VOGONS


First post, by 386SX

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Hi,

I have built this ECS P6BX-A+ (rev 1.2) with latest 5.6 bios, 512MB SDR 100, a Promise TX2300 SATA2 PCI with a 40GB SATA disk, AWE64, a 4 port USB VIA PCI card and I was considering three cpus a Pentium 2 400 and Pentium 3 550 (Coppermine) and Pentium 3 600 (Katmai).
Which video cards are the best for such system without getting into excessive cpu overhead drivers, useless power bus usage?
I was thinking and tried the good old Diamond Stealth Savage 4 16MB, now I'm trying a Matrox G450 (for its great VGA output signal and HD support resolution), but I could use a G400 and others. I didn't want to use the Voodoo cards I collect so I prefer to stay cheaper. I also should have some FX5200/5500 but it really seems too much and useless for such system.
Tried some bench and it looks like the Savage4 are more or less similar to the G450, is it possible or is the cpu already at its limit?
Thanks

Reply 1 of 34, by kolderman

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The savage 4 has weak but barely passable 3d performance into '98, but has excellent S3 dos gaming support. The 5500 is also weak but with good image quality, dvi and fair dos performance. The FX needs as early drivers as possible. I wouldn't touch a Matrox for any build.

Reply 2 of 34, by 386SX

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kolderman wrote on 2020-03-31, 10:49:

The savage 4 has weak but barely passable 3d performance into '98, but has excellent S3 dos gaming support. The 5500 is also weak but with good image quality, dvi and fair dos performance. The FX needs as early drivers as possible. I wouldn't touch a Matrox for any build.

The Savage4 suprised me more than I thought. I remember back in its days I bought for the K62-350 a Voodoo3 2000 but looking back this card would have been just as ok for the resolution I was used to play 640x480 or 800x600 and it would have been way cheaper. The S3 seems very stable, quite good in both 2D and 3D speed and compatibility, even played Max Payne on it with the P2-400, impressive. Maybe the only downside was the same of all the S3 I tried but the 2000 maybe, its vga analog output quality imho not the best.
What about the Matrox? Any reasons for that? I don't like a lot the whole software installation that seems a bit too heavy for such cards. But anyway it sure has the best VGA signal I tried before any DVI or HDMI thing came out. The 3D part seems like the Savage4 more or less.

Reply 3 of 34, by kolderman

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Saying 3d is like the Savage4 is not really saying much. Matrox has dodgy compatibility with dos games, weak 3d, gained most of its fame as one of the first dual heads graphics cards that supported high resolutions. And yes it had good image quality, but by the late 90s when cards like savage4 and tnt2 were out this was becoming a moot point. I generally agree for a certain era the savage4 makes sense, especially if you are throwing dos games in the mix.

Reply 4 of 34, by derSammler

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kolderman wrote on 2020-03-31, 10:49:

The savage 4 has weak but barely passable 3d performance into '98, but has excellent S3 dos gaming support.

I had nothing but trouble with the Savage4. VESA modes only showed garbled pixels when Windows 9x was running before. It would only work when booting straight into pure DOS. That made the card a no-go for me.

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Reply 5 of 34, by BinaryDemon

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Personally I'd look for something like a Geforce2 MX or Geforce4 MX. Excellent dos compatibility, and Hardware T&L can make those early games based off Quake3's engine very playable.

Check out DOSBox Distro:

https://sites.google.com/site/dosboxdistro/ [*]

a lightweight Linux distro (tinycore) which boots off a usb flash drive and goes straight to DOSBox.

Make your dos retrogaming experience portable!

Reply 7 of 34, by i2lgames

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As for socket 7 and slot 1 pentium II the GFmx400 is worth it's weight in gold and cost next to nothing! The obvious alternative would be a VOODOO 3... it would cost a kidney though... There are many GFmx400's with DVI as well.

Reply 8 of 34, by The Serpent Rider

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but has excellent S3 dos gaming support

Eh, not really. Everything after S3 Virge GX2 was a mess.

I was thinking and tried the good old Diamond Stealth Savage 4 16MB

S3 Savage 4 is quite good for weak CPUs like K6-2, due to minimal driver overhead.

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Reply 9 of 34, by pixel_workbench

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After testing numerous Geforce cards, I would not recommend them for a Windows98 or DOS machine. Geforce4 Ti or MX have flickering in Build engine games at high resolutions. All Geforces have screen corruption in Midtown Madness. Forcing AA&AF usually causes laggy or unresponsive mouse/keyboard in Half Life and NFS Porsche. Test Drive 5 would not render the track or cars. Blood 2 just launches to a black screen. Populous TB often has blurry/unreadable text unless you mess around with texel center alignment. Their DVI output is stupidly blurry in DOS. And the problems get only worse with later cards like the 6800 in Windows 98 games.

For games that would be playable on a P2-400, a TNT2 would offer good performance and compatibility. Maybe pick up a cheap Geforce2 MX to test how compatible it is with the games you want to play. A Geforce2 GTS can also be found relatively easily for a not too ridiculous price if you want to try AA and AF in older games. On the Ati side, Radeon 9000/9200 series cards can be found relatively cheap. In the end, you may end up sticking with the Savage4 if the other cards have issues in the games you're intending to play.

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Reply 10 of 34, by aaronkatrini

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Oh...Midtown Madness! The memories you brought back to me 😀

It was the first game I tried on a PC and it was amazing! I played it in Software-mode at my fathers friend PC and couldn't stop. I didn't knew its name and it was hard to find the game looking at photos on google map that only showed the gameplay in Hardware-mode. LGR did a video on the S3 Savage4 and one of the games he tried was this.
It ran flawlessly on the Savage4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfjZkL5m4P4

Yes the Savage4 is good for early 3d games, but maybe a bit slow for a 600mhz P3.

Reply 11 of 34, by vetz

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pixel_workbench wrote on 2020-04-16, 04:49:

Their DVI output is stupidly blurry in DOS

I've had a Geforce 5950Ultra in my Win98 machine for several years. DVI output is sharp as it should in both DOS and Windows.

The other issues you're mentioning seems more like driver problems. Did you try different driver versions?

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Reply 12 of 34, by appiah4

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kolderman wrote on 2020-03-31, 10:49:

The savage 4 has weak but barely passable 3d performance into '98, but has excellent S3 dos gaming support. The 5500 is also weak but with good image quality, dvi and fair dos performance. The FX needs as early drivers as possible. I wouldn't touch a Matrox for any build.

Savage4 is decently fast in 96-98 games.

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Reply 13 of 34, by Jasin Natael

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Voodoo 3 2000 is what I use in my PIII 700.

I picked a PCI one up on ebay about 2 years or so ago for $20

I got lucky though and found one listed as a "arcade video card"

No one else bid, so I guess they didn't know what it was......I scored by Vodoo 3 3000 AGP in a similar story and give about 30 for it. Search by part numbers.....

Barring that a Geforce 4 MX is cheap and works well for most people.

I've used some Savage4 laptop chips before andy while not awful, performance and compatibilty is spotty at best. I would ro Radeon 8500/9200 or even Radeon 7000/7500 before Savage4.

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Reply 14 of 34, by viper32cm

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TNT2 or GeForce 256 DDR (or an GF2 or GF4 MX card) I would avoid the GeForce FX-series for a slot 1 build. The older (mid-2002 and earlier) Nvidia drivers are the best for Win9X IMO, and those drivers won't work with a GeForce FX.

Reply 15 of 34, by berbil

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Working from memory here, in my earliest Pentium II system (early '98) I had a 4 MB RIVA 128 + 4 MB Voodoo combo which was upgraded to an 8 MB TNT by the end of that year. I remember being quite satisfied with the graphics capabilities for the games that were available at the time. A 12 MB Voodoo2 arrived a bit later. Sometime in '99 I swapped the original TNT card for a 16 MB TNT2. You mentioned about not wanting to use your Voodoo cards, but 3dfx/Glide compatibility was a big deal back then and many games were significantly faster when operating in that mode. The TNT2 cards are really cheap/easy to find, so it might be worth a shot.

I was never really impressed with S3's offerings. Always seemed to have driver trouble or some sort of incompatibility, but that may have just been my experience.

Reply 16 of 34, by darry

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vetz wrote on 2020-04-16, 09:58:
pixel_workbench wrote on 2020-04-16, 04:49:

Their DVI output is stupidly blurry in DOS

I've had a Geforce 5950Ultra in my Win98 machine for several years. DVI output is sharp as it should in both DOS and Windows.

The other issues you're mentioning seems more like driver problems. Did you try different driver versions?

I think what pixel_workbench meant is that he does not like the soft looking result of the scaling Nvidia cards do when displaying 320x200 over DVI .

Reply 17 of 34, by darry

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If the monitor has both DVI and VGA, and motherboard BIOS lets you chose primary video card, then a combination of a of an AGP Nvidia TNT (or better) on DVI and a PCI Voodoo 3 on VGA (or other) is the best of both worlds . That's what I use

Reply 18 of 34, by BigDaddyM

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Savage4 is really good card. I've never had problems with it. In older games you can play in 1024x768. On 16MB card Fur Fighters in 640x480 work very well while Voodoo3 is too slow.

What games do you aim at?

Reply 19 of 34, by Munx

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kolderman wrote on 2020-03-31, 10:49:

The savage 4 has weak but barely passable 3d performance into '98

Savage 4 is on the same performance level as Banshee\Voodoo2, so it's plenty fast for '98

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