VOGONS


Reply 100 of 148, by Joseph_Joestar

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Tali wrote on 2020-08-30, 14:45:

Truth be told, obtaining all the weird stuff is probably as much fun as putting it all together... and now there are still two rather exotic and expensive pieces in my sights: GUS Max and GF5950.

Ouch indeed, those likely won't come cheap. I recently saw a GUS PnP going for 280€ in my local classifieds and it got sold within 24 hours. I'm amazed that people can drop that kind of money on a sound card, but I suppose someone who used to have it as a kid and has fond memories of it might be willing to do that. Good luck with your search!

BTW, if you're still looking to name that Cyrix build, how about "Crusader"? You mentioned that it will be used for late DOS games, and Crusader No Remorse/Regret immediately come to mind.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 VirgeDX / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 101 of 148, by Tali

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Hm, I think I'll pilfer that name right from your post. And it does fit nicely with the rest of the "party". Kind of makes sense that Cyrix went on a crusade against Intel, and Gravis against Creative... too bad it ended as all the other crusades. 😀

Reply 102 of 148, by Tali

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A new addition to my "retro desk". Not quite a computer, but hey, it comes with a floppy.
fJqDfB1.jpg

Now it does look pristine, and, for the most part, it is quite functional. Yet there are a few things to do to bring it to perfection, and it is bound to take some time. A few switches are finicky, plus the backlight is almost gone.

That said, it sounds phenomenal, which brings more of a rant than a question, really. If all the reviewers consider this unit "a classic, but nowadays cheesy and outdated", I can only wonder why, with modern devices supposedly sounding that much better, all the modern music sounds like poorly processed fertilizer? I mean, this device is freaking quarter of a century old, and it sounds richer than what I hear from most modern pop titles; pop clearly being one of the major users of synthesizers and romplers, they are sure to benefit from all those nice modern workstations, right?

UPDATE: The floppy drive in this unit is dead. It even smells dead. There is also a bit of broken plastic, but nothing that can't be solved with some epoxy and a longer set of screws. Since now replacing the floppy is no longer a "what if", but "absolute must", will see if I can get Gotek to work in its place.

Reply 103 of 148, by Tali

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As always, it takes some time of peace and quiet before another storm. Here's the first post of many to come. I've received another package, and there's an elephant in the room. Look at this Cooler Master Jet 7!

ytSDrs4.jpg

It turns out, you can still order it, and the nice folks at CWC will deliver. Granted, it's not the whole thingamajig, just the cooler, but it's pretty standard hole arrangement means you could mount it on any socket 7/370/462 heatsink. So, if anyone wants it, the link is here. I've also got a couple spare ones now, one new and one heavily used, but perfectly working, that I will probably donate to a local retro club.

Reply 104 of 148, by Tali

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Installing Windows on this little device...
niWgjdT.jpg

BIOS thinks it's an MII, even if the sticker proudly says 6x86 MX. Not that it matters, since it's the same rose by any name...

And yes, nothing works from the beginning. It took a BIOS update to get this to POST, and it took some liberal application of a hand saw to make the cooler fit. So, if anyone else is thinking of using this ASUS SPAX motherboard with GlacialTech coolers... ye be warned.

Reply 105 of 148, by Tali

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Good news: GUS works. Bad news, there's a conflict with onboard audio. And there seems to be no way to disable it. Looks like I'll need to find myself a non-oem SP97-XV instead. If only those weren't almost as expensive as the GUS itself...

This project is now on hold until I get a different mobo. But there are more projects to build.

Reply 106 of 148, by Joseph_Joestar

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Tali wrote on 2020-10-17, 13:58:

Good news: GUS works. Bad news, there's a conflict with onboard audio. And there seems to be no way to disable it.

Congrats on the GUS!

It sucks that there's no option in the BIOS to disable on-board devices. For Windows installs, it's sometimes possible to free up the resources used by on-board hardware by disabling it through Device Manager, but I don't know of any way to do that in pure DOS.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 VirgeDX / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 107 of 148, by Tali

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Thanks!

It's a bit of a shame, as I wanted to test the jackrabbit out of that GUS, pun intended. Ah well... At least I know that Cyrix 6x86 (IBM one) works, disk works, Riva 128 works, network ... works. Pretty much everything is ok. Cooler was modified to fit here, so it will also fit the SP97-XV if I get lucky with one.

On the bright side of things, there's more to do with Seer, and I've got some new midi modules to keep me busy for a while. Then I still need to fix the 01W... for which I'm only waiting on new switches. Plenty to do. And a holiday is just in time for it, even if I'm probably (finally) spending it doing other things, like having some well deserved rest.

I'll probably check if I can finally get Seer to boot off a HDD, and, if so, that would be something to spend time on in the nearest future. In any case, test was successful, so it's already "Mission Accomplished". Not all Secondary Objectives met though, but I can live with that.

Reply 108 of 148, by Joseph_Joestar

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Not sure if this helps, but I just remembered reading somewhere that if you set the "PNP OS Installed" option to "Yes" in the BIOS, it will prevent automatic resource assignment for ISA PnP cards under DOS. No idea if that works for on-board devices though, and I don't think all BIOS types have that option either.

There was also some Intel ICU PnP Configuration Manager utility for dealing with PnP hardware in DOS, but I never used it myself.
EDIT - There is some discussion about that utility here: How do you install the GUS PnP drivers in a 486/DOS pc?

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 VirgeDX / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 109 of 148, by Tali

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Not much in the way of settings with that BIOS. And it's Phoenix, too, meaning, hacking it would be problematic. Furthermore, based on some folks adapting SP97-XV BIOS to that board and keeping onboard audio (someone on VOGONS actually did replace BIOS entirely), there is not much point, as the fact audio continued working would imply it doesn't have nor need BIOS to support itself. Instead, I would think it is actually a full on PCI device, hardwired on the board but otherwise fairly standalone. In any case, nothing worth worrying much, as this is certainly not the most expensive board I've had to put aside. Plus, since I'll keep the CPU it came with, and the RAM, I could just as well donate it to someone who doesn't need a GUS running on it. Meaning, I could reassemble the thing with K6-2 and 64 Megs of ram and donate the whole package, which has onboard video and sound and all it needs is a PSU and a case.

P.S. If I had a GUS ACE, or even Classic/Max, having onboard SB-compatible sound would've been a blessing rather than a curse. But Extreme thinks otherwise...

EDIT: Seer booted off a HDD. Or, rather, an SSD that pretends to be one, with all the CHS addressing. Now, getting NC installed... speaking of which, unbelievable happened. I've actually managed to buy a boxed copy of Norton Commander! Now THAT is a rare find! (can't wait for it to arrive...)

EDIT2: Victory!
nXR4xIx.jpg

Reply 110 of 148, by Tali

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In the mean time I've switched the 16 Mb Savage 4 in Shaman for a 32 Mb one. Works like a charm, and UT is surprisingly playable at max settings on 800x600, averaging 44 FPS! Looks awesome, too! Now, Voodoo 2s, don't be sad, you've still got Unreal and Mechwarrior 3 to play!

I've also installed Windows 3.11 on Seer, and it works. Hangs on boot with native 509 driver, though. But I'll try another one later. Best part, mouse also works (using serial from that Cybex switch, so I'm actually using a PS/2 mouse through the serial). Latency is... tolerable. I suppose, original serial mice weren't perfect either, but I don't recall ever being upset with those. I miss that old three button Genius... and the Mitsumi...

EDIT: Speaking of 386, she happily booted Windows 98 off a disk I had used elsewhere before deciding to use it with Seer. Of course, now that SSD is reformatted for DOS 6.22 (though, through a lucky accident, I did format it with large disk support, and it actually works - yay, 2 Gb of disk space on a 386!). But I was really surprised to see Win98 booting in a relatively short amount of time, and with little to no issues! Must have something to do with Tseng ET4000-based VGA and 16 megs of RAM. Cache on that board is also supposed to be above average in speed, if marketing material is to be believed. Either way, it works surprisingly well, and it's nice to know it is capable of handling Windows 98 SE well enough to actually be usable!

Reply 111 of 148, by Joseph_Joestar

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Tali wrote on 2020-10-17, 15:36:

I've actually managed to buy a boxed copy of Norton Commander! Now THAT is a rare find!

Wow! I don't think I've ever seen one of those before. Great score!

In the mean time I've switched the 16 Mb Savage 4 in Shaman for a 32 Mb one. Works like a charm, and UT is surprisingly playable at max settings on 800x600, averaging 44 FPS! Looks awesome, too!

The Savage4 and UT make a pretty good combo indeed. A buddy of mine had it back in the day and I still remember being jealous of how good S3 Metal rendering looked with detailed textures enabled. It's a really nice card for Unreal engine games of that age.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 VirgeDX / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 112 of 148, by Tali

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-10-19, 16:22:
Tali wrote on 2020-10-17, 15:36:

I've actually managed to buy a boxed copy of Norton Commander! Now THAT is a rare find!

Wow! I don't think I've ever seen one of those before. Great score!

I was surprised myself, and it's my favourite version, 5.0! And... looks like it's in my country, so should be coming this week.

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-10-19, 16:22:

In the mean time I've switched the 16 Mb Savage 4 in Shaman for a 32 Mb one. Works like a charm, and UT is surprisingly playable at max settings on 800x600, averaging 44 FPS! Looks awesome, too!

The Savage4 and UT make a pretty good combo indeed. A buddy of mine had it back in the day and I still remember being jealous of how good S3 Metal rendering looked with detailed textures enabled. It's a really nice card for Unreal engine games of that age.

Always loved S3 for their quality, even without the texture pack.

I'm officially out of thermal paste. Like completely. Going to get some, then will try to install C2Q Extreme in Assassin. EDIT:grammar

Last edited by Tali on 2020-10-21, 11:57. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 113 of 148, by Tali

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Well, I did get my hands on the insides of Assassin. Now that is an interesting love story. This machine used to work with a legendary C2Q6600 SLACR processor - naturally, overclocked - for more than 10 years. And now it just plain refuses to run with anything else. Tried Xeon 5450 (that the board was expected to run with a hack), tried C2Extreme (that the board is definitely expected to run with official BIOS), tried even a downgrade. Boots up, Win 7 hangs when those nice coloured thingamajigs start to fly. Put Q6600 back in, even in OC - bam, loads no issues.

Well, if they do love each other so much, who am I to separate them? Looks like this system is going into a new case with the old processor. It did get some SLI memory, though, and a new cooler. Fear not, the old Big Typhoon got cleaned up and went into another rig (that I've built in this one's former case).

Here's the happy couple with the hardware before the change...
zKFokre.jpg

And here's the pair of GTX285 in SLI instead.
CI3bs1m.jpg

Now there is a question of I should keep it OC, since it seems to run just fine, ON STOCK VOLTAGE!!!, as it is at 2.7, but the main idea is to keep my "museum rigs" as they would have been at the time. And while Q6600 was definitely factory-clocked at 2.4, almost nobody kept it at that. So what is "the more natural state" for it? It was almost like Celeron 300A of its time...

P.S. never mind that turntable all squeezed in that corner. I don't have as much space here as I do at my main place, and I certainly don't have a dedicated workbench. I've also made sure not to scratch it or anything, so no old hi-fi equipment was harmed in making this. 😜

Reply 114 of 148, by H3nrik V!

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Tali wrote on 2020-10-21, 11:56:

Now there is a question of I should keep it OC, since it seems to run just fine, ON STOCK VOLTAGE!!!, as it is at 2.7, but the main idea is to keep my "museum rigs" as they would have been at the time. And while Q6600 was definitely factory-clocked at 2.4, almost nobody kept it at that. So what is "the more natural state" for it? It was almost like Celeron 300A of its time...

Well, given that you bring the 300A into the equation, I would say that the most "natural state" for that when it was new, was 450 ..
My own C2Q Q8200 was mounted, overclocked and never returned to 2.33.

And if the Q6600 has been running like that for +10 years, that IS it's natural state B-)

Please use the "quote" option if asking questions to what I write - it will really up the chances of me noticing 😀

Reply 116 of 148, by Tali

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H3nrik V! wrote on 2020-10-21, 14:50:
Well, given that you bring the 300A into the equation, I would say that the most "natural state" for that when it was new, was 4 […]
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Tali wrote on 2020-10-21, 11:56:

Now there is a question of I should keep it OC, since it seems to run just fine, ON STOCK VOLTAGE!!!, as it is at 2.7, but the main idea is to keep my "museum rigs" as they would have been at the time. And while Q6600 was definitely factory-clocked at 2.4, almost nobody kept it at that. So what is "the more natural state" for it? It was almost like Celeron 300A of its time...

Well, given that you bring the 300A into the equation, I would say that the most "natural state" for that when it was new, was 450 ..
My own C2Q Q8200 was mounted, overclocked and never returned to 2.33.

And if the Q6600 has been running like that for +10 years, that IS it's natural state B-)

Well, I think by now I've decided to keep it at 2.7 as it is. It may not be the biggest powerhouse of S775, but it is probably the most iconic "People's Power" CPU, and yes, considering most would keep it at 3+ GHz, 2.7 is a "mild" overclock and probably represents the CPU quite well.

As said somewhere at the beginning of the thread, each system I'm building is not just a functionally period correct (or, at least, plausible - minus the SSDs, but I don't want to suffer old HDDs) setup, but also represents a specific feature or features that are most interesting about the era to me. 386 - "Seer", for example, is something special in and of itself, as it still harks back to the time when a PC was far from a household appliance. It is also on the border of when CPU began requiring heatsinks. This particular one also has a professional video editing card that happens to be ISA. I didn't even know such cards existed back then, but, on the other hand, how else did they put all those digital subtitles? Surely they didn't have Silicon Graphics workstations in every small TV station!

486 -"Bard", VESA, external cache, and probably last truly multi-vendor CPU. Also, to me this is like the golden age of DOS, and therefore is equipped with multiple sound cards. Plus, the machine I got is actually a DEC motherboard, which is another bonus. Kind of like "the last serious PC-as-an-industrial-device gen". Starting with Pentiums, those PCs really went further and further into consumer market! Though, of course, there were earlier attempts with PCJr and Tandy 1000...

Then there are other systems, each with their own "motif". "Crusader", a planned 6x86 machine with GUS, represents those that tried to challenge "powers that be" (and ultimately failed), while "Shaman", a dual P2/dual Voodoo 2 is like the epitome of "nineties brute power", but was also "obsolete before leaving the factory" as possibly the shortest-lived Intel CPU generation. Next machine, still nameless P3 Tualatin/S3 Delta Chrome, is the opposite - immense efficiency in the face of hot, power-hungry and inelegant P4 and GeForces.

A machine not even listed in the first page (and greatly inspired by The Troll PC), has to be an early P4 with RAMBUS, and would mark the first (mis?)steps towards modern day computing, while an almost complete (minus video card) Athlon XP build is a reminder of the times when Intel didn't dominate completely (glad those times are coming back and AMD is catching up, even if they still can't touch Intel's IPC, at least they can offer more cores to make up for it). It's rival, P4-3.8 "Emperor" is an "all about appearances" GHz game; yet, coupled with Vista and some fast memory, it actually is more than adequate despite what the forum stories would tell, questioning if that reputation was really deserved. So, perhaps, this emperor actually did have some clothes?

"Assasin", this C2Q machine, probably represents the first time that PC became "fast enough". So much so, that I still use it today when I'm at my other apartment, and it still does all it needs to do. And even now there is so much it can do that I sometimes even work from it, though, of course, it doesn't hold a candle to "Sorceress".

Speaking of her, that is my main machine, and the one I've put all my skill towards building, the goal being making the biggest powerhouse I could assemble out of reasonably affordable parts. Granted, now that Threadrippers are a thing, she's met her rivals. But that doesn't make her any less useful, especially considering modest power consumption at idle and a lot of on-demand power, while still whisper quiet. She's also my first water-cooled machine, first multi-processor machine (Shaman was built afterwards), and many other "firsts".

That all said, yes, I'll probably make an exception for C2Q and keep it OC'ed, as that's what the people would have done. Kind of interesting and fitting really, that it is coupled with an Abit Fatal1ty FP-IN9, which is nForce 650, not 680, "bang for the buck" proposition that is just as fast as a more expensive one. I've even coupled it with another Fatal1ty-themed product, SB X-FI, and the GPUs aren't the fastest, more like "the most reasonable of the competitive high end". Also, considering how good that Q6600 was, it wasn't unreasonable to expect it to be paired with newer video cards. All this together would probably make the system's theme: "how much performance could you get from a still affordable system around 2008".

brownk wrote on 2020-10-21, 15:05:

A Schiit fan notices the Mani on the turntable. 😉

And an ATI fan notices the logo in your avatar 😉

Seriously, for a VESA system you don't get much cooler than that!
SlLRK0h.jpg

As for the Schiit, I will probably also purchase their SYS if I get lucky with another purchase I intend to do shortly.

Reply 117 of 148, by Tali

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Yep, got a pair of nice active speakers... and ordered SYS. Speaking of which, to say I'm impressed is to say nothing. Those Beolab 4000 may not be the newest out there... but that sound... oooohhh... that sound....

Reply 119 of 148, by brownk

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Tali wrote on 2020-10-21, 18:06:

And an ATI fan notices the logo in your avatar 😉

Seriously, for a VESA system you don't get much cooler than that!

There once was a time when ATI would release a card and a lot of folks hailed it with excitement and some glittered their eyes with jealousy. 😉

Congrats with your SYS. I heard it's handy!