VOGONS


First post, by PC-Engineer

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The goal was a universal PC for Win9x applications with as many graphics and sound APIs as possible and thus as much flexibility and experience as possible. The result is a mid 2000 dream PC. Except for the SCSI controller and the hard disk, all components are from the first half of the year 2000 or older.
I want to play games like Tomb Raider 1, Quake 1 & 2 & III, Final Fantasy VII & VIII, Unreal, Expendable, Diablo 2 with 3Dfx effects and Deus Ex.

The Dream - with a big, nice AMD Athlon Badge

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The Drive bays

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The base is a SlotA system with a completely renewed Epox 7KXA (VIA KX133), an Athlon 950MHz (Orion), and 512MB PC133 CL2 RAM. With a Voodoo 5 5500 as well as a Matrox m3D 3D APIs: Glide, PowerVR, OpenGL and Direct3D are served. My goal is gaming at resolutions of 1024x768, if possible at 32bit. The V5 is already mostly the limiting factor here, so the CPU is more than sufficient and harmonizes well with this graphics card.
The disk system is completely based on SCSI. As removable media it serves CD, CD-R and DVD as well as floppy and Jaz disks (at the narrow bus of the SCSI controller). The U320 hard disk with 15k is only connected to the wide bus of the SCSI controller and can develop freely there.
The sound is handled by an ISA sound card, an AWE32 (CT3900) with a Yamaha DB50XG in piggyback as well as a Soundblaster Live! PCI. This serves the sound APIs of DOS (AWE, GM, SB16 with OPL3) and Windows (EAX, XG-Sound) with excellent compatibility.
The case is an ideal and soundproofed Chieftec Dragon CS601 with an Enermax power supply EG365AX-VE (high power on 3.3V and 5V, as well as support for -5V) that fits the Athlon's requirements. A contemporary 100MBit PCI network card from Intel is mandatory.

Epox 7KXA Rev 0.3 with fresh Panasonic capacitors

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3Dfx Voodoo 5 5500 AGP

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Housing inside - all slots populated

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  • Case: Chieftec Dragon CS601 silver
  • Mainboard: Epox 7KXA Rev. 0.3 Slot A
  • CPU: AMD Athlon 950MHz Slot A @1.7V (fresh MX5 thermal paste on die and 1mm silicone pads on caches)
  • RAM: 512MB PC133 CL2 (Infineon)
  • Graphics card: 3Dfx Voodoo 5 5500 for Glide / OpenGL / Direct3D (AGP 2x)
  • 3D card: Matrox m3D for PowerVR
  • SCSI controller: Adaptec 29160N
  • Hard disk: Seagate Cheetah 15k ST318453LW
  • DVD-ROM: Toshiba SD-M1201 (SCSI)
  • CD-R: PX-R412Ci (12x/4x SCSI, Caddy)
  • IOMEGA Jaz 1GB (SCSI)
  • Sound card 1: SB Live! CT4620
  • Soundcard 2: SB AWE32 CT3900 + Yamaha DB50XG (MIDI and XG sound for e.g. Final Fantasy VII and VIII)
  • Intel 21143 100MBit PCI
  • Floppy: 3,5" Samsung
  • Power supply: Enermax EG365AX-VE (32A @3,3/5V; 25A @12V; 1A @-5/-12V)

Benchmark Results
Win98SE / DirectX 8.1 / Raziel 1.01.16 / 3Dfx Tools

3D-Mark 2001: 1625
3D-Mark 2000: 4291 (238 CPU 3D Marks)
3D-Mark 99: 6327 (14089 CPU 3D Marks)

Quake 2 v3.20 (1024x768x32)
Quake 2 Demo1: 104,5
Quake 2 Crusher: 62,8

Quake 3 v1.11 (1024x768x32)
Quake 3 Demo001: 69,7
Quake 3 Demo002: 72,5

Unreal v2.25 (1024x786x32)
Unreal Intro 87,1

Last edited by PC-Engineer on 2022-04-07, 05:43. Edited 3 times in total.

Epox 7KXA Slot A / Athlon 950MHz / Voodoo 5 5500 / PowerVR / 512 MB / AWE32 / SCSI - Windows 98SE

Reply 2 of 7, by Joseph_Joestar

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That's a really nice machine for Glide gaming! Well built, using high quality components.

Heh, with all those sound options, you'll have a hard time deciding what to use for Final Fantasy VII. The AWE for the built-in soundfont support to get the vocals in One Winged Angel? Maybe the DB50XG for the unique sounding Yamaha XG soundtrack. Or the Live for adding some form of EAX to the game through driver presets. Fun times!

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 3 of 7, by igna78

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This is a truly extraordinary machine! ..if I can afford to give some advice, to have a little more, if you want to use games like Doom or Duke 3D (I know they are previous games but they always have their charm) fully enjoying the soundtrack, I would add a system to emulate Roland SC55; there are various possibilities well described on this forum ranging from soundfont with good results, to hardware solutions with results up to excellent emulation of real hardware 😉
However apart from this advice, the result of my passion for Roland 😁 music, I find yours to be an extraordinary achievement, in the choice of components and in the
their arrangement: seeing the inside of this pc is a joy for the eyes! 😉
I hope you can spend many hours of happy fun 👍

Reply 5 of 7, by PC-Engineer

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Thank you for the credit and the advices.

Indeed, behind each component there is a long consideration or personal story. You certainly know this yourselves. Many parts were unaffordable with the pocket allowance of a pupil or student. And today its the late fulfillment of youthful dreams, embellished by a meaningfully fulfilling frame story.

With the Voodoo 5 I needed a very long time to find a sense as well as a meaningful substructure system.For pre 2000 systems I recommend a TNT2 or G400 Max, paired with a Voodoo 2 (cheaper in total). For post 2001 systems and above 1GHz it is too limiting and a GF3/4 or Radeon 8500/9x00 would be better. Even the Athlon 950 is already limited by the card in contemporary resolutions. The sweet spot for the V5 is an Athlon or PIII between 600...900MHz. Okay, a V5 has a certain charisma.

The PowerVR is also such a candidate. Pentium systems are too limiting and for later systems there are better alternatives like Voodoo 2 or TNT 1/2. But here it opens the possibility to play Tomb Raider and Mechwarrior 2 in a resolution of 1024x768, what a Voodoo 1 didn't bring at the same time.

I think I had the most fun putting it together and thinking about it. I probably won't use it as much as you might imagine in the considerations. 😀

Since the multiplier is hardwired into the Athlon, underclocking is not readily possible with this system. For older games i have several other systems from 386 to Pentium MMX with GUS and Roland (LAPC & SCB55) sound 😉

Epox 7KXA Slot A / Athlon 950MHz / Voodoo 5 5500 / PowerVR / 512 MB / AWE32 / SCSI - Windows 98SE

Reply 6 of 7, by retardware

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A very beautiful build with good components. I like it!

PC-Engineer wrote on 2021-11-05, 22:34:

[*]SCSI controller: Adaptec 29160N

You can use the ASC-39320 in a PCI slot, too.
It supports the full U320 data transfer rate of your disk and thus probably saturates the PCI bus a bit better.

PC-Engineer wrote on 2021-11-05, 22:34:

[*]Hard disk: Seagate Cheetah 15k ST318453LW

You have a good taste!
Very nice clicking sounds! Very distinct from IDE drives or even lame CF or SSD 😀
But, these drives run very hot and require fan cooling to last long time. This is explicitly emphasized in the Seagate manuals.
I'd suggest to use a workstation cage with good airflow like the HP one which I attached.

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Reply 7 of 7, by PC-Engineer

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Your suggestions are good. The facts have also gone through my mind during the planning.

I actually chose the 29160N quite deliberately. On the one hand, the U160 performance is fully sufficient and on the other hand, it was important to me that the internal narrow bus side is also connected to the external connector, since I still have external narrow drives and want to use them. With the other controllers, where the external connector is mostly connected to the internal LVD wide bus withe the HDD, it would also force the HDD into SE mode when using the external connector with SE drives. And good and clean terminated external wide to narrow adapters are really expensive.

The HDD is also deliberately chosen. It is the smallest and thus coolest, quietest and longest-lived disk of its series and with a capacity of 18GB completely sufficient for Win98. The Chieftec Dragon has of course a HDD ventilation for the drive cage. The disk thus stays around 30 °C surface at 23 °C room temperature during operation. That should be enough.
The HDD has a 68pin connector! That was important to me, because I didn't want to use an adapter from 80pin (looks stupid and they loosen easily) . Very important, I got it NOS. It has fresh bearings and is really quiet.

Epox 7KXA Slot A / Athlon 950MHz / Voodoo 5 5500 / PowerVR / 512 MB / AWE32 / SCSI - Windows 98SE