First post, by Bruno128
Hey Vogoners today I present to you my recent build which focuses on the 1995-2000 time frame.
First the specs:
- EPoX EP-61LXA-M Slot1 i440LX (1998)
- Pentium II 300MHz SL2HA (1998)
- 128MB PC100 CL2 Hynix HP OEM SDRAM (2000)
- AGP Voodoo3 1000 8MB 143MHz SGRAM (2000)
- Diamond Monster3D rev.E 4MB 50MHz (1997)
- Sound Blaster 16 Pro MCD CT2230 (1994)
- Promise Ultra100 TX2 IDE (2001)
- WD WD800BB (2004)
- Optiarc Slim DL DVD-RW AD-7540A (2007)
- Alps DF354H FDD (2007)
- Silverstone Grandia GD09 (2015)
- Corsair VS550 PSU (2017)
The idea was a compatible Win98 system with the modern conveniences and packed in a compact case with decent airflow. Knowing that Voodoo1 can misbehave in 100MHz FSB systems and with faster CPUs I opted for 440LX as a rock solid 66MHz chipset which is relatively easy to find nowadays.
I use it to play hard copy retail games which specifically need Win9x and also late DOS / statically-linked Glide games. Direct3D7 games from about 2000 and newer I usually just run on my XP build. When it comes to older / EMS / speed-sensitive games there is a 486 I use instead.
This HTPC-style case was selected to fit in display shelf, it houses a full-size ATX board with long expansion card. The 120mm case fans are adjusted to slow speed using a modern SATA-powered 8-fan hub. The weird contraption overhanging the expansion cards is a 92mm exhaust fan fitted using a PCI fan bracket. Because the Grandia case allows installing one expansion card horizontally, together with a top cover grille this creates a nice heat removal path from the system and Voodoos in particular. This chassis only has 1x external 5.25 bay so I used Chenbro SK41202 slimODD + FDD mounting frame.
USB was an important factor because I’m using a modern one-handed gaming keyboard through a KVM switch for my computers (first person shooters, hotkeys and macros) in addition to a classic PS/2 keyboard for typing. This motherboard offers a USB controller through a PIIX4 southbridge. Because I don’t need USB 2.0 speeds but need front panel ports, and the chipset only offers two ports, I’m using an internal hub. Those are available new and are a good alternative to cards. User Sphere478 found out that add-in PCI USB 2.0 cards hit the performance on older systems. On software side I am using NUSB 3.3 because I find 3.6 to mess too much with SYSDM and other files. Many thanks for that project.
Additional Promise IDE controller was used for UDMA/100. The laptop DVD drive uses a JAE-50 to MPC analog audio connector + 40pin IDE passive convertor called TW-813. The drive is then plugged to SB16 CD-IN and onboard secondary IDE controller respectively.
On a sound side I am going with a classic non-PnP Sound Blaster 16. This model has OPL and doesn’t suffer from HNB. The Multi-CD capabilities are disabled using jumpers because finding a compatible Mitsumi/Sony/Panasonic drive in working state let alone with a matching black bezel was outside of my scope. For some reason Win98SE was insistent on putting the card to IRQ10 DMA3 HighDMA7 despite the jumper selection and BIOS legacy ISA arrangement but manually changing the settings in device manager helped eventually.
On a graphics side I am not the first to pair a Voodoo 3 with a Voodoo 1. As counterintuitive as it sounds, it is a very compatible solution. Voodoo 1 is a slow card with mediocre image quality but it does the DOS Glide work without the Voodoo 2 transitional variables. Voodoo 3 on the other hand is a fast card with crisp image quality. The 8MB version is a bit lacking but it does the job and my guess here is that more graphically demanding games should just work in XP which is whole other story. This card uses Velocity PCB of a different hue of green but has it’s own VGA BIOS, both TMU's enabled by default, faster default frequency and a PCI ID of Voodoo 3 1000.
For the CPU I’m picking top of the 1997 Klamath lineup. Unlike newer and cooler Deschutes models its multiplier is unlocked downwards that is important for some games. The cooling solution paste was replaced for Arctic MX-4 and the fan is a standard 50mm one. Thankfully Fractal Design still makes those new. Contemporary reviews describe this high-end CPU as “hot” but I’ve found out that in a modern meshed chassis a small fan does the job and the cartridge is not hot to the touch. The -M in the motherboard name stands for h/w monitoring chip installed so the relatively high +5V load is in check.
- Quake3 demo "four dm_68" normal quality 640x480: 25.2fps
Thanks for reading your feedback is welcome.