VOGONS


First post, by acl

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Hi,

I've been hanging around for some time now, but i've never presented the systems i'm using.
There will probably be a topic for each one (if i have time) and i will start with one of the first i built.

Current configuration :
(history and parts evolution below in the second section)

I tried my best to get really close to the top gaming configuration possible in 2005.

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  • Socket 939 Asus A8N-SLI Premium
  • AMD Opteron 154 (~idem Fx-57) : 1c/1t 2800Mhz 1MB L2 cache (locked mult)
  • 1GB (512 x 2) Adata Vitesta DDR500
  • 2x nVidia GeForce 7800GTX 512MB in SLI
  • Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum PCI (with front 5.25 bay panel)
  • Western Digital Raptor RAID0 2x 36GB SATA
  • Windows XP
  • RaidMax Smilodon Case
  • Custom cooler (air)
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There still some room for improvements :

  • Memory : better timings are possible
  • Motherboard : A8N32-SLI is a 2005 board with dual 16x PCIe instead of dual 8x
  • Storage : 74GB Raptor are slightly faster than 36GB. I would love to add an I-RAM ... but super hard to find.
  • Ageia PhysX ?

History and parts evolution :

I've always been nostalgic about 2005. Some may not consider this retro at all, but for me it's special.
It's not the year i got into computers, it's not the year i owned my first personal PC. It's just a year i had a lot of fun with friends and PC gaming in general.

During early 2000's, i had a nice little retro collection, mostly early/mid 90's and some 80's computers (not only PCs). A lot of CPUs and some video cards... but i had to trash most of it when i moved to my own place as a student.
I slowly restarted collecting stuff in the 2010's. I already knew i wanted a 2005 dream machine and i started around 2017/2018 to collect parts for this project.

What i initially had in mind :

  • Athlon64 based. The fastest FX57 if possible
  • nVidia SLI. (I'm a big ATI fan, but nVidia was faster in 2005)
  • Stupidly exotic storage (Like WD Raptor Raid or I-Ram)
  • Good sound card

And the journey was not as calm as i expected.

I first had trouble with my first motherboard. A K8N SLI if i remember correctly. The problem is that i only had one socket 939 CPU, one socket 939 board and only on DDR kit.
Sure, i had some 486 and Socket7 parts, SDRAM etc... But no 2005 spare parts around, so i was unable to tell which part among CPU, MB or RAM was faulty.
When you're re-starting an hardware collection (or any hobby that requires testing and tinkering), there is a minimal "critical mass" of stuff you need to have, just to be able to test. Don't underestimate that like i was.

To troubleshoot, i had to buy a fully tested complete system with motherboard CPU ram and cooler (for ~45€)
The issue was the first motherboard (And the return delay was expired by a large margin so i lost 40€ on it... awesome !)
I bought the Opteron for 40€, a pair of GTX7800 256MB for 100€ the lot and a Sound Blaster X-Fi for 20 something €.
I added the Corsair XMS kit i already had since 2005, a pair of Raptor i got for free and a case i had in my garage.
Let's call this the "Version 1.0 Release Candidate"

  • Socket 939 Asus A8N SLI Deluxe
  • AMD Opteron 180 (2c/2t 2.4Ghz)
  • 2048 MB DDR400 (4x 512 Corsair XMS 2.5/3/3/6)
  • GeForce 7800 GTX 256MB SLI
  • Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Platinum PCI
  • Western Digital Raptor RAID0 2x 36GB SATA
  • Windows XP
  • Custom case

This was quite close to what i initially wanted, but with some drawbacks.

  • Opteron 180 is a great dual core late 2005 CPU. But most of period correct games can't handle 2 cores
  • 7800 GTX 256 MB was not the fastest version. There was a 512MB version with significantly higher frequencies (but quite rare).
  • Memory could be improved (in quality) and 2048 is not strictly needed for 2005.

The system worked, but i had frustrating stability issues with the system. And sometimes, overheating issues with the two 7800 GTX.
I thought the two could be related.

When i received the two 7800GTX, i cleaned them very thoroughly and replaced the thermal paste and pads. When i disassembled the two GPUs to find what caused the overheating, i almost immediately found the cause.
The pads were too thick and the cooler was not making good contact with the GPU.
Well done ! I could have toasted my cards !
I know it's not recommended, but i added a pad on the GPU to fill the gap as a temporary solution. I first thought that the pad will not conduct enough heat, but this was not that bad. Definitively better than before.
But the stability issue was still there. So probably not caused by the overheating.

I stopped troubleshooting for a while and used the system for games. But it was very frustrating to use. Crashes were totally random. And i found no link between temperature and crashes.
So i just used the system like that for some time.

A few month later, i finally found a 512 7800GTX !... but only one. I got it for very cheap, something like 20€ and it worked perfectly.
I "just" needed to find a second one.

Somewhere around may 2022, my Opteron 180 died (just after using it my GPUJune video)
I was using it in another motherboard for a test. Everything worked well. But no boot after re-installing it in the 2005 system.
I installed it back in the system i tested just before. Same issue, no boot.
I suspect my cooler to have damaged it since the mounting was (by design) super tight, and i had to use quite some force to attach the clips.
I replaced the cooler with a stock one and used a Athlon64 3500+ i had instead.
We're not getting closer to the ultimate 2005 system by downgrading the CPU !

I could have replaced the CPU with the same one, but i was thinking about using a higher clocked single core instead.
Of course, Athlon64 FX57 are not easy to find, and not cheap either. But i finally found an alternative : Opteron 154.
It's quite exactly the same CPU, only with a locked mult : 1c/1t 2.8Ghz 1MB cache socket 939.
I found one for around 80€, not cheap, but a lot cheaper than an Fx57.
Now, we're getting closer !

Then, in late 2022, i finally found some 7800GTX 512 for sale. From a recycling company selling mislabeled 7800 GTX 512MB for less than 15€... but untested... and with expensive shipping.
I gave it a try and ordered two. I received the cards about three weeks later (yes, that's not Amazon prime next day delivery)
Among the two i received, one worked perfectly, and with the one i already had waiting, then i finally had my SLI !
I replaced the two 256MB cards with the two 512MB started the system and launched F.E.A.R.
Everything worked perfectly.... silky smooth.... for about one hour.
Then windows crashed. And after rebooting, the card has disappeared from the Device manager.
Not the one i just received untested. No ! The one i kept waiting for more than a full year.
Dead. Just like that.

I was so disappointed that i stopped any retro activities for a month or so.

Then i ordered, again some untested 7800GTX 512MB from the same recycler and finally; 3 weeks and 70€ of shipping and taxes after, i was able to have a working SLI.

But i still had this stability issue. Still unresolved from day 1.
After dozens of experiments, (including buying new RAM, a new motherboard and a new PSU) i finally fixed the instability.

I tried :

  • Different memory brands (Corsair, Kingmax, generic)
  • Three different motherboards with the same Nforce4 SLI chipset
  • Three different CPU (3500+, 4000+ and Opteron 154) + the Opteron 180 before
  • Two different PSU (modern ones)
  • A lot of GPUs

It was apparently caused by the 4 memory sticks in dual channel.
For an unknown reason, everything works well with two sticks, while it randomly crashes with 4 on all the combinations i tested.

During this troubleshooting process, i bought a slightly different motherboard (A8N-SLI Premium), better memory (Adata Vitesta DDR500) and a brand new PSU. So this was the final upgrade.
The system now works perfectly, without any crash.

"Hello, my friend. Stay awhile and listen..."
My collection (not up to date)

Reply 1 of 12, by acl

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+ Adding some screenshots

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(Yes, i know i'm using the DDR500 at DDR400 frequency but i don't really want to overclock. Performance is still very good and now i finally have a stable gaming machine, i don't want to ruin that 😁)

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"Hello, my friend. Stay awhile and listen..."
My collection (not up to date)

Reply 5 of 12, by psychofox

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Great build! i am doing right now too an 939 2005 build. I am surprised how hard is to get quality parts for such system these days. Of course average parts for this period are literally thrown away, but i cant find quality DDR 1 memory for example.

Reply 6 of 12, by chinny22

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2Mourty wrote on 2023-04-04, 00:52:

I'm a sucker for any sli system. Nice work!

Same!
I've a pair of EVGA GeForce 7950 GT2's Cost me $50 each and came from Israel I think? This is back in 2018.
Problem is they hold back a XP build so I'm not currently using them but do want to build a rig around these at some point as well as an apposing Crossfire build.

Reply 7 of 12, by PcBytes

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I kinda did a "2005" build too 😁.

The only things that are not fully period correct on mine would be:

-PSU being a 2012 Raidmax 700W unit (Andyson OEM)
-8800GTX from 2007
-4GB of DDR400

Wish I had enough power in there to power another 8800, and another 8800GTX for that matter - I'd be doing a SLi 8800GTX too. (R.I.P thermals tho)

As for finding parts - I can also agree how hard it is to find parts. Particularily, the x2 4600+ I was able to get for mine was pretty hard to find - the reason being most common 64 x2s here are AM2 Windsor/Brisbane chips with similar speeds.

"Enter at your own peril, past the bolted door..."
Main PC: i5 3470, GB B75M-D3H, 16GB RAM, 2x1TB
98SE : P3 650, Soyo SY-6BA+IV, 384MB RAM, 80GB

Reply 8 of 12, by acl

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psychofox wrote on 2023-04-04, 08:32:

Great build! i am doing right now too an 939 2005 build. I am surprised how hard is to get quality parts for such system these days. Of course average parts for this period are literally thrown away, but i cant find quality DDR 1 memory for example.

Yes, Anandtech and other serious benchmark sites used crazy memory back then. Like some OCZ DDR PC3500 with super low 2.2.2.7 timings.
I've never seen these memory kits for sale !
DDR1 kits faster than 400 / pc3200 are quite hard to find (and they often have bad timings)
I only have two such kits. The Adata DDR500 and a 4 x 256 KingMax DDR433 / PC3500
But the more common Corsair XMS are easy to find, affordable and performs well too. The kit i bought in 2005 can reach around DDR450 speed.

Irinikus wrote on 2023-04-04, 04:04:

A very nice build with an interesting story!

Very nice work! 😀

2Mourty wrote on 2023-04-04, 00:52:

I'm a sucker for any sli system. Nice work!

Thank you very much !

kolderman wrote on 2023-04-04, 07:05:

That's a lot of 7800s.

Yes, a total of 9.
Two "regular" 256MB
Seven 512MB... but 3 dead, one unstable in SLI and 3 in good shape.

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PcBytes wrote on 2023-04-04, 11:30:
I kinda did a "2005" build too :D. […]
Show full quote

I kinda did a "2005" build too 😁.

The only things that are not fully period correct on mine would be:

-PSU being a 2012 Raidmax 700W unit (Andyson OEM)
-8800GTX from 2007
-4GB of DDR400

Wish I had enough power in there to power another 8800, and another 8800GTX for that matter - I'd be doing a SLi 8800GTX too. (R.I.P thermals tho)

As for finding parts - I can also agree how hard it is to find parts. Particularily, the x2 4600+ I was able to get for mine was pretty hard to find - the reason being most common 64 x2s here are AM2 Windsor/Brisbane chips with similar speeds.

You're right, high end dual core s939 CPUs can be hard to find. I was lucky with the Opteron 180, but every other i've seen were at least twice the price.
I hope my 180 is in a better world now. The CPU heaven 😁

I read your post too. Nice system ! 8800GTX were beasts.
I had a 9800GT which is a die shrink of a 8800GT iirc. A fanless one.
I used it until 2015 ! (replaced by a GTX960) Worked great for Diablo 3.
I have a 8800 Ultra.... but a dead 8800 Ultra :'(
Instead for my 2007 build, i'm using a pair of Radeon HD 3870X2 in Crossfire (Quad GPU !)
Great on paper, looks awesome, but disappointing performances (I may also present this build some day if i have time)

chinny22 wrote on 2023-04-04, 11:26:
Same! I've a pair of EVGA GeForce 7950 GT2's Cost me $50 each and came from Israel I think? This is back in 2018. Problem is the […]
Show full quote
2Mourty wrote on 2023-04-04, 00:52:

I'm a sucker for any sli system. Nice work!

Same!
I've a pair of EVGA GeForce 7950 GT2's Cost me $50 each and came from Israel I think? This is back in 2018.
Problem is they hold back a XP build so I'm not currently using them but do want to build a rig around these at some point as well as an apposing Crossfire build.

I never heard of GT2. Or is that GX2 ? (The dual GPU dual PCB cards)

"Hello, my friend. Stay awhile and listen..."
My collection (not up to date)

Reply 9 of 12, by Brawndo

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chinny22 wrote on 2023-04-04, 11:26:
Same! I've a pair of EVGA GeForce 7950 GT2's Cost me $50 each and came from Israel I think? This is back in 2018. Problem is the […]
Show full quote
2Mourty wrote on 2023-04-04, 00:52:

I'm a sucker for any sli system. Nice work!

Same!
I've a pair of EVGA GeForce 7950 GT2's Cost me $50 each and came from Israel I think? This is back in 2018.
Problem is they hold back a XP build so I'm not currently using them but do want to build a rig around these at some point as well as an apposing Crossfire build.

I'm actually doing just that right now for a 2006 mid-range XP build. In the past week I've picked up two EVGA 7950 GTs, for about $50 for both shipped (couldn't believe they were that cheap) and I'm doing an SLI build on an Intel 975X board with a Core2 Extreme QX6700. I'm just waiting on the Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Elite Pro I ordered to arrive, then I'll have all the components.

Reply 10 of 12, by chinny22

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acl wrote on 2023-04-04, 21:55:

I never heard of GT2. Or is that GX2 ? (The dual GPU dual PCB cards)

Yes my bad GX2. Quad SLI 😀 very sexy but also very useless 🤣

Reply 11 of 12, by vstrakh

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That Smilodon should have a side bar, hosting additional fan and pushing the cards into motherboard with adjustable pins/fingers/plungers (can't figure the right name).
Is it missing, or dropped entirely because of high cards? 😀

Reply 12 of 12, by acl

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vstrakh wrote on 2023-04-05, 13:29:

That Smilodon should have a side bar, hosting additional fan and pushing the cards into motherboard with adjustable pins/fingers/plungers (can't figure the right name).
Is it missing, or dropped entirely because of high cards? 😀

Yes, you're right !
I have the bar, but i'm not using it. (It's very thick and i don't really like how it looks)
I added a fan in the floppy bay to blow on the upper GPUs (and the front case fan blows on the lower GPU through the disk bay)
I had to tune a bit the airflow when i changed the 7800GTX versions.
The 256MB version sends hot air toward the middle of the case, while the 512MB version sends hot air in both directions (in and out)

chinny22 wrote on 2023-04-05, 09:06:
acl wrote on 2023-04-04, 21:55:

I never heard of GT2. Or is that GX2 ? (The dual GPU dual PCB cards)

Yes my bad GX2. Quad SLI 😀 very sexy but also very useless 🤣

Wow ! This must look crazy (the four PCBs seen from the top). But yes, i believe that performances must not scale with the number of GPUs. (When i tested my two 3870 x2 in crossfire, it was not the case)

"Hello, my friend. Stay awhile and listen..."
My collection (not up to date)