VOGONS


My first attempt at retro PC

Topic actions

First post, by rakun86

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

I wanted to show my first attempt at a retro PC build.
I had 4 guidelines during the build:
- Nostalgia (to use as much as possible of my first PC that Ive been very fond of)
- Desire (things I wanted back in the day but could not afford... yes 3dfx, im thinking about you!)
- Some period correctness, limit being 31 December 1999 (PSU and HDD are newer, Im OK with that)
- New acquired knowledge (things that I learned later on, reading on sites like this one)

I got my first PC in 1999, The specs were nothing much but it was my introduction to PC gaming and games that are still tome of my favorite.
Chaintech 6BTA3 with integrated sound, Celeron 333, 64 MB SD Ram, Intel I740 8mb graphics card, Quantum Fireball 6.4GB HDD.
It had some minor upgrades during the years until I got my first HP laptop in early 2000s and it sat unused till 2015 when I used the components to build my tabletop MAME arcade with changed processor and graphics card. I recently changed the components on the arcade and started on building my first retro PC.

System specs of the build:
MOTHERBOARD: Chaintech 6BTA3
PROCESSOR: PIII 550Mhz Katmai
RAM: 3x128 mb 133 MB
GRAPHICS CARD: ATI All in Wonder Rage 128 Pro 32MB
Voodoo 2 SLI 24mb (not paired unfortunately)
Sound Card: SB Live! CT4760 Platinum with Live Drive IR
LAN Card: 3COM 905C
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200 80gb
Seagate ST340015 40gb
OPTICS: TEAC CD-532E
Philips DVD8801
FLOPPY: Alps Electric
PSU: Delta DPS-370AB server

I realize there are some better options for the motherboard but that is the one from my original PC and its good enough (Slot1, 440bx, 4 slots for ram, 4 PCI, 2 ISA, SB-link). The case (modified by me), floppy and Teac CD rom are also from my original PC. The rest I had to change because it was low end components. The Voodoo 2s were the cheapest things i acquired for the build, got one for free from a friend, and bought one for 3 eur some 8 years ago in a flea market in some box pile full of card, in untested condition. Of course it did not work. Lucky for me, only one small capacitor was missing, it was clearly visible so the local electrician fixed it for free. The ATI Rage 128 Pro works nice, but perhaps ill swap it for a Matrox G400 if I find one. I have a G450 but its from 2000 so its a no go. The PSU is a very quiet Delta server PSU that I had recapped.
The Creative Live Drive IR is not period correct, its from 2000 but i could not find one from 1999. Added bonus are the extra useless things on it that i like seeing... dont judge!
It is currently not connected to the sound card because:
1. I cant seem to get it to work, i has power from the PSU, I connected it to the sound card via a tested HDD cable, but it just wont work. Anyone had a similar problem?
2. I cant find a nice cable management solution for it

The light looks really crappy on the pics, its much better live.
Things I want to add or change:
A period correct beige DVD drive, perhaps some slot in Pioneer but those are not easy or cheap to find anymore.
A more powerful CPU, PIII Coppermine 800mhz to be period correct but Im unsure if the motherboard is compatible? Anyone know if a Coppermine will run with my mobo?
An ISA sound card. I have the free slot. Im currently thinking to go for AWE64 gold. I dont really play really old DOS games. DOS games that I play are some 96, 97 games like Heroes II or GTA. Any suggestions for what ISA sound card to go?

Thanks for reading and for the great posts on this forum!

Attachments

  • 20230219_003740.jpg
    Filename
    20230219_003740.jpg
    File size
    1.22 MiB
    Views
    1925 views
    File license
    Public domain
  • 4.jpg
    Filename
    4.jpg
    File size
    888.47 KiB
    Views
    1925 views
    File license
    Public domain
  • 3.jpg
    Filename
    3.jpg
    File size
    786.33 KiB
    Views
    1925 views
    File license
    Public domain
  • 2.jpg
    Filename
    2.jpg
    File size
    628.24 KiB
    Views
    1925 views
    File license
    Public domain
  • 1.jpg
    Filename
    1.jpg
    File size
    707.21 KiB
    Views
    1925 views
    File license
    Public domain

Reply 1 of 25, by bZbZbZ

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Awesome retro PC!

I think there is something really nice about using YOUR OWN original parts (like your motherboard and case), even if there is "better" stuff you could buy.

Nice work on obtaining two Voodoo 2 cards - they're expensive nowadays! I feel like your 500 MHz CPU is a decent match for your video cards. IMO if you had a faster CPU your game performance wouldn't be a whole lot better - two Voodoo 2 cards in SLI are still not faster than a Voodoo 3...

I came across some info on your motherboard here... it has a link to the original manual that suggests it supports up to a multiplier of 5 on a 100MHz front side bus, which would seem to max out at 500MHz. You might have the best CPU for that motherboard already.

Do you really need/use the DVD drive? IMO (but it's your opinion that matters!) the black DVD drive really doesn't match the build, even though you can cover it with the door. I recall that games of the era weren't on DVDs, and you're probably not using this machine to play DVD movies...

Reply 2 of 25, by H3nrik V!

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Just out of the top of my head; does that psu supply minus 5V? It might be that the Sound Blaster needs that to work properly?

Please use the "quote" option if asking questions to what I write - it will really up the chances of me noticing 😀

Reply 3 of 25, by rakun86

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Nice work on obtaining two Voodoo 2 cards - they're expensive nowadays!

Really lucky... cheapest parts for my build.

I came across some info on your motherboard here... it has a link to the original manual that suggests it supports up to a multiplier of 5 on a 100MHz front side bus, which would seem to max out at 500MHz. You might have the best CPU for that motherboard already.

Thanks for the manual... Ive lost the original one. In the BIOS at CPU Setup/Users Define i can set the multiplier from 2x to 8x and the frequency from 100 to 133Mhz. Does that mean the max CPU I can put?

Do you really need/use the DVD drive? IMO (but it's your opinion that matters!) the black DVD drive really doesn't match the build, even though you can cover it with the door. I recall that games of the era weren't on DVDs, and you're probably not using this machine to play DVD movies...

The DVD doesnt get any use as my original Teac CD works great. I dont like the black for this build, i just had that dvd as a spare and wanted to fill all the slots. I dont know what else I can put in there? Maybe some speakers but most are crappy...

Reply 4 of 25, by rakun86

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
H3nrik V! wrote on 2023-04-06, 06:16:

Just out of the top of my head; does that psu supply minus 5V? It might be that the Sound Blaster needs that to work properly?

Ive checked, it doesnt have -5v. Is that a must for all ISA sound cards?

Reply 5 of 25, by gen_angry

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
rakun86 wrote on 2023-04-05, 22:34:

A more powerful CPU, PIII Coppermine 800mhz to be period correct but Im unsure if the motherboard is compatible? Anyone know if a Coppermine will run with my mobo?

https://theretroweb.com/motherboards/s/chaintech-ct-6bta3 has some info on your board.

https://www.overclockers.com/forums/threads/c … question.18266/ this guy says he has a 700mhz on his in this 22 year old post (lol). So if that's right, 800 will likely work after maybe a BIOS update.

rakun86 wrote on 2023-04-05, 22:34:

An ISA sound card. I have the free slot. Im currently thinking to go for AWE64 gold. I dont really play really old DOS games. DOS games that I play are some 96, 97 games like Heroes II or GTA. Any suggestions for what ISA sound card to go?

Thanks for reading and for the great posts on this forum!

Needing an ISA sound card is more for DOS compatibility. Personally, if you're staying with just Windows and you want to remain period correct - I'd just keep your Live! so you can take advantage of the few EAX 1/2 games out there.

rakun86 wrote on 2023-04-06, 06:59:

Ive checked, it doesnt have -5v. Is that a must for all ISA sound cards?

Nope, just the SB Pro and maybe 1-2 others from around that time. Nothing in the Windows era uses it and certainly not the Live!.

Reply 6 of 25, by bZbZbZ

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Interesting... Maybe there was a later BIOS update (which you already have) which enabled higher CPU speeds. I have a similar motherboard on the same 440BX chipset running at Pentium III 700 MHz Coppermine. If your BIOS allows multiplier of 8x I'd say there's a good chance a Coppermine would work - Katmai only went up to 600MHz. However, I still think there's not a lot of value in upgrading your CPU...

Oh I understand... you don't have the beige 5.25" bay covers... well, I agree that a black DVD drive looks better than a hole 😀 I'm sure a lot of folks would recommend a 5.25" floppy drive, but IMO if you don't have a specific use for that it's not really worth the expense to buy one. It seems to me that beige bay covers are harder to find than beige optical drives, so your plan to get another beige optical drive is probably the most practical idea.

Reply 7 of 25, by rakun86

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
gen_angry wrote on 2023-04-06, 07:03:

Needing an ISA sound card is more for DOS compatibility. Personally, if you're staying with just Windows and you want to remain period correct - I'd just keep your Live! so you can take advantage of the few EAX 1/2 games out there.

Thanks for the answers.
So no noticeable advantage for 96-97 games like Heroes II if I stick to just the SB Live?

Reply 8 of 25, by rakun86

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
bZbZbZ wrote on 2023-04-06, 07:15:

Interesting... Maybe there was a later BIOS update (which you already have) which enabled higher CPU speeds. I have a similar motherboard on the same 440BX chipset running at Pentium III 700 MHz Coppermine. If your BIOS allows multiplier of 8x I'd say there's a good chance a Coppermine would work - Katmai only went up to 600MHz. However, I still think there's not a lot of value in upgrading your CPU...

Oh I understand... you don't have the beige 5.25" bay covers... well, I agree that a black DVD drive looks better than a hole 😀 I'm sure a lot of folks would recommend a 5.25" floppy drive, but IMO if you don't have a specific use for that it's not really worth the expense to buy one. It seems to me that beige bay covers are harder to find than beige optical drives, so your plan to get another beige optical drive is probably the most practical idea.

I did update the BIOS when i was building the MAME arcade. I guess Ill stick to 550 Katmai for now.
I never used 5.25 floppy, it was before my gaming time but ill look if I can score something cheap to fill the slot.

Reply 9 of 25, by gen_angry

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
rakun86 wrote on 2023-04-06, 07:28:
gen_angry wrote on 2023-04-06, 07:03:

Needing an ISA sound card is more for DOS compatibility. Personally, if you're staying with just Windows and you want to remain period correct - I'd just keep your Live! so you can take advantage of the few EAX 1/2 games out there.

Thanks for the answers.
So no noticeable advantage for 96-97 games like Heroes II if I stick to just the SB Live?

TBF, I don't 100% know for sure as I cant find any info that HMM2 uses AWE effects. I havent played it any myself. But the Live does have the ability to load soundfonts and act as a SB16 + General MIDI device (so you can use it as a 'poor mans roland SC-55') for DOS in Windows anyways.

So, probably not much of an advantage if all you mainly do is Windows stuff. I would absolutely suggest an AWE64 if you played many more pure DOS games though and booted in 6.22 - especially for games going back to the early 90s. You may be able to get away with a 'best of both worlds' situation by having both cards in it but resources may become an issue with that many cards in your system.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, there's a windows version of that game?

What other games are you interested in? If you play any that makes use of EAX, you'd lose that going back to an AWE64.

Reply 10 of 25, by rakun86

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

I dont load any games directly from DOS. Of the older ones besides HOMM II there Jungle Book, Doom2 and i installed Return to Moneky Island but still havent played it yet.
90% of the games are Windows games from 98, 99, 00. HOMM III, Arcanum, Baldurs gate 2, Serious Sam, Quake 3, NFS 3, Pharaoh, Zeus...

Reply 11 of 25, by chinny22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

My first PC was also in '99 P2 400 with a 16MB TNT. So that's another period correct graphics card option for you.
CD-RW's were common before DVD drives so that's another possibility to fill the hole. As already discussed most likely you'll probably rarely use any of the drives now that virtual drives are a thing.
Probably the most period correct would be a HDD caddie. Just about everyone had one around then for "offsite backup of my games at my friends house" reasons 😉

If I'm reading this correctly the ISA sound card isn't replacing the Live, rather it'll be a 2nd sound card.
If your playing your dos games from within windows you don't really need one, the SBLive's emulation will cover you. but it does give you a excuse to fill that slot if thats what your looking for.
As you play late dos games OPL isn't as much of a concern (AWE64's weak point) and think the AWE is a good choice. However anything that's SoundBlaster compatible will probably be enough as its not your main focus.

Reply 12 of 25, by rakun86

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Some good ideas to fill that black DVD slot.
Yes, my idea is to run 2 sound cards in the system, ill def keep the SB live.

chinny22 wrote on 2023-04-06, 10:34:

but it does give you a excuse to fill that slot if thats what your looking for.

So true... The whole project is an excuse for some childhood nostalgia... I rarely play anymore but my 5 year old son is happy to play Roller Coaster and GTA 1 on the system 😀

Reply 13 of 25, by chinny22

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
rakun86 wrote on 2023-04-06, 13:43:

rarely play anymore but my 5 year old son is happy to play Roller Coaster and GTA 1 on the system 😀

Nice, I love LGR's "edutainment" episodes for ideas for my 6yo. Although we mostly play Word Rescue/Maths Rescue which came pre installed on my machine in the 90's
https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE6039486A9B854CC

Reply 14 of 25, by buckeye

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Regarding you're cable mgmt. you need to put on a clinic! Very well done, myself I just lack the patience for it!

Asus P5N-E Intel Core 2 Duo 3.33ghz. 4GB DDR2 Geforce 470 1GB SB X-Fi Titanium 650W XP SP3
Intel SE440BX P3 450 256MB 80GB SSD Radeon 7200 64mb SB 32pnp 350W 98SE
MSI x570 Gaming Pro Carbon Ryzen 3700x 32GB DDR4 Zotac RTX 3070 8GB WD Black 1TB 850W

Reply 15 of 25, by tomcattech

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

The Drive IR issue was a PITA for me as well.

My guess is that it is a driver issue.

Some resources:
https://support.creative.com/Products/Product … e!+Platinum+5.1
https://archive.org/details/creative-sb-live- … latinum-install
https://archive.org/details/creative-sb-live- … 1-platinum-apps

Reply 16 of 25, by rakun86

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
chinny22 wrote on 2023-04-06, 15:09:

Nice, I love LGR's "edutainment" episodes for ideas for my 6yo. Although we mostly play Word Rescue/Maths Rescue which came pre installed on my machine in the 90's
https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLE6039486A9B854CC

Ill try some of those with him. See what interests him.

As for the cable management, the most important thing is to have longer cables so you have the lenght to fold them multiple times. Back of the mobo and top of the case is a good place to hide that extra lenght.

Ill keep trying with some more drivers for the Drive IR. So far, no response at all from the front panel.

Reply 17 of 25, by ATi_Loyalist

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

LOVE the window! VERY cool

P4/XP Rig: P4C800 | P4 3.4 | Radeon X850 Pro
A64/XP Rig : A8V | A64 X2 4400+ | X1950 Pro
Ancient Rig: Pentium 166 W | S3 Trio

Reply 18 of 25, by rakun86

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
ATi_Loyalist wrote on 2023-04-07, 22:00:

LOVE the window! VERY cool

Thanks! I didnt want to do a square. The shape also hides some of the uninteresting things in the case.

A little update:
I have completed my rig with your help and suggestions.
The black DVD is gone and has been replaced with a beige HDD caddy and the last ISA slot was filled with an AWE64 Gold connected to the SB Live! via line in.
The issue with the Live Drive IR front panel was also resolved after many different drivers tried.
The cable management has become increasingly difficult but overall im happy with the the build.
Now to finally play some games...

Thanks again for your help and suggestions!

Attachments

  • 5.jpg
    Filename
    5.jpg
    File size
    780.33 KiB
    Views
    1450 views
    File license
    Public domain
  • 4.jpg
    Filename
    4.jpg
    File size
    732.83 KiB
    Views
    1450 views
    File license
    Public domain
  • 3.jpg
    Filename
    3.jpg
    File size
    644.18 KiB
    Views
    1450 views
    File license
    Public domain
  • 2.jpg
    Filename
    2.jpg
    File size
    505.46 KiB
    Views
    1450 views
    File license
    Public domain
  • 1.jpg
    Filename
    1.jpg
    File size
    898.76 KiB
    Views
    1450 views
    File license
    Public domain

Reply 19 of 25, by gen_angry

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Nice, as long as your happy, that's what matters. 😀

Very clean build, probably some of the best cable managing of a retro PC I've seen. Loving the case badges on the PSU.

How does it run? No issues with resource conflicts from all the devices?