First post, by athlon-power

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If this question has been asked before, please let me know. I'm curious about the average specs for the whole gamut of PCs from late '98 to early '99. I'm not asking for extremely specific details, though if you wish, a more detailed look into it would be very welcome. I'm mainly looking at five specifications for the PC:

- Processor: Architecture generalization works too, for example, an Am5x86 is pretty much sped up 486 architecture, etc.

- RAM: Just amount estimates are fine, though RAM type and speed estimates are also welcome.

- Hard Disk(s): Likewise with the RAM, amount estimates work fine, though things such as HDD types (SCSI, IDE, etc.)

- Physical media: Things such as floppy drives, CD drives, and also ZIP drive devices.

- Graphics: This covers almost any sort of graphics you can think of, even 2D accelerators. (I actually have a PCI Trident TGUI9440-1 GUI accelerator, from circa 1994, just to give you an idea of how low things can go) This also encompasses things like dedicated 3D cards, 2D cards, and full-on GPUs (like the GeForce 256, or the Riva 128).

Thanks! If anyone wants to know, I'm trying to get a better view of what to do with the Pentium III machine I have, which I've mostly come onto here to try and help fix problems for. I will also post pictures of it eventually, if anyone wants.

Where am I?

Reply 1 of 36, by sunaiac

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I bought a PC in august 1998 :
- Intel Pentium II 333
- 440LX motherboard
- 64 MB RAM
- sound blaster vibra 16
- Intel 740 Gfx
- 15 inch screen
- 6.4G HDD IDE
- floppy

for 7000frs (around 1100€ without inflation), so more low-mid end (CPU offered at that time were celeron 266/300 cacheless, and PII 333, 350 and 400), the classic good CPU with crap around thingy

Added 64MB RAM, a Riva TNT and a 12MB Voodoo 2 in 99 for around 2000frs
And a SCSI chain with card, CDROM, burner in 2000 for like 1500frs.

If that helps 😀

R9 3900X/X470 Taichi/32GB 3600CL15/5700XT AE/Marantz PM7005
i7 980X/R9 290X/X-Fi titanium | FX-57/X1950XTX/Audigy 2ZS
Athlon 1000T Slot A/GeForce 3/AWE64G | K5 PR 200/ET6000/AWE32
Ppro 200 1M/Voodoo 3 2000/AWE 32 | iDX4 100/S3 864 VLB/SB16

Reply 2 of 36, by vvbee

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Bought in autumn '98:
- amd k6(-2) 300
- viper 330
- a motherboard of some kind
- ? mb ram
- ? gb ide hd, possibly seagate medalist
- sb 16, probably vibra
- yakumo 15" monitor
- some keytronic keyboard
- floppy, creative 36x? cd-rom
- unknown at case with 200-w chiu psu

Cost about 8000 markkas. I'd consider it mid-end.

Reply 3 of 36, by tayyare

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These were my configs but probably are also typical maybe except amount of RAM and HDD capacity (I always had a bit more RAM and HDD capacity compared to what was typical)

In early 1998:

CPU: Intel Pentium MMX 233 on an Asus P5A-B motherboard
RAM: 64MB (If I remember correctly, it could be 128MB)
GPU: Asus 3DP-V3000 TV (Riva 128 with 4MB RAM)
HDD: Definately a Quantum but I'm not sure about size: 5 to 10 GB?
Optical: A Cretive Infra (32X?) + 3.5" 1.44MB FDD + 5.25" 1.2MB FDD
Sound: Soundblaster 16

In late 1999:

CPU: Intel Pentium II 400 on an Asus P2B-F motherboard
RAM: 128 or 256MB, I can't really remember
GPU: Asus AGP-V3000XZ TV (Riva 128ZX with 8MB RAM)
HDD: Definately two Quantums but I'm not sure about size: 5 to 10 GB?
Optical: Some cheap Liteon, 52x? + 3.5" 1.44MB FDD + Phillips 4x? CDRW (might be not in 1999 but later in 2000)
Sound: Soundblaster AWE64

Last edited by tayyare on 2018-10-18, 10:16. Edited 1 time in total.

Geforce4 Ti 4200 64MB
Diamond Monster 3D 12MB SLI
120GB IDE Samsung/80GB IDE Seagate/146GB SCSI Compaq/73GB SCSI IBM
Adaptec AHA29160
3com 3C905B-TX
Gotek+CF Reader
MSDOS 6.22+Win 3.11/95 OSR2.1/98SE/ME/2000

Reply 4 of 36, by dionb

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Let's think... I worked at Packard Bell's technical support for UK/IE in 2000-2001 and this period was in active support then.

Typical configs for 'Hercules' (mid 1998) release:

Low end.
K6-2 ~333MHz
32MB RAM (either 60ns EDO or PC100 SDRAM)
ATX motherboard with integrated VGA based on SiS5596, 5597 or 5598 chipset, either a GVC FR-500, Biostar M5SIB or similar. Also had an ESS Solo or (if you were lucky) Yamaha 744 sound onboard.
Some or other Winmodem.
CDRW drive
And all of that in a pretty ugly, excessively square case, usually paired with a Tatung or Hyundai 15" shadow mask 0.28 dot pitch monitor

Mid range
Celeron 300 or 333
Intel MU440EX or MSI MS-6159 (i440LX-based) with onboard ATi Rage Pro and either Yamaha 744 or ESS/Creative 1373 sound
32MB RAM (not shared with GPU)
Some or other winmodem
CDRW or DVD-Rom/ CDRW combo
Curvy ATX miditower, and either 15" or 17" 0.28dp shadow mask monitor

High end.
Pentium 2 350 or 400
Intel SE440BX or MSI 6119 motherboard (both pretty basic without onboard stuff)
ATi Rage Pro AGP or maybe nVidia Riva128
Aztech sound card with Aureal Vortex 1 sound
Some or other Winmodem
DVD-Rom / CDRW combo drive
Stuffed into a pretty hefty full ATX midi tower. Usually paired with 17" shadow mask Tatung/Hyundai 0.28 dot pitch (not so amazing, but hey, if you buy Packard Bell wanting 'high end' you're asking for it 😉 ) with two Diamond speakers attached to the sides.

Reply 5 of 36, by gex85

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German food discounter ALDI sold the Medion branded MT-24 system in late March 1999:
* Pentium II 400 MHz
* Intel 440BX or LX chipset
* 64 MB SD-RAM
* NVidia Riva TNT onboard graphics with 16MB RAM
* onboard audio, don't remember the details
* IDE hard disk about 13GB afair, but might have been less
* IDE CD-ROM 40x (probably LTN-382)

It was bundled with a 17 inch CRT, keyboard and mouse and sold for 1999,- DM (1380€ / 1590$ by todays purchasing power).
These Medion machines were very popular in Germany back then because their price/performance ratio was very hard to beat. So I would see this configuration somewhere between mid- and high-end.

My retro computers

Reply 6 of 36, by chinny22

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remember the year well, was when I got my very own PC 😀
it was my Christmas Present for 1998, I had $3000 Aussie dollar budget and ended up with
Gateway PII 400 (was only our 2nd PC so not confident building from scratch yet)
PII 450 was an option but cost too much
RAM: 64MB (Default option, knew I would upgrade later)
Video: TNT 16MB, (on recommendation on a friend as I didn't know about such things, He ended up getting a Voodoo2 for bit the same year)
Audio: Onboard Audio PCI 64
HDD: 10GB (Think 8GB was the default)
32x CD-Rom
OS: NT4 (as I wanted to try it out, and duel booted Win98 installed from a friends CD)
15" CRT

Added within 3 months, 10MB Nic, Zip 100 Parallel for college

Some point the following year the family PC was upgraded from a local PC shop, not sure the cost but smaller budget.
CPU: Celeron 500 on a slot 1 adaptor
M/B: Asus P2B-DS
RAM: 64 or 128 MB
Video: TNT2 64MB
Audio: SB Live!
52x CD-ROM
17" CRT

Reply 7 of 36, by LHN91

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In late 1998/early 1999 for about $500 Canadian my family got a french-conversion packaged Packard Bell from the Radio Shack Outlet Store.

We never applied the French conversion stickers, but it did mean all of the manuals were in french even if the software was ultimately English.

Pentium MMX 233
32 or 64 MB of RAM (I don't remember for sure)
2MB S3 onboard video
Yamaha onboard sound of some variety (I believe it was an OPL-SAx of some kind)
Windows 95
15" Packard Bell CRT w/Speakers

I'd say that was a pretty low-end machine at the time, not that I was old enough to know better.

Reply 8 of 36, by athlon-power

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So now I've definitely figured out that 448MB of RAM is probably a little too much, even for the high end.

I really don't have much of a choice on what HDDs I can use, because I don't have anything smaller than 40GB, but it'll have to do for now.

Thanks for the help, it makes wrapping my mind around these sorts of things quite a bit easier.

Where am I?

Reply 9 of 36, by lost77

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I remember sticking with 128MB RAM until 2000 since games didnt need more than that, atleast in an optimized system. I would say 256MB for the high end limit.

I bought a HDD in late 98, IBM Deskstar 14GXP. At 14.4GB it was the largest model, also one of the few 7200RPM models at that time. ATA-66 interface.
As for CD-ROMs i think 40x was pretty much as fast as they went at that time.

For high-end graphics, probably a voodoo3 3000 (March) or TNT2 Ultra (April).

Reply 10 of 36, by RaverX

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Yes, 448 MB of RAM for a normal PC in late 98 is indeed a bit too much, if you want to be "periodically correct". Most motherboard with sdram slots had max. 3 slots, some *might* had 4 slots (but I think those appeared after the Pentium III launch, in the spring of 1999). There were 128 MB modules, but they were quite expensive, so the max was 384 mb, but a more realistic build would be 3x64 mb.
Optical drive: back then you pretty much had to choose how many X the CDROM should be, CDRWs were quite expensive, DVDROMs were expensive and useless

As far as I remember those were some typical "specs" back then.

Cheap build:
-socket 7 with K6 or Cyrix 6x86 CPU
-a generic videocard, something like S3 Virge was all that you could really afford for a cheap build
-HDD: I remember that I bought a second HDD in 1999, it was a 4.3 GB Quantum Fireball, I already had a 2.1 GB Maxtor. It wasn't the biggest you could buy, but was quite close. Later, somebody i knew bought a 10.1 GB HDD, but that was at the end of 1999 already. So, I'd say that for a cheap build a 1, max 2 GB HDD is a safe bet

Budget build:
-super socket 7 platforms with K6-II CPUS, even lower (Pentium MMX were still selling in 98, and they weren't very cheap)
-32 MB, maybe 64 MB of SDRAM
-Riva128 and Rage Pro were *kind of* affordable, Voodoo Rush was an option too, Voodoo Graphics is not quite realistic, because they were still quite expensive (and you also needed a 2d card that also adds to the cost of the build)

Best bang for the buck build (for gaming)
-a motherboard with lx440 chipset(or bx440 if you wanted to overclock)
-celeron 300a(overclocked to 450 if you had a bx440)
-128 mb (2x64 mb) ram
-Voodoo Banshee

High end build:
-BX440 motherboard
-PII 400 (for late 98) or PIII 500 (for early 99 build)
-256 MB RAM (you coud go higher, for 384 or even more, but it was quite expensive)
-VoodooII SLI (2 cards) plus a decent 2d card or Riva TNT or... both, if you wanted the best for glide games and d3d games too
-6.4 GB HDD

Reply 11 of 36, by athlon-power

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RaverX wrote:

There were 128 MB modules, but they were quite expensive, so the max was 384 mb, but a more realistic build would be 3x64 mb.

In that case, my 256MB module I have in there goes bye-bye. The thing is, as far as truly period correct RAM is concerned, I only have a 64MB and 128MB module, so I'll end up at 192MB of RAM. I do Have a 32MB module, but it's PC66 and the bus on that thing is PC100. I'm fine with putting PC133 in there and letting it underclock, but putting a 66mhz module in there and letting it overclock seems more risky.

RaverX wrote:

-PII 400 (for late 98) or PIII 500 (for early 99 build)

I currently have a Pentium III Katmai 500mhz in there, so I'm sorta forced to go with early '99 right now. If I had the money to get a PII400, I'd also be getting a new motherboard that has more features and expansion options than the one I currently have. If I were to really go for something, it'd be an Intel 440BX board with a Celeron 300A oc'd to 450Mhz or some stupid crazy number like that. I've seen an OC like that rival the highest-end Pentium IIs of the time.

lost77 wrote:

I bought a HDD in late 98, IBM Deskstar 14GXP. At 14.4GB it was the largest model, also one of the few 7200RPM models at that time. ATA-66 interface.

When I can, I'm honestly considering getting some sort of PCI Ultra-Wide SCSI card and sticking a 10-20GB 10,000RPM HDD in it. For some reason, I've always really wanted a lower capacity 10,000RPM HDD. I am pretty sure that's overkill and that that would have cost enormous amounts of money in early '99, so a good large capacity Parallel ATA drive would suffice.

Now that RAM amount is done, and I've got a good idea of the processors and storage, that makes things a lot easier.

I noticed that there is almost zero mention of ZIP drives, if any at all. Were they just not practical at the time, or was it something people just didn't really care about by that point? I've always found ZIP drives really interesting but if nobody really found a true use for them back in the day, I could use the free 3.5" slot.

Where am I?

Reply 12 of 36, by gex85

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If you are on a tight budget you might want to look for a TNT2 M64. Would be a good fit for a 500 MHz Katmai and ranges between TNT and TNT2 performance-wise. At least here in Germany there are plenty of these cards available on eBay for 6-7€, shipping included.

My retro computers

Reply 13 of 36, by Jasin Natael

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My parents had a basic PC built by a cousins cousin, who was the IT guy at a local High School.

Technically speaking this was my second PC, the first being a Packard Bell Legend 316

If I remember the specs were mostly as follows. It was pretty low end, but was a great machine overall for being PC Chips based.

PC Chips M598LMR
AMD K6/2 500Mhz (I think, might have been a 450, either way ran it at 500)
64MB PC100 RAM (8MB Shared to video)
Onboard SiS 530 Grapchics (The bane of my 15 year old existence, later replaced with a Geforce2 MX 32MB PCI)
Some AMR riser modem
8.4GB HDD (Western Digital Caviar i think, might have been Seagate or even Maxtor though)
42x CD-Rom I think (added 4x AOpen burner next year)
Onboard sound
Micro Atx case with ATX PSU, didn't used AT PSU.
Compaq 17" CRT (Died about 2 years later)
Some Generic PS/2 keyboard (with adapter for DIN) and mouse combo
Cheapie speakers quickly replaced with Tiger Direct branded 2.1 setup

Wish I still had this machine! Tons of fun playing Unreal Gold and Half-Life and countless others.

Reply 14 of 36, by JodieC

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I kind of tried to map out the x86 PC specs for my years of active gaming, mostly based on the highest model released by the end of that calendar year.
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/179Kef … dit?usp=sharing

I don't know if it would be helpful for anyone. 98 and 99 were amazing years in gaming, we had so many awesome cards come out. I put down 9 in 98 and 10 in 99.

It's just CPU, video, video bus, and OS but it's been helpful in searching.

Reply 15 of 36, by RaverX

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True. 1998 was one of the best year, Voodoo2 and Riva TNT were huge leaps in 3d graphics. Late 1996 to early 2000 was awesome, a true golden era. We went from under 200 MHz CPUs/16-32 MB RAM/1 MB 2D video cards to 1 GHz/256 MB/32MB 3D video. 1997 was the milestone: from AT to ATX, AGP, USB... from pixelated 2D games that ran slow in 320x200 to bilinear filtering in 640x480, such change was never seen since then, I imagine that something similar happened when we went from black and white monitors to color monitors.

Reply 16 of 36, by LunarG

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In 1998, I had an Aopen AX59 Pro motherboard with a K6-2 300MHz, 128MB RAM, Matrox Millennium G200 and a Creative 3D Blaster Voodoo 2. Some time in late '99, early 2000, I upgraded to a Aopen BP6 motherboard, Celeron 433A, 256MB RAM and a Creative 3D Blaster Annihilator Pro (GeForce 256 DDR). Norwegian PC's are generally above the average in spec, compared to many countries, but my budget wasn't high end, so I always focused on bang for the buck. I think these systems would be pretty representative for a "budget oriented gaming build" for the time periods.

WinXP : PIII 1.4GHz, 512MB RAM, 73GB SCSI HDD, Matrox Parhelia, SB Audigy 2.
Win98se : K6-3+ 500MHz, 256MB RAM, 80GB HDD, Matrox Millennium G400 MAX, Voodoo 2, SW1000XG.
DOS6.22 : Intel DX4, 64MB RAM, 1.6GB HDD, Diamond Stealth64 DRAM, GUS 1MB, SB16.

Reply 17 of 36, by lost77

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The problem with Zip drives was getting other people to buy them. Mostly people copied fairly small files (like documents) or CD-ROM sized data (like programs/games). So a floppy drive and a CD-R was enough. Instead of a Zip drive i bought some cheap removable 5.25-inch HDD enclosures and gave those to the people i often traded with. Motherboards of that era started having good BIOS auto-detecting for drives so it was very easy.

Reply 18 of 36, by leileilol

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From what I remember the low-end around this period were the Celerons (not the overclocking kind), K6-2s ~300 (not K6-3s) and Cyrix M2s. 32MB RAM was still common (RAM prices were still being gouged) at least until mid-2000 thanks to the dotcom bubble and increased availability of really lowend machines.

AGP-less P3 500s were starting to become common the low-end through late 1999 also. You'd still have to deal with Rage Pros< SiS6somethings and Intel i751s common on consumer desktops

128mb was still an enthusiast number. Nothing needed that much until around 2001 (with the exception of Ultima IX i guess 🤣 )...

long live PCem

Reply 19 of 36, by Tiido

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My first Pentium was supposedly high end in 1997 according to the person I got it from, cost about 1200€ equivalent (not accounting any inflation).

"Fujitsu ICL Indiana" (*black* AT tower with a matching keyboard : http://www.tmeeco.eu/ABOUT/ServFrnt.jpg)
* Biostar MB-8500TVX-A
* 166MHz P54C Pentium
* 32MB EDO
* 1MB Mach64CT
* 1.6GB Quantum HDD
* 12x NEC CD-ROM
* Labway YMF719 based sound card
* Win98SE + Office97
* 17" monitor

T-04YBSC, a new YMF71x based sound card & Official VOGONS thread about it
Newly made 4MB 60ns 30pin SIMMs ~
mida sa loed ? nagunii aru ei saa 😜