3, by kaputnik

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Great job actually succeeding with this 😁

Put together something similar around a 4CoreDual-SATA2 board a few years ago. My build was somewhat simpler, only used two sound cards (SB Live for WXP and ESS Solo-1 for W98SE/DOS), and no Voodoos, but it still was nothing but trouble. By far the single hardest time I've ever had getting a build up and running. Probably something of a wonder that I got out of that without cerebral haemorrhages, can only imagine what you went through...