VOGONS


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First post, by Boohyaka

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Hi all, so basically I've read about different builds on here and it is all super informative but also quite overwhelming sometimes 😀 apologies for bringing up some heavily discussed topics but I'd like feedback on my very own builds, and also up-to-date opinions.

My goal, as I got back to retro PC's, is to have a range of builds that would allow me to do almost everything, from early DOS games to WinXP. Also do things I couldn't afford back in the days (higher end hardware, Roland MT-32/SC-55 to name a few). For context I am mostly after the real deal (no emulation), except when modern technology is more convenient or a great alternative - for example I've ordered many PATA-SATA adapters from China so I can use cheap 2.5 SSD's and old SATA HDD'sI had laying around, I'm happily using a Gotek USB floppy emulator, and thanks to this very board I discovered Serge's amazing stuff over at Serdaco for MIDI.

Now I am looking for some feedback about my builds, where I could improve them, where I could have problems for certain games/era's, or even if I have "black spots" somewhere with these builds:

(1) Early DOS/Win3.1: […]
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(1) Early DOS/Win3.1:

CPU: Intel 486DX2-66
MB: Soyo SY-025K2 (currently dead as per other topic...I'm working on replacing it)
RAM: 16MB
GFX: CL-GD5426 VLB
Sound: Sound Blaster AWE32 (CT3900) + Roland MT-32/Roland SC-55 (1.21)/Roland SC-50

(2) Late DOS/Win98SE […]
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(2) Late DOS/Win98SE

CPU: Intel Pentium III-600 (Katmai)
MB: GIGABYTE i440BX-W977
RAM: 512MB PC133
GFX: 3DFX Voodoo3 3000 AGP
Sound: Avance Logic ALS100 (with Serdaco CHiLL and Phil + DreamBlaster S2)

(3) WinXP (Based on an OEM DELL Dimension 5150) […]
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(3) WinXP (Based on an OEM DELL Dimension 5150)

CPU: Intel Pentium 4 630 (Prescott)
MB: DELL OEM (0WG261)
RAM: 2x 512MB DDR2 PC2-4200
GFX: GeForce 7300 LE 256MB PCI-E
Sound: Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Platinum

Potential "Black Spots":
1- I have considered a Socket7/SS7 build, with maybe a S3 Virge/Matrox Millenium and Voodoo/Voodoo2, but would it be really interesting/necessary? I'm under the impression I could probably cover most of it including Glide games with the P3-600 Katmai and the Voodoo3 3000, am I wrong?
2- would a build with a later PIII/Celeron Tualatin CPU be useful between builds 2 and 3, or should build 3 handle it all fine?

General questions/remarks:
- I know build 1 will be too fast for some early DOS games, but I believe with disabling turbo + disabling caches I should be able to handle most of the games that interest me.
- Is there any interest for running Win95, or would Win98SE basically cover all Win95? Same question for Windows 2000, or should XP do it all?
- Build 3 has a shit GFX card, what would be good build-relevant choices for performance?
- Any other feedback and critics about anything more than welcome, that's why I'm here! 😁 shoot it all!

PS: quick technical question about build 2. I'm using a modern case with a modern power supply (Corsair RM550x). During POST, I get a message that says "Check system health! VCore=2.05V". Computer is stable and everything is fine as far as I can tell, is that because of the modern power supply draining more on different voltages than this mobo is used to, or something like that? Should I be concerned and do anything about it?

Cheers!

Reply 1 of 28, by Joseph_Joestar

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Builds 1 and 2 look great. However, build 3 is a bit on the weak side for WinXP gaming, especially considering games from 2005 and onward.

If you want 60+ FPS in late-era XP games, go for a Core2Duo system with 4 GB RAM (max that XP supports) and a GeForce GTX 750 Ti. The SBLive only supports EAX 1 & 2. Replace it with an Audigy 2 ZS or an SB X-Fi which also have EAX 3 & 4 and you're all set.

Your next line is...

Reply 2 of 28, by Baoran

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If you care about dos speed sensitive games, I prefer 486dx 33Mhz over 66Mhz, because 66Mhz leaves some gaps where games are either too fast or too slow with turbo/cache disabled. Also I have not come across any speed sensitive dos games that would need 66Mhz. There are some dos 3dfx games that require voodoo 1 or voodoo 2 that don't work on voodoo 3.

Reply 3 of 28, by dionb

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Agreed, if you also have the P3-600 for late DOS, there's no added value to 66MHz and you considerably improve old game capabilities by dropping to 33MHz. Make sure the motherboard supports 'turbo' so you can drop speed to ~XT levels at the press of a button (pretty common on old 1992-era 5V 486 boards).

I'd recommend a different sound card for that build - the AWE32 is great for games with native support, but you'll be playing those on the P3-600. It's less great for MIDI, with both hanging note bugs and slowdowns. Also, with older DOS stuff SBPro2 is more important than SB16, and AWE32 - like all other SB16 cards - messes up stereo in SBPro2 games. Simplest solution is to swap round cards - the ALS100 has SBPro2 support and a real OPL3 or 100% copy (at least, assuming it's really ALS100 and not ALS100+ which has crap OPL emulation) and doesn't have the Creative MIDI bugs.

If it is an ALS100Plus, or you really want to keep that for the P3-600E, go for a good SBPro2+WSS compatible card with OPL3 and no MIDI bugs in the 486, with chip like Aztech 2316 or ESS668. Both are common and affordable. Aztech has the advantage of no TSRs needed at all.

If you can find one, you might want to consider an intelligent-mode capable MIDI controller for the 486. That way you're certain you don't hit buggy sound card MIDI implementations and you can run troublesome games that require intelligent mode without SoftMPU TSR. They are painfully expensive in retrocomputing circles, but I've picked up a few MusicQuest cards very cheaply from musicians who have no more need for them and less retro nostalgia.

Reply 4 of 28, by derSammler

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(at least, assuming it's really ALS100 and not ALS100+ which has crap OPL emulation)

I have yet to see an ALS100+ card that does *not* come with an external OPL3 or clone chip.

http://retro-net.de/blog.html

Reply 5 of 28, by dionb

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derSammler wrote on 2020-02-24, 10:13:

(at least, assuming it's really ALS100 and not ALS100+ which has crap OPL emulation)

I have yet to see an ALS100+ card that does *not* come with an external OPL3 or clone chip.

s-l1600.jpg

Or any other...

That's the difference between ALS100 and ALS100+, the integrated "OPL"

Reply 7 of 28, by dionb

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Nah, the ALS100 do have OPL3s, just invariably knock-off clones (like this "LS262") instead of the real thing:
Cyberdrive-Avance-Logic-ALS100-FCC-ID-JQDS100AS9540D-PCI-Soudkarte-mit-IDE-Interface.jpg

They sound the same though, so decent enough cards if the analog section is competent.

Reply 8 of 28, by Boohyaka

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OK thank you for the comments guys, so I'll try to find a 486DX-33 CPU, that's a good tip! My motherboard is turbo compatible.
I guess it will fit my socket 3? Is there anything I should pay attention to or can I go and blindly purchase?

dionb, good call on the AWE32, that's going into the P3-600 right now. For the MPU-401 controller, I ordered one from Keropi 😉

Remember me from the other topic? 😁 I received all the cards! So it seems my ALS100 does not have an OPL3 chip. For the 486 the best choice seems to be the NXPro as it is a proper SBPro2 clone and features a real YMF262 right? Let's just hope the shielding is not too bad...

Joseph_Joestar, thanks for your input! In fact, early XP is probably more what I'm after. I'm under the feeling that most late XP games are perfectly playable on a modern machine in any case, but correct me if I'm wrong. So as I had this computer laying around, I just thought I'd turn it into an early XP machine. Good tip for the soundcard, I've just ordered an Audigy 2 ZS for 10 bucks in the local ads. As for GFX, I've found a Radeon 4870 laying around, it's from 2008 so will fit the build pretty well I think.

OK so I'm left with the following:

- More info about the (relative...) need for a build between 1 and 2. Is it really necessary? Are there many games that will require Voodoo/Voodoo2 that are not compatible with Voodoo3? Is it worth a dedicated build? If so, what's the best spot? Pentium MMX/PII, Voodoo1, Voodoo2, SLI...?
- Are Win95 and Win2K interesting for any reason, or should Win98 and XP cover it all?
- Should I be concerned about the "Check system health - VCore=2.05V" error message when booting the P3-600?

Cheers as always! 😀

Reply 9 of 28, by Joseph_Joestar

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Boohyaka wrote on 2020-02-24, 12:26:

I'm under the feeling that most late XP games are perfectly playable on a modern machine in any case, but correct me if I'm wrong.

For the most part yes, but you will miss out on hardware EAX because Microsoft removed that from Vista onward. There are ways to emulate EAX on a modern Windows OS, but I personally prefer how the real thing sounds on XP.

Other than that, you might get CPU bottlenecked on a few pre-2005 games like FarCry and Doom3. They will still be playable, but they won't run super smooth.

Your next line is...

Reply 10 of 28, by Baoran

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Win95 is only interesting if you want windows in a less powerful pc like a 486 or basic pentium in my opinion. 2000 isn't really necessary. Voodoo 1 or voodoo 2 is useful to have if you want to play dos 3dfx games. Voodoo 3 works well enough for windows games. You can have voodoo 3 and voodoo1/2 in a same system.

Last edited by Baoran on 2020-02-24, 12:53. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 11 of 28, by imi

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dionb wrote on 2020-02-24, 11:49:

Nah, the ALS100 do have OPL3s, just invariably knock-off clones (like this "LS262") instead of the real thing

but that's a normal ALS100 not a plus ^^
my MA5ASOUND also has the "LS262"

Reply 13 of 28, by Boohyaka

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-02-24, 12:42:

For the most part yes, but you will miss out on hardware EAX because Microsoft removed that from Vista onward. There are ways to emulate EAX on a modern Windows OS, but I personally prefer how the real thing sounds on XP.

Other than that, you might get CPU bottlenecked on a few pre-2005 games like FarCry and Doom3. They will still be playable, but they won't run super smooth.

Interesting! Ok thanks for the good info. Again, I have the computer, so I might as well try it at this stage and I'll see if I encounter issues 😉

Baoran wrote on 2020-02-24, 12:51:

Win95 is only interesting if you want windows in a less powerful pc like a 486 or basic pentium in my opinion. 2000 isn't really necessary. Voodoo 1 or voodoo 2 is useful to have if you want to play dos 3dfx games. Voodoo 3 works well enough for windows games.

My understanding was that Voodoo3's DOS compatibility was excellent, and actually one of the best arguments for it..am I wrong?

Reply 14 of 28, by imi

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derSammler wrote on 2020-02-24, 12:56:

Guess I'm lucky then that all my ALS100+ cards have external OPL3s. And I have quite a few.

a quick google told me that both the LS245 and LS262 are OPL3 clones, now that I'm looking for it I can see it... the LS245 also comes in a DIP package, hence why I didn't recognize them, huh interesting, learning something new every day ^^

the one that dionb posted also has the LS245 dip chip, then why is the ALS100+ said to be so bad?

Reply 15 of 28, by Baoran

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Boohyaka wrote on 2020-02-24, 12:58:

My understanding was that Voodoo3's DOS compatibility was excellent, and actually one of the best arguments for it..am I wrong?

There are few dos 3dfx games that only work on voodoo 1 and not even on voodoo 2. I think most games that work on voodoo 2 can be made to work with voodoo 3, but I have had much more trouble with voodoo 3 ovl files than I had with voodoo 2 ovl files. So I did choose geforce 4 + voodoo 2 SLI for my P3 pc. I wanted to have faster main card for directx and 3dfx compatibility for older games.

Last edited by Baoran on 2020-02-24, 13:35. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 16 of 28, by derSammler

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imi wrote on 2020-02-24, 13:03:

then why is the ALS100+ said to be so bad?

It has at least one issue: both the low- and high-DMA channels can only be either 1 or 3, so you can't get 16-bit sound in BUILD engine games. Not a big deal if you know about it.

http://retro-net.de/blog.html

Reply 17 of 28, by Boohyaka

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Baoran wrote on 2020-02-24, 13:13:

There are few dos 3dfx games that only work on voodoo 1 and not even on voodoo 2. I think most games that work on voodoo 2 can be made to work with voodoo 3, but I have had much more trouble with voodoo 3 ovl files than I had with voodoo 2 ovl files. So I did choose geforce 4 + voodoo 2 SLI for my P3 pc.

OK thank you...first time I hear about that. Well I do have a Voodoo3 3000 already and Voodoo2 are quite expensive nowadays. I guess I'll see if I have problems 😀

Reply 18 of 28, by Baoran

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Boohyaka wrote on 2020-02-24, 14:03:
Baoran wrote on 2020-02-24, 13:13:

There are few dos 3dfx games that only work on voodoo 1 and not even on voodoo 2. I think most games that work on voodoo 2 can be made to work with voodoo 3, but I have had much more trouble with voodoo 3 ovl files than I had with voodoo 2 ovl files. So I did choose geforce 4 + voodoo 2 SLI for my P3 pc.

OK thank you...first time I hear about that. Well I do have a Voodoo3 3000 already and Voodoo2 are quite expensive nowadays. I guess I'll see if I have problems 😀

I have 2 voodoo 3 cards that I have not found use for yet. One is agp and one is pci. I guess most suitable system for a voodoo 3 card would be a SS7 system if I were to build one. SS7 system isn't so fast that it would need a faster directx card for any directx games, but with my P3 having Gerforce 4 card makes the system useful for more types of games.

Reply 19 of 28, by dionb

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Boohyaka wrote on 2020-02-24, 12:26:
OK thank you for the comments guys, so I'll try to find a 486DX-33 CPU, that's a good tip! My motherboard is turbo compatible. I […]
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OK thank you for the comments guys, so I'll try to find a 486DX-33 CPU, that's a good tip! My motherboard is turbo compatible.
I guess it will fit my socket 3? Is there anything I should pay attention to or can I go and blindly purchase?

dionb, good call on the AWE32, that's going into the P3-600 right now. For the MPU-401 controller, I ordered one from Keropi 😉

Remember me from the other topic? 😁 I received all the cards! So it seems my ALS100 does not have an OPL3 chip. For the 486 the best choice seems to be the NXPro as it is a proper SBPro2 clone and features a real YMF262 right? Let's just hope the shielding is not too bad...

Ah yes 😀

The NXPro would be perfect, all the more as your downward move to 33MHz with Turbo means you're solidly in Covox game territory. Of course, given all the cards you have, you could add a second card (ALS100 or AWE32) next to it for SB16 support.

I'm not totally sure how good MIDI is on the NXPro (which is much older than the Aztech 2316), but with Keropi's MusicQuest clone that's irrelevant anyway.

- Are Win95 and Win2K interesting for any reason, or should Win98 and XP cover it all?

That's subjective. I personally hate Win95 and don't see any advantage to using it over Win98SE (at least, on a P3-600). I have a soft spot for Win2k though, but realistically there's very little reason other than nostalgia to prefer it over XP.[/quote]