VOGONS


First post, by speeddemon

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I’ve had a great time working on my first Socket 7 build in over a decade. This project started with me struggling to get certain retro games working on Windows 10. Source Ports, hacks, ScummVM, and DOSBox allowed Windows 10 to meet and even exceed my needs for a long time, but I was re-organizing and cleaning out my storage closet during the pandemic and realized I wanted to do something with many of my old/favorite parts I've held onto over the years.

I initially set out to solely assemble an overkill Pentium 4 Windows 98 system. I realized once I started posting here (thank you Joseph) that I would run into a number of issues playing older speed sensitive games. The Pentium 4 build was perfect for my late DOS and Windows early 3D accelerated games, but I now understood how I could assemble something better suited to early DOS.

After finishing my Pentium 4 build I went through my parts and found that I already had processors, memory, motherboards, graphics cards, sound cards, drives, cases, power supplies, fans, and more lying around so I figured I would probably be able to pull this off without purchasing anything new to me.

I originally was going to put together something with a Pentium MMX 233, 64MB RAM, S3 VirgeDX, Voodoo1, PCX2, and ESS ES1868F but decided to go in a different direction once I started researching things.

I eventually settled on the following:
- Asus TX97-X REV: 3.00 (Socket 7 Intel 430TX)
- K6-III+ 500 (6x83MHz)
- 256MB PC133 CL2 (2x128MB)
- 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 PCI (w/ Noctua NF-A9x14 slim case fan)
- Orpheus + PCMIDI + WP32
- 80GB Intel SSD 320 (w/ Startech IDE2SAT2 adapter)
- Startech FAN3701U CPU cooler
- EVGA 500 BQ power supply
- Fractal Core 2300 case
- LaCie Electron 22blue IV CRT

I also have the following but just haven't gotten around to installing them since I haven't needed them:
- Gotek SFR1M44-U100 floppy emulator
- Intel PRO/1000 GT NIC

The cool part to me was that I only ended up needing to purchase some adapters, cables, and the Orpheus + WP32 (which is really just an awesome product I wanted to support).

The most eye-opening part of this project was realizing I could use a K6-III+ on my Socket 7 motherboard. I was able to do this on my Intel 430TX chipset Asus TX97-X motherboard with the K6-III+ 500 running at 6x83 via the patched 0112X_J2 BIOS from The Unofficial AMD K6-2/3+ Page. I was surprised that I've had zero stability issues with an 83MHz FSB even though my memory timings are set as low as possible. Paired with SetMul, this has been an extremely versatile build that runs Quake II at 92fps (640x480) while also allowing me to slow the computer for some old Sierra and Lucas Arts games. The K6-III+ also allowed me to (unnecessarily) put 256MB in the computer.

The only area where I've ran into problems is with Tomb Raider 1 which doesn't seem to like the Voodoo3 even with the Voodoo Rush patch applied. I'll make a separate thread about this, but it's definitely had me considering adding the PCX2 or Voodoo1 card back into this system for early 3D accelerated stuff since I’ll probably play anything later on my Pentium 4 system.

Anyways, here are some pictures of how it turned out:

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Last edited by speeddemon on 2022-04-23, 19:48. Edited 10 times in total.

PC#1: K6-3+ 500 / Asus TX97-X / Voodoo3 / Orpheus + PCMIDI + WP32 / Win98
PC#2: P4 HT 670 / Asus P5P800 / FX5950U + V2 SLI / Audigy 2ZS + Vortex2 + X2GS / Win98
PC#3: i7-3770K / Asus P8Z77-V Pro / TITAN X / X-Fi / WinXP
PC#4: i9-9900K / Gigabyte Z390M / GTX 1070 / X-Fi Ti HD + SC-88 / Win10

Reply 1 of 45, by Joseph_Joestar

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Nice work! You got yourself an extremely versatile and capable machine. The fact that your 430TX board is stable at 83 MHz is a bit surprising though. I figured K6-3+ CPUs would use a 66 MHz FSB and a higher multiplier under those circumstances. But maybe Asus boards were just that good back in the day.

Be sure to get some decent cooling for the Voodoo3. Those cards can get quite hot even without any overclocking, especially the PCI versions. I would recommend placing a PCI fan bracket with one or two 90 mm Noctua fans below it.

It's been a while since I tried Tomb Raider on my Voodoo3, but I remember it running well enough. The main thing that bothered me was Lara's missing shadow which is useful when she needs to drop down from a high ledge as it helps you determine her exact landing spot. Also, the gamma settings were a bit weird.

There are some early Glide games which won't run correctly on a Voodoo3 though. This thread might be useful: Re: Voodoo 2 DOS Glide compability matrix

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 2 of 45, by Intel486dx33

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I have my AMD k6-3+ over clocked to 550mhz.
I am using the default voltage settings and it is running stable.
The performance difference between 450mhz and 500mhz and 550mhz is not that great so I would
Not worrie about that. What you really want is a stable good running reliable computer.
So the default settings on the K63+ should be good enough for reliable DOS gaming.

I also add a fan to my Voodoo 3. ( 60mm x 60mm x 20mm fan )
Which I tied on with thin wire I got at the Dollar store. I used wire because
This was the safest way to attach the fan with out damaging or modifying the card and it works great.
I greatly recommend you add a fan as these video cards run very hot.
And this is the main reason why these Voodoo cards fail is because they over heat and
Soldering joints break and Capacitors begin to leak and damage the PCB traces.
Its all because of overheating.

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Reply 3 of 45, by bloodem

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That's a very good looking & versatile PC you've got there, speeddemon! 😀
Although, IMO, this motherboard (especially because it works great at 83 MHz) would be optimal for an "ultimate Pentium MMX" build (OC @ 292 MHz), and the K6-3+ would be a better fit for a nice Super Socket 7 motherboard like the Asus P5A / Gigabyte 5AX / DFI K6XV3+/66. No, I'm not trying to make you build another one..... or am I? 😁

Intel486dx33 wrote on 2021-07-29, 08:42:
I have my AMD k6-3+ over clocked to 550mhz. I am using the default voltage settings and it is running stable. The performance di […]
Show full quote

I have my AMD k6-3+ over clocked to 550mhz.
I am using the default voltage settings and it is running stable.
The performance difference between 450mhz and 500mhz and 550mhz is not that great so I would
Not worrie about that. What you really want is a stable good running reliable computer.

He has a 430TX motherboard. At 500 MHz, he is literally at the maximum achievable on this chipset.
Also, on a Super Socket 7 board that supports FSB frequencies higher than 100, the performance gain can be quite substantial when overclocking by also increasing the FSB.

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 9 x Socket 7 / 12 x SS7 / 1 x Socket 8 / 14 x Slot 1 / 5 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 8 x Socket A / 2 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 7 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: Core i7 7700k

Reply 4 of 45, by crvs

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One of my boxes is similar, please let me couple of comments:

  • +1 for adding forced cooling of a Voodo3 PCI. After some uptime they really become unstable or start displaying artifacts w/o any overclocking. And it would be a pity to damage such card keeping in mind their current prises.
  • ASUS 430TX boards easily work at 83MHz bus and in fact support up to 384Mb RAM (though it's undocumented). You can replace one of your DIMMs with a two-sided 256MB module if you wish (modules with the chips on one side won't work). If it won't be recognized - just switch places of the RAM sticks.

Reply 5 of 45, by bloodem

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And Voodoo 3 PCI is a very different kind of animal when compared to the AGP versions because of that 3.3V voltage regulator, which gets INSANELY hot.
Some years ago, this VRM went up in smoke on one of my cards (it actually melted that part of the PCB), even though I had a 60mm fan running on the graphics chip heatsink (so there was a bit of air circulation around the regulator).

So now I'm going with the same solution that Joseph_Joestar recommended: PCI fan bracket with two big fans right next to the Voodoo 3 PCI card + an additional GPU VRAM heatsink on the VRM.

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 9 x Socket 7 / 12 x SS7 / 1 x Socket 8 / 14 x Slot 1 / 5 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 8 x Socket A / 2 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 7 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: Core i7 7700k

Reply 8 of 45, by dormcat

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Very beautiful build, but like others have said, an SS7 MB would fully unlock the potential of this CPU. I mean, you've already got the best of the best SS7 CPU; why not pair her with a more suitable MB instead?

Reply 9 of 45, by speeddemon

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-07-29, 07:45:

Nice work! You got yourself an extremely versatile and capable machine. The fact that your 430TX board is stable at 83 MHz is a bit surprising though. I figured K6-3+ CPUs would use a 66 MHz FSB and a higher multiplier under those circumstances. But maybe Asus boards were just that good back in the day.

dormcat wrote on 2021-07-29, 14:27:

Very beautiful build, but like others have said, an SS7 MB would fully unlock the potential of this CPU. I mean, you've already got the best of the best SS7 CPU; why not pair her with a more suitable MB instead?

I went with 430TX over Super Socket 7 for a few reasons:

  • I already have the Asus board and love that its an ATX form factor Socket 7 board with USB ports and unoffical but stable support for K6-III+ at 500MHz.
  • I personally tend to be a fan of Intel chipsets and just have more nostalgia for them.
  • I ran a couple Super Socket 7 boards a long time ago (which is why I have the K6-III+ chip still), but I always had stability issues with them. I know people have them working well these days.
  • I didn't feel the need for Super Socket 7 since this build was less about outright speed (I have my Pentium 4 build for that) and more about versatility. I can socket a Pentium 75, Pentium MMX 233, or a K6-III+ 500 in this one board depending on my mood and somewhat transform it into a different system when I want to go beyond using SetMul with the K6-III+ 500.

Overall, the Asus 430TX chipset has impressed me with stability, reliability, compatibility, versatility, and just pure nostalgia.

crvs wrote on 2021-07-29, 12:07:

ASUS 430TX boards easily work at 83MHz bus and in fact support up to 384Mb RAM (though it's undocumented). You can replace one of your DIMMs with a two-sided 256MB module if you wish (modules with the chips on one side won't work). If it won't be recognized - just switch places of the RAM sticks.[/list]

Good to know even if I likely won't attempt it give a lack of double-sided 256MB low-density DIMMs laying around. I think I even heard that you can use 2x 256MB low-density DIMMs and get 512MB out of it. 256MB is already overkill for this build though in my case.

bloodem wrote on 2021-07-29, 12:31:
And Voodoo 3 PCI is a very different kind of animal when compared to the AGP versions because of that 3.3V voltage regulator, wh […]
Show full quote
Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-07-29, 07:45:

Be sure to get some decent cooling for the Voodoo3. Those cards can get quite hot even without any overclocking, especially the PCI versions. I would recommend placing a PCI fan bracket with one or two 90 mm Noctua fans below it.

And Voodoo 3 PCI is a very different kind of animal when compared to the AGP versions because of that 3.3V voltage regulator, which gets INSANELY hot.
Some years ago, this VRM went up in smoke on one of my cards (it actually melted that part of the PCB), even though I had a 60mm fan running on the graphics chip heatsink (so there was a bit of air circulation around the regulator).

So now I'm going with the same solution that Joseph_Joestar recommended: PCI fan bracket with two big fans right next to the Voodoo 3 PCI card + an additional GPU VRAM heatsink on the VRM.

Intel486dx33 wrote on 2021-07-29, 08:42:
I also add a fan to my Voodoo 3. ( 60mm x 60mm x 20mm fan ) Which I tied on with thin wire I got at the Dollar store. I used wir […]
Show full quote

I also add a fan to my Voodoo 3. ( 60mm x 60mm x 20mm fan )
Which I tied on with thin wire I got at the Dollar store. I used wire because
This was the safest way to attach the fan with out damaging or modifying the card and it works great.
I greatly recommend you add a fan as these video cards run very hot.
And this is the main reason why these Voodoo cards fail is because they over heat and
Soldering joints break and Capacitors begin to leak and damage the PCB traces.
Its all because of overheating.

Yeah, my Voodoo3 seemed to get really hot, but this Noctua NF-A9x14 slim case fan I have zip-tied to it is working well so far. I'll probably also add a 120mm Noctua fan on the side of the case to suck air from outside the case, but the current solution is working great so far. Temps are low even though I've always had this card clocked at 183MHz (without issue).

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-07-29, 07:45:

It's been a while since I tried Tomb Raider on my Voodoo3, but I remember it running well enough. The main thing that bothered me was Lara's missing shadow which is useful when she needs to drop down from a high ledge as it helps you determine her exact landing spot. Also, the gamma settings were a bit weird. There are some early Glide games which won't run correctly on a Voodoo3 though. This thread might be useful: Re: Voodoo 2 DOS Glide compability matrix

The missing shadows are annoying, but so are the white outline artifacts on Lara's guns that I think you can eliminate by turning off anti-aliasing.

I also ran into the gamma issue you mentioned, but stability was also a problem for me with the Voodoo Rush patch on my Voodoo3. The Voodoo Rush patch has brighter gamma on a Voodoo2 (playable), but the Voodoo3 is too dark to be reasonably playable and the Voodoo Rush patch doesn't allow for gamma adjustments. The stability problem for me is that the video output gets stuck on a black screen when I exit Tomb Raider using the Voodoo Rush patch on a Voodoo3; my Voodoo2 doesn't have this same problem though.

I was hoping to figure out how to get it to work with the 3dfx's legacy compatibility environmental variables applied via a batch file that launches the Voodoo1 patch, but I couldn't get this to work on my Voodoo2 or Voodoo3 systems. Like I said, I'll make another post about this so that someone can hopefully help me solve but also to document for anyone else that runs into the same problem.

Ultimately though, Tomb Raider 1 just runs better under Windows 10 these days using the Tomb Raider Automated Fix. Similar patches and source ports like this are the reason I'll likely always have a reasonably modern system also hooked up to my CRT for "improved" retro gaming. This is the main reason I've kept an R9 380X, AMD's last GPU with VGA output, in the modern PC I have hooked up to my CRT.

Last edited by speeddemon on 2021-07-29, 22:39. Edited 2 times in total.

PC#1: K6-3+ 500 / Asus TX97-X / Voodoo3 / Orpheus + PCMIDI + WP32 / Win98
PC#2: P4 HT 670 / Asus P5P800 / FX5950U + V2 SLI / Audigy 2ZS + Vortex2 + X2GS / Win98
PC#3: i7-3770K / Asus P8Z77-V Pro / TITAN X / X-Fi / WinXP
PC#4: i9-9900K / Gigabyte Z390M / GTX 1070 / X-Fi Ti HD + SC-88 / Win10

Reply 10 of 45, by bloodem

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speeddemon wrote on 2021-07-29, 18:08:

Yeah, my Voodoo3 seemed to get really hot, but this Noctua NF-A9x14 slim case fan I have zip-tied to it is working well so far. I'll probably also add a 120mm Noctua fan on the side of the case to suck air from outside the case, but the current solution is working great so far. Temps are low even though I've always had this card clocked at 183MHz (without issue).

I think you misunderstood, I'm talking about the VRM (see the attached photo). In your case, the fan mostly takes care of the chip / memory. Even though there is some airflow going to the VRM, that little sucker probably still gets extremely hot (I suggest measuring the temps with an IR gun). In a closed case and depending on the room temperature, it can easily reach 80 - 90C after 30 minutes - 1 hour.

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Last edited by bloodem on 2021-07-29, 18:21. Edited 1 time in total.

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 9 x Socket 7 / 12 x SS7 / 1 x Socket 8 / 14 x Slot 1 / 5 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 8 x Socket A / 2 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 7 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: Core i7 7700k

Reply 11 of 45, by speeddemon

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bloodem wrote on 2021-07-29, 18:19:
speeddemon wrote on 2021-07-29, 18:08:

Yeah, my Voodoo3 seemed to get really hot, but this Noctua NF-A9x14 slim case fan I have zip-tied to it is working well so far. I'll probably also add a 120mm Noctua fan on the side of the case to suck air from outside the case, but the current solution is working great so far. Temps are low even though I've always had this card clocked at 183MHz (without issue).

I think you misunderstood, I'm talking about the VRM (see the attached photo). In your case, the fan mostly takes care of the chip / memory. Even though there is some airflow going to the VRM, that little sucker probably still gets extremely hot (I suggest measuring the temps with an IR gun).

Thanks for explaining! Do you think a side case fan blowing on that VRM will help enough?

PC#1: K6-3+ 500 / Asus TX97-X / Voodoo3 / Orpheus + PCMIDI + WP32 / Win98
PC#2: P4 HT 670 / Asus P5P800 / FX5950U + V2 SLI / Audigy 2ZS + Vortex2 + X2GS / Win98
PC#3: i7-3770K / Asus P8Z77-V Pro / TITAN X / X-Fi / WinXP
PC#4: i9-9900K / Gigabyte Z390M / GTX 1070 / X-Fi Ti HD + SC-88 / Win10

Reply 12 of 45, by bloodem

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speeddemon wrote on 2021-07-29, 18:21:

Thanks for explaining! Do you think a side case fan blowing on that VRM will help enough?

You're welcome! It depends on multiple factors. It might be, however if you can find a VRAM heatsink that fits on top of the pre-existing heatsink (something similar to this) it would be even better - you'd be looking at 50C at most.

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 9 x Socket 7 / 12 x SS7 / 1 x Socket 8 / 14 x Slot 1 / 5 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 8 x Socket A / 2 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 7 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: Core i7 7700k

Reply 13 of 45, by Jasin Natael

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Nice build!

I recently built something similar albiet with a crappy PC Chips M571 board, but also a K6-3+ @6x83=500mhz and a PCI Voodoo 3.

I had a heck of time getting mine stable but mainly due to my board not really allowing for low enough voltage for the chip, and weirdness with IDE controllers on the board.

But in the in end it is running and pretty stable.

I'd be curious to see some benchmarks if you have the time. I always start with Phil's DOS benchmark suite.

https://www.philscomputerlab.com/dos-benchmark-pack.html

It would be cool to compare how your admittedly more quality mainstream board compares to my cheap and nastyl PC chips solution.

Reply 14 of 45, by Repo Man11

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My experience with trying more than 256 megabytes of memory on a TX chipset motherboard: Re: Maxing out the ram capacity on my motherboard

"Everyone is ignorant, only on different subjects." - Will Rogers

Reply 15 of 45, by speeddemon

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Jasin Natael wrote on 2021-07-29, 18:32:
Nice build! […]
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Nice build!

I recently built something similar albiet with a crappy PC Chips M571 board, but also a K6-3+ @6x83=500mhz and a PCI Voodoo 3.

I had a heck of time getting mine stable but mainly due to my board not really allowing for low enough voltage for the chip, and weirdness with IDE controllers on the board.

But in the in end it is running and pretty stable.

I'd be curious to see some benchmarks if you have the time. I always start with Phil's DOS benchmark suite.

https://www.philscomputerlab.com/dos-benchmark-pack.html

It would be cool to compare how your admittedly more quality mainstream board compares to my cheap and nastyl PC chips solution.

Thanks!

Here you go:
- Chris’s 3D Benchmark = 533.3
- Chris’s 3D Benchmark 640x480 = 114.8
- PC Player Benchmark = 151.9
- PC Player Benchmark 640x480 = 37.9
- Doom (Max) = 123.7
- Quake = 89.6
- Quake 640x480 = 22.2

I'm curious now what your results are now 😀

PC#1: K6-3+ 500 / Asus TX97-X / Voodoo3 / Orpheus + PCMIDI + WP32 / Win98
PC#2: P4 HT 670 / Asus P5P800 / FX5950U + V2 SLI / Audigy 2ZS + Vortex2 + X2GS / Win98
PC#3: i7-3770K / Asus P8Z77-V Pro / TITAN X / X-Fi / WinXP
PC#4: i9-9900K / Gigabyte Z390M / GTX 1070 / X-Fi Ti HD + SC-88 / Win10

Reply 17 of 45, by speeddemon

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kolderman wrote on 2021-07-31, 04:12:

Case looks nice but I would have preferred one with a floppy bay for a gotek.

It has an additional 5.25” bay and I’ll eventually put my Gotek in there with a mounting bracket adapter but just haven’t needed to yet.

PC#1: K6-3+ 500 / Asus TX97-X / Voodoo3 / Orpheus + PCMIDI + WP32 / Win98
PC#2: P4 HT 670 / Asus P5P800 / FX5950U + V2 SLI / Audigy 2ZS + Vortex2 + X2GS / Win98
PC#3: i7-3770K / Asus P8Z77-V Pro / TITAN X / X-Fi / WinXP
PC#4: i9-9900K / Gigabyte Z390M / GTX 1070 / X-Fi Ti HD + SC-88 / Win10