Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-5-02 @ 18:31

voodoo5_6k wrote:That makes three of four retro systems "game-ready" :cool: Next is then obviously Retro 2. I'm planning on installing the additional SSD sometime this week and get going with the installation next week as the upcoming weekend is booked solid already.

The new 120GB SSD arrived today and is now installed (I have updated the respective picture in the system overview post)! So I'm now ready to go whenever I have some spare time to start setting up Retro 2!
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-5-07 @ 07:23

Only a short update today as I didn't have much time on the weekend. I could start setting up both OS installations. Using Boot-US again, Retro 2 now dual boots Windows 98SE and Windows 2000 Professional SP4. I had started installing drivers and tools for Windows 2000 but I couldn't complete that yet. After that, the same has to be done for Windows 98. I'd like to complete all this over the course of this week...

The second major milestone of this project, after the "Initial hardware setup completed (Rev. 1 for all systems)" milestone in last year's late July, is within reach... This took far longer than expected, especially Retro 1 needed a lot of attention... But well, currently, everything looks good and after that, there's still a lot of stuff to do. I'll talk about that once Retro 2 is "game-ready" too.
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-5-11 @ 07:03

voodoo5_6k wrote:I could start setting up both OS installations. Using Boot-US again, Retro 2 now dual boots Windows 98SE and Windows 2000 Professional SP4. I had started installing drivers and tools for Windows 2000 but I couldn't complete that yet. After that, the same has to be done for Windows 98. I'd like to complete all this over the course of this week...

...which I did! The regular Voodoo5 system is now "game-ready"!

    retro2_custom_splash-screen.JPG
    3dfx BIOS Splash-Screen
    retro2_boot-us_selection.JPG
    Boot-US OS Selection
    retro2_boot-us_gui.jpg
    Boot-US Partition Overview
    retro2_system_properties.jpg
    System Properties
    retro2_device_manager.jpg
    Device Manager

Edit:
- Corrected typo
Last edited by voodoo5_6k on 2018-5-11 @ 07:15, edited 1 time in total.
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-5-11 @ 07:06

I also managed to prepare the Voodoo5 6000 system. I have the same dual boot setup (i.e. Windows 98 SE & Windows 2000 Professional SP4) with everything installed ready to go on the second SSD (using the 3dfx reference drivers for now). That makes Retro 2 entirely "game-ready"!

    retro2_v.control.jpg
    Voodoo5 6000 - V.Control
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-5-11 @ 08:36

After quite some time, another milestone of my project has been reached: All systems are "game-ready" :cool: Yay!

    retro2_voodoo5_6000.JPG
    Voodoo5 6000 running in Retro 2

Not everything worked out as expected (what is of course to be expected within any given project).

    Retro 1's hardware changed quite a lot in order to achieve the intended use I had defined (running my favorite Lucasfilm/LucasArts adventure games in the best possible quality). I had to refrain from using real DOS as I found no way of getting all the CPU speed sensitive games to work, over several system iterations. Then, the initial system for running Windows 98SE and DOSBox was too slow for the later DOS adventures in DOSBox. That's the reason for ending up with a heavily overpowered Win9x system. That allows me to still use the Voodoo5 (and its unmatched RGSSAA) and to run the later games on their native OS. DOSBox takes care of the remaining games. My Roland MIDI gear (CM-32L & SC-55) is now connected using a Roland Edirol UM-1. Unfortunately, there are no ISA slots in this system, so I can't use the MPU-401AT anymore. As the system now has a very powerful CPU, the intended use got widened (running my favorite Lucasfilm/LucasArts games) and maybe that's not the end of it.

    Retro 2 got a second SSD to separate the regular Voodoo5 system ("standard" 3dfx Glide gaming) from the Voodoo5 6000 system. This way, I can play around with the Voodoo5 6000 system without affecting the other one. I'm already excited to see games running on this beauty with breathtaking 8x RGSSAA :cool:

    Retro 3 went to dual boot for convenience reasons. Whenever I decide to go back to Splinter Cell I just have to remove the FX 5900 Ultra, put in the Ti4600 and boot the second Windows XP installation with the respective drivers already installed.

    Retro 4 was as straightforward as planned, nothing changed so far. This system is supposed to run everything that was intended for the GeForce 6 and up (late XP/early DX10 titles). Everything else runs on my main rig (Windows 7 Professional SP1, burn in hell Windows 10!!!).

Especially the Retro 1 episode was quite annoying (at certain times), but overall I had a lot of fun and I am really happy with what has been achieved by now... Starting with four totally different machines and OS redundancy (so many Win9x systems...), disassembling everything, and after quite some time having now four nice and versatile systems covering DOS (OK, it is only DOSBox but I'm fine with that), Windows 98SE & Windows 2000 Pro SP4 (3dfx Glide), Windows XP Pro SP2 (early XP titles) & SP3 (late XP titles) as well as Windows Vista Business SP2 64-bit (early DX10 titles).

Another thing that became firmly re-established for me is that I really don't need anything below a Voodoo5 for 3dfx Glide gaming. I neither have nor like any of those few games that have issues with the later Voodoo cards, so compatibility is of zero concern in my case. And the image quality of the Voodoo5 (RGSSAA again) is just from another world, compared to all previous generations of 3dfx hardware. The same goes for other manufacturers, 3dfx's FSAA quality was unmatched for almost an entire decade (embarrassing work, nVidia & ATI). But that shows how much the market cared. Most consumers preferred fps over image quality (and still do) which I don't. Framerate of course matters, but only up to a certain threshold, then it's all about image quality. Concluding, I can't see any reason why I would use anything other than a Voodoo5 when it comes to 3dfx Glide as well as OpenGL and DirectX of that era. Games that require more GPU power, well, I will happily recommend the next tier retro system to them... Or check them out on the Voodoo5 6000 first ;-)

So, is this project over? What's next?

Well, it's not over yet. I will keep this thread alive and updated with whatever games I'll try to run, and this will surely take a lot of time too. Maybe along the way something needs to be tweaked or changed in regards to the hardware, who knows... There'll definitely be a lot of screenshots included with future posts, especially when it comes to games that I'll be able to talk into running on the Voodoo5 6000 to show some 8x RGSSAA in action. So, I expect the upcoming posts to be more focused on actual games running on the now "game-ready" systems :cool:
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby Cyrix200+ » 2018-5-11 @ 19:27

You don get many replies, but I am sure many people are lurking here (just like me). Just wanted to say I appreciate these posts, They help me in considerations for my own builds :)

Also, that Voodoo5 6000 is a beast!
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-5-12 @ 12:33

Cyrix200+ wrote:You don get many replies, but I am sure many people are lurking here (just like me). Just wanted to say I appreciate these posts, They help me in considerations for my own builds :)

Thanks a lot :-) Always nice to know that others enjoy these posts and sometimes can even incorporate parts in their own projects! Thanks for letting me know!

Cyrix200+ wrote:Also, that Voodoo5 6000 is a beast!

Hell yeah :lol: I own this legendary piece of hardware for 15 years by now and finally it's going to see some action :cool:
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-5-28 @ 08:13

Hey, the first real update since all systems have reached "game-ready" status :cool:

Nothing special has happened in regards to the actual systems. Most of the time was spent messing around with a new toy for my main gaming system, a Xeon E5-1680 v2 (fully unlocked 8c/16t CPU with 25MB L3 cache). I'm still on socket 2011 because I stopped being interested in newer games, Doom (2016) and Cities: Skylines were the last games I bought. I can't stand this "enhanced user experience" nonsense nowadays, forcing the system to have constant internet access, ruining the single-player experience by forcing multi-player into it and in exchange casualizing the game for the "dumbphone" generation... Well, to sum it all up: I'm obviously too old and grumpy for this ;) So there is nothing urging me to upgrade the entire platform. However, getting this Xeon was really tempting (albeit insane, considering the system already had an i7-4960X). But I digress...

So, what did I do in the more important realm of retro computing? Well, I worked on the infrastructure. Especially the newest of my systems (Retro 4) will be needing occasional internet access for downloading some games for which I have an additional license on one of the digital distribution platforms. This way, I don't need to mess around with my original discs and their copy protection. However, because of the out-of-support OS on it, standard internet access is obviously not an option (let alone that I insist on offline systems for gaming). Hence, after switching the platform clients to offline mode, the internet access will be revoked. This has been achieved applying access control lists in the firewall to simplify rule management. Furthermore, access to the internet is limited to solely the platform clients, everything else stays offline all the time, no in- or outbound connections allowed.

Also, for many years I've been happily using a VPN service to connect those clients. Some games have regional lock mechanisms in place because the digital distribution platform does not bother to provide a way for adults to show themselves as such. Outside the digital world, this would entitle the adult to get the uncensored game, in full compliance with the local law. But since the digital distributor doesn't bother (i.e. the entire country only gets the censored version, regardless of age), there is just no other way because I won't be playing censored games, that's for sure. In the past, I had been using the OpenVPN desktop client which worked fine. But since I went totally crazy with my networking stuff two years ago I now do all the VPN related things directly on the firewall, without any need for user interaction. All gaming systems have been placed in a separate subnet and the firewall (pfSense) provides a gateway group consisting of currently two parallel VPN client connections. All of this subnet's traffic is routed through this gateway group by default, any traffic directed elsewhere (i.e. the WAN gateway) is instantly blocked.

After finally completing the configuration yesterday I did a successful verification run using one of the platform clients on my main gaming system. Next up is a long overdue re-installation of that system. I'm planning to complete this over the next weekend. After that, I'll return to where I left off, Star Wars - Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast on Retro 3 :cool:
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-6-01 @ 07:29

voodoo5_6k wrote:After that, I'll return to where I left off, Star Wars - Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast on Retro 3 :cool:

I could complete the re-install of my main gaming system on Wednesday already and had it download some games I'd like to get back to (and hopefully complete them eventually) yesterday. While the downloads were running I started Retro 3 and fired up Star Wars - Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast. My goal was to complete the "prologue" (i.e. the pre-lightsaber and pre-force part).

In the beginning of the game you (i.e. Kyle Katarn) have no force powers and no lightsaber (following the events of the earlier games), you are just an ordinary mercenary on a mission for Mon Mothma. The first few levels of this game are therefore played like any regular 1st person shooter. This part is not bad, but it would have been much more motivating if the player had access to all the weapons seen in the later parts of game. Of course, once you have the lightsaber you most likely won't be even thinking for a split-second about using any other weapon. That design decision is a wasted opportunity in my opinion, the "prologue" could be so much more entertaining with these advanced weapons. Playing it as intended (which I did) is OK but not great. Also, some parts are really hard (e.g. protecting the prisoners) and I had to replay those sections several times to eventually get through them.

Anyone considering quitting the game during these early levels however should really try to hold on for a little longer (or cheat)... Once you regain your force abilities and lightsaber on Yavin IV the gameplay is radically changing and you're now playing the absolute state of the art Jedi simulator :cool: Some might like Star Wars - Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy better and that's of course fine too. I, however, prefer Jedi Outcast. Jedi Academy will be one of the next games I'll replay on Retro 3.

Fortunately, I could complete the entire "prologue", reached Yavin IV, regained the force abilities and the lightsaber, and am now in the vertical city (Nar Shaddaa), ready to actually start with the "true" Star Wars - Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast ;)

Some impressions of the game so far (skipping the early levels because there's nothing spectacular, just a 1st person shooter with Stormtroopers)...

    jk2jo_1.png
    Yavin IV - Meeting old allies
    jk2jo_2.png
    Yavin IV - The last seconds without lightsaber
    jk2jo_3.png
    Yavin IV - Finally...
    jk2jo_4.png
    Yavin IV - Luke can't accompany Kyle (well, for now...)
    jk2jo_5.png
    Nar Shaddaa - Now the "true" game begins!
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-6-15 @ 07:09

It has been a while, and I'm still fighting my way through Star Wars - Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast which I consider to be one of the greatest Star Wars games ever made (if not the greatest). It is a lot of fun and I'm close to the end of the Cairn Installation levels by now (ca. 2/3 of the game).

But things came to a stop recently because my KVM switch is slowly dying. It started a while ago already, but the symptoms occurred rarely. They show themselves as a "stuttering" or "lagging" mouse. Earlier, these symptoms would vanish after a few seconds of uptime. But the frequency of occurrence slowly increased. Currently, there is no single boot without those. And oftentimes they won't go away, forcing me into a reboot-frenzy. Sometimes, launching an application (e.g. a game) helps, but equally often I'll sit in the game with mouse and keyboard not working anymore and only the ACPI power button feature helps, initiating a controlled shutdown.

Annoyed of all this, I was looking for a replacement unit. The dying unit is out of production for quite some time, so no drop-in replacement possible. I saw a very nice 8 port switch, but decided it was too expensive (and I don't need 8 ports). So I went with a smaller unit of the same vendor with 4 ports. I received it last week and tested it for a while. Mouse and keyboard emulation of this switch is working great, absolutely smooth, and all the media keys and additional mouse buttons are available, perfect. After a while however, I noticed that this unit has to be either defective or does not like something in my setup. At random times, the unit would revert to a black screen for one or two seconds before resuming normal operation. I cannot reproduce any precursors for this behavior, it seems completely random. A firmware upgrade didn't help. So, I'm returning this unit.

As I neither have the time nor motivation to test another identical unit, I went with the 8 port switch (yes, the very same "too expensive" one I could have had in the first place). This is a 19" rack KVM however, almost four times the size of the unit it replaces (i.e. many connectors will be much farther away from the actual devices). And so I will have to replace my monitor's VGA cable and the speaker's audio cable with longer ones and use extension cables for mouse and keyboard. But that's not too bad, I cannot use the existing KVM cabling for the new switch and thus I will have to redo the entire cabling anyhow... But before touching any cables I will continue the testing for a few days to make sure this unit works.

If it works, all is good. I have spent a lot of money on this new KVM, but I'm hoping for many years of troublefree operation. And I'll have four additional ports... And the unit even supports cascading... So, let's see, how many additional ATX cases could I put onto my desks? Oh boy, that's not good :cool:
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-6-19 @ 06:44

After playing several further hours of Star Wars - Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast on Retro 3 and checking whether all other system start OK with the new KVM switch I did not notice any more issues like I had with the previous unit.

The mouse and keyboard emulation works very smooth, and I can still use IntelliType Pro & IntelliPoint. Everything works great. Only Windows 98SE acts slightly strange, it will only work with the HID compatible mouse driver and IntelliPoint, although installed for the IntelliMouse Optical, claims that a regular IntelliMouse is connected, without even offering the IntelliMouse Optical in the dropdown menu. However, outside of IntelliPoint, it works as intended, all five buttons are usable. Audio is also switched via this KVM switch, and that works flawlessly too. The console's mouse and keyboard are connected via USB, but each system can either be connected using a PS/2 or a USB cable set. That gives a lot of flexibility, although all of my current systems work with the USB cable set (except for the minor issues IntelliPoint has under Windows 98SE).

Overall, I'm very happy with it and so I went ahead and began final installation. It is now mounted under the desk already. Next thing is to finalize the cabling and then back to gaming :cool:

    kvm.JPG
    Aten CS1758
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-7-12 @ 09:06

It's been quite a while since the last update. There were a lot of unplanned activities that unfortunately had to take precedence over retro computing... This lack of time will continue for the next few weeks, although the current activities are actually planned (a few "upgrades" to the house). After those are completed I'm hoping for another long-lasting period of relaxation... Yeah, one can dream ;-)

voodoo5_6k wrote:Next thing is to finalize the cabling and then back to gaming :cool:

I partially succeeded... The Jedi Outcast playthrough is now completed! I found the game to be as enjoyable as it was back then, a really great game :cool: I did encounter one issue in one of the later missions. The game would freeze after the cutscene leading to the confrontation with Galak Fyyar. After doing a lot of trial and error I could circumvent this issue by setting the video preferences to the lowest setting, and after the cutscene ended selecting the highest setting (to have most of the eye-candy back). Then, after having entered the next level, I could save, exit, restore my custom config, and continue playing with my custom video settings. Trying to return to the custom config directly after the cutscene would again freeze the game (this time during loading the savegame). No other issues occurred during my playthrough.

As I wrote "partially succeeded" it is obvious that the cabling is not finalized yet ;-) The new KVM switch is still working great, but I just wasn't motivated enough to complete the cabling task.

So, what's next?

In terms of games I'm currently thinking about Black & White, Tron 2.0, American McGee's Alice, Star Wars - Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy or The Lord of the Rings: The Battle for Middle-Earth, but I'm not sure yet.

One other thought came up. As I now have an 8-port KVM switch installed, there are several additional ports available and I'm now only limited by desk space. I could easily fit another desktop case either on top or below Retro 1. So I'm currently thinking about restoring my first PC that was entirely build from parts. Before that, I had used OEM machines (Schneider, Peacock, IBM etc.) at home and those were then upgraded and modified along the way until replacement. I had never really bothered doing this but for some obscure reason I just thought WTH and starting with that machine I left all OEM machines behind and never looked back. There are many people around here that have a strong emotional attachment to their OEM systems from way back. I never developed something like this but can of course understand it. I only kept the retail parts I bought to upgrade those systems when they were finally replaced and I still don't care. My custom systems on the other hand, well, that's another story of course. I would need another nice ATX desktop case first (originally, the system was placed in a full-size tower which is out of the question)...

voodoo5_6k wrote:If it works, all is good. I have spent a lot of money on this new KVM, but I'm hoping for many years of troublefree operation. And I'll have four additional ports... And the unit even supports cascading... So, let's see, how many additional ATX cases could I put onto my desks? Oh boy, that's not good :cool:

I obviously know myself pretty well ;)
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-8-14 @ 14:10

A month has passed without update. I have been almost fully occupied with other activities. But these activities at least yielded some results. Two rooms in our basement have been renovated, new windows, new tiled floor etc. One of these rooms now has three walls almost entirely covered with shelves. A section of these shelves is now dedicated to my computer parts which is great. Finally, I can have everything in one place! Some stuff is still in storage, but I will bring it here as soon as possible. Currently, I'm busy with unpacking all the stuff that was in these rooms before. I already have sorted several parts out that are not needed anymore. Almost all parts that had been temporarily stored in my computer room have already been moved over. The room has never been this empty since we moved in ;) Completing this task will still take a lot of time, but most of it has been done!

I used the renovation to run new network cables. Now, the home server is sitting in one of these basement rooms (previously, it was in my computer room). Also, I now have installed the ISP router directly at the home phone connection socket in another basement room. Most of the house now has 10Gbit capable network cabling. The rest will be done once a major renovation is required.

I'm hoping to get back to my retro systems in September. And I'm still evaluating the idea of restoring my first system fully built from parts. However, without a proper ATX desktop case at hand, that's just wishful thinking. Currently, nothing is available locally. Ideally, I'd like to have the same case as Retro 1 is using (CI-7106W), or buy two identical new ones and use these instead. Both paths are difficult, but of course the entire system is not required for anything else but sentimental reasons... So, I'll just wait and see. Maybe, I'll get lucky and find something suitable sooner or later.
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-8-21 @ 18:59

voodoo5_6k wrote:And I'm still evaluating the idea of restoring my first system fully built from parts. However, without a proper ATX desktop case at hand, that's just wishful thinking. Currently, nothing is available locally. Ideally, I'd like to have the same case as Retro 1 is using (CI-7106W), or buy two identical new ones and use these instead. Both paths are difficult, but of course the entire system is not required for anything else but sentimental reasons... So, I'll just wait and see. Maybe, I'll get lucky and find something suitable sooner or later.

Today, I pulled the trigger on two new, white ATX desktop cases :cool: The chances of finding the same version of my CI-7106W in the same excellent condition are most likely close to zero. So I started looking for alternatives too. I found a company still manufacturing new white ATX desktop cases, and after agreeing on the shipping costs I bought two of those cases. Hopefully, they'll survive shipping. If everything goes well, I can either pursue the idea of restoring the aforementioned system or use the case for another interesting system. And of course I'll still have the CI-7106W as a backup.
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-8-28 @ 07:10

The two new, white ATX desktop cases have arrived undamaged :cool:

Now I'll have to transfer Retro 1's hardware into one of these and get all my remaining parts out of storage. Then I can test all the stuff that belonged to my first system completely built from retail parts. If everything still works I'm going to rebuild that system. Well, except for stuff like HDD & FDD. I'll be using an SSD instead and no FDD at all. The motherboard already has the latest BIOS and in case I'll be needing the FDD during OS installation I'll temporarily connect one of my spares. Currently, the plan is to add a PCI USB controller for file transfer after the case has been closed. Before that, I'll just power down the system, connect the SSD via USB to the file host and copy/paste all the files at once. A network adapter is out of scope for the moment.

I have installed Crysis on Retro 4 (Vista partition) just to see whether everything works. I had to reinstall DirectX because of some weird issue of the game's executable complaining about not finding a certain Direct3D library (although this file was there). Well, now it runs. BioShock is the next one for Vista. I wanted to revisit those early Directx 10 games, and that meant Vista (because I of course ran them on Vista back then).

I have (at least) another two very busy weeks at hand, but after that I'm hoping to find more time so I can get something done on this project here...
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-10-05 @ 11:41

It's been a while... Nonetheless, progress was made.

Retro 1's hardware has successfully been transferred into one of the new cases. Everything still works.

Last weekend, I finally had the time to get almost all of my remaining parts out of storage. Over the last few days, I searched through these parts to find everything I needed to restore my first system that I completely assembled from retail parts (before that I used OEM systems and upgraded them until replacement). I have the original CPU, heat sink, RAM, motherboard, graphics card and sound card. The PSU is used elsewhere, but I have a second item of the same model. While assembling the system for a first test I remembered the sloppy heat sink installation on my GeForce FX 5900 Ultra. As this is also an Asus card I decided to remove the heat sinks. The main heat sink looked OK, the TIM was still "greasy". But the memory heat sinks had no TIM at all. After applying MX-2 to core and memory I reinstalled the heat sinks and completed the basic system assembly in the second of the new cases (both are stacked). After setting the correct CPU parameters the system booted flawlessly, every component seems healthy. Next step is installing the OS and drivers. So far, this looks good :cool:

For the moment, I'm calling this system Retro 5. However, this system doesn't really fit into the system landscape I have set up with Retro 1 - 4. The name alone would suggest that it is intended for the games past XP SP3 and Vista, which it is of course not. The sole purpose of Retro 5 is having this specific system back in active duty, for sentimental reasons. Well, at least its core components. I haven't really thought about how to use it yet. Maybe I'll be moving a few select games from the other retro systems to Retro 5. Obviously, the entire Retro 5 business is still far away from being finalized in terms of intended use... In this instance, I'll be going the other way round, just complete the system build and then think about what to do with it ;)
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2018-10-15 @ 09:01

Although I'm still missing a few tiny bits and pieces for Retro 5, I installed the OS (Windows XP Pro SP1) and drivers to make a brief test under load conditions to check the system's health. Everything looks good so far, although thorough tests have to follow.

I just realized I never really talked about the parts in detail. So, I'll give a short overview of what's in Retro 5 currently and its history before a final overview will be added once the system is also "game-ready".

As I already mentioned before, this is first system where I left the "buy an OEM system and upgrade it until replacement" route. It was originally located in a full tower case. I built it in early 2001.

After the more or less disappointing performance of the original Pentium 4 line-up, I had decided to stick with the Pentium III (my last OEM system was an IBM Aptiva with a slot 1 Pentium III) and wait it out. For me, personally, AMD was (and still is) no viable option. I went with the Coppermine 1.0GHz (133MHz FSB) model and an Asus CUSL2-C, sporting the i815EP chipset and the iPanel. I had chosen the Kanie Hedgehog heat sink back then. Of course, it had no issues cooling a Pentium III. For RAM, the system had 2x 256MB Micron PC133 CL2. The graphics card was an Asus V8200 Deluxe (GeForce 3), and the sound card a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy (SB0090). As a PSU, the then current Enermax 431W P4 PSU was used. The system had a Toshiba DVD-ROM and an Asus CD burner, and a Teac 3.5" FDD. The original HDD was an IBM DeskStar 30GB 7.200 rpm UDMA100 drive. Originally, the system ran Windows 98 SE and was instantly upgraded to Windows XP Pro in late 2001.

The more peripheral parts like ODD, FDD, case, PSU etc. are no longer available. The case for example had been used for many years within the family and has been scrapped a long time ago (not that I would have had the space for something like this in my office to begin with). The DVD-ROM died as did the HDD, and the CD burner is more or less useless nowadays (especially because of the noise and the availability of USB 2.0). I still have the original PSU somewhere in another system, but the one I'm using now is the same model. Of course, the system now uses an SSD, and the iPanel provides a stylish way of front USB 2.0 (instead of USB 1.1) as it is no longer connected to the CUSL2-C USB headers but to a PCI USB 2.0 card powered by an NEC chipset. The more central parts of the system are all there, and alive. I could briefly test this with a session of AquaNox, one of the first DirectX 8 titles I had played on the GeForce 3.

Regarding CPU performance, the system never was top-notch because faster Athlons and P4s were out there already. An update however was inevitable because my IBM slot 1 PIII wasn't up to the task anymore. As the socket 423 P4s were disappointing, I decided to bridge this with an intermediate system. As I usually limit myself to high-end graphics cards and apply all available "eye-candy" I tend to end up in the GPU limit what kind of mitigates the somewhat lower CPU performance. I don't care for high fps, a certain level of fps has to be reached and maintained all the time (minimum fps), that's more important in my books. This strategy worked out pretty well, I never encountered any issues related to CPU performance. Usually, the graphics card couldn't keep up with all settings maxed out.

This system was finally replaced in early 2003, upon launch of the Pentium 4 3.0GHz HT CPU, when the P4 caught up with and/or surpassed the Athlon XP, thanks to the Northwood core.

    retro5_cpu+ram.JPG
    Pentium III 1.0GHz + Kanie Hedgehog, 2x 256MB Micron PC133 CL2
    retro5_vga.JPG
    Asus V8200 Deluxe
    retro5_sb.JPG
    Sound Blaster Audigy
    retro5_ssd+converter.JPG
    SanDisk 120GB SSD and converter
    retro5_ipanel.JPG
    Asus iPanel for the CUSL2-C
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2019-4-05 @ 07:08

Finally, an update... It has been a long while. I was busy with other stuff, and had no time left for this hobby, unfortunately.

Anyhow, I managed to accomplish one (physically) big change regarding my setup ;)

Recently, I was working on the desk used for my retro systems. It wasn't level which bothered me for a long while but only now I found the time and motivation to remove all the heavy stuff on it to get it right. This included the 17" Eizo F520 I am using for my setups. When I put it back I realized that I still have some desk real estate left when changing the angle in which I place the monitor on the desk. Maybe one of the bigger monitors might fit?

Incidentally, I had one of the cars pretty much empty because I had brought a lot of defective stuff to the recycling center. So I made a little trip and pulled the Nec FP1375X from storage. It had been sitting there for a long time in its original box because it was just too big...

Well, it is a tight fit, but I'm OK with that. It still seems to be working fine. However, this professional grade CRT definitely shows which cards have "weak" VGA signals. The FX 5900 Ultra and the GTX 580 3G work fine, with the GeForce 3 and the Voodoo5 cards there is ghosting when resolution/refresh rate is too high (I have not tested the GeForce 4 yet). I will have to look into that before making this a permanent change.

    fp1375x_1.JPG
    This thing is big...
    fp1375x_2.JPG
    Really big...
    fp1375x_3.JPG
    It is still working...
    fp1375x_4.JPG
    Nice power-on/status indicator...
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby voodoo5_6k » 2019-9-02 @ 13:06

I finally have settled for a solution regarding the issue with the VGA signal quality (as mentioned in the previous post).

Utilizing cables of highest quality behind the KVM switch couldn't improve the situation. Adding ferrite cores to the KVM cable-sets couldn't improve things, too. I had also tested an analog/digital KVM switch (the FP1375X accepts digital input via DVI-I). This unit eliminated the ghosting but re-introduced the issue of random, 1sec black screens I had already observed with another KVM switch and a different CRT monitor. Also, the USB implementation of that KVM was no longer compatible with Windows 98 SE (and it had no PS/2 fallback option), which would have caused subsequent issues as the use of Windows 98 SE is not "optional" in my setup.

Connecting the FP1375X directly to my systems eliminates the issue entirely (as expected). Even the system with the weakest VGA signal quality can drive the monitor with e.g. 1600x1200 at close to 100Hz, without any ghosting. The targeted 1024x768 @100Hz is of course no big deal for that monitor. In fact, I only wanted to use that behemoth for its screen real estate, not for excessive resolutions. As I got tired of looking for a solution that would still allow routing everything over the KVM switch, I finally accepted that having to bypass the KVM switch for the VGA signal might actually be the best solution.

In order to make this at least somewhat comfortable, I have installed a small aluminum box from a company specialized on presentation solutions. The box is configurable and can be equipped with connectors for a vast variety of interfaces (8 slots). Mine is obviously pretty boring, with 5x VGA (that is what I need right now, but the remaining slots could also be populated in the future). All systems are connected to this box with short (1m), highest quality cables. The CRT is connected with the same type of cable with a length of 2m. Everything else is still routed via the KVM switch (well, now it is more like a KMA switch ;)).

    new_cabling_1.jpg
    Box
    new_cabling_2.jpg
    Monitor

I am already thinking about using this type of connector box for the remaining stuff (USB keyboard & mouse, plus stereo audio), in case the KVM switch ever dies. But for now, I am happy that finally everything works again. Honestly, I didn't expect any issues at all when switching the monitor (CRT for CRT). But well, with the benefit of hindsight...

In addition, I will be testing a professional external A-D converter/scaler as soon as I have time for that. I have got a good deal on this unit as its box was opened (however, the unit was unused) and nobody seemed willing to invest any time in refurbishing the packaging. Also, interest in those legacy interfaces seems to be virtually gone (this is the only A-D converter/scaler model the manufacturer has left in its portfolio). This unit accepts RGB input (D-Sub), and outputs DVI or HDMI. This output is either digitized and scaled to match the connected monitor, digitized but unscaled, or anything in between. According to its manual, it is pretty fast, the internal delay due to digitizing/scaling is specified as 15ms. Also, it has numerous options to calibrate/finetune the image. User presets can also be stored. If that unit performs to my expectations, I'm prepared for the unfortunate but inevitable future, when all my CRTs will be "dead" and modern monitors no longer accept VGA inputs.
END OF LINE.

My retro systems:
1: E4700 2.6|512MB|P5PE-VM|Voodoo5|SB0240|UM-1>UM-550>CM-32L+SC-55
2: P3-S 1.4|512MB|D815EEA2|Voodoo5+Voodoo5 6000|SB0350
3: P4 3.4EE|4GB|P4C800-E|FX 5900 Ultra+Ti4600|SB0466
4: X5470 3.33|8GB|P5Q-E|GTX 580 3G|SB0886
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Re: Reconfiguring my retro machines to remove OS redundancy…

Postby Caluser2000 » 2019-9-03 @ 21:24

voodoo5_6k wrote:This unit accepts RGB input (D-Sub), and outputs DVI or HDMI. This output is either digitized and scaled to match the connected monitor, digitized but unscaled, or anything in between. According to its manual, it is pretty fast, the internal delay due to digitizing/scaling is specified as 15ms. Also, it has numerous options to calibrate/finetune the image. User presets can also be stored. If that unit performs to my expectations, I'm prepared for the unfortunate but inevitable future, when all my CRTs will be "dead" and modern monitors no longer accept VGA inputs.
That's is one reason I replaced the damaged panel on my 15" Transonic LCD TV is the PORTS:-

20190805_133201[1].jpg


20190904_092253[1].jpg


It's light, relatively compact and has a great screen that is easily replaceable using readily available ASUS components.
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