My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

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My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby jheronimus » 2015-12-21 @ 21:03

Hi, all!

I finally got my hands on my first machine with a Pentium. Basically, all I wanted was to get something so I could get my hands dirty and not build a computer from scratch. This machine is extremely clean (the insides are actually much cleaner than my regular PC, lol), nicely built, not too noisy, and the screen works really nice.

Goals

A versatile and fast machine mostly for late DOS games.

2015-12-21 22.21.15.jpg


Specs

No name Baby AT case. For the life of me I can't find the model, but it's absolutely the same case I had as a child, though I don't remember what the specs were in that machine.
Pentium MMX 233
32 MB RAM, single DIMM
LuckyStar 5ITX1 rev 2.0 motherboard (Intel 430TX chipset)
S3 Virge 325 GPU with no added RAM
Cirrus Logic CrystalClear 4235-KQ
Quantum Fireball 2.5a 2,5 GB HDD
Samsung SyncMaster 755DFX 17" CRT screen

Genius EasyMouse
"Turbotrak Keyboard" or something
Creative SBS20 speakers

Notes

The biggest test of my character came when I had to choose between two CRT screens, this Samsung 755DFX and the Panasonic PF50 something. In other words, a flat 17 inch flat and a 15 inch non-flat model. Originally I wanted a 15 inch curved model so that I could have a "more authentic look and feel" and also could save some space. Turns out that 1) an older 15 incher needs about the same space a newer 17 incher does. 2) I only looked at the 15 incher for 10 seconds and my eyes began to actually hurt because the flicker was too noticeable. Long story short, I gave up on the idea of a "more time appropriate" screen and picked a newer model.

Next steps — comments welcome
1) upgrade 32 MB. Probably just get a 64 MB DIMM module
2) replace CD-ROM for a CD-RW — what kind of connections/standards should I look out for? Would any IDE model work?
3) get two Voodoo 2 cards. I'm not entirely sure what kind of games would I use SLI for, but I'm going to a shop that supposedly has "60 identical 12 meg Voodoo 2 1000 cards", so I might as well pick a pair, an FDD cable, a VGA passthrough and make an SLI
4) get a NIC card from the Vogons' Wiki article.
5) get a Sound Blaster AWE64 card. I don't know whether or not I'll go the whole MT-32 route, and for some reason AWE32 cards are 3 times as expensive at best.
6) get a new 40GB Seagate ST340014A or a Western Digital WD400BB IDE hard drive, since they cost the same and can be bought at the same place. Will they work? I don't know whether my mobo has an LBA-enabled BIOS update, so I don't plan for a bigger hard drive yet.
[s]7) eventually get an S3 Trio64 card as soon as I get a nice deal for a fully upgraded model.[/s] turns out I have a faster card.

Additional questions
1) Turbo LED. It works, but it shows 888 instead of the actual frequency.

2015-12-21 23.20.51.jpg


How can I make it work properly?

2) I/O

Here is how it looks right now

2015-12-21 23.15.30.jpg


All COM, LPT, PS/2 connectors seem to be placed on separate boards that are honestly made from tinfoil and flex considerably. I'll have to replace them really soon and I'm wondering — can I place those connectors in the holes that are currently sealed? You can see them above the board slots. Looks like there is a hole for a COM port, a second PS/2 port, an LPT — everything. What kind of hardware do I need for that?

3) Windows 95 or 98

I was originally planning to install the latest Windows 95 2.5 release and call it a day. It turned out, however, that this hardware runs Win98SE (came with it) extremely well. Will I miss a lot if I don't use Win98? I only intend to use the machine for gaming.

4) CRT and speakers

I remember reading somewhere that CRT screens can be damaged by placing speakers too close to them. Is that true for all kinds of speakers?

Thanks!
Last edited by jheronimus on 2015-12-22 @ 11:59, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby JayCeeBee64 » 2015-12-21 @ 22:10

Nice find! Looks very clean and tidy. Any inside pics? :happy:

Most late DOS games should work great with it. A few might have the well known Borland Runtime Error 200 issue but it can be solved with a patch or TSR. Having the PS2 mouse connector is a plus IMO.

As for your upgrades/questions:

Upgrading system memory to 64mb will mostly benefit Windows; no DOS game that I know will use that much.

An IDE CD-RW will work nicely (that's what I have on my Socket 7 PC).

A Voodoo 2 SLI setup will be held back by a P233MMX; you most likely need a P2 450 or better to see them truly perform. A Voodoo 1 would be a much better choice here.

Any particular reason why you want to replace the Cirrus Logic sound card with an AWE64?

Only way to find out if a 40gb HDD will work is to try one out.

LED displays usually have jumpers in back to set the numbers. You'll have to play with them to change the display to what you want.

Sounds like the backplates with the I/O ports are not well secured, in which case you can punch out the case holes, unscrew the connector nuts with a hex socket or hand wrench, then screw them back in the corresponding holes. The PS2 hole will probably need to be drilled at the sides so you can screw in the connector securely (this one needs a Phillips screwdriver).

Since this PC came with Win98SE I say keep it. Windows 98 is a better match for this PC, also has improved USB support if you decide to eventually use it.

Looks like the PC speakers you have are the shielded type so I don't think you have anything to worry about. If the CRT has funny colors at the corners or screen geometry starts to change unexpectedly then move them farther to the sides as much as you can.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby Tetrium » 2015-12-21 @ 22:11

Why not stick with 98SE? I'm not sure why 95 would add to your rig if your rig is more than capable of running it.

64MB total system memory for a 430TX is what I would do :)

And V2 SLI is really over the top, even my K6-3/400 used a single one. But if you want to do this, then why not! Only thing is that AT cases aren't good for cooling and using many expansion cards in there might heat things up a bit (and I'd mostly worry about the V2's as the rest seems to be much more 'expendable' :P ).
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby brostenen » 2015-12-21 @ 22:23

jheronimus wrote:Next steps — comments welcome
1) upgrade 32 MB. Probably just get a 64 MB DIMM module
2) replace CD-ROM for a CD-RW — what kind of connections/standards should I look out for? Would any IDE model work?
3) get two Voodoo 2 cards. I'm not entirely sure what kind of games would I use SLI for, but I'm going to a shop that supposedly has "60 identical 12 meg Voodoo 2 1000 cards", so I might as well pick a pair, an FDD cable, a VGA passthrough and make an SLI
4) get a NIC card from the Vogons' Wiki article.
5) get a Sound Blaster AWE64 card. I don't know whether or not I'll go the whole MT-32 route, and for some reason AWE32 cards are 3 times as expensive at best.
6) get a new 40GB Seagate ST340014A or a Western Digital WD400BB IDE hard drive, since they cost the same and can be bought at the same place. Will they work? I don't know whether my mobo has an LBA-enabled BIOS update, so I don't plan for a bigger hard drive yet.
7) eventually get an S3 Trio64 card as soon as I get a nice deal for a fully upgraded model.


1: 32mb is about fine. As most stuff from that era can run nice with 32mb.
2: Any IDE would work, even DVD-Drives.
3: V1 sound's more like the way to go. Just a feeling.
4: I never use Network Cards in any of my machines, they are all single-player machines. And NIC's would just use an IRQ for no good reason.
5: Yeah... AWE64-Gold, if AWE32 is not chosen.
6: Even Seagate disks can be used, as their size can be altered, using Seatools. If it's a SATA, then use a converter.
7: I have used both S3-9XX (something with 9XX) and CL-5446 cards in Socket7 machines. I like the image quality on the CL better.
As it makes a bit more "rounded" kind of image. Less contrast that is. Wich by the way, look's awesomme on a flatscreen. (trust me on this)
The S3 card I have is a Number Nine, wich has extreme image quality. Kind of like vga-signal strength on steroids or something like that.
Yeah. It's great for Voodoo's. On it's own, it kind of sucks to have that much power on the signal. Too clean looking.

For the LED, then look inside the case, behind the led-panel. There should be jumpers. Just play with them. ;-)
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby jheronimus » 2015-12-21 @ 22:35

JayCeeBee64 wrote: Any particular reason why you want to replace the Cirrus Logic sound card with an AWE64?


I just thought it would have better compatibility with games.

Tetrium wrote:Why not stick with 98SE? I'm not sure why 95 would add to your rig if your rig is more than capable of running it.


Better compatibility (particularly with DOS games)/more available system resources?

brostenen wrote:V1 sound's more like the way to go. Just a feeling.


V2 just seem to be a lot more widespread where I live, no other reason.

brostenen wrote:I never use Network Cards in any of my machines, they are all single-player machines. And NIC's would just use an IRQ for no good reason.


I've thought of it more as a mean to transfer files/download software. Otherwise I would just have to burn a CD-RW whenever I need something.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby alexanrs » 2015-12-21 @ 23:14

I use NICs in all my old machines. Using FTP to transfer files to old Windows 9x systems is a FAR more convenient solution IMHO than USB flash drives, floppies or CDs. Unless you want to use network under bare DOS mode you mgiht be better off with a PCI NIC, since those are easier to set up and do IRQ sharing with other PCI devices.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby jheronimus » 2015-12-21 @ 23:26

alexanrs wrote:I use NICs in all my old machines. Using FTP to transfer files to old Windows 9x systems is a FAR more convenient solution IMHO than USB flash drives, floppies or CDs.


That's exactly my thinking as well. Especially since no other machine in my house has a CD drive, let alone a floppy drive. And this machine does not have USB :happy:
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby jheronimus » 2015-12-22 @ 00:23

Three observations so far:

1) everything works A LOT faster than I remember. The BIOS checks actually take longer than booting Win98 itself;
2) I tried playing some Pink Floyd CDs on my CD ROM. For some reason, there is no output to the speakers. I could only hear the music once I plugged my headphones directly into the CD-ROM's 3.5 port. Is that because I used default CD player application and not WinAmp or something, or do I need to somehow connect CD ROM to the soundboard? I checked the volumes in the sound mixer app.
3) love the "degauss" feature on the CRT screen!
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby alexanrs » 2015-12-22 @ 00:30

You need to connect a four-pin cable from the back of your CD drive to the sound card's (or motherboard's) CD-In.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby JayCeeBee64 » 2015-12-22 @ 03:16

jheronimus wrote:
JayCeeBee64 wrote: Any particular reason why you want to replace the Cirrus Logic sound card with an AWE64?


I just thought it would have better compatibility with games.


Both are equally compatible IMO. The E-mu 8000 synth does tilt the scale in favor of the AWE64 though.

jheronimus wrote:
Tetrium wrote:Why not stick with 98SE? I'm not sure why 95 would add to your rig if your rig is more than capable of running it.


Better compatibility (particularly with DOS games)/more available system resources?


DOS and Windows 3.x/9x games work equally well in Win95 and Win98, no differences there. Win95 is a bit lighter in system resources; it's up to you if you want to switch.

jheronimus wrote:
brostenen wrote:V1 sound's more like the way to go. Just a feeling.


V2 just seem to be a lot more widespread where I live, no other reason.


Then go with a single Voodoo 2 card. I had one in my Socket 7 PC for years and worked well enough; switched to a Voodoo 1 so I could use the Voodoo 2 in my P3 600 (SLI, of course). If you want the coolness factor of SLI then that's fine, just make sure (as Tetrium said) that the AT case cooling is up to the job (they do warm up quite a bit).

jheronimus wrote:
brostenen wrote:I never use Network Cards in any of my machines, they are all single-player machines. And NIC's would just use an IRQ for no good reason.


I've thought of it more as a mean to transfer files/download software. Otherwise I would just have to burn a CD-RW whenever I need something.


A NIC makes sense if you have the room for a local network - fast data transfers and no waiting makes it very appealing.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby gdjacobs » 2015-12-22 @ 03:51

JayCeeBee64 wrote:
jheronimus wrote:
JayCeeBee64 wrote: Any particular reason why you want to replace the Cirrus Logic sound card with an AWE64?


I just thought it would have better compatibility with games.


Both are equally compatible IMO. The E-mu 8000 synth does tilt the scale in favor of the AWE64 though.


The CS4235 is not a very desirable chipset. It's like Cirrus Logic's version of the Vibra 16. I'm not a huge fan of the Awe 32 or 64 for DOS either as their most powerful feature (Soundfonts) requires Windows, and the emulated OPL3 doesn't light me on fire.

There are a few good options, including (but not limited to):
Crystal / Cirrus Logic chipset with a quality FM synth (not the CS clone chip)
Yamaha chipset (YMF718/719)
SB16 with official FM synth (only a few models are not noisy though, I use a CT2810 which is good)

Going SB16 means you're going to be searching for another MIDI card. Atm I'm using a second sound card, but you could look at picking up an MT-32 capable card like the Music Quest clone cards Keropi makes. Cards other than the SB16 don't have the hanging note bug, but generally can't do intelligent mode and won't work 100% for MT-32 capable games. SoftMPU might address that in your case, but you'd want to read up to know for sure.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby tayyare » 2015-12-22 @ 07:52

jheronimus wrote:
alexanrs wrote:I use NICs in all my old machines. Using FTP to transfer files to old Windows 9x systems is a FAR more convenient solution IMHO than USB flash drives, floppies or CDs.


That's exactly my thinking as well. Especially since no other machine in my house has a CD drive, let alone a floppy drive. And this machine does not have USB :happy:


The Russian site that you gave a link to, states that the board has two USB ports. Maybe it is optional, but you might find that you have the headers on the board already.

Edit: I found this:

http://bios.rom.by/LS/5I-TX1/

Check your board for a 9-10 pin connector between 1st and 2nd PCI slots, near the edge of the board. The same site also mentions with original BIOS your board supports HDDs of 32GB max. It also says there is a modified BIOS that supports HDDS of 120GB size. So, I'm sure your proposed 40GB drives will work on your machine, providing that if you will jumper them to limit their capacity to 32 GB (virtually all 40GB HDDs have that jumper).

There is also this for USB header pinout:

http://www.progtown.com/topic1363884-lucky-star-5itx1-the-description-on-connector-usb-on-signals-or-a-complete-description-is-necessary.html
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby oerk » 2015-12-22 @ 08:42

Another vote for a NIC for local file transfers :) All of my machines have one. First priority when installing a new machine is always getting the network up and running, so I don't have to deal with removable media anymore.

Any particular reason as to why you want to replace the Virge with a Trio64? In DOS they should be virtually identical, and 2 MB video memory should be enough for era-appropriate Windows resolutions.

If you want to go the Voodoo 2 route, a single one would be more than sufficient.

Sound card: if you aren't hung up on getting the real OPL3 sound, an AWE64 would be fine and pretty cheap. Otherwise, as has been said, Yamaha-based cards or a SB16 (getting the right model is a challenge in itself though). And some MIDI solution. Which could be expensive.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby tayyare » 2015-12-22 @ 08:56

jheronimus wrote:
Tetrium wrote:Why not stick with 98SE? I'm not sure why 95 would add to your rig if your rig is more than capable of running it.


Better compatibility (particularly with DOS games)/more available system resources?


You can always go for a multiboot setup: http://www.masterbooter.com/main/features_en.html

But I really can't see anything that you can do with Windows 95 but not with Windows 98.

jheronimus wrote:
brostenen wrote:I never use Network Cards in any of my machines, they are all single-player machines. And NIC's would just use an IRQ for no good reason.


I've thought of it more as a mean to transfer files/download software. Otherwise I would just have to burn a CD-RW whenever I need something.


This is exactly why I put a NIC in each and every one my machines. I suggest you go for it. What's the hazard from something using an IRQ which you will not be using for anything else, anyway? :lol:

I personally suggest 3com 3c90x series but people here also use Intel and Realtek models very happily. There are even Gigabit cards (Intel, etc.) with proper Windows 98 drivers.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby jheronimus » 2015-12-22 @ 09:22

tayyare wrote:
Edit: I found this:

http://bios.rom.by/LS/5I-TX1/



Holy shit, thank you for the LBA patch!
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby jheronimus » 2015-12-22 @ 09:25

oerk wrote:Any particular reason as to why you want to replace the Virge with a Trio64? In DOS they should be virtually identical, and 2 MB video memory should be enough for era-appropriate Windows resolutions.


Maybe it's just "more is better" mentality — if you can get a faster card for 5-6 dollars, why not? But still, before I start picking video and sound, I'd want to get a NIC and a CD-RW drive. Without testing my new hardware on some real games, I'm really flying blind.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby alexanrs » 2015-12-22 @ 11:56

I missed the part about the Virge. Unless that Virge has output quality issues, do not downgrade it to a Trio64. The Virge IS the successor to the Trio64, using a 2D core derived from the later Trio64 revisions with some 3D features tacked on. AFAIK a Trio64 would never be faster than a Virge (unless the Virge is using slower memory).
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby jheronimus » 2015-12-22 @ 11:58

alexanrs wrote:The Virge IS the successor to the Trio64, using a 2D core derived from the later Trio64 revisions with some 3D features tacked on.


Oops, my bad. I thought it was the other way around.
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby gdjacobs » 2015-12-22 @ 12:26

Has the old optical drive failed?
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Re: My first Socket 7 machine + some questions

Postby jheronimus » 2015-12-22 @ 16:13

gdjacobs wrote:Has the old optical drive failed?


No, why?
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