VOGONS


First post, by VDNKh

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Like some of you, I saw MattKC's video What's the fastest (officially supported) Windows 98 PC? and it captured my imagination. "I'll bet I can build one better than he can".

So I began picking parts of my own. While I couldn't find any motherboards that support the C2D E8600 and Windows 98, I did find a few that support the Pentium E6800 which single core performance was just as good (without overclocking). My main goal for this build is 98 gaming, as I'll describe in the parts I picked below:

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Motherboard: ASRock 4COREDUAL-SATA2 R2.0
This ponderous thing has both PCI-e 4x and AGP 8x, both DDR and DDR2, and supports the E6800 I want to use. Technically it doesn't officially support Windows 98, but the VIA chipset has 98 drivers, as well as the NIC and USB 2.0 (Woo fast transfers). The on-board audio isn't supported (I'm using a sound card anyway), and neither are the SATA ports. They may work with rlowes patch, and maybe works in RAID mode with RAID drivers, haven't tested it.

Edit: Works in RAID mode, but not with EMM386 loaded!

CPU: Intel Pentium E6800
Highest single core performance without overclocking that this board supports. This motherboard's FSB overclocks pretty poorly, and an X6800 can be expensive. A QX6800 would automatically downclock my motherboard's FSB by 5%, but since I'm only using one core I could feasibly raise the FSB back up, and get that sweet 8MB cache. For now this is what I settled with. With a pretty small TDP, I have an ARCTIC Freezer 11 LP CPU cooler. With only a single core ever active the temps are very low, around 50 C, even when running Prime95.

RAM: 2x256MB Kingsto​n KVR667D2​N5/256
In an effort to avoid patching, I'm sticking to 512MB of RAM to keep it kosher. They're actually clocked to 533MHz since I read that this chipset's memory controller seems to prefer 533MHz over 667MHz. Haven't gone too deep into optimizing the memory timings yet.

Side note: 256 MB sticks of DDR2 are hard to come by these days.

Edit: Timings are now 3-3-2-5 tRFC: 15T CR :1T 4-way interleave @ 576MHz.

GPU: Gainward FX5950 Ultra Gold Sample
This is the second fastest FX series GPU you can buy, the fastest being the liquid cooled variant of this card. Caught it on eBay when looking for GPUs on a whim, I don't want to say how much it was. I went with the FX series over the 6000 series for better game compatibility. I edited the 45.23 Nvidia drivers to work on this card to maximize compatibility as well. This was a requirement for the NFS games and Thief.

When it first arrived I benchmarked it to see if it was defective or not. While the electronics were fine, the original thermal paste was way past its prime. I was getting temperatures of above 110 C. Very carefully, I removed the epoxied thermal blocks and cleaned off any residue on the card and blocks. I had to soak the blocks in acetone to get all the epoxy off. After that fresh paste was applied and it was benchmarked again. The fan's bearings were also worse for wear. They had to be popped back into their correct position by squeezing them into the shroud. I guess years of spinning upside down will dislodge it slowly. Cleaned out the used grease with WD40 and left it at that. Now I get temps in the 90 C range.

Storage: 64GB KingSpec IDE SSD
Another technical oddity in this build. Apparently these were made for some high end ThinkPads back in the day. Mixed reviews online about their reliability but so far it's been working great. All the benefits of an SSD without messing with SATA patches or a PATA to SATA converter. All I needed was a special adapter to go from the slim laptop IDE form factor to the regular desktop form factor. 64 GB to keep it a kosher as possible with 98's installer. Sadly the adapter I have has a 40 pin ribbon cable instead of an 80 pin so I'm losing out on a lot of bandwidth. I've ordered a different adapter that doesn't include the ribbon cable already attached. Once I get it I'll post benchmarks.

Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Sb0100
Got this on recommendations that it was very widely supported and easy to acquire. It works great... After I battled with getting the drivers and BIOS and IRQ settings to work in harmony.

I used the drivers PCL recommended initially, but that caused a BSOD whenever is tried to install the SB16 emulator. Commenting out the SB16 driver from the .ini file did the trick but now DOS games don't have sound. Eventually I installed the drivers for the Audigy outlined in this thread, which fixed the SB16 issue, after fiddling with the IRQ allocations. With custom soundfonts to boot too. The other issue this card had was lots of popping and clicking whenever EAX was enabled. Resolved that issue (after LOTS of trail and error) by locking the PCI bus' clock.

Edit: The audio popping and clicking was only an issue with the drivers from PCL's site. Audigy drivers are fine with the PCI bus synced to the CPU clock.

I still can't get CD audio to work. VxD or WDM drivers both produce no sound, not even with CD digital audio that WDM drivers offer. Windows will detect an audio CD and play it, but no sound is made. The analog audio cable I know is good after I tested it with a multimeter. So now I'm wondering if it's an issue with the card or with the DVD drive I have.

Case: Cooler Master MasterBox E500L
Not a lot to say, other then it looked kinda like a retro-futuristic late 90s computer case. I think it looks awesome, and unique amongst the army of black monolith style computer cases we have now. The 2 front USB 3.0 ports are wired to the motherboard with a 3.0 to 2.0 adapter. Both ports work perfectly.

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Optical Drive: ASUS DRW ​22B2S
Not a lot to say here either. It matches the color of the case. It's a good IDE DVD drive. CD audio might be broken though.

Work to do
I think the coin battery is dying, it looses time pretty quickly.

I need a better adapter for the SSD so I can use an 80 pin IDE cable.

The rear system fan is powered by a molex adapter attached ahead of the 5950, I'm getting a fan splitter cable to make the interior a little neater and (maybe?) give the 5950 more stable power. I also want to get a SATA power to molex adapter (that feels wrong typing that out) so the 5950 doesn't get (possible) power interruptions from the DVD drive or SSD.

I'm also going to try S/PDIF out on my DVD drive to try and get CD audio working.

Benchmarks!
I know you want them. I'll run more once I dial in better memory timings and higher clocks on the CPU and GPU. I'll also post hard drive benchmarks once I get an IDE adapter that supports an 80 pin ribbon cable. For now this is what I got.

3DMark 2001 SE (CPU: 3.33GHz, RAM 533MHz 3-3-3-?, GPU 515MHz Core 1010MHz VRAM.
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3DMark 2001 SE (CPU: 3.60GHz, FSB: 288MHz, RAM 576MHz 3-3-2-5 CR:1T, GPU 520MHz Core 1015MHz VRAM.

file.php?id=124281&mode=view

ATTO Disk Benchmark (64GB KingSpec IDE SSD SM2236 Controller)

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ATTO Disk Benchmark (128GB Crucial m4 SSD 2.5 in RAID mode)

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Last edited by VDNKh on 2021-12-05, 06:06. Edited 6 times in total.

Reply 1 of 20, by BitWrangler

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That 3DMark seems under half what it should be, I was getting better than that on Socket A. Unless FX5950 really does suck that bad on DX8, I'd have been running a Gf4200 at somewhere near 4600 clocks.

Edit: dang "nature" particularly slaughtered it, I was in the 30s with a GF3

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 2 of 20, by VDNKh

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-11-22, 04:13:

That 3DMark seems under half what it should be, I was getting better than that on Socket A. Unless FX5950 really does suck that bad on DX8, I'd have been running a Gf4200 at somewhere near 4600 clocks.

Edit: dang "nature" particularly slaughtered it, I was in the 30s with a GF3

Yeah I noticed that too, NFS games also struggle. The FX series is supposed to be the DX8 king. I'll have to look into that.

Reply 3 of 20, by Joseph_Joestar

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VDNKh wrote on 2021-11-22, 03:51:

I still can't get CD audio to work. VxD or WDM drivers both produce no sound, not even with CD digital audio that WDM drivers offer. Windows will detect an audio CD and play it, but no sound is made. The analog audio cable I know is good after I tested it with a multimeter. So now I'm wondering if it's an issue with the card or with the DVD drive I have.

Yes, it could be the drive itself.

See this thread: When did optical drives stop support cd audio despite still having the connector for it? How to avoid buying one?

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 Gold / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 4 of 20, by gex85

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BitWrangler wrote on 2021-11-22, 04:13:

That 3DMark seems under half what it should be, I was getting better than that on Socket A. Unless FX5950 really does suck that bad on DX8, I'd have been running a Gf4200 at somewhere near 4600 clocks.

Edit: dang "nature" particularly slaughtered it, I was in the 30s with a GF3

Well, in a contemporary benchmark, the FX 5950 Ultra reached ~12000 3D marks in 3DMark2001 on a 2.4 GHz P4 HT (Win2K Pro, Detonator 51.16) , which is not really that far from the results shown here.
So there's certainly some room for improvement given the faster CPU, but the overall results aren't that bad either.

Edit: Link (in German): https://www.computerbase.de/2003-12/test-gefo … 5900-roundup/7/

1992 - i486DX2-66 // 1997 - P1-233 MMX // 1998 - P2-350 // 2000 - P3-650 // 2001 - Athlon 1400 // 2003 - Athlon XP 3200+ // 2008 - Xeon E5450 // 2015 - Xeon E3-1240v5

Reply 5 of 20, by VDNKh

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gex85 wrote on 2021-11-22, 09:10:
Well, in a contemporary benchmark, the FX 5950 Ultra reached ~12000 3D marks in 3DMark2001 on a 2.4 GHz P4 HT (Win2K Pro, Detona […]
Show full quote
BitWrangler wrote on 2021-11-22, 04:13:

That 3DMark seems under half what it should be, I was getting better than that on Socket A. Unless FX5950 really does suck that bad on DX8, I'd have been running a Gf4200 at somewhere near 4600 clocks.

Edit: dang "nature" particularly slaughtered it, I was in the 30s with a GF3

Well, in a contemporary benchmark, the FX 5950 Ultra reached ~12000 3D marks in 3DMark2001 on a 2.4 GHz P4 HT (Win2K Pro, Detonator 51.16) , which is not really that far from the results shown here.
So there's certainly some room for improvement given the faster CPU, but the overall results aren't that bad either.

Edit: Link (in German): https://www.computerbase.de/2003-12/test-gefo … 5900-roundup/7/

It's probably a combo of the old drivers and this VIA memory controller, which is just inferior to Intel's. Tightening my timings from whatever Auto set it to, to 3-3-3 1T boosted my score over 600 points.

Reply 6 of 20, by VDNKh

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gex85 wrote on 2021-11-22, 09:10:
Well, in a contemporary benchmark, the FX 5950 Ultra reached ~12000 3D marks in 3DMark2001 on a 2.4 GHz P4 HT (Win2K Pro, Detona […]
Show full quote
BitWrangler wrote on 2021-11-22, 04:13:

That 3DMark seems under half what it should be, I was getting better than that on Socket A. Unless FX5950 really does suck that bad on DX8, I'd have been running a Gf4200 at somewhere near 4600 clocks.

Edit: dang "nature" particularly slaughtered it, I was in the 30s with a GF3

Well, in a contemporary benchmark, the FX 5950 Ultra reached ~12000 3D marks in 3DMark2001 on a 2.4 GHz P4 HT (Win2K Pro, Detonator 51.16) , which is not really that far from the results shown here.
So there's certainly some room for improvement given the faster CPU, but the overall results aren't that bad either.

Edit: Link (in German): https://www.computerbase.de/2003-12/test-gefo … 5900-roundup/7/

New benchmark and tightened the memory timings (3-3-2-5 tRFC: 15T CR :1T 4-way interleave)+ overclocked the FSB to 288 (highest it could go before P95 failed while keeping the tight timings), memory is now at 576MHz and CPU is at 3.6GHz. MemTest86 passes with no errors. Still finding how high this 5950 can clock to, but it passed 3DMark 01 with 520MHz core and 1015MHz VRAM.

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This bench seems to fit better with what you'd expect out 5950. If I had some better RAM I could probably get 3-2-2-5 8-way interleave, but I'm just chasing maybe a few percent performance gain at that point.

Reply 7 of 20, by havli

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Something is seriously wrong here. With this system you should be able to hit 20-25k in 3dmark01 easily. Perhaps even more. For example check my score with FX5800U with similar system https://hwbot.org/submission/2294872_havli_3d … tra_28937_marks

There are some tweaks decreasing image quality in place of course. But on the other hand at the time I didn't know the BSEL mod trick and the board didn't perform optimally. So with FX 5900, anything under 25000 is bad.

Do you have the chipset drivers instaled properly - especially the AGP driver? This might have huge impact on the performance.

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Reply 8 of 20, by VDNKh

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havli wrote on 2021-11-23, 13:45:

Something is seriously wrong here. With this system you should be able to hit 20-25k in 3dmark01 easily. Perhaps even more. For example check my score with FX5800U with similar system https://hwbot.org/submission/2294872_havli_3d … tra_28937_marks

There are some tweaks decreasing image quality in place of course. But on the other hand at the time I didn't know the BSEL mod trick and the board didn't perform optimally. So with FX 5900, anything under 25000 is bad.

Do you have the chipset drivers instaled properly - especially the AGP driver? This might have huge impact on the performance.

I don't have any special settings in DX set, it's all defaults.

I installed the 4in1 v443 driver from VIA's site on a clean install. 8x, Fast write, and sidebanding are enabled. Is there a specific way to install it or a different driver I should use? Could it be because I locked the AGP/PCI bus clocks? Or enabled the VIA chipset compatibility option in Rivatuner? You got double or triple the FPS in some of those tests!

Reply 9 of 20, by havli

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I think version 4.43 is way too old for PT880 chipset. In fact I am surprised it even installs without complaining (it is few years older than the chipset itself). Try something more recent. Like 5.14 or 5.24 for example. https://www.philscomputerlab.com/via-chipset-drivers.html

Then you should see some difference.

HW museum.cz - my collection of PC hardware

Reply 10 of 20, by cyclone3d

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Yeah, those 3DMark 2001 scores are way too low. I should recheck on my system that has 98se and a x6800 running at about 3.3Ghz which is where the FX5950U stops becoming CPU limited in 3DMark 2001. Pretty sure I was getting a fair bit over 25k.

If I remember correctly I need to mess with the pencil mod or actually do a proper mod to get the fsb stable where I originally had it.... bleh.

Last time I was testing with it, 3DMark 2001 was acting extremely strange no matter what card I tried in it.

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Reply 11 of 20, by VDNKh

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havli wrote on 2021-11-23, 15:42:

I think version 4.43 is way too old for PT880 chipset. In fact I am surprised it even installs without complaining (it is few years older than the chipset itself). Try something more recent. Like 5.14 or 5.24 for example. https://www.philscomputerlab.com/via-chipset-drivers.html

Then you should see some difference.

Why yes I did see a difference, it's SLOWER!

I built this PC a little less than a year ago and the v443 driver worked great, there was always 1 programmable interrupt control that never got a driver but it didn't seem to break anything.

I went into the BIOS and synced AGP/PCI bus to CPU speed, that boosted my score into the 13,000 range.

Then I did a clean install of 98SE and used the v524A driver from VIA's website. At first I thought the installer was broken because it gave an error "The wizard was interrupted before VIA HyperionPro Setup Wizard could be completely installed." But after rebooting it found all the drivers. My memory is hazy but I think that's why I opted for the v443 driver back when I set this up in Christmas 2020. ​Fortunately, the AGP and IDE drivers (they fail too but I don't need them it seems) installed without failing like that. Then I installed the 45.23 Nvidia drivers and DX9 August 2006 package, and now my score is back down into the 12,400 range. On a whim I installed the 56.64 Nvidia driver and that alone boosted my score to 14,455.

But upon closer inspection I think I see the issue here.

havli wrote on 2021-11-23, 13:45:

For example check my score with FX5800U with similar system https://hwbot.org/submission/2294872_havli_3d … tra_28937_marks

This benchmark that havli posted was on XP which is multi-threaded, and they have a dual core processor. No doubt that having an extra processor is boosting the CPU limited score, and the graphics driver is probably way better optimized for XP.

gex85 wrote on 2021-11-22, 09:10:

By contrast the benchmarks here were run in Windows 2k on a single core with early hyper-threading, which I'm not sure Win2k knows how to handle, all while running newer drivers made for XP.

So in summery, I don't think I can get much higher than 13,000 (on 45.23) while in 98SE. For a single threaded DOS based OS running drivers meant to be on XP, I think this is about as good as it gets. If I run the Nature benchmark in 1280x1024 AA2, the FPS average is almost identical (28FPS vs 26FPS). This is definitely a CPU bottle neck. I am going to keep the newer chipset driver around even though it seems slower, maybe it'll surprise me. In the future I may get a second SSD and dual boot to XP as well. If havli wants to run 3DMark01 in 98SE to prove me wrong however, I welcome it.

Reply 12 of 20, by havli

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Well, it is just weird. Installing XP on your rig just with the basic software (drivers + directX + 3dmark) to find out whether it is SW or HW related problem souds like a good idea.

3DMark01 definitely is not multithreaded in any meaningful way (single digits of percents gain at most). Also while it might be a bit slower in win98 compared to the XP, the difference is not that big. I don't have any FX score at hand, but I have this GeForce 7950 GT one - https://hwbot.org/submission/3207601_havli_3d … _gt_47887_marks

Also the Nature test is not CPU limited at all under normal circumstances. Definitely not at values around 30 fps.

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Reply 13 of 20, by Baoran

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I just ran 3dmark2001 with my fx 5950 ultra that is in my retro pc that has win98se and a slower cpu than yours and I got 18588 score. So I also think your score is too low for the specs.

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Edit: driver version in win98se seems to be ForceWare 71.84

Reply 14 of 20, by VDNKh

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Baoran wrote on 2021-11-28, 06:03:

I just ran 3dmark2001 with my fx 5950 ultra that is in my retro pc that has win98se and a slower cpu than yours and I got 18588 score. So I also think your score is too low for the specs.

3dmark01.jpg

Edit: driver version in win98se seems to be ForceWare 71.84

Yeah I think you and havli are right. I've found several other threads reporting the issue with similar hardware to me. I think it might be the USB drivers, as 2 USB gamepads I tried have extremely lagged and jittery inputs. I'm still troubleshooting it.

Reply 15 of 20, by pentiumspeed

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Pull out all the USB stuff including USB cards you have and try again.

Just to be blunt to be sure and to confirm. This is part of troubleshooting.

Cheers,

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Reply 16 of 20, by Baoran

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VDNKh wrote on 2021-11-28, 18:36:
Baoran wrote on 2021-11-28, 06:03:

I just ran 3dmark2001 with my fx 5950 ultra that is in my retro pc that has win98se and a slower cpu than yours and I got 18588 score. So I also think your score is too low for the specs.

3dmark01.jpg

Edit: driver version in win98se seems to be ForceWare 71.84

Yeah I think you and havli are right. I've found several other threads reporting the issue with similar hardware to me. I think it might be the USB drivers, as 2 USB gamepads I tried have extremely lagged and jittery inputs. I'm still troubleshooting it.

Mine is the factory overclocked Gigabyte GT version that has 520Mhz core clock and 475Mhz memory clock, but it should not make too much of a difference. I installed Arctic NV silencer cooler before using the card to make sure both core and the memory would be well cooled and card would not be as noisy.

Reply 17 of 20, by VDNKh

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Still at a loss as to what is causing this performance issue. Disabling the USB controller on the motherboard did not help much (+200 points on 3DMark01). Though I fixed my USB gamepad lagging issue by upgrading NUSB from 33E to 36E. I tried the 45.23 based Omega driver, no change there either (Slightly slower in the Nature benchmark). Fiddled with more BIOS settings but no big changes. I ran Sandra 2001 CPU and RAM benchmarks and got these scores, I don't have anything to compare it to though. Is this about what an E6800 should be pushing?

SiSoft Sandra 2001 (CPU: 3.60GHz, FSB: 288MHz, RAM: 576MHz 3-3-2-5 CR: 1T
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Some good news at least, I installed a "Sabrent Laptop 2.5" to Desktop 3.5" IDE Hard Drive Adapter" (as B&H Photo calls it) so I could use an 80-wire IDE cabled with my IDE SSD. It works perfectly! I have full UDMA-133 speeds now. ATTO benchmark:

ATTO Disk Benchmark (64 GB KingSpec IDE SSD SM2236 Controller)
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Reply 18 of 20, by Baoran

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Not sure why exactly but I tried running 3dmark01 with 45.23 driver and it dropped score from 18588 to 16293, so it does not seem like 45.23 version is fastest driver at least for 5950 ultra and 3dmark01.

Reply 19 of 20, by VDNKh

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Still no luck on getting this performance issue solved. I re-imaged the computer and tried it with no SB drivers installed, no difference in performance. Made some improvements to the hardware though!

I know it's mounted on the wrong side, the IDE cable doesn't fit mounted when on the back.
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I installed a SATA SSD to install Windows XP on. I'm trying to make it so that I can use 98 with the SATA drive still plugged in. Just plugging it in and leaving it on AHCI mode will give the 'ol

Your multi-function device (Standard Dual PCI IDE Controller) has some child devices using 32-bit drivers and others using compatibility-mode drivers. This configuration is not supported, so your computer has been halted to prevent corruption.

blue screen message, and breaks CD drive functionality.

Setting the SATA controller to RAID mode causes 98 to hard lock as soon as the splash screen displays. Fortunately, I narrowed this down to EMM386.EXE and RAID not playing nice with each other. If I boot without EMM386, it works. If I boot with the SATA cable unplugged and EMM386 enabled, it works. I'll have to tweak CONFIG.SYS (any tips would be helpful, DOS was before my time) to get it to work properly. With RAID mode working in 98, and the VIA RAID driver installed, I was able to create a DOS partition and format the 128GB SSD to be usable in 98. Even though I don't intended for 98 to ever touch this normally, I wanted to see how well it performed.

ATTO Disk Benchmark (128GB Crucial m4 SSD 2.5 in RAID mode)
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I was worried that the RAID controller would cause some bad I/O performance, but I guess that's not an issue! (queue the comments telling me that's half the score I should get) I want to get to get some wrapped IDE cables to clean up the interior a bit but cosmetic purchases are on hold.

I'm working on getting XP installed with the proper RAID driver.

Also updated the BIOS to 2.20 Rev:a with the microcode update found here. Don't see any performance changes here either.

And finally changed the coin cell battery.