First post, by vutt
TLDR - my little story how I ended up with 2 retro rigs while attempting to relive my youth. And despite some frustration and excess costs (of course) I loved every bit of it. Entire adventure described below lasted almost 12 months.
Mission statement: Build retro rig for authentic DOS gaming based on Win98SE real time DOS boot solution.
While I owned various 386,486 DIY based PC’s from used parts my brightest memory involves Am5x86-P75 133Mhz@166Mhz (of course) built from brand new components. It would have best nostalgia go to system, but being older system with leaking NiCd/NiMH batteries and with more often than not requiring old AT PSU it’s too much hassle.
I actually had my old early 2000-s Athlon XP2000 rig with broken KT600 motherboard, SB Live sound and cheap 17” LCD monitor laying around. So I went I bought cheapest KM400 PCChps motherboard and managed to get it running more or less stable in DOS. btw KM400 chipset sports good built-in video for DOS gaming, but somehow I could not get this platform working stable in Win98SE. Also last but not least hardware felt wrong as authentic DOS rig.
So what’s the best most recent most compatible and reliable DOS/Win98 platform with ISA support then? i440BX of course!
At some point I managed to acquire SB16 Value CT2770 with authentic OPL3 FM chip and the stage was set to go all the way in with 440BX adventure. Then shortly after that used Intel SE440BX-2 MB with 500 Mhz Katmai and 128MB SDRAM popped up at local auction site and went for it. As usual with these sites there is always one other fellow retro enthusiast who drives price up. I got full set at 55EUR.
I have no problem mixing up modern parts as long as MB/GPU/Sound core system delivers authentic outcome. So my first Slot1 iteration shaped up as follows:
CPU: P3 500Mhz Katmai
MB: Intel SE440-BX2 (Made in Ireland btw)
RAM: 1 noname stick of 128MB CL3 SDRAM
GPU: ATI 9200SE (From my old early 2000 rig)
Sound: SB 16 Value
Net: Cheap Realtek (from my old early 2000 rig)
HDD: 160GB SATA Seagate with SATA->IDE adapter.
Optical Drive: LG generic IDE DVD drive (from my old early 2000 rig)
Monitor: Viewsonic 17” LCS (from my old early 2000 rig)
Speakers: Creative Inspire T7900 (I bought it back in 2003, still working)
Apart from my shitty Viewsonic 17” LCD monitor bought back in 2003 and jumpy failing mouse this rig run very stable both in DOS and Win98SE.
So normal cost conscious retro PC fan would stop there and will just enjoy what’s built. Well I could not stop there. So bits by bits following upgrades were done over the course of a few months:
Since I bought SB16 Value edition w/o wavetable header I planned to get external MIDI device. SoundCanvas was my initial target. Well before I seriously started to hunt down on ebay. Pricey!! So I decided to switch to modern better sounding in my opinion alternative - Serdaco’s X3MB. It turned out that CT2770 has buggy v4.13 DSP with external MIDI sound.
SB16 is also bad Win98 card. It has issues with 48khz->44khz sampling rate conversion while watching my old concert DVD collection.
Since I didn’t want to give up authentic Yamaha OPL3 sound I went for AOpen AW744-II. It’s 2002 card so sound output is cleaner than any mid-90 SB with almost perfect SB Pro 2 compatibility. I even hard-modded SB-LINK connector there in order to enjoy TSR free sound experience in DOS mode.
ATI 9XXX series cards are DX9/Win XP era cards. So it doesn’t feel right. I draw for myself artificial line at DX8.1 mark with this project. So GF4 it is then. I managed to score cheap MSI GF4 TI4200 128MB version from local auction site. But by now I’m addicted. So over the course of couple of months I monitored ebay and managed to snatch MSI 8872 (TI4600) with decent price. It was w/o cooler so I bought cheap 2 slot Chinese one. This is another retro build area where I’m more than happy to use modern quieter designs.
Now I’m reaching the point where tale of 2nd Slot1 PC starts. I wanted faster processor in order to cover all Win98 era. So I went for cheap 650MHz 100MHZ FSB Coppermine without reading fine print in SE440BX-2 manual. Of course it turned out that I have earlier revision without lower Coppermine voltages support.
Decision time: By now I had almost 2 sets of each component except the motherboard. So since Slot1 is timeless hardware for DOS/Win98 nostalgia seeker and old components will eventually fail and for sure they are not getting cheaper in the future, I decided to go for ultimate 440BX motherboard - Asus P3B-F. Again after patiently waiting for a couple of months I managed to snatch one for only 34EUR+shipping and it has been working now for couple of months perfectly.
end of part 1/2. cont next post...