VOGONS


First post, by ShovelKnight

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Hi all,

Long time lurker and first time poster here.

I will have to spend a lot of time at home for medical reasons, and I want to build a retro system for playing DOS and Windows 98 games on it.

I'm not interested in super early DOS stuff, I think Dune II is probably the earliest game I want to play and as far as I know it's not speed sensitive. I'm also not interested in super late Windows 98 games. I want to finally beat Baldur Gate and Icewind Dale games, and I'm also interested in city building titles such as SimCity 3000 and possibly SimCity 4 (even though the latter runs on my modern Mac perfectly). I also want to play Diablo and Diablo II again.

As far as I understand a Slot-1 system with a nice Pentium III CPU should be a perfect match for these games, am I correct?

But I have no idea what GPU to get. Initially I wanted to get a Voodoo 3 2000 because it has very good compatibility with DOS games, but it looks like a GeForce 3 or 4 would be a better match.

In terms of sound, I plan to use a ESS ISA card with DreamBlaster S2 daughtercard.

I would be very grateful for any advice.

Reply 2 of 13, by matze79

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i would choose a GeForce 4 440MX or 460M, its fast and suits all DX7 Games very well.

I did not encounter any problems and also play older Titles and RPGs which use DirectX 5. 6 and so on.
Also DOS is perfect.

a 4MX allows you also to ramp up your display resolution to max.
Where a TNT2 will struggle..

I also switch CPUs as needed, need more Speed ? P2 233Mhz out and 1,4Ghz King inside.

Need ultra slow ? put VIA C3 inside and use setmul to slow down or disable caches.

Slot 1 is the perfect Platform for Speeds from 233 to 1400Mhz and higher (FSB 150)

And depending on the motherboard you can often go for even lower clocks.

https://dosreloaded.de - The German Retro DOS PC Community
https://www.retroianer.de - under constructing since ever

Co2 - for a endless Summer

Reply 3 of 13, by RaverX

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ShovelKnight wrote:

But I have no idea what GPU to get. Initially I wanted to get a Voodoo 3 2000 because it has very good compatibility with DOS games, but it looks like a GeForce 3 or 4 would be a better match.

You can have both, even better. GF3 + V2 (in SLI would be great) is the way to go. Just make sure you are installing a fan to blow under V2 (or from the side of the card/s).

Reply 4 of 13, by kaputnik

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A Slot 1 mobo also opens up some other interesting options. A Via C3 Ezra CPU, ran through a slotket, is highly configurable from software, the speed can be set in fine grains from 386 to early Pentium III performance. I would go as far as to say it's a fully equivalent option to a SS7/AMD K6-2/3 system when it comes to flexibility.

Would also recommend GPU combination suggested above. Anything between GF2 and GF4 will be fine if you ask me, even the GF4MX variants, though there are probably people who are more sensitive to details than me that might disagree. Since you're specifically mentioning Diablo II, a Voodoo 2 card or two is almost a must have as a complement in my opinion. D2 really works best with Glide 😀

Would have used two sound cards, an ISA card for DOS, and a PCI card for Windows. The ESS Audiodrive (ES1869F) is a really nice SB compatible ISA card, that still can be had for peanuts. It's at least great to begin with, if you happen to become interested in the finer points of DOS sound later, you can always try to hunt down rarer and more expensive cards then.

The PCI sound card is even easier. Just about anything works in my opinion. If you want a more specific recommendation, my personal favorites are the ESS Solo-1 (ES1938) and the TB Santa Cruz (CS4630). But once again, just about anything will be fine for a first build, and those are just my favorites. Other users probably have very different opinions on good PCI cards for Windows.

The outputs of those cards can be connected to the same receiver through a mixer. A passive mixer consisting of a few resistors can be thrown together inline in a cable in minutes if you can handle a soldering iron, or ebayed ready to use for 20 bucks or so.

I know you didn't ask, but as for network cards, old 3Com cards are my favorites for retro use. The 3c509 and 3c905 are highly reliable cards, with drivers included in W98. Also, Realtek has always been really good with supporting older OS:es, wouldn't surprise me at all if even their current lineup of Gbit cards got W98 drivers. Haven't checked though. Their cards are budget ones, and they tend to tax the CPU to a higher degree than premium cards, but the drivers are small and rock stable, and they can be had for almost nothing. You won't however have the convenience of drivers being included in Windows.

Reply 5 of 13, by ShovelKnight

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Hi,

Thank you all for the excellent advice! Currently I'm looking for a Micro-ATX Slot-1 motherboard because I want to build this retro PC in an old IBM NetVista case. It seems microATX options are a bit limited but there are some decent-looking motherboards from MSI, Gigabyte and Fujitsu.

Reply 6 of 13, by ShovelKnight

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kaputnik wrote:

A Via C3 Ezra CPU, ran through a slotket, is highly configurable from software, the speed can be set in fine grains from 386 to early Pentium III performance. I would go as far as to say it's a fully equivalent option to a SS7/AMD K6-2/3 system when it comes to flexibility.

That's very interesting, does this apply to C3 Nehemiah as well?

Reply 7 of 13, by mothergoose729

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It is hard not to recommend a voodoo card for pure compatibility and painlessness. Depending on the speed of the CPU, a geforce 4 or 5 are also good options, especially if you want to max out games with 32bit colors. A geforce 4200 ti is what I would recommend personally.

A slot 1 board is capable of running at most slower copper mine CPUs without modifications. There are models at up to 700mhz clock speed for slot 1, but they are hard to find. 500mhz and 600mhz models are a lot easier to find and are more affordable.

If you want to get the most out of slot 1, then you would want to get a slotket adapter, which allows you to use socket 370 CPUs on some slot 1 boards. With a pin mod and the right motherboard, you can get up to a 1.4ghz tualatin working. The same boards are also compatible with Via C3 processors with the same adapters, if you are interested in that.

How much CPU power you need really depends on the games you are trying to run and at what settings.

Considering you are not hung up on speed sensitive software, IMO I think you can just get a socket 370 board with an ISA slot. These boards aren't particularly expensive or hard to find. All of them run at 133mhz fsb, and will support the fastest copper mine 1ghz CPUs, which are cheap and readily available.

Reply 8 of 13, by mothergoose729

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ShovelKnight wrote:
kaputnik wrote:

A Via C3 Ezra CPU, ran through a slotket, is highly configurable from software, the speed can be set in fine grains from 386 to early Pentium III performance. I would go as far as to say it's a fully equivalent option to a SS7/AMD K6-2/3 system when it comes to flexibility.

That's very interesting, does this apply to C3 Nehemiah as well?

A Nehemiah has great 386 coverage, but has trouble in the 486 range. A 1.2ghz model is roughly the same speed as a 600mhz pentium 3. They can overclock to as much as 1500mhz which makes them equivalent to a copper mine CPU at about 750mhz.

The Ezra CPUs have great coverage at every DOS speed, but they have abysmal FPU performance, so they top out in windows gaming at around the same speed as a 200mhz celeron.

Reply 9 of 13, by kaputnik

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mothergoose729 wrote:
It is hard not to recommend a voodoo card for pure compatibility and painlessness. Depending on the speed of the CPU, a geforce […]
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It is hard not to recommend a voodoo card for pure compatibility and painlessness. Depending on the speed of the CPU, a geforce 4 or 5 are also good options, especially if you want to max out games with 32bit colors. A geforce 4200 ti is what I would recommend personally.

A slot 1 board is capable of running at most slower copper mine CPUs without modifications. There are models at up to 700mhz clock speed for slot 1, but they are hard to find. 500mhz and 600mhz models are a lot easier to find and are more affordable.

If you want to get the most out of slot 1, then you would want to get a slotket adapter, which allows you to use socket 370 CPUs on some slot 1 boards. With a pin mod and the right motherboard, you can get up to a 1.4ghz tualatin working. The same boards are also compatible with Via C3 processors with the same adapters, if you are interested in that.

How much CPU power you need really depends on the games you are trying to run and at what settings.

Considering you are not hung up on speed sensitive software, IMO I think you can just get a socket 370 board with an ISA slot. These boards aren't particularly expensive or hard to find. All of them run at 133mhz fsb, and will support the fastest copper mine 1ghz CPUs, which are cheap and readily available.

mothergoose729 wrote:
ShovelKnight wrote:
kaputnik wrote:

A Via C3 Ezra CPU, ran through a slotket, is highly configurable from software, the speed can be set in fine grains from 386 to early Pentium III performance. I would go as far as to say it's a fully equivalent option to a SS7/AMD K6-2/3 system when it comes to flexibility.

That's very interesting, does this apply to C3 Nehemiah as well?

A Nehemiah has great 386 coverage, but has trouble in the 486 range. A 1.2ghz model is roughly the same speed as a 600mhz pentium 3. They can overclock to as much as 1500mhz which makes them equivalent to a copper mine CPU at about 750mhz.

The Ezra CPUs have great coverage at every DOS speed, but they have abysmal FPU performance, so they top out in windows gaming at around the same speed as a 200mhz celeron.

Agreeing with most of the above. Ti4200 is my GPU of choice for this range of retro computers, it's cheap and easy to find, can't really see any reason to choose anything older or rarer. Would however avoid GF FX cards, since they drop support for some early DX stuff, and the probably cheaper Ti4200 already is complete overkill for a PIII era machine, in my opinion you don't need the extra performance.

The only bad thing I can say about the GF4 family is that the Build games will flicker in 1280x1024, which is a common native resolution for 5:4 aspect ratio monitors. You'll want to play those at some point, especially Blood.

My personal experience is that C3 Ezra CPUs performs far better than a Celeron at 200 MHz in Windows games aswell. Perhaps I just haven't played any FPU intensive games on my C3 machine, but then again, what games from those times are?

There are a few good reasons to choose Slot1 over S370. Swapping CPU:s is not much harder than swapping cartridges in a NES, you just have to remember the fan connector. Nice while you try to decide what you want to do with it. With a S370 board, you'd have to reapply TIM, etc. when you swap CPU, and of course, you won't have access to the lower range of PII and PIII CPUs. Also, you'll have a hard time finding S370 440BX boards at reasonable prices, which in my opinion is the best chipset from that time, if not of all times.

The only downside is that you need to get some knowledge about which VRMs can supply voltages below 1.8, and find a board with one of those, to be able to use the whole range of Slot1 and S370 CPUs.

Hope I made any sense, had a few cold ones before writing this. Being a native English speaker would have made everything so much easier at times like this 😀

Reply 10 of 13, by Bige4u

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My typical go to WIN98/DOS system for SLOT1 would be... P3 500mhz / 256mb pc133 / Voodoo3 3000 or GF2 MX400, whats nice about running with pc133 CL3, and since the system will be running at 100fsb, the memory will automatically clock down to pc100 @ CL2, which is the bonus, your also good to go with an ESS1869F ISA sound card, that should do you some justice when it comes to sound.

Pentium3 1400s/ Asus Tusl2-c / Kingston 512mb pc133 cl2 / WD 20gb 7200rpm / GeForce3 Ti-500 64mb / Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 SB0100 / 16x dvdrom / 3.5 Floppy / Enermax 420w / Win98se

Reply 11 of 13, by ShovelKnight

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Thank you all, this seems to be a very friendly place and a lot of people willing to help!

However, after thinking about it for a while, I decided to go for a Super Socket 7 system... Several reasons for this:

- I never actually had a Slot1 system, my first PC was a fast 286 (20 MHz), in 1997 I received my first Socket 7 machine (AMD K5-PR133) as a gift, in 1998 I upgraded it to P233MMX and in 2001 jumped to Socket 370 with a Celeron Coppermine.

- In my opinion, PCs simply stopped being interesting after Socket7 and gradually became more and more standardised and faceless.

- I looked at some benchmarks and it seems a SuperSocket7 system with K6-2+ 550 will be around P3 450 MHz which is not a bad place to be.

Thanks again for the wonderful advice and I hope this information will be useful to somebody else 😀

Reply 12 of 13, by kaputnik

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ShovelKnight wrote:
Thank you all, this seems to be a very friendly place and a lot of people willing to help! […]
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Thank you all, this seems to be a very friendly place and a lot of people willing to help!

However, after thinking about it for a while, I decided to go for a Super Socket 7 system... Several reasons for this:

- I never actually had a Slot1 system, my first PC was a fast 286 (20 MHz), in 1997 I received my first Socket 7 machine (AMD K5-PR133) as a gift, in 1998 I upgraded it to P233MMX and in 2001 jumped to Socket 370 with a Celeron Coppermine.

- In my opinion, PCs simply stopped being interesting after Socket7 and gradually became more and more standardised and faceless.

- I looked at some benchmarks and it seems a SuperSocket7 system with K6-2+ 550 will be around P3 450 MHz which is not a bad place to be.

Thanks again for the wonderful advice and I hope this information will be useful to somebody else 😀

To each his own. A SS7 system is a great choice too, they just tend to be a bit more costly nowadays 😀

You might want to reconsider your GPU choice though. The AGP implementation of SS7 chipsets is quite primitive and buggy, would guess you'll run into problems with a Geforce card. Voodoo 3 doesn't use any AGP specific functions if I remember it correctly, and is probably the safest bet for one of those boards.

Reply 13 of 13, by SpectriaForce

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mothergoose729 wrote:

I think you can just get a socket 370 board with an ISA slot. These boards aren't particularly expensive or hard to find. All of them run at 133mhz fsb, and will support the fastest copper mine 1ghz CPUs, which are cheap and readily available.

Nope, not all, it depends on the chipset. There are even S370 PPGA boards that only officially support 66MHz FSB.

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