VOGONS


First post, by bloodem

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Hello everyone,

This is my first post on this community, nice to meet you all 😀
For the past few months nostalgia has kicked in, so I set about building myself a Windows 98 rig.
At first, I did build one on a Core 2 Duo / 865G chipset that runs fine, but... it's not the same, I don't have the retro feeling, I want more! 😀
So I bought a Tualatin from eBay (this one: https://ebay.to/3ahM25Z), which has a built-in socket adapter for normal socket 370 motherboards. Well, now I have to find a suitable motherboard for it and I would prefer one that just works (with FSB133 / 1.45 Vcore support), and without the need to flash a BIOS update. The seller actually lists some compatible motherboards, but not sure which of those would be a good compromise in ease of installation / performance / stability.
Do you guys have any recommendations? Thanks!

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Reply 1 of 10, by dionb

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"On-chip adapter"... srsly...

Pretty elegant-looking socket adapter though 😀

If it works as designed, you have a nice range of boards to choose from. Not at all sure you'll get away with not flashing BIOS though - you never know what (old) BIOS might be on a board you buy, the only ones that you 100% guaranteed will not need to flash are ones that natively support FC-PGA2 CPUs without adapter, and in that case you could have spared yourself the expense of the version with the adapter...

As for what to recommend, it depends on what you want to do with the system. Couple of aspects to consider?
- do you want to run DOS? If so you want at least one ISA slot for an ISA sound card
- do you want full ATX or micro ATX form factor?
- how much RAM do you want to use?
- how important is getting the highest possible performance?

If you don't want to run DOS, you don't need ISA and can focus on the newest, fastest boards. The fastest single So370 board is arguably the ECS P6S5AT, with SiS635T DDR chipset. That natively supports Tualatin CPUs from first BIOS onwards, so no BIOS update needed for that. But also no socket adapter needed. Also can be hard to find.
If you want to run Win9x, you're limited to 512MB anyway. Then i815 chipsets are good as they are fast and stable and boards are relatively easy to find.
If you want to run Win2k/XP you need all the RAM you can get. Then Via 694X (ApolloPro133A - note the A) is the way to go. Slower than i815, but you can easily install 1.5GB of RAM.
If you want DOS, you need ISA (and are limited to 512MB RAM). i815 boards with ISA exist but are rarer than hen's teeth. You're probably best off with a Via 694X-based board, ideally one with multiple ISA slots.
Alternative is to take an i440BX board that supports Coppermine. Only issue there is that they do not officially support 133MHz FSB so you will have to overclock motherboard and AGP to get there. A late-revision Asus P2B (3 ISA) or P2B-F (2 ISA) would support your CPU.

In general, to meet the voltage requirement for Tualatin, the board needs to comply with Intel VRM 8.4 specification. Check that in the manual of any board you are considering.

But... in all cases except the P6S5AT, it's quite likely you will have to flash BIOS. It's pretty much unavoidable as with that adapter you are going to be running a CPU that did not exist when your motherboard was released.

Reply 2 of 10, by H3nrik V!

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If I didn't have neither board or CPU, I would definately go for a Tualatin without the adapter and a motherboard, that natively supports Tualatin. I am a sucker for Intel chipsets (actually, back at that time, my biggest argument for buying Intel CPUs was to be able to use Intel chipsets). An ASUS TUSL-2 is on my wishlist to do a Tualatin build once ..

Reply 4 of 10, by bloodem

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Thank you, guys!
@dionb: Thank you very much for the suggestions. I'll take them into account.
Yeah, it's a socket adapter soldered on the chip 😀
Regarding the BIOS update, that's what I was afraid of... The way I see it, I have two options: either get an older compatible CPU just to boot the board and flash the BIOS update, or buy a USB BIOS flash device (eBay has lots of options). Or maybe I will just find a board with an older CPU that I can use. Anyway... yey?! 🙁
- I don't want to run MS DOS, but I do want to run a few DOS games on Windows 98.
- I would prefer Full ATX, but I don't discard the possibility of a Micro ATX if it's worth it.
- I currently have 1 GB of RAM on the LGA775 system (Windows 98 runs fine with the standard system.ini tweaks). I also have R. Loew's mem patch. All in all, 512 MB is perfect, I don't need more.
- I do want the best performance possible, but I won't mind if it's 5% below the absolute BEST.

@H3nrik V!: Yeah, already bought the CPU. Seems that I have more <cheaper> options with the socket adapter, so that's why I decided to go with it, even though I knew that it could make things more difficult.

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Reply 5 of 10, by dionb

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bloodem wrote on 2020-01-17, 12:11:

Thank you, guys!
@dionb: Thank you very much for the suggestions. I'll take them into account.
Yeah, it's a socket adapter soldered on the chip 😀

Oh no it's not, it's soldered onto the package. The chip itself is the small rectangular thing under the heatspreader.

Regarding the BIOS update, that's what I was afraid of... The way I see it, I have two options: either get an older compatible CPU just to boot the board and flash the BIOS update, or buy a USB BIOS flash device (eBay has lots of options). Or maybe I will just find a board with an older CPU that I can use. Anyway... yey?! 🙁

Tbh, if your board isn't some weird OEM thing, it will probaby just boot with an error or nonsensical CPU name. Worst-case it will disable SSE and maybe MMX if it doesn't know the CPU. You should be able to flash fine.

- I don't want to run MS DOS, but I do want to run a few DOS games on Windows 98.

That might not always work, but if you're happy to limit yourself to what does, that means you don't need ISA.

- I would prefer Full ATX, but I don't discard the possibility of a Micro ATX if it's worth it.

It's smaller. That means less expansion options but also smaller systems.

- I currently have 1 GB of RAM on the LGA775 system (Windows 98 runs fine with the standard system.ini tweaks). I also have R. Loew's mem patch. All in all, 512 MB is perfect, I don't need more.
- I do want the best performance possible, but I won't mind if it's 5% below the absolute BEST.

Sounds like an i815 board is a good match for what you want. Asus' CUSL2 - on the seller's list - is probably going to be the easiest to find. But given affordable oldies are few and far between, it might be more sensible to see what you can find locally or online for an acceptable price, rather than being fixated on a given model. If it's an i815 board with AMI, Award or Phoenix BIOS and it supports VRM8.4, this thing should work.

Reply 6 of 10, by mockingbird

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The truth is any old board witha a standard Award 4.51 BIOS will do. The BIOS might require modification, but the modified Korean Tualatin should work.

An good example is a recently purchased QDI Brillianx 1S board I bought locally a month or so ago:

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This BIOS was modified with the rom.by utility. I had to remove the BIOS recovery module from the file before the program could fit all the new microcodes in.

This works well for me, eventhough this board is nothing like a P3B-F or an Abit variant with voltage or divider adjustments.

Oddly enough, a Slot-1 coppermine I tested worked fine, but any socket coppermine I tried would not boot, even with various slotkets (including one with jumpered voltage adjustments - but with no integrated VRM like a Powerleap).

I settled with a Celeron 1400, because the Tualatin's 133MHZ 89MHZ AGP caused instability. Though I did not test with a PCI card to see if the 133mhz instability was the fault of the board or the fault of the videocard (GeForce FX5700LE).

Again, the Tualatin with a lin-lin adapter on a slotket (a very basic slotket - not the jumpered one) worked, but 370 coppermine chips didn't.

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Reply 7 of 10, by bloodem

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dionb wrote:

Oh no it's not, it's soldered onto the package. The chip itself is the small rectangular thing under the heatspreader.

Well, d'oh! Semantics 😀

Anyway, thank you for your help. I actually ended up cancelling the order for the modified CPU and now I'm waiting for a Tualatin 1.4GHz + motherboard with native support.
For a moment there, I was about to go another route (Athlon XP - Barton on a KT600 board). This would have been much cheaper (found the whole package for ~ 25 USD) and is actually what I had in 2005 or so, but eventually I decided to go with Tualatin (hoping for better compatibility with Windows 98, but also, a Pentium 3 platform is something that I badly wanted in 2000 / 2001 / 2002, so I finally get to fulfil that dream).

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Reply 8 of 10, by H3nrik V!

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bloodem wrote on 2020-01-17, 12:11:

@H3nrik V!: Yeah, already bought the CPU. Seems that I have more <cheaper> options with the socket adapter, so that's why I decided to go with it, even though I knew that it could make things more difficult.

In retro computing, difficult often equals FUN! 🤣

Reply 9 of 10, by dionb

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bloodem wrote on 2020-01-20, 08:45:
Well, d'oh! Semantics :-) […]
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dionb wrote:

Oh no it's not, it's soldered onto the package. The chip itself is the small rectangular thing under the heatspreader.

Well, d'oh! Semantics 😀

Anyway, thank you for your help. I actually ended up cancelling the order for the modified CPU and now I'm waiting for a Tualatin 1.4GHz + motherboard with native support.
For a moment there, I was about to go another route (Athlon XP - Barton on a KT600 board). This would have been much cheaper (found the whole package for ~ 25 USD) and is actually what I had in 2005 or so, but eventually I decided to go with Tualatin (hoping for better compatibility with Windows 98, but also, a Pentium 3 platform is something that I badly wanted in 2000 / 2001 / 2002, so I finally get to fulfil that dream).

I see a lot of Asus TUV4X and TUSL2 boards on eBay for fairly reasonable prices, even from inside US (shocked though to see national shipping in US more expensive than shipping from EU countries to US... got to love USPS...). Both would be a fine match. TUSL2 is faster and probably more trouble-free due to i815 chipset.

Reply 10 of 10, by bloodem

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dionb wrote:

I see a lot of Asus TUV4X and TUSL2 boards on eBay for fairly reasonable prices, even from inside US (shocked though to see national shipping in US more expensive than shipping from EU countries to US... got to love USPS...). Both would be a fine match. TUSL2 is faster and probably more trouble-free due to i815 chipset.

Yeah, saw those too. But I managed to find the whole package (Tualatin 1.4 GHz + Gigabyte GA-6IEM with all caps replaced + unused socket 370 cooler) for $70 (shipping included), so I went for it. It's not one of the most popular motherboards, but should be OK.
So now I have everything I need, except for a PCI Voodoo 3 video card.

H3nrik V! wrote:

In retro computing, difficult often equals FUN! 🤣

Yeah, well... I've been a system engineer for the better part of the past two decades and in the first decade also worked as a helpdesk hardware technician. I can't even remember how many parts that are now selling for $200 - $300 I discarded as trash throughout those years. I also TRY not to remember how a colleague told me that bitcoins were gonna be huge and me, while having an IBM Blade Center H next to me, with 14 idle blade workstations, I laughed and told him he was crazy. So, yeah, we can conclude that I'm definitely no marketing genius / visionary and also that I've had enough fun, thank you very much 😀

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