First post, by Srandista
I would like you present my first ever “retro” build. Why “retro” in quotes? Well, it’s not really period correct, but it’s compatible with systems, which I wanted to be from the beginning of the build.
So, what’s the specs?
MTB: ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA
CPU: Intel Pentium E6500K
COOLER: SilentiumPC Spartan 3 LT
RAM: 4GB (2x2GB) OCZ PC2-8000 DDR2 Platinum XTC
GPU: Radeon 9500@9700 AGP (perfectly working in Win 98, working with HDMI monitors without issues), Radeon X800 Pro VIVO@XT AGP (one of the fastest ATI card with Win 98 support, but if you use it with HDMI monitor, you won't get POST and OS loading screen), Voodoo4 4500 AGP (for Glide games), Radeon HD4850 PCIe (fast card for XP gaming)
HDD: Intel X25-E 32GB SSD SATA + WD 80GB IDE
SC: ESS Solo-1 + Dreamblaster X2
NIC: Realtek RTL8169 1GbE
DVD: ASUS DRW-1814BL IDE DVD-RW
PSU: Corsair VS450
CASE: Fractal Design Focus G Black
So, the most important question probably is, why I build this machine, and why I used mentioned components?
Well, few months ago, for some strange nostalgic reason, I somehow found out, that I culpable miss whole AGP era. With my old PC, I used Voodoo 3 PCI, and after that I switched to laptop for some reasons. And when I came back and jump again to #PCMasterRace bandwagon with my new desktop, AGP was already long gone and PCIe was everywhere.
And then, few months ago I realized, that I have some leftover parts, and told myself, that it can be reused in some kind of a PC build. And then, I somehow end at Vogons in topic about LGA 775 Motherboards with AGP Slots. And that was the last straw, when I started looking for missing parts, and started building new machine.
I was also looking for some more resources on Vogons, and find topic Why 478 and not 775? In it, there was crucial information, which then shaped specs of the machine, since from that point I was determined, that my “retro” PC have to be running Windows 98, as well as Windows XP in dualboot. This give me some headaches and was the reason, why some parts are different then on beginning, and why it took me months instead of weeks to finish the build.
Since I had Pentium 4 HT 520 for LGA 775 socket, cooling solutions are cheap and widely available, and there are motherboards available with this socket and with AGP slots, decision about platform was easy. I started looking for motherboards with AGP slot on eBay, and then somehow I realized, why not go totally overkill, and I ordered C2Q Q6600, since its dirt cheap. I then found really nice ASRock ConRoe865PE, but auction went south really quickly. It ends with losing to a guy, who paid eye watering 121€ for that used motherboard. Sorry, but I didn’t pay that much even for my new board on my main Skylake machine, so I started to looking elsewhere. Next auction end up better for me, since I won ASRock 4CoreDual-SATA2 with 2GB DDR2 RAM and some CPU. Before this combo arrived, I received my GPU, which was ATi Radeon 9500, the proper one, with 128MB L-shaped RAM and 256-bit bus width, and with hope, that it could be unlocked to full 9700. Fortunately, I had a lucky pick with this one, as it turned out later. Once I received motherboard combo, I immediately changed CPU for Q6600 and put all of this to my new case, which was cheapest black case on market with few requirements from my side: with PSU at the bottom, possible cable management, front USB 2.0 ports and available external 5,25” and 3,5” positions. I installed also my old SATA DVD-RW drive and also smallest (80GB) HDD, which I found at home, which also use SATA interface. And this is the point, where build hit the roadblock, at least for a while. On my machine with mentioned configuration, I was simply unable to install Windows 98, no matter what I tried. It try to boot from CD, but couldn’t find drivers for drive. I didn’t find any legacy/IDE or whatever option to emulate old IDE on SATA, so at the end, I just went with another DVD-ROM, with IDE interface. Ok, fine, I booted CD, installer started, but eventually, I run out my luck again. At the final moments of installation, whole process just hangs, and didn’t finish. At this point, I just put whole build away for some time, because I was quite frustrated. But, fortunately, this didn’t took long, and in few weeks I was again browsing auctions, for some IDE HDD. And after few days, I bring home same 80GB WD drive, just with IDE interface. Finally, after few months of unsuccessful tries, I was greeted with good old plain green background, only this time in FullHD. I have older, proper LCD with 1600x1200 resolution, but for installation and configuration, I will stick to my main monitor.
And during this time, I also found, that with much faster X850, it wouldn’t be so easy. For some inexplicable reason, X850 is unable to send its video signal via DVI->HDMI adapter into HDMI monitor. And what’s even stranger, older 9500, with very similar GPU have no problem with that. On DVI, there’s no issue tho. Just want to mention this, since X850 it’s the fastest ATI card with Windows 98 support, but for whatever reason, it’s not working with HDMI via adapter. I will definitely use it tho, just with VGA or DVI on older monitor.
Also, once I will finish installation and configuration of machine, I will maybe insert dedicated sound card into this machine, since there is laying one Sound Blaster Live! Value for PCI on my table. And already, there is another CPU, which will replace current one on way, and also second HDD for the system.
Some great resources which I used during the building process from Vogons forum:
LGA 775 Motherboards with AGP Slots
Why 478 and not 775?
Asrock 775Dual VSTA & Core4Dual thread
How to solve Win 98 / XP Dual Boot Problems
Fix for 3DMark99MAX not running under Windows XP
PCI sound cards and Chipsets from various manufacturers
Which PCI Sound Card for DOS (SB, FM and General MIDI)?
agent_x007 - his "Madness PC", which is even crazier build then mine
ruthan - research about sound and compatibility on modern platforms
So, this is story of my first “retro” PC. But since picture will say more than 1000 words, here you go, how it’s looking currently. Cable management isn’t my best (and with my current PC, there’s just no contest), but it’s a hell of a lot better, than what I remember was with my old PC back in the day.
And of course I will be updating this thread, how I’m continuing with build in future.