VOGONS


First post, by Hezus

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Imagine it's Christmas all the way back in 1999. Maybe you're cowering under your bed, waiting for the planes to fall from the sky due to the Y2K bug.. or maybe you're hoping for presents under the tree.

What hardware would you be hoping for? What would your dream PC be when the cut-off point is 25th of December 1999? If we're going the Intel-route, maybe if you were a very early adopter you could have gotten an i820 board. Most likely you'll be falling back on the tried and true BX440. In October the Piii Coppermine was released, which was a great upgrade path. Or maybe you've taken a chance on the new Athlon processor from AMD?

I've put my 1999 Christmas PC together as follows:

I'm using my golden ATX case from my Pentium II build. It's an ELLE branded 'New Millenium Compuer System'. Can't get more 1999 than that.
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I'm also grabbing this Jetway J-7BXAN. It's a late version of the 440BX chipset and supports 133 FSB, which is great for the CPU I'll be using.
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Here's what makes the PC tick: a Slot 1 Pentium III Coppermine CPU with 733 mhz. The fastest available from the range released in October of 1999.
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512 mb of SD-RAM (133):
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And released in late December 1999, just in time for Christmas: The GeForce 256 DDR! This is the Asus branded v6800 with a whopping 32 mb.
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I'm reusing the other hardware and peripherals from my Pentium II build. Time for some testing! The GeForce 256 DDR really blows the Voodoo 3 out of the water. Getting a score of 7392 on 3DMARK99. I'm getting 120 FPS in Quake 2, where the Voodoo 3 3000 (166mhz) was getting 79 (1024x768*16). Playing games in 32bit OpenGL is also a treat for the eyes compared to 16 bit Glide. Quake 2 does 86 FPS in 1024x768*32. The card is also a great overclocker. Boosting from 120mhz to 135 mhz and increasing the memory to 340 mhz increases the FPS counter to 117 (1024x768*32).

I'm off to play the just released Unreal Tournament! It's going to be a great holiday season 😀

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Reply 1 of 14, by kolderman

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I like that case. I like that whole build.

I would love to go back to the 90s. I'll never forget that semi-religious experience of seeing and playing GLQuake for the first time. Probably at low resolution and low frame-rates on a Riva 128 but compared to software rendering it was like getting in a time machine. To live through that decade was amazing. And the music...

Reply 2 of 14, by Brawndo

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In 1998-1999 I was a sales associate in the electronics department at Sam's Club. What a special time for computers, lots of memories. I still remember the computers for sale when the Pentium III was hot and we had 450-500 MHz systems which I lusted over but couldn't afford. I was still rocking my AMD K6 200 MHz computer which I bought a Diamond Monster Fusion for, my first 3D accelerator. My roommate at the time had a nice Dell or Gateway 2000 Pentium II 450 MHz computer with a Voodoo 2 which I was pretty jealous about. My 1999 build would most likely be a Pentium IIII 500 MHz with Voodoo 2 SLI.

Reply 4 of 14, by Standard Def Steve

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Very, very nice! I would've loved a 733MHz P3 or Athlon in 1999! Hell, a K6-2 with a decent tailwind would've been a substantial upgrade over the Toshiba Pentium 100 (or was it a P75?) laptop I used in my first year of university. That thing could barely whip the llama's ass and run Word at the same time. Upgrading to Win98 on 24MB of RAM certainly didn't help.

Around June of 2000 though, I built my first PC. Spec-wise, it was similar to the computer I had often daydreamed about while slumming it with my Toshiba. It had:

A 600MHz P3 I unwittingly ran at 400MHz for months because I left the BIOS at default settings - d'oh!!
Soyo 440BX board
128MB of RAM
GeForce 256
30GB Deskstar HDD
CD-RW drive for burning all 'em Linux distros I downloaded over super speedy T3
Sound Blaster Live and Creative 4.1 speakers that transformed my dorm room into a lovely theater.
Win 98 and 2000! Ooh, so elite!

P6 chip. Triple the speed of the Pentium.
Tualatin: PIII-S @ 1628 MHz | QDI Advance 12T | 2GB DDR-310 | 6800GT | X-Fi | 500GB HDD | 3DMark01: 14,059
Dothan: PM @ 2720 MHz | MSI Speedster FA4 | 2GB DDR2-544 | GTX-280 | X-Fi | 500GB SSD | 3DMark01: 42,148

Reply 5 of 14, by Hezus

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512 mb is indeed a bit of overkill for 1999. I just had a lot of it laying around and had some slots to fill 😉 The mobo supports up to 768 megs, though. I'm running Win98SE, though.. so I don't want to run into any memory issues.

I wonder if there were many people going the AMD Athlon route with the new Slot A back in 1999. Some reviews from that time suggest that it was a bit faster clock-for-clock than the Pentium III in certain workloads, especially OpenGL games. While I still see plenty of Pentium III systems offered online, the Slot A machines are much more rare. Would be interesting to build such a machine at some point.

Back to my system:
I've had a few issues with the drivers. I tried the last win9x drivers that still mentioned the GF256 DDR (nv detonator 71.84) but they were slowing the card down massively. I then found the ISO of the v6800 driver disc on archive.org and got a massive leap in performance. I wonder which driver version would be the most ideal for this card. Has anyone ever tested that?

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Reply 6 of 14, by OSkar000

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I have one machine that is pretty much the optimal end of 1999-build.

AMD Athlon 650
Asus K7M, AMD 750 chipset
256mb sdram
Matrox G400 Max, 32mb
SB Live
3Com 905B
Adaptec 2940 scsi-card (to be replaced)
2x36gb 10krpm scsi harddrives
CD and CD-RW

Everything is stuffed into an Addtronics 7890a, one of the best cases ever made (after you replace all the 80mm fans with 120mm).

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Setting up the motherboard and inserting all the cards.. still room for Voodoo2 in the future.

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Backside!

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Testing testing, Windows 98 installed!

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Retrodesk nr2 ready for being used 😀

Reply 7 of 14, by Hezus

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OSkar000 wrote on 2022-11-07, 20:03:

I have one machine that is pretty much the optimal end of 1999-build.

That's a great machine 😀 And indeed, what a beast of a case!

Would you upgrade the CPU to a higher clocked K75 variant? I'm not sure what processor was the highest clocked still released in 1999.

Visit my YT Channel!

Reply 8 of 14, by OSkar000

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Hezus wrote on 2022-11-07, 20:33:
OSkar000 wrote on 2022-11-07, 20:03:

I have one machine that is pretty much the optimal end of 1999-build.

That's a great machine 😀 And indeed, what a beast of a case!

Would you upgrade the CPU to a higher clocked K75 variant? I'm not sure what processor was the highest clocked still released in 1999.

If I could find a 800mhz or 850mhz for a fair price I would probably get it. But its fast enough as it is... but its also fun to really max it out. Our 1999-themed lan-parties has 850mhz as the maximum limit for both Intel and AMD cpus but I think that includes January 2000 also.

Reply 9 of 14, by Hezus

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OSkar000 wrote on 2022-11-07, 20:55:
Hezus wrote on 2022-11-07, 20:33:
OSkar000 wrote on 2022-11-07, 20:03:

I have one machine that is pretty much the optimal end of 1999-build.

That's a great machine 😀 And indeed, what a beast of a case!

Would you upgrade the CPU to a higher clocked K75 variant? I'm not sure what processor was the highest clocked still released in 1999.

If I could find a 800mhz or 850mhz for a fair price I would probably get it. But its fast enough as it is... but its also fun to really max it out. Our 1999-themed lan-parties has 850mhz as the maximum limit for both Intel and AMD cpus but I think that includes January 2000 also.

1999 themed LAN parties seems what I need more of in my life. Where do I sign up? 😀

Visit my YT Channel!

Reply 10 of 14, by Jasin Natael

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I believe that I was eyeballing the K6-2 400-500 CPUs pretty hard in late 1999.
I did eventually end up with one.
I'm not sure that it was my "dream machine" but it was a solid performing little machine, and probably why still today SS7 is my favorite platform.

Reply 12 of 14, by digistorm

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Hezus wrote on 2022-11-07, 12:20:

I wonder if there were many people going the AMD Athlon route with the new Slot A back in 1999. Some reviews from that time suggest that it was a bit faster clock-for-clock than the Pentium III in certain workloads, especially OpenGL games. While I still see plenty of Pentium III systems offered online, the Slot A machines are much more rare. Would be interesting to build such a machine at some point.

I was one of the crazy ones that bought a Slot A system in 1999, but it was very expensive. Most people around me did not know the Athlon and when they did, they had no faith in AMD or blindly went for Intel (well… little has changed today). It was as fast as the reviews say, but it was also quickly overshadowed by newer CPU’s and AMD also went pretty quickly to Socket A instead of Slot A.

Reply 13 of 14, by lepidotós

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None of this would have been under my tree, but on my list would be:

AMD-K7600, but I wouldn't complain about a 550 or a 500.
Asus K7M-RB mainly just because I like Micro ATX, and Asus seems to have made the best Slot A boards looking at benchmarks.
No idea about case, I guess AOpen MT 85 for being the only late-'90s mATX case I can find a name for, but I wouldn't complain about an A800TX or CSX240 (at which point the K7M loses the -RB).
Going with the classic Voodoo3 3000 here, because since it's more or less AGP 1x, it shouldn't have any issues with Irongate's terrible AGP implementation. Not that I wouldn't like to see how bad it can get nowadays, but I imagine I'd be a little less receptive to it in 1999 when I just want to play my not-so-old games.
As for sound, Aureal Vortex or Vortex 2. Creative as a company sucks.
CD-ROM drive to rip my copy of Cake's Fashion Nugget.
1 128MB RAM stick. I don't actually know if Irongate even supports dual channel or not, but 128 should be more than enough to get started with and be able to expand later on with two more sticks.
I'd probably want a copy of Windows 2000 or Slackware 7, maybe both with dual hard drives.

Would also love a 19" CRT monitor, not really picky as long as it does 1400x1050 on the desktop and 640x480 in games. Mouse, not picky at all if it has a scroll wheel. Keyboard, I'd just want a Model M or the like. Speakers, probably some Tannoy Mercury M2s? And of course, who could forget the obligatory blue face 3dfx wallpaper and End of Days and Army of Darkness posters?

Reply 14 of 14, by OSkar000

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Hezus wrote on 2022-11-07, 22:32:
OSkar000 wrote on 2022-11-07, 20:55:
Hezus wrote on 2022-11-07, 20:33:

That's a great machine 😀 And indeed, what a beast of a case!

Would you upgrade the CPU to a higher clocked K75 variant? I'm not sure what processor was the highest clocked still released in 1999.

If I could find a 800mhz or 850mhz for a fair price I would probably get it. But its fast enough as it is... but its also fun to really max it out. Our 1999-themed lan-parties has 850mhz as the maximum limit for both Intel and AMD cpus but I think that includes January 2000 also.

1999 themed LAN parties seems what I need more of in my life. Where do I sign up? 😀

We have at least two different retro communities in Sweden that runs a few lan parties each year. Almost every year there is a least one with 1999-theme.