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RetroPC_King's Socket A systems

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First post, by RetroPC_King

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In this topic I will post my Socket A retro systems.
1st Socket A system (my childhood PC):
-AMD Athlon XP 2600+ 1.917 GHz (Barton core) with AMD stock cooler
-ASUS A7V600-X motherboard
-some no-name but cool grey PC case with vertical blue LEDs at front with front USB and audio (case probably is DeLUX maybe)
-512MB DDR400 (PC3200) Kingmax Super RAM (wine red PCB colour)
-Palit NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX 440 with AGP 8X 64MB video card
-Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 8 40GB ATA133 HDD
-ASUS 16X DVD-ROM drive (model DVD-E616P1)
-LG 16X DVD-ROM/52x32x52x CD-RW combo drive (model GCC-4521B)
-ViPowER IDE Super Rack with a Fujitsu MPA3017AT 1.7GB HDD (for show purposes)
-Alps 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive
-400W Powerlink LPJ2 PSU
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 and Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community (dual-boot)

Any opinions? I have several Socket A systems to show.

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Reply 1 of 24, by RetroPC_King

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2nd Socket A system (a local brand system):
-AMD Sempron 2400+ 1.667 GHz (Thoroughbred B core) with CoolitY CPU cooler
-ASUS A7V8X-X motherboard
-some generic PC case (Fast Data branded)
-256MB DDR333 (PC2700) Sycron RAM
-Palit NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX 440 with AGP 8X 64MB video card
-ExcelStor Technology J840 40GB ATA133 HDD
-LG 16X DVD-ROM/52x32x52x CD-RW combo drive (model GCC-4521B)
-Alps 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive
-400W PREMIER LC-B400ATX PSU
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 and Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community (dual-boot)

It is 100% original, non-upgraded.

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Reply 2 of 24, by RetroPC_King

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3rd Socket A system:
-AMD Athlon XP 2200+ 1.8 GHz (Thoroughbred B core) with Thermal Solutions CPU cooler
-ASUS A7N8X-VM/400 motherboard
-OEM Targa ATX mini tower PC case
-256MB DDR333 (PC2700) Infineon RAM
-Integrated NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX IGP video card on NVIDIA nForce2-IGP chipset (i use it)
-ExcelStor Technology J840 40GB ATA133 HDD
-LG 52x CD-ROM drive (model GCR-8525B)
-Alps 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive (HP OEM)
-350W Powerlink LPT2-20 PSU
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 and Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community (dual-boot)

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Reply 3 of 24, by RetroPC_King

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5th Socket A system (i keep it as a nForce 2 Ultra 400 historical PC)

-AMD Athlon XP 2500+ 1.833 GHz (Barton core) with Spire FalconRock II CPU cooler
-ASUS A7N8X Deluxe Rev 2.0 motherboard (with modded BIOS by me, BIOS is 1007 from October 6, 2003, but modded with Modbin to unhide some undocumented options mainly)
-some generic PC case
-256MB DDR400 (PC3200) Kingmax Super RAM (in single channel mode)
-ASUS V9520 Magic 128MB video card (NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200)
-Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB ATA100 HDD (model ST380011A)
-ASUS QuieTrack 16X DVD-ROM/52x32x52x CD-RW combo drive (model CB-5216A)
-Mitsumi 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive
-400W Rexpower PL-400 PSU
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 and Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community (dual-boot) (Again, for nostalgia)

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Reply 4 of 24, by RetroPC_King

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6th Socket A system (another nForce 2 Ultra 400 historical PC, with a local brand PC case)

-AMD Athlon XP 2500+ 1.833 GHz (Barton core) with Foxconn CPU cooler (rare model with copper base and copper fins, but with aluminium frame)
-ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe motherboard (with modded BIOS by me, BIOS is 1012 from August 4, 2004, but modded with Modbin to unhide some undocumented options mainly) (some caps are bulged, but mobo works!)
-some generic PC case with MILLENIUM branding on a CD-ROM drive cover
-512MB DDR400 (PC3200) Kingmax Super RAM (in dual channel mode) (2x 256MB DIMMs)
-ASUS N7600GS SILENT 256MB AGP 8X video card (NVIDIA GeForce 7600GS)
-Western Digital 320GB ATA100 HDD (model WD3200AAJB-00WGA0) (on Primary IDE Master)
-Western Digital 250GB ATA100 HDD (model WD2500JB-00REA0) (on Primary IDE Slave)
-ASUS QuieTrack 18X DVD-RW drive (model DRW=1814BL)
-some old early 2000's ASUS DVD-RW (Sadly non-functional)
-some 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive
-450W LC-8460BTX PSU (no-name A brand on PSU label)
-Leadtek WinFast TV2000XP Expert TV tuner
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 (on 320GB HDD) and Windows XP Media Center 2005 SP3 (on 250GB HDD) (dual-boot) (Again, for nostalgia)

Any opinions about my Socket A systems?

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Reply 7 of 24, by RetroPC_King

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PS: I forgot something, I recently recall that my childhood PC had in the past Windows 98SE and Windows 2000 Professional SP2. Also Windows 2000 was dual-boot with the same Linux I had on it today.

Reply 8 of 24, by PcBytes

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From what I know, most of those cases are as following:

PC1 - Delux (can confirm this as I've got a case with similar type of chassis housing my main PC - the only thing different is the 2x fan grilles being honeycomb styled on mine)
PC2 and PC5 - Allied/APEX
PC3 - Targa (obviously)
PC6 - Linkworld 3130G

"Enter at your own peril, past the bolted door..."
Main PC: i5 3470, GB B75M-D3H, 16GB RAM, 2x1TB
98SE : P3 650, Soyo SY-6BA+IV, 384MB RAM, 80GB

Reply 9 of 24, by Tetrium

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So I'm not sure if I want to respond to each system individually since they have a lot in common. But I'll try to respond to each individual system at least briefly while sticking to a single reply this time.

-AMD Athlon XP 2600+ 1.917 GHz (Barton core) with AMD stock cooler -ASUS A7V600-X motherboard -some no-name but cool grey PC cas […]
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-AMD Athlon XP 2600+ 1.917 GHz (Barton core) with AMD stock cooler
-ASUS A7V600-X motherboard
-some no-name but cool grey PC case with vertical blue LEDs at front with front USB and audio (case probably is DeLUX maybe)
-512MB DDR400 (PC3200) Kingmax Super RAM (wine red PCB colour)
-Palit NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX 440 with AGP 8X 64MB video card
-Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 8 40GB ATA133 HDD
-ASUS 16X DVD-ROM drive (model DVD-E616P1)
-LG 16X DVD-ROM/52x32x52x CD-RW combo drive (model GCC-4521B)
-ViPowER IDE Super Rack with a Fujitsu MPA3017AT 1.7GB HDD (for show purposes)
-Alps 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive
-400W Powerlink LPJ2 PSU
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 and Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community (dual-boot)

System one, I kinda like the silvery case with the LED front bezel, it came from a time before cases went all black.
Good board, good CPU, decent memory configuration (512MB is a bit on the low side but it will work).
Interesting choice with the Fujitsu drive you did there. Maxtor drive 40GB is a bit on the small side but it will work (I'm not a huge fan of Maxtor drives but as long as they work right? 😜 ).
I'm less of a fan of the lack of case exhaust fans and I'm not a fan of the PSU.
GPU is somewhat underpowered for the rest of the specs.

I don't like how that case is dusty and rusty. It could do with a clean.
Personally I'd favor using a tool to remove the tiny holes bit at the back so you got 2 holes left for the exhaust fans to do their work (then do add a fan grill).

*******

System 2

-AMD Sempron 2400+ 1.667 GHz (Thoroughbred B core) with CoolitY CPU cooler -ASUS A7V8X-X motherboard -some generic PC case (Fast […]
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-AMD Sempron 2400+ 1.667 GHz (Thoroughbred B core) with CoolitY CPU cooler
-ASUS A7V8X-X motherboard
-some generic PC case (Fast Data branded)
-256MB DDR333 (PC2700) Sycron RAM
-Palit NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX 440 with AGP 8X 64MB video card
-ExcelStor Technology J840 40GB ATA133 HDD
-LG 16X DVD-ROM/52x32x52x CD-RW combo drive (model GCC-4521B)
-Alps 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive
-400W PREMIER LC-B400ATX PSU
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 and Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community (dual-boot)

It is 100% original, non-upgraded.

Interesting that you kept it close to original. I'm pretty sure most people won't find that interesting but it's interesting seeing a configuration like this if only for historical purposes.

I don't know the harddrive brand ExcelStor Technology, but first thing coming to mind is that it's one of those firms from back in that era that refurbished harddrives and rebranded them (it seemed somewhat shady in my eyes, so I personally always stayed clear of those as I had sufficient alternatives). 40GB is fine for me though. It's not much, it could definitely be better.
Underpowerd graphics and memory configuration.

I do actually kinda like this case, even a bit better than the system 1 case (better exhaust options, but I'd still remove the exhaust little-holes-bit-of-metal for improved airflow) and I like the color scheme. It's from when beige was (finally) going out of fashion 😋

I'm not a fan of the PSU (you'll probably be seeing this comment coming from me a few more times 🤣).

*******

System 3

-AMD Athlon XP 2200+ 1.8 GHz (Thoroughbred B core) with Thermal Solutions CPU cooler -ASUS A7N8X-VM/400 motherboard -OEM Targa A […]
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-AMD Athlon XP 2200+ 1.8 GHz (Thoroughbred B core) with Thermal Solutions CPU cooler
-ASUS A7N8X-VM/400 motherboard
-OEM Targa ATX mini tower PC case
-256MB DDR333 (PC2700) Infineon RAM
-Integrated NVIDIA GeForce 4 MX IGP video card on NVIDIA nForce2-IGP chipset (i use it)
-ExcelStor Technology J840 40GB ATA133 HDD
-LG 52x CD-ROM drive (model GCR-8525B)
-Alps 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive (HP OEM)
-350W Powerlink LPT2-20 PSU
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 and Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community (dual-boot)

I'm not a huge fan of that case. It looks more like a better fit for a Slotted board as airflow will be bad for basically any Athlon. Don't toss the case though as it does look unique.
Targa does ring a bell but I don't remember where from.
Again, I like the board.

Low amount of RAM and underpowered graphics. CPU seems like a relatively good pick as it's relatively slow and Thoroughbred, the die shrink should lower TDP which would definitely help with cooling and the 350W questionable PSU brand.

*******

System 4 (which is actually your system #5)

-AMD Athlon XP 2500+ 1.833 GHz (Barton core) with Spire FalconRock II CPU cooler -ASUS A7N8X Deluxe Rev 2.0 motherboard (with mo […]
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-AMD Athlon XP 2500+ 1.833 GHz (Barton core) with Spire FalconRock II CPU cooler
-ASUS A7N8X Deluxe Rev 2.0 motherboard (with modded BIOS by me, BIOS is 1007 from October 6, 2003, but modded with Modbin to unhide some undocumented options mainly)
-some generic PC case
-256MB DDR400 (PC3200) Kingmax Super RAM (in single channel mode)
-ASUS V9520 Magic 128MB video card (NVIDIA GeForce FX 5200)
-Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 80GB ATA100 HDD (model ST380011A)
-ASUS QuieTrack 16X DVD-ROM/52x32x52x CD-RW combo drive (model CB-5216A)
-Mitsumi 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive
-400W Rexpower PL-400 PSU
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 and Mandrake Linux 10.0 Community (dual-boot) (Again, for nostalgia)

Good CPU/Motherboard match, again.
Low amount of memory. Questionable PSU. Underpowered GPU.
I kinda like those Asus mobo stickers 🙂
Again, I don't like the lack of a case exhaust fan. Imo every Athlon rig should come with at least one case fan.

*******

System #6

-AMD Athlon XP 2500+ 1.833 GHz (Barton core) with Foxconn CPU cooler (rare model with copper base and copper fins, but with alum […]
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-AMD Athlon XP 2500+ 1.833 GHz (Barton core) with Foxconn CPU cooler (rare model with copper base and copper fins, but with aluminium frame)
-ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe motherboard (with modded BIOS by me, BIOS is 1012 from August 4, 2004, but modded with Modbin to unhide some undocumented options mainly) (some caps are bulged, but mobo works!)
-some generic PC case with MILLENIUM branding on a CD-ROM drive cover
-512MB DDR400 (PC3200) Kingmax Super RAM (in dual channel mode) (2x 256MB DIMMs)
-ASUS N7600GS SILENT 256MB AGP 8X video card (NVIDIA GeForce 7600GS)
-Western Digital 320GB ATA100 HDD (model WD3200AAJB-00WGA0) (on Primary IDE Master)
-Western Digital 250GB ATA100 HDD (model WD2500JB-00REA0) (on Primary IDE Slave)
-ASUS QuieTrack 18X DVD-RW drive (model DRW=1814BL)
-some old early 2000's ASUS DVD-RW (Sadly non-functional)
-some 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive
-450W LC-8460BTX PSU (no-name A brand on PSU label)
-Leadtek WinFast TV2000XP Expert TV tuner
-it runs Windows XP Professional SP1 (on 320GB HDD) and Windows XP Media Center 2005 SP3 (on 250GB HDD) (dual-boot) (Again, for nostalgia)

This system seems a bit more souped up compared to your other rigs.
I'd have the caps replaced asap though.
ASUS N7600GS SILENT is a good card, I have one myself. Word of warning, these passively cooled 7600GS cards like to overheat. Mine (which was an MSI card but very similar to this ASUS one) overheated even when playing Unreal 2, so I ended up adding 8cm case fans to both of my passively cooled 7600GS cards, worked like a charm! 😀
Not underpowered for your rig 😋
Decent amount of RAM, nice amount of harddrive storage, not liking the PSU much, no case fan is a minus for me.

Overall I would comment to see if you could add in better quality PSUs and depending on what you do with your rigs to start swapping out the budget cards with midrange cards (or high-end cards if you happen to find any). This will necessitate better quality PSUs anyway, I reckon your systems may be running alright because of the 4MX, FX5200 and GF6200 cards you're running. These cards run cool and provide relatively good compatibility but are relatively slow.

I do like your pick of optical and floppy drives overall, but your systems could do with a good cleaning (the dust doesn't make it look very appealing to be honest).
I'm ambivalent towards 'correct cable management' but it would make the rigs look a bit more tidy. Effect on airflow of the cables is somewhat minimal though.

Interesting you modded some of the BIOSs of your rigs. Feel free to tell a bit more about that.

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

Reply 10 of 24, by bZbZbZ

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These computers are fairly similar (especially #1, #2, and #5). What do you do with them? Most of us like to have fairly distinct retro computers so that when we use one it is unique from the others in some way. I don't mean that you have to do this, of course. I'm interested in what your thinking is for having so many similar computers (someone above mentioned hosting LAN party, that would be pretty cool).

Your last computer here (you called it #6) is clearly the fastest computer, because it has the fastest video card. I agree with Tetrium that it would be wise to take better care of the parts on this computer. Not to please all of us, or to make it "faster" or for it to loose its charm. These old computers were simply never expected to be run for 20+ years and to protect your hardware it's best to reduce the stress on them. This includes lowering the operating temperature (more cooling fans, clean away the dust), and improving the power delivery (better PSU, replace any bulging capacitors). This will let you enjoy your retro computer for hopefully many years to come.

Reply 11 of 24, by RetroPC_King

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Tetrium wrote on 2022-06-05, 15:05:

Interesting you modded some of the BIOSs of your rigs. Feel free to tell a bit more about that.

I modded the BIOS using a 2007 MODBIN6 version that is 32bit, and I uncovered hidden BIOS settings like CHIP DDQ voltage, Small Logo (EPA) Show, and then I saved the modded BIOS into a floppy, and flashed it with ALT+F2 AWDFLASH, crossed fingers and it worked!

Reply 13 of 24, by Tetrium

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ynopot wrote on 2022-06-15, 12:32:

I see you are using GF4 MX440. Are they passively cooled? Are they getting hot?

I'm thinking of installing a passively cooled GF4 MX440 on my Celeron 1100

Some come with (very tiny) active coolers, but many came with passive coolers. I think there were some GF2 MX cards that didn't even come with a heatsink (GF4 MX and GF2 MX do share many commonalities, thugh GF4 MX is somewhat more modern compared to GF2 MX).
Passively cooled GF4 MX440 shouldn't have major overheating problems, but it's always a good idea to get cooling that's at least somewhat superior to contemporary cooling.
Exact power dissipation depends on exact models, but they shouldn't really run hot.

I'd say a GF4 MX440 is a good pick for a Celeron 1100 😀

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

Reply 14 of 24, by RetroPC_King

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ynopot wrote on 2022-06-15, 12:32:

I see you are using GF4 MX440. Are they passively cooled? Are they getting hot?

I'm thinking of installing a passively cooled GF4 MX440 on my Celeron 1100

Mine does not get hot, it is passively cooled.

Reply 15 of 24, by Con 2 botones

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Nice socket A/462 collection!
I am really fond of Athlon XP. Still searching for a working nforce2 based board for my 3200+ (currently on a MSI with via KM400 chipset).
I prefer "System #6" over the others, GF4 MX is not the best match for Athlon XP, it would for Thunderbirds though.
Radeon 9000 series or upper Geforce 6000 series would help those Athlon XP shine.

Also, I´m curious on why only 256 and 512MB RAM is being used? Even if your are installing W98se on them, there´s a patch so support more RAM than 512MB. XP or Gnu/Linux would feel much more snappier with 1 or 2GB if dual booting.

Reply 16 of 24, by RetroPC_King

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Con 2 botones wrote on 2022-06-15, 18:06:
Nice socket A/462 collection! I am really fond of Athlon XP. Still searching for a working nforce2 based board for my 3200+ (cur […]
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Nice socket A/462 collection!
I am really fond of Athlon XP. Still searching for a working nforce2 based board for my 3200+ (currently on a MSI with via KM400 chipset).
I prefer "System #6" over the others, GF4 MX is not the best match for Athlon XP, it would for Thunderbirds though.
Radeon 9000 series or upper Geforce 6000 series would help those Athlon XP shine.

Also, I´m curious on why only 256 and 512MB RAM is being used? Even if your are installing W98se on them, there´s a patch so support more RAM than 512MB. XP or Gnu/Linux would feel much more snappier with 1 or 2GB if dual booting.

As a MB i recommend ASUS A7N8X-E DEluxe. Also i will have more socket A systems to post soon. Stay tuned!

I use 256MB and 512MB because it is fine for what I need.

Reply 17 of 24, by PcBytes

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Con 2 botones wrote on 2022-06-15, 18:06:
Nice socket A/462 collection! I am really fond of Athlon XP. Still searching for a working nforce2 based board for my 3200+ (cur […]
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Nice socket A/462 collection!
I am really fond of Athlon XP. Still searching for a working nforce2 based board for my 3200+ (currently on a MSI with via KM400 chipset).
I prefer "System #6" over the others, GF4 MX is not the best match for Athlon XP, it would for Thunderbirds though.
Radeon 9000 series or upper Geforce 6000 series would help those Athlon XP shine.

Also, I´m curious on why only 256 and 512MB RAM is being used? Even if your are installing W98se on them, there´s a patch so support more RAM than 512MB. XP or Gnu/Linux would feel much more snappier with 1 or 2GB if dual booting.

As OP said, A7N8X-E Deluxe could be a choice, but I'd highly recommend either a Epox EP-8RDA3I, 8RDA6 Pro (if you want additional stuff like SATA and RAID), or a MSI K7N2 Delta-ILSR.

The reason I listed those three is because they all have 12v plugs, while the A7N8X-E is a very very 5v heavy board - they didn't even bother adding a 12v plug to slightly offload the CPU power.
Just for the record, I'm not saying A7N8X-E Deluxe is a bad board, but the lack of a 12v plug seems very alarming to me, so I would personally have a nF2 board with a 12v plug to offload some of the CPU power output.

"Enter at your own peril, past the bolted door..."
Main PC: i5 3470, GB B75M-D3H, 16GB RAM, 2x1TB
98SE : P3 650, Soyo SY-6BA+IV, 384MB RAM, 80GB

Reply 18 of 24, by Con 2 botones

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PcBytes wrote on 2022-06-16, 13:52:
As OP said, A7N8X-E Deluxe could be a choice, but I'd highly recommend either a Epox EP-8RDA3I, 8RDA6 Pro (if you want additiona […]
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Con 2 botones wrote on 2022-06-15, 18:06:
Nice socket A/462 collection! I am really fond of Athlon XP. Still searching for a working nforce2 based board for my 3200+ (cur […]
Show full quote

Nice socket A/462 collection!
I am really fond of Athlon XP. Still searching for a working nforce2 based board for my 3200+ (currently on a MSI with via KM400 chipset).
I prefer "System #6" over the others, GF4 MX is not the best match for Athlon XP, it would for Thunderbirds though.
Radeon 9000 series or upper Geforce 6000 series would help those Athlon XP shine.

Also, I´m curious on why only 256 and 512MB RAM is being used? Even if your are installing W98se on them, there´s a patch so support more RAM than 512MB. XP or Gnu/Linux would feel much more snappier with 1 or 2GB if dual booting.

As OP said, A7N8X-E Deluxe could be a choice, but I'd highly recommend either a Epox EP-8RDA3I, 8RDA6 Pro (if you want additional stuff like SATA and RAID), or a MSI K7N2 Delta-ILSR.

The reason I listed those three is because they all have 12v plugs, while the A7N8X-E is a very very 5v heavy board - they didn't even bother adding a 12v plug to slightly offload the CPU power.
Just for the record, I'm not saying A7N8X-E Deluxe is a bad board, but the lack of a 12v plug seems very alarming to me, so I would personally have a nF2 board with a 12v plug to offload some of the CPU power output.

Well, yes, that has been what made my search difficult. I want it to have it all: 400mhz Bus support, dual channel, S-ATA and the 12V plug. Not easy to find them for the right price.
Last year I bought one matching my requirements (MS-6570E, K7N2 Delta2) from eBay, turns on but...it doesn´t post. 😐

Reply 19 of 24, by RetroPC_King

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Con 2 botones wrote on 2022-06-16, 15:00:
PcBytes wrote on 2022-06-16, 13:52:
As OP said, A7N8X-E Deluxe could be a choice, but I'd highly recommend either a Epox EP-8RDA3I, 8RDA6 Pro (if you want additiona […]
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Con 2 botones wrote on 2022-06-15, 18:06:
Nice socket A/462 collection! I am really fond of Athlon XP. Still searching for a working nforce2 based board for my 3200+ (cur […]
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Nice socket A/462 collection!
I am really fond of Athlon XP. Still searching for a working nforce2 based board for my 3200+ (currently on a MSI with via KM400 chipset).
I prefer "System #6" over the others, GF4 MX is not the best match for Athlon XP, it would for Thunderbirds though.
Radeon 9000 series or upper Geforce 6000 series would help those Athlon XP shine.

Also, I´m curious on why only 256 and 512MB RAM is being used? Even if your are installing W98se on them, there´s a patch so support more RAM than 512MB. XP or Gnu/Linux would feel much more snappier with 1 or 2GB if dual booting.

As OP said, A7N8X-E Deluxe could be a choice, but I'd highly recommend either a Epox EP-8RDA3I, 8RDA6 Pro (if you want additional stuff like SATA and RAID), or a MSI K7N2 Delta-ILSR.

The reason I listed those three is because they all have 12v plugs, while the A7N8X-E is a very very 5v heavy board - they didn't even bother adding a 12v plug to slightly offload the CPU power.
Just for the record, I'm not saying A7N8X-E Deluxe is a bad board, but the lack of a 12v plug seems very alarming to me, so I would personally have a nF2 board with a 12v plug to offload some of the CPU power output.

Well, yes, that has been what made my search difficult. I want it to have it all: 400mhz Bus support, dual channel, S-ATA and the 12V plug. Not easy to find them for the right price.
Last year I bought one matching my requirements (MS-6570E, K7N2 Delta2) from eBay, turns on but...it doesn´t post. 😐

ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe is good, but does not have 12v plug, so it needs a 5V Heavy PSU. Also mine is stable.

Sad for that MSI board that did not POST. Check caps please. If caps are bad, recap it. I Struggle to recap my GIGABYTE GA-7DXE because it is a rare board and suddenly stopped powering up.