VOGONS


First post, by hornet1990

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Hello! First post here, although I've been a fairly regular visitor over the years.

So I've been wanting to build a retro(ish) system for some time but couldn't justify the costs. However a colleague is needing to downsize significantly and knowing him to be a bit of a squirrel I asked that if he had any older PC's then to send them my way rather than recycling them. He gave me two (both minus hard drives) - the first a not very interesting (so far) pre-built Fujitsu Celeron D system with no AGP and 3 PCI slots.

The second system in a well worn case is far more interesting, particularly when I saw the magical word "3dfx" on the back of the video card! Turns out it's a Voodoo 4 4500 PCI.

I gave it a quick dust out and then fired it up. The POST complained about the CPU having being changed (unsurprising given the dead CMOS battery) and saying it was an Athlon 510Mhz (?!), and also an nForce2 400 chipset, with 256MB of memory. I loaded the optimal settings and rebooted and then it says Athlon 667Mhz... but trying to run any of my Hirens boot cd's isn't working - the mini XP images generally get as far as the xp loading screen then freeze. I have been able to run memtest and the memory is fine.

I managed to get a dos based CPU id program to run and it told me it's a family 6 model 6 stepping 2 - which equates to an Athlon XP Palomino cpu. So I ended up removing the heatsink and found it to actually be an Athlon Mobile 4 1.2Ghz (AHM1200AHQ3B, also a palomino core) which AIUI is a 100Mhz FSB product, not 133 as the BIOS set and the jumper on the mobo is set to 133/166/200 rather than 100. So I put it all back together, changed the FSB setting and mobo jumper, and now it's back to coming up with Athlon 510Mhz on the POST.

My first thought would be that the BIOS doesn't support the cpu, but I can't see anything that hints at the mobo manufacturer, all I know is that it's from Dec 2003 (sticker) and that is well after the processor was manufactured. The PSU also seems quite old and possibly underpowered at max output on 3.3V and 5V 180W (280W total) maybe?

So now I'm a bit stumped where to go next with this... any advice? I am getting an IDE hard drive from him next week so will be able to try installing windows (98 or 2000) but at this moment I'm not overly confident that will go well. I also have a spare 500W modular PSU from about 12 years ago that I could try. I'll also attach some pics.

Thanks in advance!

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Reply 1 of 10, by Pino

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What are you trying to achieve with this PC? it's too fast and I doesn't have ISA slots, so assume you are not targeting DOS.

For Windows 98 / XP there is not much advantage of having a mobile CPU.

I would just buy a cheap Athlon XP 2500+ (I see some for less than $15 on ebay), you can easily overclock it to 3200+ with this motherboard and you would have a super fast Windows 98 system.

Reply 2 of 10, by asdf53

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I don't know anything about these mobile CPUs, so I'm just guessing - could it be that they boot up with the lowest possible multiplier (5 x 100 = 500 MHz) and then expect the motherboard to set it to their full operating speed when necessary? That would mean you'd have to set the multiplier to 12x instead of auto.

Your motherboard could be this one: https://theretroweb.com/motherboards/s/chaintech-ct-7njl3

Last edited by asdf53 on 2024-03-15, 14:24. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 3 of 10, by hornet1990

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Pino wrote on 2024-03-15, 13:55:

What are you trying to achieve with this PC? it's too fast and I doesn't have ISA slots, so assume you are not targeting DOS.

For Windows 98 / XP there is not much advantage of having a mobile CPU.

I would just buy a cheap Athlon XP 2500+ (I see some for less than $15 on ebay), you can easily overclock it to 3200+ with this motherboard and you would have a super fast Windows 98 system.

Yeah I'm happy enough with Dosbox for DOS. Mainly I'm looking at it for flight sims from the 95/98 era (so second half of the 90's) which don't work well or at all on XP or newer. That's why I'm quite chuffed about the 3dfx card for JSF, Janes F-15 etc. More MHz is generally good for these sims.

I did have the thought of getting another CPU off ebay, but then I'm not sure whether the mobo is good if it's not identifying the current CPU... and clearly updating the BIOS is out of the question unless someone can identify the manufacturer.

Reply 4 of 10, by hornet1990

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asdf53 wrote on 2024-03-15, 14:17:

I don't know anything about these mobile CPUs, so I'm just guessing - could it be that they boot up with the lowest possible multiplier (5 x 100 = 500 MHz) and then expect the motherboard to set it to their full operating speed when neccessary? That would mean you'd have to set the multiplier to 12x instead of auto.

I can't see any option in the BIOS to manually set the multiplier. IIRC on the early Athlons it was fixed anyway?

Reply 5 of 10, by asdf53

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No, the multiplier is unlocked (all L1 bridges are closed).

Athlon XP Mobile / Geode build - need advice with multiplier selection and older motherboards

2. Regarding Athlon XP-M in general: With older motherboards like mine, Athlon XP-M would run at boot-up multiplier (x6) by default and a tool is required to set the multiplier you want it to run later on, such as SETMUL for DOS or CPUMSR for Windows.

I don't know what the bootup multiplier of that Athlon 4 CPU is. But it seems that your board has trouble setting the correct speed. If it can't do it, you could try to use one of these tools to manually set the multiplier. It might not be possible on nForce chipset though.

Last edited by asdf53 on 2024-03-15, 14:52. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 6 of 10, by gerry

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hornet1990 wrote on 2024-03-15, 14:21:

Yeah I'm happy enough with Dosbox for DOS. Mainly I'm looking at it for flight sims from the 95/98 era (so second half of the 90's) which don't work well or at all on XP or newer. That's why I'm quite chuffed about the 3dfx card for JSF, Janes F-15 etc. More MHz is generally good for these sims.

I did have the thought of getting another CPU off ebay, but then I'm not sure whether the mobo is good if it's not identifying the current CPU... and clearly updating the BIOS is out of the question unless someone can identify the manufacturer.

if its the board asdf53 suggested then maybe there some way to use the existing cpu, the document in the link might help

but even if not then almost any compatible athlon xp+ cpu will do for those games i'd think

Reply 7 of 10, by hornet1990

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asdf53 wrote on 2024-03-15, 14:17:

Your motherboard could be this one: https://theretroweb.com/motherboards/s/chaintech-ct-7njl3

Thanks asdf53, that looks like the one and the POST screen text matches the penultimate BIOS file they have. Must admit I'm not familiar with them as a brand, even back in the day...

That makes sense about the mobile part using the lowest multiplier though, don't know why I didn't think of that sooner! When I get the IDE drive I'll try installing windows and with one of those apps see how I get on, but as you say I think I'd prefer a non-mobile Athlon processor so will have a look for one.

Thanks again!

Reply 8 of 10, by Pino

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Looks more like the Chaintech 7NJL4, according to this review:
https://prohardver.hu/teszt/nvidia_nforce2-es … jl4_summit.html

You can read the review using google translator. Funny enough the guy tested it with a Athlon XP 2500+ overclocked to 3200+ (changing only FSB to 200Mhz),exactly how I suggested.

The board can't change CPU voltage or multiplier in BIOS.
You can try your luck and see if you can change the multiplier on this mobile CPU you already have using CPUID, lust like Phil did on this video (8:30min mark)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZxkxIXQax4&t=510s

Reply 9 of 10, by hornet1990

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Pino wrote on 2024-03-15, 17:03:
Looks more like the Chaintech 7NJL4, according to this review: https://prohardver.hu/teszt/nvidia_nforce2-es … jl4_summit.html […]
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Looks more like the Chaintech 7NJL4, according to this review:
https://prohardver.hu/teszt/nvidia_nforce2-es … jl4_summit.html

You can read the review using google translator. Funny enough the guy tested it with a Athlon XP 2500+ overclocked to 3200+ (changing only FSB to 200Mhz),exactly how I suggested.

The board can't change CPU voltage or multiplier in BIOS.
You can try your luck and see if you can change the multiplier on this mobile CPU you already have using CPUID, lust like Phil did on this video (8:30min mark)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZxkxIXQax4&t=510s

No I think it is the 7NJL3 - I've found the manual and its for both models, but the reviews POST screenshot shows as nForce2 400 Ultra for the 7NJL4, whereas mine is just nForce 400, so I suspect thats one/only major difference between the models.

But yeah, I'm now looking for a proper Athlon XP - there's not many 2500+ on ebay and they're either bundled or overseas. A few 2600+'s though for around the £20 mark or slightly cheaper from Europe. TBH I'm less bothered about overclocking and more looking for a balance of performance vs heat generation. The case it's in is particularly poor ventilation wise with only the PSU for extraction, and a space for an 80mm fan at the front. Would the heatsink that's on it also be good enough for a 2600+ to 3200+ barton? It's got a copper core but otherwise I don't know what it is. The fan is running full tilt all the time though...

Reply 10 of 10, by asdf53

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For the time being, you could run it at 200 MHz FSB so you'll get at least 1000 MHz. You could also wire mod the CPU pins or the socket to force it to a higher multiplier: https://www.ocinside.de/workshop/amd_pinmod_d/

Yes, any half-decent sized copper core heatsink is good enough for a Barton. You won't be getting the greatest temps but it should keep it below 70. If your case has only the PSU for exhaust I wouldn't run a 3200+. The motherboard and graphics card will get very hot with almost no air flow. Don't bother with the front fan, it's just noisy and does almost nothing. It's better to fasten it somewhere inside the case so it blows air from the board area to the PSU exhaust.

I had a look at the CPU's L3 and L4 bridges and it really is configured to boot up at 5x, so that's normal.