First post, by Joseph_Joestar
- AthlonXP 2100+ (Thoroughbred B core)
- Elitegroup ECS K7VTA3 v6.0
- 512 MB Kingmax Hardcore DDR500
- Voodoo 3 2000 AGP
- Sound Blaster Audigy 2 (SB0240)
- Turtle Beach Montego II (Aureal Vortex 2)
- 2x Kingston 120GB SSD (Windows 98SE and Windows XP)
- Sony 3.5" floppy drive
- NEC ND-3550A DVD-RW
- Seasonic S12 III 650W PSU
- Samsung SyncMaster 795MB CRT monitor
- Cambridge SoundWorks Digital Speakers (2.1 system)
This is basically a beefed up version of the computer that I had in the early 2000s. Truthfully, the only remaining original component is the case, everything else has been upgraded over the years. The main purpose of this system is to play A3D 2.0 games and some of the more demanding Glide titles.
This AthlonXP 2100+ CPU has enough power to not be a bottleneck for most Win98 games. The extra speed is useful when dealing with some CPU intensive Glide games like Deus Ex and Diablo II.
The ECS K7VTA3 v6.0 is among the last Socket A motherboards which still support AGP 3.3V cards (like my Voodoo 3). The on-board LAN card and USB 2.0 controller can be quite useful too. Not having a chipset fan is another big plus in my book, as those tend to become very noisy with age. There are no CPU voltage or multiplier options in the BIOS, and the board is otherwise unremarkable, but it fits my use case quite well. For reference, I use VIA 4-in-1 drivers version 4.56 under Win98, and the latest 5.24A version under WinXP.
I mainly use the Voodoo 3 to play Glide games of course, but it's also handy for some Direct3D titles which use table fog and paletted textures. Under DOS, the Voodoo 3 offers a crisp 2D image and can even run some (but not all) early DOS Glide games. It also has fully functional drivers for Windows 3.1 for people who want to use that. When playing hi-res 3D DOS games in software mode (e.g. Quake and Tomb Raider) it's best to run FASTVID beforehand to further improve the frame rate. Lastly, the VBEHz tool can be used to force DOS games that use the 640x480 resolution (and higher) to utilize refresh rates greater than 60 Hz on a compatible CRT monitor. My Samsung SyncMaster 795MB can deliver 120Hz at 640x480 and 800x600, which makes games like Transport Tycoon and WarCraft 2 look very crisp.
Sound Card #1: Sound Blaster Audigy 2 (SB0240)
The Audigy2 works quite well as a Win9x sound card. It has excellent EAX capabilities, fairly clean output and can use VxD drivers which are more compatible with older titles. It's currently hooked it up to my Cambridge SoundWorks Digital Speakers via SPDIF out, which ensures pristine, noise-free audio reproduction. Should the need arise, I can instead connect this card to a 5.1 speaker system, which is nice for Win9x games which support surround sound (e.g. Unreal Tournament, Thief II and Deus Ex). Under Win98SE, I'm using the Audigy2 ZS drivers as per this guide of mine. Under WinXP, I simply install DanielK's excellent Audigy Support Pack.
- Audigy/SBLive music samples (FM Synth emulation)
- Audigy/SBLive music samples (General MIDI using Patch93's SC-55 soundfont)
Sound card #2: Turtle Beach Montego II (Aureal Vortex 2)
Of course, the Vortex 2 will be primarily used when playing games which support A3D 2.0. Games based on the Unreal engine (Unreal, Unreal Tournament, Deus Ex etc.) make great use of positional audio on this card, as do other titles like Half-Life and Quake 3. Of particular note is how well A3D 2.0 handles elevation i.e. sounds coming from above and below the player. The manual of this card states that it's better to use headphones than speakers for this purpose, and I wholeheartedly agree. Sound positioning is simply more precise that way. As far as DOS gaming is concerned, the Montego II is relatively solid, and its SBPro compatibility is pretty good for a PCI card. General MIDI sounds ok for the most part, but its FM synth implementation is not really to my liking.
- Turtle Beach Montego II music samples (FM Synthesis)
- Turtle Beach Montego II music samples (General MIDI)
Windows 98SE is my primary operating system on this rig. The only updates which I apply are the Windows Installer Update, DirectX 9.0c and NUSB 3.3. Nothing else beyond that. As expected, I mostly play Win9x games on this machine, since it runs them quite well, at least the ones released before the year 2000. Anything newer than that will likely struggle on the Voodoo 3 unless it supports Glide.
Windows XP is my secondary operating system, and it's only used for maintenance purposes. Meaning, it gives me easy access to NTFS formatted external HDDs, and allows for running GOG offline installers before copying the games over to the Win98 drive. It's also nice to have WinXP as a backup OS, in case something goes wrong and I need to reinstall Win98.
This rig serves its main purpose of playing Glide and A3D 2.0 games quite well. Thanks to modern components like the SSD, the DeepCool CPU fan and the Seasonic PSU, this system is now blissfully quiet as well.