Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

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Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby bmwsvsu » 2019-3-04 @ 16:55

Ok, so I've been working on putting together a Pentium II desktop PC with all new-old stock parts. Here is what I have so far:

Motherboard:
-dual-slot-1 CPU, each slot filled with a 300mhz Slot 1 Pentium II processor - early generation with 66mhz bus
-2 ISA slots, 4 PCI slots, 1 AGP 2x slot
-Intel 440LX chipset

I'm dual-booting Windows 98SE and Windows 2000 Professional SP4 (the latter to take advantage of the 2nd CPU).

I've spent more hours than I'd like to admit configuring this thing as I've run into IRQ headaches - particularly with my add-on PCI usb card and the onboard USB chipsets not getting along with each other in Windows 2000. I eventually figured all that stuff out and got it working properly with my add-on ISA sound card (based an ESS1869 chip), CD rom drive, floppy drive, and SD-reader.

So now I'm onto the video card. I initially tried an nVidia GeForce FX5500 but the benchmarks with DOS games were sub-par, and I'm getting slowdown in games where I wouldn't expect slowdown on a 300mhz P2 processor. such as Commander Keen 4 and Duke Nuke'em 3d on any VESA resolution. I've done a ton of reading up on this topic in this forum and elsewhere, and I've concluded that anything newer than a GeForce3 card is not optimal for DOS gaming. Is this an accurate conclusion? I also have experienced first-hand a lot of horizontal scrolling issues with ATI cards, so I'm staying away from those.

So onto my budget - I'm trying to keep the price of the card at $30 or less, and again, it has to be new-old-stock. A GeForce3 card is out of the question as it is far too expensive. Voodoo cards are obviously way out of the question as well.

So here are the cards that based on my research seem suitable for my build and are in the $20-$30 price range new:
-nVidia RIVA TNT2 Pro - 32MB
-nVidia Quadro2 EX - 32MB
-nVidia Quadro2 Pro - 32MB
-nVidia GeForce2 MX200 - 32MB

Which of those cards are best-suited for high-DOS compatibility and early Windows games and will run well in an AGP 2x slot on a dual-P2 board? Info on the Quadro2 cards is sparse, but as best I can gather they are based on the GeForce2 MX400 chip which has a 128mhz bus compared to 64 on the MX200 card. I also can't find any difference between the -EX and -Pro variant of these cards. Also, is 32MB ram sufficient, or should I be spending a little extra to get a GeForce2 MX400 card w/64MB ram?
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby meljor » 2019-3-04 @ 18:00

I like the p2 cpu's but they are fairly slow at 66fsb and 300mhz so any of those cards will work fine. I think the tnt2 pro fits nicely and I would choose that.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby keenmaster486 » 2019-3-04 @ 19:48

Another vote for the TNT2. Good compatibility as well.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby bmwsvsu » 2019-3-04 @ 21:12

Thanks for the responses. The TNT2 Pro it is. I'll post a separate thread in the system specs forum once my project is complete showing the final result.

On a side-note, this site is an invaluable resource for just about everything I've researched on old retro builds. I'm a long-time computer enthusiast but only recently have gotten into the world of retro gaming. This place is practically like an encyclopedia for retro computers - nearly every google search I do on just about any topic, from sound cards to video cards to various troubleshooting issues always has results from these forums at or near the top. Between this place and Phil's Computer Lab I'm all set, and just wanted to thank anybody reading this who contributes here.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby oeuvre » 2019-3-04 @ 22:50

TNT2 PRO MASTER RACE
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby swaaye » 2019-3-05 @ 01:44

TNT cards don't support 8bit textures. :). Problem for a few games. GeForce 256 added that.

I'd probably look for a Voodoo3 myself. Glide is nice for that era of hardware. Games played on there are more tailored to it and it has less CPU overhead. But yeah I guess they are expensive now.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby appiah4 » 2019-3-05 @ 05:02

GeForce2 MX200 lacks absolutely nothing that the TNT2Pro offers, but has better performance and better compatibility with a lot of stuff. The only downside is that it's a slightly newer card so not exactly period correct for a 66MHz FSB P2 build, so if you are an OCD like me it will make you wake up at the dead of night with an irresistable urge to rip it out of the system.. Pick your poison.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby bmwsvsu » 2019-3-05 @ 18:05

Being "period correct" is not a concern of mine. I see reading here that a lot of people like their builds to be 100 percent period-correct; I'm just not one of them. Personally I like to add a little bit of modern flavor to an old build so long as it doesn't destroy the aesthetic of the build or impact compatibility in any way with the era of games intended to be played on it. Here, I am installing a solid state hard drive, a USB 2.0 PCI card, and an SD-reader into one of the 2.5-inch bays and connected to the pin header on the PCI card (the motherboard itself only has 2 USB v1 ports and no header for extra ports). Having the extra connectivity and the faster hard drive I think are worth more than intentionally limiting the build to the hardware of the era. But that's just me - I fully understand the other side of this.

After doing further reading on the TNT2 pro vs the GeForce2 MX, I'm now leaning towards the GeForce2 as I can get it for the same price AND it adds DirectX7 support (vs dx6 for the TNT2). I'm curious to test some early dx7 games on this build under Win2k with the dual CPU.

Also does anybody know much about the Quadro2 cards? On paper they look like a step up from the MX200 cards but also I see they're optimized for CAD applications. Are there any compatibility issues with these particular cards for later DOS games or early Windows games? And also I presume that the CPU and CPU bus will be a bottleneck for this era of card anyways, so I'm not sure that going later than an MX200 will result in any better performance anyways.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby havli » 2019-3-06 @ 09:27

Quadro cards should run games more or less the same as GeForce with the same GPU. In this case Quadro2 Pro is equivalent of GeForce2 Pro and Quadro EX is very similar to GeForce2 MX / MX400.
When using Pentium 2, performance of all these cards wil be limited by CPU in most (if not all) games... unless you aim for high resolutions like 1280x1024 or more. 32 or 64 MB makes no difference here and I think even the 64-bit MX200 should be fast enough. However MX200 might not offer very good image quality - it was designed to be very cheap and therefore the VGA output can be blurry. It depends on luck. Quadros should be better in this regard. And they (sometimes?) have DVI which can be useful when using LCD. On the other hand DVI on this GPU generation might be problematic sometimes... I can't really say how it works in DOS.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby chinny22 » 2019-3-06 @ 12:10

DOS support (no Quadro's)
https://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/
but would expect the same as their GF counterpart as the optimizations would be more in the drivers, something dos bypasses all together.

Not that it matters but one of my 1st upgrades for my P2 400 was a 32MB MX400, so it is somewhat period correct.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby appiah4 » 2019-3-06 @ 12:46

I wouldn't be so sure, Quadro cards can have strange VESA shenanigans - you never know.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby bmwsvsu » 2019-3-10 @ 20:01

Once thing I notice looking at the Quadro MMR and EX cards is that none of them have heatsinks on them.

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Would that be an issue? Or do these somehow use less electricity than their GeForce counter-parts?
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby oeuvre » 2019-3-11 @ 12:48

If it doesn't come with a heatsink... it won't need one.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby Weebob » 2019-3-11 @ 13:07

A lot of Geforce 2 MX's didnt have a heatsink. I have a Jetway branded one with the GPU clocked at 166mhz that doesnt

My Quadro MXR (200mhz gpu) has a heatsink.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby bmwsvsu » 2019-3-25 @ 21:03

I ended up going with a Quadro2 MXR card. Initial testing looks promising - the slowdown I was experiencing on Duke Nuke'em 3d and Commander Keen 4 on the GeForce FX5200 is gone completely. Now I can play Duke 3d in full 800x600 resolution mode without any slowdown and Keen plays great as well.
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Re: Video card newbie here, have Pentium II machine, AGP 2x

Postby LunarG » 2019-3-27 @ 13:24

bmwsvsu wrote:I ended up going with a Quadro2 MXR card. Initial testing looks promising - the slowdown I was experiencing on Duke Nuke'em 3d and Commander Keen 4 on the GeForce FX5200 is gone completely. Now I can play Duke 3d in full 800x600 resolution mode without any slowdown and Keen plays great as well.


Seeing as it's a dual CPU config, I totally support the choice of a Quadro 2. Back in those days, only professional workstations would have dual CPUs, and since the Quadro series are workstation cards, it just seems appropriate.
The Quadro 2 MXR is based on an updated NV10 (GeForce 256), called NV11. Faster clock speeds, but only 2 pixel shaders.
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