VOGONS


My set of rules for perfection

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First post, by SpectriaForce

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I was wondering whether more folks here do or don't do the following things:

- I never put a motherboard without front USB headers in an enclosure with front USB ports. That's just unacceptable in my mind. Vice versa is acceptable though.
- I don't use old (>15 years) ATX power supplies anymore. I don't care if they are new old stock. Only exception are AT power supplies, but then only premium brands.
- Motherboards from the capacitor plague era will always get recapped before use if they have notoriously bad capacitors.
- Assembling hardware in a discolorated enclosure is a no go, unless it's some rare OEM case, but then I will thoroughly clean it. I don't 'retro bright' stuff.
- Black optical drives in a beige enclosure is a no go.
- All expansion slots in an enclosure need to be either equipped with a card or with a cover. The covers need to be of a matching set.
- I don't like socket 478. The pins on the CPU are too short. If you install a large third party CPU cooler on top of it, then it's quite easy to ruin the socket or the CPU can come off in a tower case. Bad design in my opinion. I also don't like the socket because many S478 CPU's run quite hot.
- I don't like large CPU coolers and if possible I will choose something compact. In my experience large CPU coolers are a pain in the ass to install and sometimes make it difficult to install or uninstall things like RAM modules.
- Graphics cards need to be Windows 98SE compatible otherwise I don't want them.
- Windows XP is out of the question because it can't be activated anymore. All OS for retro pc's need to be Win2K or older.
- I always clean dusty or dirty parts before assembly.
- Loose cables need to be tie wrapped.
- I prefer new old stock hardware and will buy it if available for a reasonable price. By the way I'm a sucker for original packagings!
- I don't buy expensive sound cards or related expansions, because I'm happy with low end stuff like the AWE64 Value, Ensoniq AudioPCI or just onboard audio.
- I like organizing my hardware. If I need a part, I want to be able to find it without much effort. That's why everything is stored and organized in plastic containers.

Maybe you have your own set of rules? Share them 🤣

I sell 'ridiculously expensive' retro hardware to people like you. I feel sorry for that.

Reply 1 of 53, by alfer

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In retrocomputing:
- I don't buy hardware from unfriendly sellers
- Got rid off everything with SMD electrolytic capacitors and would never purchase or allow it to be gifted an item with such quality regardless of it's price and rarity
- New old stock all the way, but since it's rarely possible - no scratches (certainly nothing worse), rework, except for extreme cases
- Only play games and install software from the original CD-Roms , CDR copies or floppies (no emulation!!!)
- Always use time appropriate hardware or the second best thing (with an exception for PSUs)

Those are the most extreme ones that comes to mind.

Reply 2 of 53, by kolderman

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- I never put a motherboard without front USB headers in an enclosure with front USB ports. That's just unacceptable in my mind. Vice versa is acceptable though.

Well that is a bugbear for me....but the problem is not the lack or presence of headers or ports, but the fact most new cases have a USB3 header cable. I have not found a converted for that yet, although if the case is USB2, I do use adapters to plug them into the USB1 header on the mobo.

But good old cases are hard to find, sometime a new case is your only option. I can live with this.

- I don't use old (>15 years) ATX power supplies anymore. I don't care if they are new old stock. Only exception are AT power supplies, but then only premium brands.

Again, sometime you dont have a choice. If you want to run a Athlon XP you need a PSU with a high 5V rail. New PSUs don't. I have never had any issues with PSUs from the early 2000s, apart from a couple that simply stopped working but did not damage anything.

- Motherboards from the capacitor plague era will always get recapped before use if they have notoriously bad capacitors.

Well it depends. There is a selection effect. The ones with bad caps will have aready died, so if you find a working one for sale on Ebay it almost certainly had good caps. I run several boards from that era without recapping (yet) and no issues. I run boards from the mid-90s and ISA cards from the early 90s without recapping and everything is still working fine.

- Assembling hardware in a discolorated enclosure is a no go, unless it's some rare OEM case, but then I will thoroughly clean it. I don't 'retro bright' stuff.

External cosmetics are a secondary issue - everyone would love a batch of brand new cases from 1999 but it's not going to happen.

- Black optical drives in a beige enclosure is a no go.

Agreed. And vice versa.

- All expansion slots in an enclosure need to be either equipped with a card or with a cover. The covers need to be of a matching set.

Agreed, although can live without matching covers.

- I don't like socket 478. The pins on the CPU are too short. If you install a large third party CPU cooler on top of it, then it's quite easy to ruin the socket or the CPU can come off in a tower case. Bad design in my opinion. I also don't like the socket because many S478 CPU's run quite hot.

Disagree. It was bad in it's time, but excellent late-Win98 platform today. Cheap, readily available, fast. Nortwood CPUs did not have thermal issues, although they still produced a lot of heat. Perfect to combine with a FX GPU to make a fully functional Troll PC from the early 2ks.

- I don't like large CPU coolers and if possible I will choose something compact. In my experience large CPU coolers are a pain in the ass to install and sometimes make it difficult to install or uninstall things like RAM modules.

Whatever.

- Graphics cards need to be Windows 98SE compatible otherwise I don't want them.

Unless it's for your WinXP rig? But obviously cards need drivers.

- Windows XP is out of the question because it can't be activated anymore. All OS for retro pc's need to be Win2K or older.

WinXP didn't require activation (as in there were corporate versions that didn't, unlike 7).

- I always clean dusty or dirty parts before assembly.

As you should.

- Loose cables need to be tie wrapped.

No problem there.

- I prefer new old stock hardware and will buy it if available for a reasonable price. By the way I'm a sucker for original packagings!

Who doesn't.

- I don't buy expensive sound cards or related expansions, because I'm happy with low end stuff like the AWE64 Value, Ensoniq AudioPCI or just onboard audio.

I love exotic ISA sounds cards. But yes they can be expensive.

- I like organizing my hardware. If I need a part, I want to be able to find it without much effort. That's why everything is stored and organized in plastic containers.

YES++.

My Golden Rule?

- Don't go below Socket7, to much a PITA.
- Don't try and find the perfect ISA sound card, doesn't exist.
- Don't accept emulation as a proper replacement for real hardware.
- 90s was the best.

Reply 3 of 53, by Deksor

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- everything easily fixable shall be fixed
- things that are not worth being fixed (except winmodems, these go to trash instantly) or are just too busted shall have their bits and pieces desoldered to be reused on fixable parts (like a motherboard having a busted ram slot > salvage a good one from a sol board instead of trying to find a nos one and wasting the planet's resources in the process). Capacitors are out of this tho.
- take leaky components off asap when they get in your hands.
- clean your hardware

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019

Reply 4 of 53, by Horun

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Because I am a slob I have no rules 😀 other than: Do the best job possible (assembly, cleaning, preserving, fixing) with all old hardware that am capable of working on.

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 5 of 53, by imi

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I have a loose set uf rules... but I'm not striving for perfection, so idk if they apply ^^

but to the black drives in beige cases... I don't oppose this, as long as all the drives and covers are black... I mean this was a very distinct style in the XT and AT days.

Reply 6 of 53, by Joseph_Joestar

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kolderman wrote on 2020-09-20, 22:34:
My Golden Rule? […]
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My Golden Rule?

- Don't go below Socket7, to much a PITA.
- Don't try and find the perfect ISA sound card, doesn't exist.
- Don't accept emulation as a proper replacement for real hardware.
- 90s was the best.

Strongly agree on all these points. I can understand someone building a 386/486 if they have an emotional attachment to it (e.g. it was their first childhood computer) but otherwise, no PS2 mouse and no USB ports is a dealbreaker for me.

As for my own golden rules:

  • Avoid sound cards that use software emulation for FM synth and EAX (e.g. SB128 PCI)
  • Use a CRT monitor if you have the space and can find one at a reasonable price. Your DOS and Win9x retro games will look much nicer
  • Look into slowdown utilities. If your CPU and motherboard are supported, SetMul and Throttle can do wonders for speed sensitive games
  • Avoid tiny, low-quality fans on graphics cards and motherboards if possible. After a few years of use, they start to produce a very unpleasant whirring sound

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 7 of 53, by foil_fresh

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kolderman wrote on 2020-09-20, 22:34:

- I don't like socket 478. The pins on the CPU are too short. If you install a large third party CPU cooler on top of it, then it's quite easy to ruin the socket or the CPU can come off in a tower case. Bad design in my opinion. I also don't like the socket because many S478 CPU's run quite hot.

Disagree. It was bad in it's time, but excellent late-Win98 platform today. Cheap, readily available, fast. Nortwood CPUs did not have thermal issues, although they still produced a lot of heat. Perfect to combine with a FX GPU to make a fully functional Troll PC from the early 2ks.

I had a P4 2.4ghz back in the day, loved it. Now I've got a prescott 3.2gigaHOTTs with a solid half kilogram lump of thermaltake copper (pipe101) and noctua fan on it. Found an unused SiS 655 chipset S478 board (8x AGP, SATA) a few months back and this PC is close to being one of my faves. I got a modern Corsair 270r case for $20aud (unused in box) for it which was usb3.0 only, but i got a usb 2.0->3.0 port converter for the front case ports. It's my AGP WinXP system, not that it's terribly useful but I can't let a 6800gt just sit around unused. I play a lot of and NFS underground on it. And it looks good.

I agree with your comment about "no perfect ISA card" too. Either it's noisy, buggy or it's lacking features/compatibility.

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Reply 8 of 53, by Horun

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foil_fresh wrote on 2020-09-21, 00:52:

I agree with your comment about "no perfect ISA card" too. Either it's noisy, buggy or it's lacking features/compatibility.

Not wanting to go too far off topic but did not see anyone mention "perfect ISA" but you. Did I miss something in translation ?

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 9 of 53, by foil_fresh

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Horun wrote on 2020-09-21, 01:41:
foil_fresh wrote on 2020-09-21, 00:52:

I agree with your comment about "no perfect ISA card" too. Either it's noisy, buggy or it's lacking features/compatibility.

Not wanting to go too far off topic but did not see anyone mention "perfect ISA" but you. Did I miss something in translation ?

in kolderman's reply to large post

Reply 10 of 53, by pete8475

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SpectriaForce wrote on 2020-09-20, 21:40:

- Windows XP is out of the question because it can't be activated anymore.

Funny that you should mention that, I ran into the online activation not working just moments ago.

Phone activation works just fine.

I did this moments ago. Legit product key = no problem, even in 2020.

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Reply 11 of 53, by The Serpent Rider

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AFAIK both XP and Vista can't be activated online now. Automated phone activation will work, but it may depend on country you're living.

I don't like socket 478. The pins on the CPU are too short. If you install a large third party CPU cooler on top of it, then it's quite easy to ruin the socket or the CPU can come off in a tower case. Bad design in my opinion. I also don't like the socket because many S478 CPU's run quite hot.

That's incorrect. Socket 478 is very safe to mount large coolers if you use backplate. Most Socket 370 and Socket A boards don't have that luxury. You can also acquire special mounting which is compatible with Socket 754/939/AM2 coolers.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 12 of 53, by Horun

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foil_fresh wrote on 2020-09-21, 01:51:
Horun wrote on 2020-09-21, 01:41:

Not wanting to go too far off topic but did not see anyone mention "perfect ISA" but you. Did I miss something in translation ?

in kolderman's reply to large post

Ahh OK THanks !

pete8475 wrote on 2020-09-21, 02:05:
Funny that you should mention that, I ran into the online activation not working just moments ago. Phone activation works just f […]
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SpectriaForce wrote on 2020-09-20, 21:40:

- Windows XP is out of the question because it can't be activated anymore.

Funny that you should mention that, I ran into the online activation not working just moments ago.
Phone activation works just fine.

I did this moments ago. Legit product key = no problem, even in 2020.

Yes ! I just activated a legit OEM XP 32bit last week through the phone. Worked great !
I did make an Acronis backup of C drive just in case need to re-install and activation is out....

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 13 of 53, by Deksor

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I like pre-pentium era machines even though I never had one at the time (I wasn't even born yet). I can replace lack of usb with networking and I have enough serial mice to not be bothered by the lack of ps2 port at all.

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019

Reply 14 of 53, by Joseph_Joestar

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Deksor wrote on 2020-09-21, 05:47:

I like pre-pentium era machines even though I never had one at the time (I wasn't even born yet). I can replace lack of usb with networking and I have enough serial mice to not be bothered by the lack of ps2 port at all.

The main thing that bothers me about the lack of PS2 ports is not being able to use an optical mouse. I just can't go back to a mechanical ball-mouse. Hated them in the '90s, still hate them today. They get dirty way too often and lack precision.

USB also gives you the ability to use modern (ergonomic) keyboards and mice under Windows 98. No need for drivers, basic functionality is fine out of the box.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 15 of 53, by Deksor

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I get your point, but in my experience they don't get dirty that quick (at least those I have) and the lack of precision isn't a big issue when you play with point and click and that the max res is 640x480 ^^

Trying to identify old hardware ? Visit Ultimate Hardware 2019

Reply 16 of 53, by Joseph_Joestar

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Deksor wrote on 2020-09-21, 06:49:

I get your point, but in my experience they don't get dirty that quick (at least those I have) and the lack of precision isn't a big issue when you play with point and click and that the max res is 640x480 ^^

I think the importance of mouse precision depends on the type of game.

I play a lot of FPS games, real-time strategies and action RPGs. Those tend to favor quick but precise mouse movements which is why I value optical mice so much. In slower paced games like point and click adventures or turn-based strategies, it might mot be as relevant.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
Installing DOS drivers on an Audigy2 ZS
OPL3 vs. ESFM vs. CQM vs. SBLive
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 17 of 53, by computerguy08

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It seems like I'm the black sheep here 😁, because apart from these rules:

- I always clean dusty or dirty parts before assembly. - Loose cables need to be tie wrapped. - I don't buy expensive sound card […]
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- I always clean dusty or dirty parts before assembly.
- Loose cables need to be tie wrapped.
- I don't buy expensive sound cards or related expansions, because I'm happy with low end stuff like the AWE64 Value, Ensoniq AudioPCI or just onboard audio.
- I like organizing my hardware. If I need a part, I want to be able to find it without much effort. That's why everything is stored and organized in plastic containers.

, I'm pretty much on the opposite side. I love s478 and big coolers, I have no issues with uncovered slots and non-USB boards put in USB enclosure. I also have no issues with Windows XP, newer GPUs or mismatched CD-ROMs.

Despite all this, I still take care of my hardware and keep everything organized in boxes (and haven't destroyed working hardware to this point).

Looking for a motherboard? You can find it in Ultimate Hardware 2019: http://www.win3x.org/uh19/motherboard/search

Reply 18 of 53, by dr_st

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Well, that's a lot of OCD right there 😁 , but FWIW, I guess I have some of those "rules" myself. I mean, I don't even build retro setups. All "retro" setups I have were bought new at some point. But I did replace parts on all of them multiple times.

I do put expansion slot covers, but I don't care that they are of a matching set.

I match black optical bezels to black cases, beige to light-colored cases. Since most drives cannot be gotten beige anymore, but sometimes you can get just a beige front bezel, I have a couple of light-colored cases where the optical drive has a black tray and a beige bezel.

I don't like huge coolers, but especially not on video cards. I generally don't dig "high-end" video cards and stay at mid-range. My 1070Ti from the build 2 years ago is the only exception so far.

I prefer to tie loose cabling, and get it out of the way as much as possible, but I don't go crazy with cable management. The problem with being obsessive about it, is that if later you suddenly need to connect a new thing, and all your cables are safely hidden away, getting a PSU lead or anything of the sort can be a serious hassle.

I guess my most personal "rule", which as far as I know I'm rather unique about, and I can see how it would be viewed as a weird one is - I use contemporary operating systems on contemporary hardware, and I never reinstall/upgrade an OS to a newer version down the road.

That's why I still have my original Vista install from 2008 on my C2Q build. Of course it's received all service packs and security patches, and I'm still installing ESU patches from Server 2oo8 SP2 on it. However, this is the only computer where I am serious contemplating upgrading to Win7, if I can find a convenient way to do an in-place upgrade. The reason - too much modern software no longer supports Vista.

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Reply 19 of 53, by chinny22

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Out of the original rules:

- I never put a motherboard without front USB headers in an enclosure with front USB ports.
I was like this at first, thinking I'll add a USB card to make the case ports functional, never did and now it doesn't bother me, just as the front audio ports aren't connected on half my systems.

- I don't use old (>15 years) ATX power supplies anymore.
Agree, Kinda. It's why I don't stockpile PSU's But I also like modular PSU's so I can remove useless SATA and PCI-E cables in my builds so I only buy them when needed.

- Motherboards from the capacitor plague era will always get recapped
By nice but lack time and more importantly skill.

- Assembling hardware in a discolorated enclosure is a no go, unless it's some rare OEM case, but then I will thoroughly clean it. I don't 'retro bright' stuff.
Don't mind as long as its clean, adds character 😉 I dont have any that are really bad though.

- Black optical drives in a beige enclosure is a no go.
Agree

- All expansion slots in an enclosure need to be either equipped with a card or with a cover. The covers need to be of a matching set.
Agree, I have enough spare covers to mix and match to find have a complete set.

- I don't like socket 478.
Disagree, I Don't love the socket, but as already said They make great Win9x/XP crossover PC and have a couple.

- I don't like large CPU coolers and if possible I will choose something compact.
Disagree, While they are a pain to install how often do you swap CPU's? prefer my hardware to run cool. The stress its putting on the M/B is another matter but no issues yet.

- Graphics cards need to be Windows 98SE compatible otherwise I don't want them.
All depends on the build. Cards I'll be using in a 486 don't need 98 drivers, ore later cards for XP builds. I don't use unofficial drivers though.

- Windows XP is out of the question because it can't be activated anymore. All OS for retro pc's need to be Win2K or older.
As already mentioned phone activation works. Someone here did have trouble in their country so used their neighboring county's number and got activated.
Personally I use the Volume License copy so no need to activate. XP is a great OS but glad to see Win2K wetting some love as well

- I always clean dusty or dirty parts before assembly.
yep (good chance they wont get another for many years)

- Loose cables need to be tie wrapped.
Nope, only because its a pain to undo when something isn't working.

- I prefer new old stock hardware and will buy it if available for a reasonable price. By the way I'm a sucker for original packagings!
I'll only pay a £10 premium for NOS or £5 for used but boxed. I don't get many boxed/NOS parts 😉

- I don't buy expensive sound cards or related expansions, because I'm happy with low end stuff like the AWE64 Value, Ensoniq AudioPCI or just onboard audio.
I'd still call an Awe Value high end, low end would be Vibra16. But know what you mean and agree. I like and use both.

- I like organizing my hardware. If I need a part, I want to be able to find it without much effort. That's why everything is stored and organized in plastic containers.
I try, really really hard. I think it's my hardware that doesn't like been organized 😉
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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-09-21, 00:17:

Look into slowdown utilities. If your CPU and motherboard are supported, SetMul and Throttle can do wonders for speed sensitive games

Thats cheating in my rule book.

My #1 rule is no overclocking. Time to give the hardware a break. If I need a faster system I'll just build it.
other rules in no particular order.

-Always use onboard HDD controller but adapters are acceptable. If a motherboard only has IDE then adding a SATA card is cheating. I am allowed to use a IDE-Sata adapter.
Likewise if bios support maxes out at 8GB then thats as far as I'll go. I have just rewritting this rule for a 486 with 500MB limit, DDO is now allowed 😉

- Only official drivers. so for Win98 that means I can go as far as GF 6800, I know you can force later cards but I'm not allowed.