VOGONS


First post, by vetz

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Thought it was time for me to make a thread in here 😀 Wall of text / lots of photos incoming!

The background of this computer is like many other vintage computer, it has some notalgia value for me. This is the original computer I played all most of my games in the late nineties. My father was given this computer for free from his work in the beginning of 1997 and it was the main family computer all up until january of 2000. I then got myself a brand new computer, but my father kept it as his personal one all up until 2004 when it had become too slow for all the internet website cluthering. You can say that flash killed this machine. When he got a new one it stood almost unused for some years until I recently took it out, did some more upgrades and put it into use as my main DOS / early Win9x computer.

2008-01-01_00.15.09.jpg

Lets take a look at the original specs. It came with:

  • Intel MMX 166mhz processor
    32MB of SDRAM (2x16MB and 16 of them being integrated in the MB)
    2MB S3 Trio64V+ (integrated)
    ESS Audiodrive 1888 (integrated)
    16X CD-ROM drive
    33.6k ISA modem
    2.1GB 5.25 inch Quantum Bigfoot harddrive (click for photo)

2008-01-01_00.15.26.jpg

The original monitor, which I still use is a Panasonic 17" with built-in speakers and microphone. Also the keyboard are original with its divided spacebar, but I've replaced the mouse as the original ballmouse was worn out a long time ago. The original specs aren't that bad and the video card has excellent DOS support. The ESS audiodrive is a bit worse, with the worst part being that it can't play from two programs at the same time in Windows. Also I had some issues with the Soundblaster emulation back in the days. It was a bit ahead of it's time with 2 USB ports on the backside. This is the earliest computer I've seen that have had this, as it first came on the marked in late 1996.

2008-01-01_00.15.50.jpg
- I've replaced the original 16x CD-ROM since it stopped working.

2008-01-01_00.15.41.jpg

On the front you have some buttons for CD-ROM control, as well as a big sleep button. There are also shortcut buttons for telephone and fax from when this computer had modem installed and a shortcut button for the custom Compaq software. Notice the lack of power button and restart. Yes that is right! To turn this computer on you have to reach on the backside of the machine and hit the PSU powerswitch. This has always annoyed me. Same goes for restarts. If CTRL + ALT + DEL doesn't help you out then you have to turn it off and on again with the same switch. I guess Compaq thought that the computer would never crash and that people would just put it in sleep mode whenever they were done working with it. On the top you find room for 5 CD-ROM jewel cases, which is kinda neat detail.

2008-01-01_00.17.09.jpg
- Back of the machine (At the time this picture was taken I had a S3 Virge card installed instead of the Matrox card. This was due to me testing if Destruction Derby for the S3 Virge would work on this machine instead of my 440bx system.)

2008-01-01_00.21.27.jpg
- Sidecover removed.

2008-01-01_00.21.37.jpg
- MB layout and jumpers. 200mhz maximum setting.

2008-01-01_00.22.23.jpg
- Expansion bay on the way out.

2008-01-01_00.37.30.jpg
- Almost everything taken out.

2008-01-01_01.43.26.jpg
- Documentation, restore CD and bundled OEM software

The computer is almost completely proprietary with a motherboard with almost everything integrated. The videocard, soundcard and even 16MB of RAM are integrated. The case is proprietary with non-standard harddrive installation next to the powersupply, special floppy disk mounting and it also has a removable expantion card bay on a riser card. Probably the only thing that is mounted as normal are the CD-ROM and the power supply. The removable expantion bay contains 3 PCI slots and 4 ISA slots, but you can only use 6 of them at the same time. It is a pain to remove it and put it back in as you have to watch for the harddrive cables and powercables when you slide it back in. You also need to use some force to get it properly into its socket on the motherboard. This was worse when it was new, but after all these years the force you need to use has become more manageble. I am worried that the expantion card socket might get worn out and stop working if this continues so I try to avoid doing unessecary hardware swapping on it. I have recently built a new 440bx system that is much easier to work with for hardware testing.

2008-01-01_00.34.08.jpg

  • From top to bottom:
    - Audio Excel 310 ISA w/ NEC XR385
    - 2x Creative Voodoo 2 12MB in SLI
    - Matrox Millennium 4 MB
    - Intel PRO100 Etherlink ISA

2008-01-01_00.36.09.jpg

  • - 2x 32MB SDRAM PC66 + 16MB Integrated RAM = 80 MB (maximum supported)
    - Evergreen Spectra

So over the the upgrades. The first upgrade I ever got was a Orchid Righteous Voodoo graphics card. I kept it for almost two years before I upgraded it to a Creative Voodoo 2. Later I added 32 MB more RAM to a total of 64, overclocked the CPU to the maximum of 200mhz, added an extra 6.4GB harddrive and a 3Com Etherlink II 10mbit ethernet network card so I could join LAN parties with it. This was the configuration of the computer up until recently when I completely reworked the machine. I added a Matrox Millennium 4MB card for when I connect my 19" LCD or Sony 19" CRT screen, and another Voodoo2 for SLI. The network card got replaced with a 100mbit Intel ISA card and the RAM increased to 80mb. I also added a Audio Excel 310 soundcard as it has excellent Soundblaster 16 emulation, good software, and attached a Yamaha DXG60 (NEC XR385) clone daughtercard for MIDI music to it. If I wish I can also connect my Roland SC-55mkII or MT-100 to the ESS Audiodrive's MPU/joystick port.

On the processor side I've installed a Evergreen Spectra adapter which upgrades the CPU to a AMD K6-II 400 mhz. This upgrade doesn't give much more performance increase over the original processor, but the added 3Dnow support is nice for the games that supports it. Also it is friggin awesome as this more than likely makes it the fastest Presario 4766 in the whole world. On the harddrive part I've removed the original Quantum drive as it was way too noisy and just kept the Western Digital one at 6.4gb. It is enough for my use. I have Windows98SE installed along with variety of bootdiscs available for pure DOS mode (if I need more conventional memory for some games). The BIOS that comes with this computer is a complete joke. You can't almost change anything in it.

All in all this computer has its flaws. Mostly the lack of powerbutton and reset button on the front annoys me. The lack of BIOS features along with the case that isn't exactly "user" friendly also adds in. Beside this it works with almost all software and games and it has some nostalgic value for me. It is also different in both looks and features compared to the standard ATX/AT machine. It is also fun to max it out like I have done. Sure, I could probably add a faster Voodoo3 or 4,5 PCI card, but having a pair of Voodoo2 in SLI I find more kick ass. A K6-III processor could also work in theory, given the BIOS will accept it, but then I need a compatible socket adapter which is very hard to get hold of today.

Last edited by vetz on 2012-07-31, 17:44. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 1 of 34, by swaaye

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Do I see an empty COAST slot? Is it cacheless? I can't be sure if the slot is empty from the photo angles...

Does the Spectra interposer have voltage selection? Down to 2.0v and you could try a much faster K6+.

Reply 2 of 34, by vetz

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It is not empty. It is perhaps hard to see on the photos, but maybe this one make it more clear:

2008-01-01_00.34.20.jpg

The Spectra has voltage selection, but the problem is that I can't pry the CPU loose from the adapter without either proper equipment or use a lot of force. Since I don't have a replacement I don't dare to potentially break it.

I made a thread about the Spectra and its performance earlier:
Socket 7 and AMD K-6 socketadapter. Lackluster benchmarks

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Reply 3 of 34, by simbin

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I had one of these systems back in 1996-1997. It was a 233MMX with 16/32MB? RAM. The little CD holder on top was a nice touch 😀 The thing weighed a freaking ton though!

WIP: 486DX2/66, 16MB FastPage RAM, TsengLabs ET4000 VLB
Check out my Retro-Ghetto build (2016 Update) 😀
Commodore 128D, iBook G3 "Clamshell"
3DO M2, Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, NES, SNES, N64, GBC

Reply 4 of 34, by sliderider

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I bought a 450mhz Evergreen Spectra thinking it could be upgraded and I don't really think it can be. It looks like it's soldered together and the level of disassembly that would be required to change the processor would be too much work for too little benefit, if it can be done at all. You'd probably end up destroying the interposer board and likely break off quite a few pins from the CPU if you even tried.

On these old systems with 60-66mhz fsb you won't see a lot of benefit just from a CPU upgrade anyway because it's the bus that is the major limiting factor to overall system performance. If you really need to be going faster than 400-450mhz, then you should be moving up to a socket 370 system instead of trying to keep an old socket 7 system going. Socket 370 Celerons and Pentium III's give better gaming performance than even a massively overclocked K6-2 or K6-III running at the same clock speed anyway and you can get even higher speeds out of socket 370 than you can out of the most overclockable socket 7 board. If you need 3D Now!, then Athlon is the way to go.

Honestly, it doesn't really make sense to pay what most people are asking for these CPU upgrades as you can probably buy a S370 motherboard, CPU, and RAM for not much more.

Reply 5 of 34, by vetz

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After I wrote that text I know there isn't that much performance to be gained. The 66 mhz bus is killing the extra gained mhz pretty good, though there are some improvements 😀

A user on vintage computing said that you could remove the CPU from a Spectra, but maybe he has a different revision. He did mention he used a special CPU remover for the job. I also own a Kingston Turbochip, and while it doesn't work in this Compaq, it is possible to remove the CPU on that one. Same goes for the Powerleap adapter.

Upgrading this system is just for fun and I'm still looking to testing out a K6-III in this machine. I keep this machine around since it has a lot of nostalgic memories involved. I already have a 440BX system for games requiring that, but I still play most my retro games on this machine. Mostly because it is already ready to run and not being tested as part of my videos or my projects 😀

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Reply 6 of 34, by vetz

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A trip to the recycler today secured me a reserve PSU (proprietary Compaq) and a new DVD-ROM in the correct gray color all for free *happy dance*

Looking at this thread reminds me I need to take some new pictures with the updated hardware.

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Reply 7 of 34, by northernosprey02

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Imagine if I using this machine at home. If I still using this computer for the hours then the power outage was happen, what I can do? I think Compaq PC was never crash and guaranteed. 😁 😜

Reply 8 of 34, by subhuman@xgtx

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vetz wrote:

A trip to the recycler today secured me a reserve PSU (proprietary Compaq) and a new DVD-ROM in the correct gray color all for free *happy dance*

Looking at this thread reminds me I need to take some new pictures with the updated hardware.

Very beautiful machine. Has some drawbacks as almost all propietary hardware but still great. An old HP Cdwriter circa 97'-98' and a DVD-ROM drive from back then would be icing on the cake 😜

7fbns0.png

tbh9k2-6.png

Reply 9 of 34, by CPX7700

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That's a nice machine. I was always fond of Compaq computers because they were always cheap and high quality machines. My first computer was a Compaq Presario if I recall correctly, with Windows 95.

Reply 10 of 34, by vetz

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Just tested the Powerleap PL-K6-III adapter with my second AMD K6-III 400 (first were DOA) and I can confirm that it works in my Compaq! Now some benchmarking to do 😀

*happy dance*

time to update my signature

I've also acquired an original Compaq PS/2 mouse if I ever were to put it back into original configuration.

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Reply 11 of 34, by vetz

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Initial testing results with no sound:

GLQuake (demo1):
AMD K6-2 400mhz - 1024x768 SLI - 40.8 fps
AMD K6-3 400mhz - 1024x768 SLI - 57.6 fps

Quake 2 (demo1):
AMD K6-2 400mhz - 1024x768 SLI - 57.4 FPS /w 3DNow driver
AMD K6-3 400mhz - 1024x768 SLI - 67.8 FPS /w 3DNow driver

Amazing difference!

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Reply 12 of 34, by vetz

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OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD drive installed. Blew the scale in Speedsys with a score above 1400 points on harddrive performance!

While all other games run better with the AMD K6-III I get the same framerate in Quake 3. No idea what is causing the issue here. Not that it is important as framerate is still too low to play a game like Quake 3 on this computer. I want 60 fps + as minimum.

I also did some testing with the 64MB cache limit on 430VX chipsets. I did not notice any performance gain going from 80 to 64. Anyway it doesn't matter if the computer have to use the SSD for swapping as the read/write values are almost as quick as the memory throughput (trolololol)

I'll take some new pictures and update the first post when everything is done 😀

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Reply 13 of 34, by northernosprey02

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vetz wrote:
OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD drive installed. Blew the scale in Speedsys with a score above 1400 points on harddrive performance! […]
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OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD drive installed. Blew the scale in Speedsys with a score above 1400 points on harddrive performance!

While all other games run better with the AMD K6-III I get the same framerate in Quake 3. No idea what is causing the issue here. Not that it is important as framerate is still too low to play a game like Quake 3 on this computer. I want 60 fps + as minimum.

I also did some testing with the 64MB cache limit on 430VX chipsets. I did not notice any performance gain going from 80 to 64. Anyway it doesn't matter if the computer have to use the SSD for swapping as the read/write values are almost as quick as the memory throughput (trolololol)

I'll take some new pictures and update the first post when everything is done 😀

That's I want to say to reduce memory to increase performance, but you are doing it earlier 🤣

Reply 14 of 34, by vetz

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OK, after having some days of actual user experience with the SSD drive in the computer I am amazed! Windows performance is crazy compared to the old 6.3GB harddrive. It feels like a new machine much faster than what it really is. Loading screens in games are also much quicker.

32 to 64GB first generation SSDs will soon FLOOD the used marked sales with no-one really picking them up as bigger drives which are more handy and have better performance can easily be had. I recommend everyone to install one in their old computer if you are able to install a PCI S-ATA controller. I will certainly consider it for all my other PCI based systems.

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Reply 16 of 34, by CPX7700

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I may have already asked this, but if you are benchmarking Quake 3 and happen to also have Unreal Tournament, could you benchmark it as well? UT is my favorite game that should run well on your rig.

Reply 17 of 34, by Splinter

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The build quality of those Dells and Compaqs is incredible, especially when compared with some of the tin boxes I see in my shop.

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Main rig Ryzen 2600X Strix RX580 32GB RAM
Secondary rig FX8350 GTX960 16GB RAM

Reply 18 of 34, by vetz

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CPX7700 wrote:

I may have already asked this, but if you are benchmarking Quake 3 and happen to also have Unreal Tournament, could you benchmark it as well? UT is my favorite game that should run well on your rig.

Quick bench Unreal Tournament with latest patch. With SOUND, 1024x768, ALL DETAILS TO MAX, UTBENCH.DEM

AMD K6-II 400: 12.5 FPS
AMD K6-III 400: 18 FPS

A roughly 50% increase is not bad. Utbench.dem is very demanding. If you play with some less details and fewer bots the game is actually playable (for the first time ever on this machine)

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Reply 19 of 34, by Fasterpast

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I have presario 4402 from same series. You can see it on the manual at the right =)
cpq2.jpg
Now recovering and upgrading...
Trying to put 233MMX CPU with PowerLeap adapter, but with no result. PC just hangs even before POST. (All leds ON, HDD did not strt etc)
It was great PC, I have same nostalgic feelings =)

Washed and cleaned:
cpq6.jpg