VOGONS


First post, by appiah4

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I have tried to do 1997/98 Pentium II builds twice now and I always end up going for a Pentium III build in the end. The PII is kind of underwhelming compared to a 233 MMX or SS7 options, 97/98 3d hardware is pretty damn bad (Savage3d, i740, Riva128 which suck, G200 and TNT are passable but underwhelming, a banshee eludes me) so I almost always skip to the idea of a Katmai Pentium III with a Vooodoo 3 or a slotket early Coppermine with a GF256 and a Voodoo 2 (no SLI for me for now as the other Voodoo 2 is in a Socket7 build).

And this is despite the PII being my most memorable historic upgrade going from a P120 software rendering to a PII 300 i740 and Voodoo 2. This setup really doesnt excite me today though. Does anyone else feel this way? Is there merit to a PII build that a PIII would be too fast for? And what 3d hardware do you usually use for PII builds?

And finally I have come in possession og a Via Apollo Pro Socket 370 motherboard with ISA slots but its an AT board with ATX power options. Is this a common PIII board type? Is it likely an early PIII board? What kind of build would be authentic with it?

Last edited by appiah4 on 2017-06-26, 07:32. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 1 of 17, by PhilsComputerLab

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That period, from late 90s to early 2000s to me is one of huge progress in terms of CPU and GPU power. Not sure if more than any other periods, but the performance just exploded and computers became obsolete after just a year or two.

So I think that's what you're finding with the Pentium II. Resolutions also got larger and larger, when I had a Pentium II 640x480 in 3D games was top notch and at those resolutions many games are quite playable.

It was a time of struggling to keep up with upgrades.

Personally, Pentium III all the way. It doesn't have to be Slot 1, if your focus is on Windows games there are fine Intel 815 chipset boards. Having said that, if you continue that thinking then the Pentium 4 becomes the next consideration.

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Reply 2 of 17, by FFXIhealer

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My first gaming PC was a 350MHz Pentium II, 128MB PC-100, ASUS P2B Revision 1.02, Diamond Stealth II G460 AGP (8MB i740), Sound Blaster AWE64 Gold, stuff like that. Windows 98 First Edition. For early 1999, it was a solid gamer, playing the games I had to play very well (such as Duke Nukem 3D Atomic, Final Fantasy 7/8, Half-Life, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Baldur's Gate II). I went for the 350MHz because AT THE TIME I knew I would see a bigger performance jump by stepping up to a 100MHz FSB than trying to push the then-aging 66MHz bus. Plus, the AGP port was supposed to be the big new thing (even though I only had AGP 2x). When I had this system, I had a 17" CRT and I only ever really ran it at 800 x 600. Anything higher would make letters and details too small for me and the picture would start to get fuzzy.
But also keep in mind that I was stepping up from my dad's 100MHz Pentium PC with Windows 95. It had a 1MB on-board graphics chip and a Sound Blaster 16 and couldn't play any game except DOS games worth a damn. It had no 3D hardware at all and couldn't even have really used a 4MB Voodoo1 system.

Having rebuilt my Windows 98 computer now, I've upgraded to the fastest processor that ASUS P2B could handle: a 600MHz Katmai Pentium III. I didn't have the Stealth II anymore, so I picked up a Diamond Viper V770 RIVA TNT2 32MB AGP card, which is fantastic for DirectX games of this era. I also dropped in 2x STB V2-1000 Voodoo2 12MB PCI cards in SLI for GLIDE support. The system runs at 1024x768 unless the game drops it down (like FF7/8 using 640x480). I had a great time playing through Quake I and II, Unreal is waiting for me to play it finally, and Turok 2 was so much better with keyboard+Mouse than the N64 controller.

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Reply 3 of 17, by chinny22

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I can relate, I upgraded from a 486 to a PII 400, BX motherboard, 16MB TNT in 1998 All good hardware at the time and still have most of it in storage.
TNT held back the CPU, which was upgraded few years into its life anyway
CPU held back the motherboard, and with todays prices I would upgrade that without even thinking to a P3

About the only "excuse" I can think to leave as a P2 400 was for a long time what was listed as minimum requirements, so you could test to see how games fared on what they listed as the minimum.

But as a whole it was setting up for the next big era in gaming (namely the Win98SE, DirectX, EAX era)

Reply 5 of 17, by gerwin

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appiah4 wrote:

The PII is kind of underwhelming compared to a 233 MMX or SS7 options

The Klamath PII core itself is practically still a Pentium MMX. Not much benefit in itself. The Deschutes is the same but runs cooler, which is a very welcome feature. The main Pentium II selling point for gaming is not the CPU though, it is the motherboard chipset: i440BX and derivatives blow all preceeding chipsets out of the water. Of only for the 100MHz bus with write combining (PII CPU feature), proper AGP slot, Low latency and USB.

If a PIII build is slotted, then installing Pentium II takes a few minutes. Actually, the whole Pentium II/III difference is blurred. Since it changed to III with the Katmai-core with SSE, but otherwise it is still the same. Coppermine with integrated cache was the bigger change. So the split makes more sense when talking pre-coppermine versus coppermine and later cores.

appiah4 wrote:

And this is despite the PII being my most memorable historic upgrade going from a P120 software rendering to a PII 300 i740 and Voodoo 2. This setup really doesnt excite me today though. Does anyone else feel this way?

I also have very good memories of the hardware introductions from around the Pentium II era, with the introduction of the first celerons (cacheless and small-but-fast cache). It was exciting at the time.
I still like the pentium II, but coppermine is such a leap forward. With minimal power use it went to around 1GHz. And at that time crappy Pentium 4 came along, and AMD with good CPUs but poor motherboard chipsets, only nVidia saved the day.

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Reply 6 of 17, by clueless1

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appiah4 wrote:

And this is despite the PII being my most memorable historic upgrade going from a P120 software rendering to a PII 300 i740 and Voodoo 2. This setup really doesnt excite me today though. Does anyone else feel this way?

This kind of sums up how I feel about all Win9x builds. 🙁 It's hard for me to get excited because the OS is too similar to what I run today, and the games of that era can almost always be made to run as well, if not better, on an XP or later system. It's too close to modern in my opinion. So I stick with MS-DOS 6.22 and P55C and earlier processors. That always excites me 😀

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Reply 7 of 17, by Ampera

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PhilsComputerLab wrote:
That period, from late 90s to early 2000s to me is one of huge progress in terms of CPU and GPU power. Not sure if more than any […]
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That period, from late 90s to early 2000s to me is one of huge progress in terms of CPU and GPU power. Not sure if more than any other periods, but the performance just exploded and computers became obsolete after just a year or two.

So I think that's what you're finding with the Pentium II. Resolutions also got larger and larger, when I had a Pentium II 640x480 in 3D games was top notch and at those resolutions many games are quite playable.

It was a time of struggling to keep up with upgrades.

Personally, Pentium III all the way. It doesn't have to be Slot 1, if your focus is on Windows games there are fine Intel 815 chipset boards. Having said that, if you continue that thinking then the Pentium 4 becomes the next consideration.

I do not think this specific speed increase started at the P6 platform. When the Voodoo accelerators came out, they revolutionized the way 3D gaming worked on PCs almost overnight. Machines went from Doom being a playable best to having full on games like Quake and Tomb Raider be possible. While numbers may have gone nuts with the P6 line, I think that this foundation was lain by the previous P5 chips combined with the Voodoo card line.

Reply 8 of 17, by Jade Falcon

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I always find my self wanting to play around with a PII but always end up with a PIII systems in the end. I feel the Pii is often over looked.

Reply 9 of 17, by nforce4max

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This is why I don't get too invested in just two or three systems and go with flavor of the week or whatever gets me excited for a time while everything else is for convenience. P2 builds are pretty nice is that some are still dirt cheap and are a great way for people to get their foot in the door without spending a heap or having to really compete with other people for basic hardware vs other builds. I like those P2 era boards with DOS compatible onboard audio avoiding the rising costs of getting decent ISA sound cards plus they are stable. It is easy to get a faster system when raw performance is needed anyway.

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Reply 10 of 17, by gerwin

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Some years ago I bought an intel SR440BX Motherboard from with an intel Pentium II 400MHz installed. That is a µATX Slot-1 Mainboard with onboard Riva TNT graphics (16MB) and an Audio PCI 64V. It has one ISA slot. It is not my favorite board since it doesn't downclock and overclock well, Still everytime I think about it, it strikes me how impressive such a system must have been at the time of introduction. Fast, reliable, compact and (backward-)compatible.

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Reply 11 of 17, by Tetrium

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appiah4 wrote:

I have tried to do 1997/98 Pentium II builds twice now and I always end up going for a Pentium III build in the end. The PII is kind of underwhelming compared to a 233 MMX or SS7 options, 97/98 3d hardware is pretty damn bad (Savage3d, i740, Riva128 which suck, G200 and TNT are passable but underwhelming, a banshee eludes me) so I almost always skip to the idea of a Katmai Pentium III with a Vooodoo 3 or a slotket early Coppermine with a GF256 and a Voodoo 2 (no SLI for me for now as the other Voodoo 2 is in a Socket7 build).

And this is despite the PII being my most memorable historic upgrade going from a P120 software rendering to a PII 300 i740 and Voodoo 2. This setup really doesnt excite me today though. Does anyone else feel this way? Is there merit to a PII build that a PIII would be too fast for? And what 3d hardware do you usually use for PII builds?

And finally I have come in possession og a Via Apollo Pro Socket 370 motherboard with ISA slots but its an AT board with ATX power options. Is this a common PIII board type? Is it likely an early PIII board? What kind of build would be authentic with it?

Actually, it's very similar to my experience. If I can get away with a Katmai (and most boards can), I'll just go Katmai and the P2 I do use tend to be the ones with a free multiplier.
For CPUs up to around 500MHz I tend to prefer ss7 and for anything faster I tend to prefer Coppermine or even the 100MHz FSB Celerons.
Even though I don't agree with you that 97-98 hardware is pretty darn bad (s7 MMX, ss7, s8, Voodoo 2 (kinda), AWE64 (kinda), Rendition 2100/2200), hardware was advancing very rapidly back then and even though there's lots to choose from, much of it has somewhat limited usefulness due to their limited performance.

But honestly..yes, I ended up never building another Pentium 2 except for a quick test rig or so.

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Reply 12 of 17, by Tetrium

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Came across this just now, now there's actually a legitimate excuse to use a P2 instead of a P3 🤣

meljor wrote:

What imperious said: Voodoo1 cards generally do NOT like fast systems/cpu's.

I have a lot of these cards and not a single one would work on my Tusl2-c board with Tualatin cpu. Run fine on slower systems. Above 450mhz cpu speed can generate problems. But there are people that have no issues on fast p3's.

So just test your card on a p1 or p2.

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Reply 13 of 17, by Tertz

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Tetrium wrote:

Above 450mhz cpu speed can generate problems. But there are people that have no issues on fast p3's.

Seems like CPU downclocking and quality MB may help.

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Reply 15 of 17, by meljor

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Tertz wrote:
Tetrium wrote:

Above 450mhz cpu speed can generate problems. But there are people that have no issues on fast p3's.

Seems like CPU downclocking and quality MB may help.

I tried it at 66fsb even and it did not help, and quality-wise there is absolutely nothing wrong with an Asus Tusl2-c?

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Reply 16 of 17, by Tertz

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meljor wrote:

I tried it at 66fsb even and it did not help, and quality-wise there is absolutely nothing wrong with an Asus Tusl2-c?

TUSL is designed for later hardware. I meant 440BX boards with up to P3 1000. Asus/Abit made good ones, for example.

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Reply 17 of 17, by clueless1

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I was lucky enough to come across an HP Vectra VL that was manufactured in either late 98 or early 99 (can't remember now). But it fell in my lap with a P2-400, 128MB RAM, integrated Matrox G100, Aztech ISA soundcard, and a few PCI slots. I held onto it for over a year, not knowing what to do with it. I think it's got dip switches for up to a 500Mhz cpu. But recently I acquired a pair of Voodoo2s, then it all fell into place. After installing them, I had what was pretty close to the "dream machine" of 1998. This also happened to be the era that I was last active in gaming, so the games that would run well on it were games I was familiar with and actually played when they were new. So that gives me motivation to keep it as-is.

It plays games like Quake II, Half-Life, Unreal, NFS: High Stakes, and Thief like a champ. It even plays Deus Ex pretty decently. For me, the key to not wanting to upgrade it is tied to my unfamiliarity with most games that came out in 2001 and later. Plus, there's a certain sense of pride knowing it can play a game (Deus Ex) that was released a couple of years after this PC was new.

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