VOGONS


First post, by the_ultra_code

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  • (2/19/2019) I have finally gotten a 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 for this system of mine! I have just finished putting it through its paces, with some TweakMonster RAMsinks on it to aid it. New benchmarking data can be found below.
  • (7/25/2019) Two things have happened recently. One, I have updated my V5 5500's VBIOS to the latest, unofficial, custom VBIOS based off of 1.18 (the last official VBIOS) - 1.18B03. You can find it and downloads for other VBIOSes for 3dfx cards here. Two, I upgraded the hard drive in the system to an SSD. For more details, read the "Benchmarks" section. I have revised this post a bit as well.

vCwqskIl.jpg

An Intro Narrative

It had been nearly 9 months since I build my first retro gaming machine, and I felt it was time for an upgrade. I felt that, for the early/near-late Win9X games that I was playing on it, I wasn't getting the level of performance that I wanted to get from the machine. Sure, the 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 wasn't helping matters too much, but I wasn't going to replace that for a non-3dfx card, since I still wanted to maintain that strong native Glide performance. Besides, I have a more powerful Pentium 4 system that could emulate those Glide games at insane graphics settings at high framerates, but I felt like using that P4 of mine would kind of defeat the purpose of this machine, and if I tried to use that machine exclusively for all of my Win9X retro gaming, I would most certainly run into compatibility issues with some games.

So, I decided that I would go ahead and try to upgrade the core specs of the system instead. Since my upgrade route for the GPU was going to be... expensive, plus, taking into account that an 800MHz 100MHz FSB CPU wasn't going to be the best pair with a Voodoo4 or -5, I decided to instead focus on upgrading the CPU. I though about going the route of buying the most powerful CPU for the platform (in my case, a 1GHz 100MHz FSB PIII), but after seeing the insane prices and rarity of the CPU, I eventually game up on that idea. Next, I tried the route of the slocket, but that was more trouble than it was worth. Finally, I decided to do the most "drastic" of the options available - upgrade the platform itself.

Recently, I had acquire both a Tualatin-compatible Asus TUSL2-C motherboard and a Intel Tualatin PIII-S 1.4GHz for it for, in my opinion, a steal, but both have been sitting on my shelves, only to be pulled out when I wanted to test an AGP GPU, since the motherboard has a universal AGP slot. This was its opportunity. Now, upgrading to this platform was going to come at the cost of DOS compatibility, since this board has the newer 815EP chipset with no ISA slots, but since I have a complete Pentium 1 DOS 6.22 system on hand if I want to play DOS games natively, or the always-present option of emulation, I was willing to leave behind DOS compatibility needed for DOS games (which I rarely play anyways) for better Win9X performance.

And so, I went through with the upgrade, and this is the result: The ultimate P3 platform RGM.

Details

Check out my full Imgur album (titled Pentium III-S Windows 98 Retro Gaming Machine) showing off this build from many different angles and ways. When I add to this machine of mine, I will periodically update the pictures in this Imgur album.

For a complete list of nearly every part in my build and the cost of each part, check out my "Financial Accounting for Pentium III-S Windows 98 SE Retro Gaming Machine" Google Spreadsheet.

A list of specs:

  • Intel Tualatin Pentium III-S 1.4GHz SL6BY
  • Asus TUSL2-C Motherboard w/ 815EP chipset
  • Kingston KTM0055/512 PC-133 512MB SDRAM stick
  • 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 AGP Graphics Card
  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 ST380013AS 80GB 7200RPM 3.5" SATA I HDD (original drive in this system; has been upgraded to the SSD beneath)
  • Team Group L5 LITE 3D T253TD120G3C101 120GB 2.5" SATA III SSD
  • Toshiba Samsung Writemaster SH-S202N IDE CD/DVD Optical Drive
  • GOTEK 3.5" USB Floppy Drive Emulator (SFR1M44-U100K)
  • NEC Chipset-Based 5-Port USB 2.0 PCI Controller Card
  • Creative Sound Blaster Live! (CT4760) PCI Sound Card
  • StarTech 1-Port PCI Gigabit Ethernet Network Card (ST1000BT32)
  • EVGA 430 W1 (100-W1-0430-KR) 80+ White 430W Power Supply
  • Arctic Cooling F12 Silent 120mm Case Fans (Qty 2)
  • Cougar Solution ATX Mid-Tower PC Case with 120mm Cougar Turbine Hyper-Spin Bearing Silent Fan

Experience

Upgrading to this platform was relatively easy. In fact, it was simple. I took all of the data I wanted to off the Western Digital hard drive before the upgrade, popped the hard drive out, took out the expansion cards, took the motherboard out, threw the new motherboard it, put all but the AWE64 (since it's an ISA card) back into the system, popped in a similarly specced Seagate HDD (just in case I forgot to get some data off the original HDD - which I actually did, or, if I wanted to put the old system back together, I could), installed Windows 98 SE, reconfigured the OS as I had it, reinstalled the games from the original machine and transferred the save-game data, and BAM!, all done. Didn't have to touch any of the front bay drives, nor really had to touch the cable management, which also helped make the upgrade quick.

Once the upgrade was done, it was time to do some retro gaming and see just how the platform upgrade helped the system. I went ahead and played the same games that I played on the original config and... not much of a difference. Sure, I was able to turn up some of the quality settings a tad bit (if I am not mistaken) or maintain the same settings and achieve slightly better performance in NFS3, -4, and -5 (the games I care about on this system), but overall, nothing noticeable. I was obviously being GPU bottlenecked in this scenario by the Voodoo3.

And then after dreaming about it for years, I finally got a Voodoo5 5500. With the addition of a Voodoo5 5500, this machine seriously kicks some butt when it comes to Glide games at max details at 1280x1024. And, the good news is, when it comes to early Glide games, as long as those games have patched executables that are meant to work with a Voodoo 2, the V5 can play them in Glide too (Tomb Raider 1 being a good example, which I am happy to report does work on this machine 😀 ). If, however, compatibility ever becomes a concern, I could always throw my Voodoo2 into this machine as well.

But I wasn't done yet with this machine. I recently decided to do two additional things to make this machine even better. One, I flashed the latest VBIOS for the V5 5500, an unofficial, custom VBIOS based off of 1.18 (the last official VBIOS) - 1.18B03 (You can find it here). This not only was the only VBIOS I could flash onto the card between 1.18 and 1.18B03 ( 😅 ), but also is the most feature-packed. It comes with a setup menu that can allow me to manually set clocks and memory timings on the cards that are saved between boots, and that overrides the default 166MHz clock set by the 3dfx driver under Windows 98SE. Of course I'll never mess with this, but it's cool to have. Any who, the real benefits of this later VBIOS compared to the VBIOS that was already on the card (1.06) are performance gains and hardware/software bugs, as will be shown later. Even though the process was scary, the end result was worth it.

The other thing I did with this machine was replace the hard drive solution with an SSD one. This solution IMO is nicer, because of A) the I/O performance uplift that an SSD provides, as well as new SSDs being more reliable, not as delicate as, and easier to hook up to other PCs externally than traditional hard drives (with 3.5" hard drives, you need to provide external power the drive, whereas with an SSD, it draws all of its power over USB). I went about this upgrade by first swapping the hard drive with the original installation out with the SSD, formatted the SSD using a 98 boot disk, gave the C: drive on the SSD the same exact name as the C: drive on the hard drive, and finally copied over the files from the hard drive to the SSD under Windows 10. The process was painless, and Windows 98SE booted up perfectly fine, like nothing had happened. And booted perfectly it did: Windows 98SE is snappier than ever, thanks to SSD's near-zero access times.

At this point, I can't think of anything else to do with this machine. I can finally say that this system is complete. 🤣

Benchmarks

Okay, to finish off this post, it's time for some benchmarks.

Unlike with my other retro gaming machine posts, I'll include results for both the Voodoo3 and the Voodoo5 (both with the original VBIOS and with the latest VBIOS) for comparisons sake, show how much of an improvement the V5 makes over a V3, and how much the newer BIOS revision affects the performance of the V5.

For comparison's sake, I also overclocked the Voodoo3 to the same "max overclock" that I attained with the original system. I didn't, however, see if I could get a higher stable overclock, since I didn't want to waste any more of my time overclocking, nor stress out my Voodoo3 anymore than I had to (currently, I have the Voodoo3 overclocked at 180MHz, an around 8% overclock). However, as you will see, overclocking the Voodoo3 doesn't do too much. Also, in the latest benchmarks I did with the V5 with the latest BIOS revision, I did not test the card when overclocked, since I rather not mess with the card much anymore (and I'm lazy 🤣).

Here are the Voodoo3 and Roadkil's Disk Speed results, both for the new config and for the original build:

  • 3DMark99 (all tests enabled, "maxed-out" @ 1280x1024, in "3DMarks"):
    • 166MHz (Base Clock) = 2838 (originally 2727)
    • 188Mhz (Max "Stable" Overclock) = 3253 (originally 3132)
    a7buqio.jpg
  • 3DMark2000 (all tests enabled, "maxed out" @ 1280x1024, in "3D Marks"):
    • 166MHz (Base Clock) = 2124 (originally 2008)
    • 188MHz (Max "Stable" Overclock) = 2433 (originally 2289)
    iFVSJpk.jpg
  • Roadkill's Disk Speed Version 2.0:
    cfHbYRy.png
    (original result)
    IkZRtTv.png

As you can see, the platform + CPU upgrade only earned us around 100 points in both 3DMark benchmarks, even with an overclocked Voodoo3 3000 - not the biggest jump in performance. However, in Roadkil's Disk Benchmark, we do see an improvement when it comes to HDD speeds; those results aren't entirely comparable, though, since two different hard drives were used (a 120GB Western Digital in the original config, and a 80GB Seagate in this new config), but since both drives are very similarly specced (except for capacity), the result differences are not entirely invalid. A small drive I/O performance increase was noticed most likely due to the fact that TUSL2-C supports faster IDE transfer speeds (UtlraDMA/100), as opposed to UltraDMA/33 on the P3B-F in the original build.

Now let's look at the 3DMark results after adding the Voodoo5 into the system:

  • 3DMark99 (all tests enabled, "maxed-out" @ 1280x1024, in "3DMarks"):
    • 166MHz (Base Clock) = 3363
    • 181MHz (Max "Stable" Overclock) = 3721
    Uj2txRR.png
  • 3DMark2000 (all tests enabled, "maxed out" @ 1280x1024, in "3D Marks"):
    • 166MHz (Base Clock) = 2398
    • 181MHz (Max "Stable" Overclock) = 2633
    cjNrwSc.png

The difference is as would be expected - amazing. The Voodoo5 stock matches or beats the Voodoo3 OCed, and that's when the V5 is using 32-bit colors, but that's to be expected with the V5's greater GPU horsepower due to its internal SLI as well as its double the VRAM capacity as the V3. The V5 truly is a truly powerful beast of a Glide card.

Finally, here are the 3DMark results after flashing the latest VBIOS onto the Voodoo5 (I'm using the same test settings as before), and the Roadkil's Disk Speed result after the SSD upgrade:

  • 3DMark99 (all tests enabled, "maxed-out" @ 1280x1024, in "3DMarks") = 3492 (originally 3363)
  • 3DMark2000 (all tests enabled, "maxed out" @ 1280x1024, in "3D Marks") = 2485 (originally 2398)
  • Roadkill's Disk Speed Version 2.0:
    UQJ6sEu.png
    (original result)
    IkZRtTv.png

While the performance difference between VBIOS revisions is minor (about 4%), the difference between the original Seagate HDD that I used in this build and the new Team Group SSD that I upgraded it with is night and day, as it should be.

Some Tidbits

If you want to see the complete results of all of the graphics benchmark runs I ran (which are saved to the ".3dp" files which can be viewed in each of the benchmarks' respective "Result Browsers"), you can find them in this public Google Drive folder of mine named "PIII-S_Win98SE_RGM_Graphics_Benchmarks" (for the V5 VBIOS 1.18B03 results), "Old_PIII-S_Win98SE_RGM_Graphics_Benchmarks_(V5_5500-VBIOS_1.06)" (for the V5 VBIOS 1.06 results), or "Old_PIII-S_Win98SE_RGM_Graphics_Benchmarks_(V3_3000)" (for the V3 results). In those folders, there is a file named "GBQRDT.txt", which lists the results for all of the runs for both benchmarks at each of the GPU clocks, like I kind of did here. By going into the "3DMark99" or "-2000" folders, the results are ordered based on GPU clocks. In any of the "3DMark99" and "-2000" folders, you can use any of the ".3dp" files to run the same benchmark as I did.

If you want an offline version of the 3DMark2000 Result Browser, you can find a copy of the installation executable here in my Google Drive, straight from Futuremark's servers (find out more here 😀).

If you want to go to where I store anything I have linked from my Google Drive here click here. That link will take you to the "root" directory I created to store all of my "public" files and folders for this post of mine.

Last edited by the_ultra_code on 2019-09-30, 22:49. Edited 9 times in total.

Builds

Other:
* USB2 PCI Card in Win98 SE
* Futuremark Result Browsers

Reply 1 of 5, by appiah4

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Very nice build, would appreciate shots of its interiors as well.

A500:Rev6|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
i386:Am386SX25|4M|GD5402|ES688
i486:U5S33|8M|GD5428|YMF719
i586:P133|32M|T64V+/MX2|V1|CT3980/32M
i686:K6-2/500|256M|i740|V2/SLI|CT4520/32M
S370:P3-1200|384M|GF4-4200|MX300
S754:A3700+|2G|X800XTPE|SB0350

Reply 2 of 5, by the_ultra_code

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appiah4 wrote:

Very nice build, would appreciate shots of its interiors as well.

My friend, I think you missed the link to the Imgur album, where I have plenty of interior shots, I can assure you. 🤣

Here's one shot of the interior from the album, for your convenience.
3uItwLLl.jpg

Builds

Other:
* USB2 PCI Card in Win98 SE
* Futuremark Result Browsers

Reply 3 of 5, by chinny22

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I have to agree with you.
Slot 1 makes a great DOS/Win9x crossover but as with any crossover you have to compromise, It's too fast for alot of dos games but slow for later Win9x games.
Cant think of any games that wont run full settings on the the MMX anyway, may as well make the P3 a pure Win9x gaming rig in which case the slot 1 is holding you back
and of course you can still play the dos games from within Win98 if needed

PS
IMHO get a hold of a socket 478 for your future V5 so you can really max everything out, it doesn't give the same retro feel but it is nice to know your getting every little bit out of the voodoo

Reply 4 of 5, by the_ultra_code

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chinny22 wrote:
I have to agree with you. Slot 1 makes a great DOS/Win9x crossover but as with any crossover you have to compromise, It's too fa […]
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I have to agree with you.
Slot 1 makes a great DOS/Win9x crossover but as with any crossover you have to compromise, It's too fast for alot of dos games but slow for later Win9x games.
Cant think of any games that wont run full settings on the the MMX anyway, may as well make the P3 a pure Win9x gaming rig in which case the slot 1 is holding you back
and of course you can still play the dos games from within Win98 if needed

Yep, that's why I built a Pentium 233 MMX machine for DOS games, if I ever wanted to play DOS games on a different machine. Now it's necessary. 😀

chinny22 wrote:

PS
IMHO get a hold of a socket 478 for your future V5 so you can really max everything out, it doesn't give the same retro feel but it is nice to know your getting every little bit out of the voodoo

Really? I mean, yeah, you are right. You would get better performance with a P4. But, I'll be fine with a small performance loss with this P3 - I mean, I think this system is great as it is, and with the addition of a V4 or -5 would be perfect. Also, compatibility is a concern. For example, NFS5 has trouble running properly on CPUs faster than ~2GHz, and that's the point where P4s equal P3s, more or less, as shown in this semi-recent PCL video (https://youtu.be/FqCPnO97Vl0).

Builds

Other:
* USB2 PCI Card in Win98 SE
* Futuremark Result Browsers

Reply 5 of 5, by Flakchak

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Awesome machine! Good call on the CX450M. I've been using one on my test desk and it's so quiet you wouldn't even think it's on.

I've been throwing around the idea of a P3 build with the same mobo you used, but I'd really like the ability to use my ISA peripherals. That leads me to either a P3V133 or a P3V4X along with a modded Tualatin and slocket.

Searching for a Packard Bell 15" CRT Monitor - 1511SL or 1512SL