VOGONS


First post, by DeadnightWarrior

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Hi all,

As I'm struggling with my old rig (AMD Duron, Via KM133, integrated S3 Savage, integrated SB PCI128) I'm considering a "new" platform for my multiboot project.

Wanting to have maximum compatibility and flexibility, I made a checklist of the things that should help in achieving this.

- ATX or Micro ATX (preferred) motherboard with ISA slot(s) for a sound card such as a Sound Blaster 16 or AWE32 / 64
- AGP graphics card with drivers for Windows 9x and XP and possibly able to achieve at least 1024x768 resolution under Windows 3.x (with a generic driver perhaps?)
- 10/100 (1000 if possible) Ethernet card on either PCI (preferred) or ISA slot, working in both DOS/Win3.x and 9x/XP.

Based on the research I made, it seems I could be stuck with a Socket 370 and/or Socket A platform, so that means nothing more powerful than a Coppermine PIII or Thunderbird Athlon.
Is it right or is there any other more recent chipset supporting ISA?

Video cards old enough to have drivers for Windows 3.x are TOO old for what I want to do, so I'm wondering if there's a "universal" Win3.x driver to at least have a decent resolution (I've been trying multiple drivers with my Via KM133 / S3 Savage but all I'm able to use is a cut down 640x480... not even the generic "svga" works!).

That being said, Win3.x is not essential, if it's too hard to make it work I can sacrifice it.

Any suggestions?

Thank you very much 😀

Last edited by DeadnightWarrior on 2020-02-18, 11:12. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 1 of 13, by Joseph_Joestar

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DeadnightWarrior wrote on 2020-02-17, 11:32:

Video cards old enough to have drivers for Windows 3.x are TOO old for what I want to do

A Voodoo 3 2000 can be installed under Windows 3.1 using Velocity 100 drivers.

Naturally, this card works fine in 9x using its own drivers, but since you also want to run XP, it might be too slow for what you have in mind.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 2 of 13, by RoberMC

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I have some suggestions:

1- You can go with a Tualatin if you use a intel 440BX platform + slotket + CPU mod. This gives you ISA, there exists some micro-Atx boards, high performance dos/Win 98, but low performance for Win XP games. I would discard this option if you really want some good Win XP gaming.

2- You cannot have good Win XP gaming experience while still have ISA slots, so you can go for an Athlon XP (VIA KT333 or better) or Athlon 64 (up to Socket 939). There are some PCI sound cards like the ESS Solo-1 which have excelent Dos compatibility because they do not require emm386 loaded or stupid unstable TSRs (which is what makes them 100 times better than the YMF7XX soundcards for DOS IMHO). Also the Athlon supports Setmul multiplier changing on the fly when used in combilation with a KT266 or newer chipset, so it can be lowered to a 486 Sx, or a pentium 120, or a P-II, etc speed in DOS. An Athlon 64 X2 + 512 MB ram + ESS Solo-1 + Geforce 4/5/6 makes a very good mixed retro machine; 90% dos compatible, Uber-overpowered for Win98 gaming, and decent for Win XP gaming.

3- You can go for the Pentium 4 for socket 478. there are some boards with SB-Link (PC/PCI) compatibility, so they have great DOS compatibility without having ISA slots if you have the right PCI sound card, like some ESSs or YMFs. The P4 can also be slowed down for DOS compatibility but it does not support multiplier changing on the fly so it can be either reaaally slow or as fast as it gets, no intermediate options. You also need a 2+ Ghz P4 to match a P-III Tualatin performance, and they run hot and need a powerful/noisy fan, but in general this configuration makes a good 90% compatible DOS machine, Uber-overpowered for Win98 gaming, and also decent for early Win XP gaming but not as powerful as the Athlon 64.

4- If you really want ISA, the best you can get is an Athlon XP and a good Via KT133A motherboard like the QDI 7E or Abit KT7A. the problem with this chipset is that it cannot support multiplier changing on the fly under DOS without some chipset register tweaking using Win98 tools, and the platform is just not enough for good Win XP gaming.

I have tried all these options and i would choose option 2, but i also think the best of the best is having two machines, one for DOS/Win98 (K6-III+ / Voodoo 3 / Awe64), and another one for Windows XP (Core 2 Duo / GF 750 - 960 / SB X-Fi). One thing to take into acount when building a mixed single retro gaming machine is that while there are patches to make Win98 work with more than 512 MB ram, some games and applications fail or are not stable despite of the patches, so having a maximum of 512 MB in a WinXP gaming machine is a very limitating factor.

You will not get a video card with full Win 3.1 compatibility and decent Win XP performance, so i would let Win 3.1 out of the system.

Reply 3 of 13, by DeadnightWarrior

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RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-17, 19:56:

I have some suggestions:

2- You cannot have good Win XP gaming experience while still have ISA slots, so you can go for an Athlon XP (VIA KT333 or better) or Athlon 64 (up to Socket 939). There are some PCI sound cards like the ESS Solo-1 which have excelent Dos compatibility

I had a quick look on ebay and the 1938S Solo-1 cards are very scarce and cost an arm and a leg...
However I can easily find ESS 1989S "Allegro" cards. But I have a feeling they wouldn't be as good for DOS, am I right?

RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-17, 19:56:

I have tried all these options and i would choose option 2, but i also think the best of the best is having two machines,

Unfortunately space if a very limiting factor for me, I'm already having trouble keeping two systems, let alone three... I have to rule this out 🙁

RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-17, 19:56:

You will not get a video card with full Win 3.1 compatibility and decent Win XP performance, so i would let Win 3.1 out of the system.

I was sure of that, if I'm not mistaken the most "modern" card I could get to work properly was a Matrox G-something.
Still, is there ANY more recent card that could at least raise the resolution? I wouldn't need drivers for anything other than that, honestly.
There is actually ONE game I could want to try under Win3.x and that is Aerosmith Quest For Fame: AFAIK it doesn't need anything fancier than a 800x600 resolution.

Reply 4 of 13, by DeadnightWarrior

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-02-17, 11:41:

A Voodoo 3 2000 can be installed under Windows 3.1 using Velocity 100 drivers.

Naturally, this card works fine in 9x using its own drivers, but since you also want to run XP, it might be too slow for what you have in mind.

I searched for this model and prices are just INSANE! It seems the Voodoo3s are so highly sought after that their price skyrocketed in recent years.
Too much for me...

Reply 5 of 13, by RoberMC

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DeadnightWarrior wrote on 2020-02-18, 11:08:

I had a quick look on ebay and the 1938S Solo-1 cards are very scarce and cost an arm and a leg...
However I can easily find ESS 1989S "Allegro" cards. But I have a feeling they wouldn't be as good for DOS, am I right?

Well it depends on where you and the seller are, but i have just made a quick search and they can be get for about 16€ plus shipping, which is not too expensive to me, but it all depends on your budget 😉. I almost never buy stuff from eBay, most seller there are getting crazy with retro stuff lately, there are some other second hand apps/markets in my country and usually this kind of stuff is sold much cheaper or even for free with some bundle. Also try to widen your search, use terms like "TTSOLO", "terratec", or just "Sound Card" and be ready to look pictures of dozens of items till you find what you want at the correct price, take into acount that some sellers sell things they do not know the model of.

You are right, the Allegro has no FM synthesis, so not well suited for DOS.

DeadnightWarrior wrote on 2020-02-18, 11:08:

I was sure of that, if I'm not mistaken the most "modern" card I could get to work properly was a Matrox G-something.
Still, is there ANY more recent card that could at least raise the resolution? I wouldn't need drivers for anything other than that, honestly.
There is actually ONE game I could want to try under Win3.x and that is Aerosmith Quest For Fame: AFAIK it doesn't need anything fancier than a 800x600 resolution.

Yeah, probably the Matrox G-400 has drivers for Win3.1, but it is still pretty useless for WinXP, not powerful enough for the latest Win98 games, has some problems with smooth scrolling on DOS, and i would not recommend it for an all-in-one retro PC. If i were you i would just run that Aerosmith game in Dosbox in the WinXP side of the machine.

Another alternative is using two video cards if you really really want Win3.1. One powerful AGP one, and other PCI card compatible with Win3.1 (like a cheap S3 trio or something). Set bios to use AGP first by default for DOS/Win98/WinXP, and change that option to "PCI First" and switch VGA cable whenever you want to boot to Win3.1. This should work, but it is a feature i have never used like that for every day usage, only to recover bad flashed video cards and troubleshooting stuff, so i do not really know if there can be conflicts or problems in windows, but it should not.

Reply 6 of 13, by DeadnightWarrior

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RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-18, 13:12:

Well it depends on where you and the seller are, but i have just made a quick search and they can be get for about 16€ plus shipping, which is not too expensive to me, but it all depends on your budget 😉. I almost never buy stuff from eBay, most seller there are getting crazy with retro stuff lately, there are some other second hand apps/markets in my country and usually this kind of stuff is sold much cheaper or even for free with some bundle. Also try to widen your search, use terms like "TTSOLO", "terratec", or just "Sound Card" and be ready to look pictures of dozens of items till you find what you want at the correct price, take into acount that some sellers sell things they do not know the model of.

I'm in Italy and on ebay the cheapest Solo-1 is 50$ plus shipping from USA!
I might have more luck with local ads... I'm finding some Yamaha YMF724s for a few pennies, would they be a good alternative?

RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-18, 13:12:

Yeah, probably the Matrox G-400 has drivers for Win3.1, but it is still pretty useless for WinXP, not powerful enough for the latest Win98 games, has some problems with smooth scrolling on DOS, and i would not recommend it for an all-in-one retro PC. If i were you i would just run that Aerosmith game in Dosbox in the WinXP side of the machine.

There is a *little* problem with that game... it uses a proprietary controller connected to the parallel port! It is next to impossible to make it work on a modern machine, just think that I had to downgrade from Windows 98 to 95 and that was only to install it properly... And then of course, no signal from the controller... damnit!

Reply 7 of 13, by Joseph_Joestar

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DeadnightWarrior wrote on 2020-02-18, 13:53:

I might have more luck with local ads... I'm finding some Yamaha YMF724s for a few pennies, would they be a good alternative?

If you can get it cheap, go for it. It's a pretty good card in its own right, with genuine OPL3 sound and a nice wavetable in Win9x, but maybe not quite as compatible under DOS as the Solo-1.

Best case scenario is if your motherboard has a SB-Link connector and you use that to hook up the YMF724. Compatibility is superb in that case. The second best option is DDMA which only works on certain motherboards that support it. If neither of those are available, then the YMF724 will load a TSR to enable DOS driver functionality. Some games don't like this TSR and will crash or outright refuse to run.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 8 of 13, by imi

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DeadnightWarrior wrote on 2020-02-18, 13:53:

I'm in Italy and on ebay the cheapest Solo-1 is 50$ plus shipping from USA!
I might have more luck with local ads... I'm finding some Yamaha YMF724s for a few pennies, would they be a good alternative?

huh? solo-1 can be had in europe from free to a few euros, they are very abundant, but often just don't get advertised as such.
the TT solo-1 can be easily spotted by the two larger sideways capacitors next to the audio jacks.
if you look at random PCI sound cards, one will pop up sooner or later ^^ but if you can get a YMF724 for pennies I'd definitely get that one as well ^^

Reply 9 of 13, by SaxxonPike

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RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-17, 19:56:

4- If you really want ISA, the best you can get is an Athlon XP and a good Via KT133A motherboard like the QDI 7E or Abit KT7A. the problem with this chipset is that it cannot support multiplier changing on the fly under DOS without some chipset register tweaking using Win98 tools, and the platform is just not enough for good Win XP gaming.

I've got an XP-M 3000+ dropped into a Soltek SL-75KAV. Very few KT133A boards I've tried will allow you to drop in a CPU of this speed though. To make matters worse, these boards all came before the 5th pad for multiplier was recognized, so they will read only the lower 4 pads, giving a range of 5.0x to 12.5x - effectively limiting their frequency without Windows tweaks to 1667mhz. And you'd better be able to configure it with jumpers or use a BIOS that will let you use the correct value.

None of my KT133A boards support AGP 8x either, and really don't want to support 4x in a stable way, which limits GPU options pretty heavily. (But they all seem to support 1x, so older AGP cards work great.)

Still, these are real screamers in MS-DOS and they tend to beat my P4 setups in those benchmarks...until I load into Windows and let the P4 really rip.

It's hard for my Athlon XP based setups to push into the mid 2000s gaming-wise though. It only took a couple years for them to be outclassed. And you don't even get to benefit from DDR.

Sound device guides:
Sound Blaster
Aztech
OPL3-SA

Reply 10 of 13, by RoberMC

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DeadnightWarrior wrote on 2020-02-18, 13:53:

I'm in Italy and on ebay the cheapest Solo-1 is 50$ plus shipping from USA!
I might have more luck with local ads... I'm finding some Yamaha YMF724s for a few pennies, would they be a good alternative?

You are doing something wrong, i see now at least 4 for 16€ to 19€ + 7€ to 10€ shipping in Europe.

The YMF 7X4 is a good card specially in Windows with its Soundius and that XG stuff, but it is a shame that it has real OPL3 but requires a TSR which needs EMM386 and most games that needs Dos4gw crash with it, some can be fixed replacing the dos4gw with anither version or using Dos32a in its place, but some cannot be fixed. They usually come with SB-LINK connector, but no board for AMD support it, and DDMA mode only works on KT133A and older AFAIK.

DeadnightWarrior wrote on 2020-02-18, 13:53:

There is a *little* problem with that game... it uses a proprietary controller connected to the parallel port! It is next to impossible to make it work on a modern machine, just think that I had to downgrade from Windows 98 to 95 and that was only to install it properly... And then of course, no signal from the controller... damnit!

You can try to use VMware to redirect the physical parallel port to the virtual machine and it should work in-game, and i think that is also possible with Dosbox.

SaxxonPike wrote on 2020-02-18, 16:50:
I've got an XP-M 3000+ dropped into a Soltek SL-75KAV. Very few KT133A boards I've tried will allow you to drop in a CPU of this […]
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RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-17, 19:56:

4- If you really want ISA, the best you can get is an Athlon XP and a good Via KT133A motherboard like the QDI 7E or Abit KT7A. the problem with this chipset is that it cannot support multiplier changing on the fly under DOS without some chipset register tweaking using Win98 tools, and the platform is just not enough for good Win XP gaming.

I've got an XP-M 3000+ dropped into a Soltek SL-75KAV. Very few KT133A boards I've tried will allow you to drop in a CPU of this speed though. To make matters worse, these boards all came before the 5th pad for multiplier was recognized, so they will read only the lower 4 pads, giving a range of 5.0x to 12.5x - effectively limiting their frequency without Windows tweaks to 1667mhz. And you'd better be able to configure it with jumpers or use a BIOS that will let you use the correct value.

None of my KT133A boards support AGP 8x either, and really don't want to support 4x in a stable way, which limits GPU options pretty heavily. (But they all seem to support 1x, so older AGP cards work great.)

Still, these are real screamers in MS-DOS and they tend to beat my P4 setups in those benchmarks...until I load into Windows and let the P4 really rip.

It's hard for my Athlon XP based setups to push into the mid 2000s gaming-wise though. It only took a couple years for them to be outclassed. And you don't even get to benefit from DDR.

That is why i suggested option #2. KT133A might be the best for a DOS/Win98 build as it is powerful and sports ISA slots for maximum compatibility, but it falls short for Windows XP gaming.

They usually have universal AGP, it is true that there is no 8X support, and sometimes they can be unstable at 4X with Fast Write enabled, but it can be tweaked, if not, at 2X it is stable enough and, anyway, this system is not well suited to drop a geforce 7 series on it to make the AGP 2x a bottleneck.

I made some hacked bioses for my KT133A boards which allow changing the multiplier on the fly using Setmul in DOS, enable Cool'n Quiet compatibility, and support newer Athlons up to 3200+ (333), so the correct multiplier can be set at boot, even above 12,5x, sadly i do not own the Soltek. i should test them a little more and share over here 😉

Reply 11 of 13, by Joseph_Joestar

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RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-18, 18:25:

I made some hacked bioses for my KT133A boards which allow changing the multiplier on the fly using Setmul in DOS, enable Cool'n Quiet compatibility, and support newer Athlons up to 3200+ (333), so the correct multiplier can be set at boot, even above 12,5x, sadly i do not own the Soltek. i should test them a little more and share over here 😉

I'm interested in this.

Please do share, especially if you have a modified BIOS for the Abit Kt7A.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 12 of 13, by SaxxonPike

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-02-18, 19:34:

I'm interested in this.

I would also be interested. Even if you don't have the BIOS for the board I am using, I am interested in knowing how you go about making the modifications so that I might try my hand. 😀

Sound device guides:
Sound Blaster
Aztech
OPL3-SA

Reply 13 of 13, by DeadnightWarrior

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RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-18, 18:25:

You are doing something wrong, i see now at least 4 for 16€ to 19€ + 7€ to 10€ shipping in Europe.

Maybe I was, in fact on another website I found a Solo-1 for 10 Euros shipped and I'm definitely goin' for it!

RoberMC wrote on 2020-02-18, 18:25:
DeadnightWarrior wrote on 2020-02-18, 13:53:

There is a *little* problem with that game... it uses a proprietary controller connected to the parallel port! It is next to impossible to make it work on a modern machine, just think that I had to downgrade from Windows 98 to 95 and that was only to install it properly... And then of course, no signal from the controller... damnit!

You can try to use VMware to redirect the physical parallel port to the virtual machine and it should work in-game, and i think that is also possible with Dosbox.

The problem is, I have no parallel port on my main rig and I'm really not sure that a PCI-E card would behave like a real port from 25 years ago... It seems these cards are only suitable for printers and nothing more. And there are so many different options...

Anyways if the Solo-1 performs well under DOS I could go the P4 or Athlon64 route and that would open a lot more possibilities. I'm considering a GeForce 4 Ti 4200 or an FX as well, they can be easily found and should work in all OSs from 9x to XP.