VOGONS


First post, by psychofox

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A couple of weeks ago, I completed (almost) my newest build: Socket 939 Athlon 3700+.

Just a couple of years ago, I had no interest in systems newer than the year 2000. I mostly enjoyed working with XT to 486 machines. Then came the Pentium period. About two years ago, I received this beautiful motherboard from my friend's junk pile: DFI Lanparty SLI.
download/file.php?mode=view&id=183241
I had never owned any Socket 939 system before. In the mid-2000s, I went directly from a Socket 745 Athlon XP 2400+ to a Core2Duo platform. So, I had no idea what this board exactly was. As far as I've read, it is considered one of the best Socket 939 boards available. Of course, there were a couple of bulged caps and some bent pins on the IDE sockets that needed to be I fixed. Then i tried a couple of low-end Athlons until I received the Athlon 64 3700+.

To be period-correct, I purchased a cheap ATI Radeon x1950. It runs just fine, but the fan is very loud, so I lost interest in this system for about a year. One day, I was searching something on a local listings site, and I found a nice acrylic case for sale, priced at about 20 euros. It seemed that this case had seen better days; there were some scratches all over and a couple of little cracks on the front part of the case. However, it caught my interest since, back in the day, I dreamed of having such a computer.
After some searching on the web, I found this review:
https://www.extremeoverclocking.com/reviews/c … lic_Case_1.html
This UV-reactive acrylic monster is the right case for a mid-2000s Socket 939 system. I purchased it, cleaned, glued, and fitted my best components into this nice box.

Here is the partlist:
Mobo and CPU: DFI Lanparty NF4 with AMD Athlon 64 3700+, Thermaltake Contac 30 cooler, with a transparent acrylic fan with blue LEDs, of course 😀

GPU: XFX Nvidia Geforce 7950GT

download/file.php?mode=view&id=183242
It is and cool looking passive cooled card, to bad that the beautiful side is facing bottom of the case and is barely visible. The 3dMark results are about the same then Radeon X1950

RAM: 2Gb RAM, Corsair CMX512-32002PT
download/file.php?mode=view&id=183243
there is 2 different 1Gb kits, strange thing is they are not stable together. (so currently i use 2x512Mb Corsair+ 2x1Gb Hynix kits)

Cooling: Case fans are some cheap AliExpress acrylic fans, quite noisy, so these need replacement in the future. Thermaltake fan controller. It also hosts 2 MSATA SSD disks.

Sound: DFI Lanparty has a reasonably OK onboard soundcard (Karajan Audio Module based on Realtek ALC850), but I had a Terratec DMX fire just lying on my shelf, and I thought it fits like a glove to this transparent case. Absolutely no need for this card, i havent even connected the cable between card and front panel yet 😀

FDD and Cardreader: Gotek floppy emulator and some cheap card reader, painted with silver color.

DVD: Silver Samsung DVD ROM. Actually it does not read all older and scratched disks very vell but it fits there and it is only silver optical drive that i have.

PSU: is some newer 750W FSP product; I modded it with an angle grinder and cut holes to all sides and glued acrylic glass to give it a "transparent look". Added 3 voltmeters for constant live voltage feedback. I am not happy with the result, but it is OK for now.

download/file.php?mode=view&id=183245

All these parts together form such a computer:

download/file.php?mode=view&id=183247

Such a system needs a proper keyboard and mouse. Back in the 2000s, there were at least a few acrylic keyboard makers available AFAIK (like Logisys Clear Acrylic Blue EL Keyboard). tn_acrylic1.JPG
However, such "tuning parts" were usually quite cheaply made these days, and they did not last long. I have searched for at least a year for a period-correct acrylic keyboard but unsuccessfully so far.

So, I bought a modern acrylic keyboard and mouse made by AULA. It is some cheaper Chinese brand, but they work fine, and the keyboard keys feel actually very good. The mouse is just a decent thing, but it does its job just OK.

It still needs some cable management and probably i try to polish side panel, it has couple deep scratches.
I use it mostly for Windows XP gaming, but there is also Windows Vista on the second SSD installed.

Honestly, it is not a very fast system for XP (that’s why there is this unnecessary part in the title). Games up to 2003 or 2004 run mostly OK, but not all. Some titles stutter quite a lot on higher resolutions. However, I plan to keep this PC, if not for usage then just for looks 😀

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Reply 2 of 12, by Sphere478

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Wow! Very nice I used that motherboard for a very long time as my primary back in the day. I kept having stability issues. Are you having any?

Sphere's PCB projects.
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Sphere’s socket 5/7 cpu collection.
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SUCCESSFUL K6-2+ to K6-3+ Full Cache Enable Mod
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Tyan S1564S to S1564D single to dual processor conversion (also s1563 and s1562)

Reply 4 of 12, by psychofox

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Sphere478 wrote on 2024-01-21, 18:18:

Wow! Very nice I used that motherboard for a very long time as my primary back in the day. I kept having stability issues. Are you having any?

Yes, i cant say that it is an "easy" motherboard. For example BIOS settings - there are lots of different options to tune and change, i have spent lots of time tinkering with it. Overall i have managed to get it stable for now (exept that i cant get 4 Corsair dimms work together).

Forgot to add a picture of modernish keyboard and mouse that i use with this PC, here it is:

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Reply 5 of 12, by Bruno128

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Cool! I think we got the same cases here? Does yours have a pink tint?
Acrylic 2003 build (January 2024)

Now playing:
The Dig: My VLB 486 (120/8/9440/PAS16)
Deus Ex: Bridging compatibility gap in this year 2000 build
Arcanum: Acrylic 2003 build (January 2024)


Handy:
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Reply 6 of 12, by psychofox

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Bruno128 wrote on 2024-01-22, 09:32:

Cool! I think we got the same cases here? Does yours have a pink tint?

Nope, mine has blue-ish tint, it is actally UV reactive acrylic glass. As seen on pictures, i have added couple UV led strips inside the case.

Here are best benchmarks that i have achieved from this system:

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Reply 7 of 12, by winuser_pl

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Very nice build. Have you thought about throwing into a 4000+ cpu? Would be super cool to have top tier single core for this socket (yeah I know, there is fx also).

PC1: Highscreen => FIC PA-2005, 64 MB EDO RAM, Pentium MMX 200, S3 Virge + Voodoo 2 8 MB
PC2: AOpen => GA-586SG, 512 MB SDRAM, AMD K6-2 400 MHz, Geforce 2 MX 400

Reply 8 of 12, by psychofox

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winuser_pl wrote on 2024-02-18, 10:58:

Very nice build. Have you thought about throwing into a 4000+ cpu? Would be super cool to have top tier single core for this socket (yeah I know, there is fx also).

Thanks, there are still couple of things that bother me on this build but overall i am quite happy with it.
Tron 2.0 playthru completed last week. 😀

Yes i have been looking an top of line CPU for this build but for some reason the prices of socket 939 CPUs are crazy.
I managed to get an Opteron 144 cheap, it is actually 200MHz slower than 3700+ by default clock, other than that they are identical. But as far as i have read Opteron 144 is an exellent cpu for overclocking. People claim they are have reached up to 3Ghz (with watercooling) so if i get bored, i try this path rather than pay hundreds of dollars for slightly faster CPU.

Reply 9 of 12, by momaka

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Oh, I remember those transparent cases from the mid-2000's. It was a dream back then... and still is now, since where I moved to recently, you just cannot find old retro hardware like this. There are plenty of low-end retro systems around and maybe a few mid-range stuff, but nothing exotic or high-end. I don't think transparent cases like this ever made it here. Or if they did, there were very few and probably long gone to waste now.

Anyhow, I like your system very much. The transparent keyboard and mouse are a nice touch too 😀 . Only thing that hints the keyboard is modern and not truly an old retro/vintage piece is that it doesn't have the num-pad keys, which many modern keyboards now omit (which I personally dislike, as I do like my num pad keys quite a bit... but this is a retro gaming PC, so probably not that much of a loss.)

psychofox wrote on 2024-02-20, 11:22:

Yes i have been looking an top of line CPU for this build but for some reason the prices of socket 939 CPUs are crazy.
I managed to get an Opteron 144 cheap, it is actually 200MHz slower than 3700+ by default clock, other than that they are identical. But as far as i have read Opteron 144 is an exellent cpu for overclocking. People claim they are have reached up to 3Ghz (with watercooling) so if i get bored, i try this path rather than pay hundreds of dollars for slightly faster CPU.

You have one of the best socket 939 overclocking boards, so I would certainly suggest to go the OC route rather than shelling out a ton of cash for a TOTL CPU. I have an FX-57 and I can't get it to go higher than 3 GHz on stock voltages. But from what I remember reading in the past, socket 939 pretty much hits a wall past 3-3.2 GHz, even with increased V_core. So there's not much of a point to get a top-end CPU. Meanwhile, if you look at old reviews of this and other DFI boards from this era, it should be possible to easily hit 2.7 GHz with a slight V_core bump even with something as basic as the A64 3000+. Your 3700+ might just hit 2.8-2.9 GHz on stock voltage, and that's already at the speed of a stock FX-57. I have another system with an A64 3200+ OC'ed to 2.5 Ghz on stock voltage. Actually, I've even tried under-volting it a bit, just for fun. I can run the same OC down to 1.375V without stability issues. Such core speed is already faster than what a 4000+offers out of the box. YMMV, of course.

As for the X2 socket 939 CPUs, I don't know how well those will OC, but I don't imagine it would be hard to get 2.4 to 2.6 GHz out of a stock X2 3800+ with this board (i.e. the equivalent of an FX-60, pretty much.) The thing is, even X2 3800+ chips are getting hard to come by... even more so for a reasonable price.

psychofox wrote on 2024-01-19, 07:31:

DVD: Silver Samsung DVD ROM. Actually it does not read all older and scratched disks very vell but it fits there and it is only silver optical drive that i have.

That's been more or less my experience with all Samsung optical drives. I've never had good luck with any of them for whatever reason. LG and Pioneer on the other hand, I've had nothing but good experience and reading even the most scratched CDs and DVDs that other drives would reject multiple times.
Of course, yours is a nice-looking silver-faced drive, so we have to give it a pass. 😉
I personally have several silver cases that could use a silver-faced CD drive, so I also wouldn't discriminate as to what kind of drive goes in them, so long as it matches the looks.

psychofox wrote on 2024-01-19, 07:31:

PSU: is some newer 750W FSP product; I modded it with an angle grinder and cut holes to all sides and glued acrylic glass to give it a "transparent look". Added 3 voltmeters for constant live voltage feedback. I am not happy with the result, but it is OK for now.

Nice!

Reminds me of the Apevia power supplies back in those days with the transparent top, RGB fans, and UV-reactive wires/connectors. I always wanted one back then... and a few years ago, I eventually managed to get one. Best of all, it didn't even have failed caps yet, which is rare for them. Of course, I recapped it pre-emptively, just to be sure. It's a decent kit of retro hardware.

psychofox wrote on 2024-01-19, 07:31:

Honestly, it is not a very fast system for XP (that’s why there is this unnecessary part in the title). Games up to 2003 or 2004 run mostly OK, but not all. Some titles stutter quite a lot on higher resolutions. However, I plan to keep this PC, if not for usage then just for looks 😀

Hmmm, perhaps a driver issue/mishap?
I have an Athlon 64 3200+ OC-ed to 2.5 GHz, and it will run most titles up to 2007 pretty well. It's really only titles that run on the Unreal 3 engine that start to show the CPU's age. The newest I will run on that PC is Mirror's Edge, and some parts of that game will drop to 20-30 FPS purely due to CPU limitation. That said, I do find that newer, non-period-correct GPUs can help to some extent. So that GeForce 7950, while period-correct, may be part of the reason why too. For example, I can run COD 4 MW at about 60 FPS with a more modern GPU like Radeon HD4850.

Reply 10 of 12, by psychofox

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I dont think either, that such cases sold a lot back then, i have seen only a couple for sale. Another problem is that plexiglass is quite fragile (my case has 2 or 3 cracks in front panel) and tends to get scratches on it, so i guess they usually have got damaged during use and have ended up in dumpster.

With this keyboard, now i have used little longer period and besides missing numpad i find the lack of F buttons VERY disturbing. But i really like the visual and feel of these buttons is one of the best keyboard experience IMHO. So i try to get used to it 😀

With CPU i think i stick to single core CPU and i will try the OC route. I have some thermaltake watercooling parts made in mid 2000s lying around somewhere so sky is the limit with OC 😀

With optical drive i think i will remove it at some point since it has no use most of the time. Or i will replace it with some slim drive from an SFF system or laptop. I think this case is a bit too crowded right now. Also this thermaltake fan controller is quite questionable thing. Good thing is there is 4 fan outputs and fancy display but the slowest fan speed is actually way too fast and the whole system is quite noisy right now.

These Apevia PSU-s were beautiful and one of these would be perfect fit:
17-148-006-10.jpg
And again they seem to be quite rare, I have never seen these for sale. So i had to go modding route.

Actually most of mid 2000 games run fine, the stuttering problem is with Vietcong game when using full detail and 1600x1200 res, so yes first i will try different driver, then different CPU.

Reply 11 of 12, by chinny22

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Not really a fan of transparent cases. They scratch easy and always seem cheap. But then I don't like RGB or full on gaming cases either. Basically I'm a boring person 😜
But transparent was very much the fashion of the time so good representation of gaming PC's of the era.
What's wrong with your PSU mod? I thought it looked pretty good?

Reply 12 of 12, by BitWrangler

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momaka wrote on 2024-02-26, 14:17:

Only thing that hints the keyboard is modern and not truly an old retro/vintage piece is that it doesn't have the num-pad keys, which many modern keyboards now omit (which I personally dislike, as I do like my num pad keys quite a bit... but this is a retro gaming PC, so probably not that much of a loss.)

Maybe not as common and maybe not popular enough in non-english keymap to justify making, but they were most definitely around. Model M compact for example of the earliest I can name, then I have a unikey late 90s one with windows keys, and some Compaq "Q" models with PS/2 plug from the noughts, probably contemporary with this.

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