Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

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Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby the_ultra_code » 2017-12-09 @ 01:59

Hello VOGONS members!

I am planning to do a Pentium 4 Windows XP/Windows 98 SE retro gaming build to cover late Win98 games and early WinXP games that my Pentium 3 Win98/DOS retro gaming machine at least cannot "cover" with any decent performance (you can find my VOGONS topic on that build in my "signature" at the bottom of my posts). To have decent performance under Windows XP while keeping the Windows 98 SE installation functioning and relatively stable, I plan to use 1GB of RAM on an Asus P4P800 (original) motherboard and limit the VCache to 512MB under Windows 98 SE as suggested here on MSFN.

What I want to hear from you are your thoughts on this setup, how well it works, etc., and, if you have ever had this setup, what were your experiences with it?

This is not necessarily meant to be a simple question-answer topic, just a "casual" "share your experiences" topic, if that makes sense, although "answers" are appreciated. :)

Thanks in advance, and enjoy (?)!
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby mrau » 2017-12-09 @ 02:02

i believe You cannot have proper xp performance with less than 2 gb ram; there was a way to limit 98s memory via himem;
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby squiggly » 2017-12-09 @ 02:14

the_ultra_code wrote:
What I want to hear from you are your thoughts on this setup, how well it works, etc., and, if you have ever had this setup, what were your experiences with it?



I went through this a while ago. I now have a Win98/WinXP build running with 2GB of DD400 in dual-channel mode on my beloved nForce2 motherboard with an Athlon XP 3000+.

My best advice? After heaps of research and dead ends, I can say this: forget about MaxFileCache/MaxPhysPage stuff - it will not work with 2gb of ram.

The ONLY way I got it to work was using HIMEMX (https://sourceforge.net/projects/himemx/). It works great and I can Win98 running with 512mb of ram and WinXP sees the whole 2gb.
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby the_ultra_code » 2017-12-09 @ 02:29

mrau wrote:i believe You cannot have proper xp performance with less than 2 gb ram

If you mean "work at all", no, 1GB is plenty, even according to Microsoft. Although (probably what you meant), if you mean like "best gaming performance" - okay. :)

But let me reiterate - this PC will also run Windows 98 SE, and Win98 has trouble handling more than 1GB of RAM (as said by Microsoft themselves here), and to get it to deal with 2GB of RAM seems like too much of a pain for me.

In regards to this:
mrau wrote:there was a way to limit 98s memory via himem

I'm not sure if I heard of that before, but I might have. Isn't that a DOS memory manager?

Also, correct me if I am wrong, but I am getting the impression that the suggestion linked above in my original post "cuts it", and dealing with anything regarding the specifics of how exactly Windows 98 handles memory, allocates memory, "divides" memory, etc., is really only necessary with more than 1GB of RAM (same link as just above). This VCache seems to be the simplest thing to do to have Windows 98 handle 1GB of memory, but with that being said, will I have better performance if I adjust values like "MaxPhysPage" and the like?

Also (again), squiggly, when I went to submit this post, your post popped up. :)

After reading it, it again confirms my beliefs: having Windows 98 SE deal with more than 1GB of RAM is a hassle. You had to use HIMEMX to get Windows 98 to work fine. With all that being said though, that Asus motherboard I bought (it's still shipping from Russia :) ) has four DIMM slots, so if I want to experiment with 2GB of RAM, I will have the physical capability to do so, and now hopefully the software and the know-how. Thanks for showing that neat software, squiggly!
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby squiggly » 2017-12-09 @ 03:27

HIMEMX is not a pain. It's one line in config.sys. Do it as soon as possible during install (I.e. after first restart). You may have to hunt down an editor at this stage of the install it edit config.sys.

There may be other reasons to use vcache tweaks to balance performance/memory usage, but not to solve the >1gb line problem.

Give WinXP 2gb if you can. Having WinXP is useful as a kind of "rescue" partition for Win98 as it can see and read and modify win98's fat32 partition. Also having a shared fat32 data partition is handy in case you need to wipe out the win98 partition.

Another reason do this is I can install GOG games on the shared drive in XP (D:), use a registry diff tool to copy whatever reg entries were added, restart in win98 and asd the reg entries in, and the game usually just works as win98 also sees the shared drive as D: so all paths are identical.

Have fun!
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby the_ultra_code » 2017-12-09 @ 03:47

Dang it squiggly, you are making me question my $20 2-sticks-of-Corsair 512MB DDR-400 RAM purchase on eBay! >:(

*^_^* :-D

I'll consider it for sure. It is very tempting, as I would love to give Windows XP a lot more memory than 1GB of RAM.

Also, your "'rescue' partition" and "GOG installation location" uses for the Windows XP installation are great ones! I plan to play Deus Ex (original) under the Windows 98 SE installation on this build, and your way of transferring the installation sounds great! What I have been doing so far with GOG games what PhilsComputerLab outlined in this video of his, using innounp on the installation .exe from GOG, then just moving the files over. However, your method is most likely better in terms of keeping a game's registry values, especially when it matters most, which is with Windows games. Phil's method has worked with "Urban Chaos" and "Expendable" from GOG, and of course with DOS games, but I can see there being registry problems with other games.
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby mrau » 2017-12-09 @ 03:57

Squiggly just did a 1 man army solution here so ill make it short:
1gb is a lot for bare windows xp or sp1, sp2 and 3 will profit from more memory (as example i an tell You i was struggling on my athlon with 1.5 gig)
himemx, as Squiggly mentions, is that magical tool that solves the 1gb barrier for windows 98; just load it in config.sys instead of MS himem and use parameters to set memory to 768 or 512 mb whatever is stable for You; himemX solves this problem because it just limits the amount of memory windows considers accessible (windows does not have a separate routine to detect memory properly and just steals that info from himem) - windows wont look any further which stops it from fscking up its own intestines; all other methods are to my knowledge less stable (although i did not experiment a lot with this);
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby squiggly » 2017-12-09 @ 04:17

the_ultra_code wrote:Dang it squiggly, you are making me question my $20 2-sticks-of-Corsair 512MB DDR-400 RAM purchase on eBay! >:(

*^_^* :-D
However, your method is most likely better in terms of keeping a game's registry values, especially when it matters most, which is with Windows games. Phil's method has worked with "Urban Chaos" and "Expendable" from GOG, and of course with DOS games, but I can see there being registry problems with other games.


Well you have 4 dimm slots so not a waste :)

Yes, I only do this with Windows games, typically of the same era as Deus Ex (say 99 to 2002). A lot of games before then were still DOS under the hood, even if they came with a windows installer.

The only other thing I would add is get a hot swap HDD caddy. It will allow you to easily remove it and make images of the partitions from a modern computer using modern tools (I use EaseUS). Work on the assumption your win98 will die once a year (that used to be the old advice on how often to reinstall 98). Constantly reinstalling windows is thr biggest turn-off of retro computing, but if you are smart about backing up partition images you should only ever have to install it once. I actually use EaseUS to fully prepare the partitions for install and then image them every time I make a big change. I am not kidding when I say this might be the difference between enjoying your retro build and wanting to give it up. Also, get some ide/sata adapters and just use modern sata drives of any capacity - so long as the first partition is for win98 (or msdos) and small enough (<120gb for 98, <2gb for Dos) it wont care (or see) what follows it.
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby scroeffie » 2017-12-09 @ 08:20

my father has a dell duocore and runs xp sp2 with only 512mb ram runs good but of course he doesnt game on the systems just internet and work stuff
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby dr_st » 2017-12-09 @ 08:26

the_ultra_code wrote:Hello VOGONS members!

I am planning to do a Pentium 4 Windows XP/Windows 98 SE retro gaming build to cover late Win98 games and early WinXP games
Is this really necessary, though? Which "late Win98 games" cannot run properly on WinXP?
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby WildW » 2017-12-09 @ 09:33

I have a similar setup, an Athlon 64 machine that dual boots 98SE and XP. I have 1GB of ram and the only tweak made to 98 has been a tweak in system.ini (Add a line "MaxFileCache=393216" under the section [VCache]). Before I did that I would get out-of-memory errors sometimes, and now I don't. Everything works pretty well.

It is probably a fair point that there isn't much software that demands Windows 98 that also needs a machine this powerful. It does mean I don't need so many computers to cover that era of games. . . not that I don't have others :P
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby squiggly » 2017-12-09 @ 09:43

dr_st wrote:
the_ultra_code wrote:Hello VOGONS members!

I am planning to do a Pentium 4 Windows XP/Windows 98 SE retro gaming build to cover late Win98 games and early WinXP games
Is this really necessary, though? Which "late Win98 games" cannot run properly on WinXP?


I had issues with Halo1, although I think there are easy fixes for it.

To be fair "late 98" must include games released after XP was released as 98 was still widely in use by gamers. Probably better to say early-mid 98 (1998-2001).

But one could also say what DOS games dont run in dosbox...
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby Kubik » 2017-12-09 @ 11:43

dr_st wrote:
the_ultra_code wrote:Hello VOGONS members!

I am planning to do a Pentium 4 Windows XP/Windows 98 SE retro gaming build to cover late Win98 games and early WinXP games
Is this really necessary, though? Which "late Win98 games" cannot run properly on WinXP?

I believe NFS Porsche didn't run on WinXP, or something along these lines, due to the copy protection. You had to get the "unlocked" copy in order to make it work. I'm guessing there could be more of those games that would generally work, but copy protection isn't and blocks the game from running.
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby Asaki » 2017-12-09 @ 13:05

I doubt there are many games that would benefit from 2 gigs of RAM in XP that would actually run on that kind of machine. I've run XP with 512-768 and the only thing that really suffers is video playback and modern day web browsing.

I got 98 to install just fine on 1 gig of RAM, but YMMV. I didn't play with it long enough to get any errors, I applied the fixes as soon as I was able. Worst case scenario, remove one of the sticks before you install and get everything set up.

dr_st wrote:Is this really necessary, though? Which "late Win98 games" cannot run properly on WinXP?


I have an Aureal Vortex 2 sound card, so I had to build a 98 machine because they never got to release drivers that would support newer OSes.

I've heard that Jurassic Park: Trespasser isn't supposed to run in XP, but I didn't have any issues with it, or the beta version.
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby agent_x007 » 2017-12-09 @ 21:25

1*) If 1024MB installation fails (it can work), go with 512MB of RAM (install Windows normally and on first Desktop boot copy/add himemx to config.sys and add/modify lines) :
Code: Select all
[386Enh]
MaxPhysPage=48000
MinSPs=16
ConservativeSwapfileUsage=1
DMABufferSize=64

[vcache]MaxFileCache=65535
ChunkSize=1024
^Source : LINK
After this add another 512MB stick (for 1024MB total).

2*) Hacking Windows installer (if 512MB or lower capacity RAM sticks aren't available) : LINK
Himemx and above settings are all that is needed for this to work.

*Both work for up to 1GB, higher RAM capacity may work as well, but 2GB WILL NOT work regardless of what you do.

3) Buy R. Loew's RAM patch : LINK
This is permanent solution and for me it works with 12GB RAM installed :)
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby brostenen » 2017-12-09 @ 22:10

I can not speak for all those tweaks and patching and stuff, as I have only tried with vanilla Win98se.
I have never been able to install Win98se on a system with more than 512mb of Ram.
That goes for everything from Pentium-133 to Pentium4, on Intel, SIS, Ali and other chipset types.
Don't eat stuff off a 15 year old never cleaned cpu cooler.
Those cakes make you sick I tell.... (never tried though)

My blog: http://to9xct.blogspot.dk

001100 010010 011110 100001 101101 110011
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby agent_x007 » 2017-12-09 @ 23:05

brostenen wrote:I have never been able to install Win98se on a system with more than 512mb of Ram.
That goes for everything from Pentium-133 to Pentium4, on Intel, SIS, Ali and other chipset types.
Here's my attempt on video with 1024MB RAM and on C2E X6800 @ 3,2GHz : LINK
For shorter version start @9:00.
No tweaks/hacks were used.
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby Asaki » 2017-12-10 @ 00:15

brostenen wrote:That goes for everything from Pentium-133 to Pentium4, on Intel, SIS, Ali and other chipset types.

I don't know if it makes a difference, but my machine is an Athlon 64.
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby the_ultra_code » 2017-12-10 @ 01:52

Okay, I have a lot I want to review.

mrau wrote:1gb is a lot for bare windows xp or sp1, sp2 and 3 will profit from more memory (as example i an tell You i was struggling on my athlon with 1.5 gig)

Are you saying that with Windows XP SP3 1GB of RAM is too little, because Asaki said the following:
Asaki wrote:I doubt there are many games that would benefit from 2 gigs of RAM in XP that would actually run on that kind of machine. I've run XP with 512-768 and the only thing that really suffers is video playback and modern day web browsing.

? I am not trying to start another debate ( :) ), I just want to know, only for pre- and up-to-2003 gaming (see below), will 1GB be fine?

squiggly wrote:Well you have 4 dimm slots so not a waste :)

I am probably wrong, but wouldn't you want the same exact model stick of RAM in every DIMM slot, or does it only matter for each pair of dual-channel DIMM slots (for example, having two sticks of Corsair memory of one model in the first pair of dual-channel DIMM slots, and, say, a different model of Corsair sticks of RAM, or, let's even go as far as to say two sticks of G.Skills sticks in the second pair of dual-channel DIMM slots)?

squiggly wrote:The only other thing I would add is get a hot swap HDD caddy.

I plan to buy a heavily discounted Deepcool Tesseract case from Newegg, which has that! :)

squiggly wrote:Work on the assumption your win98 will die once a year (that used to be the old advice on how often to reinstall 98).

:( :cry:

squiggly wrote:Constantly reinstalling windows is thr biggest turn-off of retro computing, but if you are smart about backing up partition images you should only ever have to install it once. I actually use EaseUS to fully prepare the partitions for install and then image them every time I make a big change. I am not kidding when I say this might be the difference between enjoying your retro build and wanting to give it up. Also, get some ide/sata adapters and just use modern sata drives of any capacity - so long as the first partition is for win98 (or msdos) and small enough (<120gb for 98, <2gb for Dos) it wont care (or see) what follows it.

I need to do it again, now that I have done a lot since, but I have cloned my Windows 98 SE partition, which encompasses the whole capacity of my HDD in my first P3 retro gaming machine (the one linked in my "signature") using Clonezilla and an 160GB HDD hooked up to the motherboard's USB port via a USB-to-SATA adapter cable. Yeah, I had to reinstall Win98 twice on that computer, once because I accidentally deleted the USB drivers while troubleshooting something (*face palm*) and a second time while trying to understand why I would get a blue-screen when entering MS-DOS mode via the shutdown menu (it turns out the culprit is my USB/PS/2 mouse whenever it is plugged into the motherboard's USB port, whose VXD driver I guess does not fully unload itself, so as a result I get that error; however, whenever I actually restart into MS-DOS mode via a .pif file, no errors occur with the mouse plugged in, and works even in the USB port!; any who, I digress). And you say that the Win98 partition should be before any other OS partition on the HDD (so, say, installing XP in a partition that is "in the front" of the HDD with its partition, and then installing Win98 and having its partition "after" it will not work?)?

agent_x007 wrote:1*) If 1024MB installation fails (it can work), go with 512MB of RAM (install Windows normally and on first Desktop boot copy/add himemx to config.sys and add/modify lines) :

Don't you mean "system.ini", which this website and this one say to add such lines to? If not, why use "config.sys" over "system.ini"? Just somewhat confused. :)

agent_x007 wrote:Here's my attempt on video with 1024MB RAM and on C2E X6800 @ 3,2GHz : LINK
For shorter version start @9:00.
No tweaks/hacks were used.

Asaki wrote:I don't know if it makes a difference, but my machine is an Athlon 64.

:lol: It's just like people getting Windows XP to run on Intel Skylake systems when they are not "supposed" to. :)

Finally, let me make some clarifications as to the goal I am trying to achieve with this P4 build I am building. I plan to play games from 1999-2003 (the latter being the year that the graphics card I am using, a nvidia geforce fx 5900 SE by PNY, was made), with the P3 I had built covering games up to 1999. This P4 build will bridge the gap between 90's retro gaming and early 2000's early modern gaming. And, as many of you have pointed out, having such a "late" Win98 PC is a great idea for getting those late Win98 games (from 1999-2001) to work where they are best suited - in Win98. :)

Also, here's a rough parts list for this P4 build of mine:
  • P4 2.80A SL7PK 2.8 GHz
  • Asus P4P800 MB (being shipped)
  • 1 Gig of DDR memory (the piece that was the reason for this topic)
  • Nvidia Geforce FX 5900 SE AGP Video Card by PNY
  • Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS
  • Aureal Vortex 2 SuperQuad (or something similar; can't remember its exact name)
  • A TP-Link PCI wifi card (for XP)
  • A 250 GB SATA (3?) Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 HDD
  • An IDE optical drive
  • A Gotek USB Floppy Emulator
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Re: Your Experiences with Running Windows 98 [SE] on 1GB of RAM

Postby squiggly » 2017-12-10 @ 02:31

the_ultra_code wrote:Okay, I have a lot I want to review.
or does it only matter for each pair of dual-channel DIMM slots

And you say that the Win98 partition should be before any other OS partition on the HDD (so, say, installing XP in a partition that is "in the front" of the HDD with its partition, and then installing Win98 and having its partition "after" it will not work?)?


1) generally it only matters for dual channel, but a given motherboard might not support other specific combinations of ram sticks. you should refer to the mobos ram compatibility chart.

2) basically yes. certainly for DOS. even if the first 500gb partition is not for win98, it will still see a hdd that big and blow up. it wont look at subsequent partitions so if you start with a 120gb fate32 partition for win98, as far as it is concerned, the entire hdd is only 120gb. winxp is happy to sit down the back.
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