First post, by henk717
This 10 year old hardware will be quite new for this forum so i hope i am posting this in the right category, but with this topic i'd like to go over my current attemps at a Z68 based time machine using a Core i5 2500. Why this machine? Its my old gaming rig so i had all the parts at hand, its old enough to be able to run a legacy award bios but new enough to have a UEFI bios flashed on to it. The system is perfect for Windows XP gaming and up, but i'd like to see how far i can push this retro barrier by adding some PCI hardware from the time and adding software based fixes to get older operating systems to run. If successful a build like this paired with a PCI GPU like a Voodoo 2 and a PCI Soundcard should allow for every era of Windows gaming making it scale up nicely on newer operating systems as the more modern components take over.
- Motherboard : GA-Z68XP-UD3P
- Chipset / Socket : Z68 - Socket 1511
- CPU : Core i5 2500
- GPU : Nvidia GTX770 4GB
- Memory : 12GB of ram DDR3, multiple brands so no nice uniformity
- DVD-RAM Drive: TSSTCorp CDDVDRW SH-2
- HDD : WD Green 2TB HDD 5400RPM (Not the best, but its one of my drives in the better conditions and very fast for Win98)
- PCI Audio : AOPEN AW744L II - Yamaha XG YMF744
- PCI Wifi : Atheros Wifi Card
- Onboard Audio: Realtek ALC889
- Storage interface: Onboard SATA and a onboard Marvell 88SE9172
- USB: Intel Chipset USB + Etron 3.0
- IEEE 1394: VIA VT6308
- IO Controller: iTE IT8728
As i mentioned in the opening this motherboard originally shipped with what they call a Hybrid EFI DualBios, which was a Award BIOS with some EFI features backported. It also featured a secondary BIOS that you can use to recover your main bios. In my case i indeed ended up with a permanently broken bios that is beyond repair as it corrupted itself during regular use, so the secondary bios definitely saved me in the past. I have not done to much testing with the AWARD bios, given that i noticed it was not able to properly use my USB mouse in DOS and these compatibility features where missing.
So currently i am running the latest beta bios for the board U1G which transforms it to a UEFI system when flashed trough DOS, this enables proper USB device emulation so the BIOS is able to facilitate the translations for USB 2.0, USB Keyboards and USB Mice as well as Port 60/64 emulation. Any form of IRQ control is missing in both the AWARD bios and the UEFI bios.
MS-DOS 7.1 - What works, what does not work?
For MS-Dos i mostly make use of JEMMEX and HIMEMX to limit the total amount of ram, but the machine appears to have no trouble booting with EMM386 and HIMEM with the /NUMBHANDLES=64 tweak.
- SATA CD-ROM Support using the GCDROM.SYS driver, the Marvell controller needs to be disabled in the bios for this to work
- USB Sticks, will be mapped as a harddrive on boot regardless of the boot device you choose
- USB Keyboards
- USB Mouse
- YMF744 - Wave / FM Synth
- Partitions of 2TB* - The UEFI seems to handle this as i did not notice any conflicts when formatting the whole drive and using it, but i don't have enough files to know for certain
- Graphics, some games have the same distortion Win98 and Win3.11 have without drivers, no SuperVGA.
- YMF744 - No SB support without DSDMA and thus EMM386/Jemmex
- Hardware based slowdown tools (At least i have not found one compatible)
- Possibly the YMF744 game port, WIndows XP informs me the motherboard leaves no resources for this to function this could translate to DOS i have no device to test this.
Windows 98 - What works, what does not work?
- Native USB 2.0 Support - USB Sticks, Keyboard, Mouse, Xbox Controllers, etc
- Regular SATA Controller - DVD Drive, HDD, etc (Needs Rloew SATA patch but then works fine)
- HDD Partitions of 2TB? I had no issues with this partition size but am not experienced enough to know if this limit would have caused problems this early, it could be the UEFI handles it and removes the limitation.
- Display Output - Extremely glitchy during setup, but will work well with the VBEMP with the obvious exception of acceleration. I have not managed to try the Scitech driver since its interface is very mouse driven and hangs the system easily.
- General stability - The system runs stable but certain actions will cause it to hang for a while before it continues. Most notably opening DOS windows. Other drivers and software like for example the Scitech Driver interface or YMF744 VXD driver lock up the system entirely. Sometimes the system boots, sometimes it won't.
[*] YMF744 - Only the WDM driver is working right now (After a few power cycles if the system hangs during original setup), the VXD driver completely locks up the system during initialization.
- Onboard Audio
- USB 3.0 ports
Windows XP - What works, what does not work?
It is clear that this board has official support for Windows XP, with almost everything working smoothly.
- Almost everything
Not working :
- YMF744 Native MIDI and SB (Might be able to fix it later using different drivers, the bundled one with Windows doesn't support this)
- YMF744 Game Port (Motherboard occupies the needed resources no matter what i disable)
What do i need help with?
Currently i am struggling to overcome the stability issues on Windows 98, the tiniest action like opening a MS-DOS Command prompt window can cause the system to hang for a while. And especially tools that interact with the hardware like the YMF744 VXD driver or sci-tech utility can completely lock up the system unrecoverably. I tried every single bios setting i could get my hands on, so if a device can be disabled or configured differently i have tried the setting with no success (The only exception being a switch to the Marvel controller, given i have well working SATA and the behavior of the freezes is the same with SATA fixed i doubt this is the issue).
For MS-DOS i have not been able to resolve the graphics glitches in games like Commander Keen 4 (Distorted text), this also happens when run inside windows.
I would love to hear your thoughts and similar experiences on more modern hardware.