VOGONS


Reply 20 of 60, by Retrojanusz

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Got myself the FX5500 for 8$ as a start, since it was cheap (or to be precise, 7.79$). May not be the most desireable model around, but it's a start and costs as much as two big macs, so why not. It being passively cooled will make it the better choice in older games where its lackluster performance is not a problem (but its silence is a blessing).

Getting the GPU is the hardest part in general. I'll do some chilled lurking for a while, maybe I'll find a better model for a good price.

So far haven't decided yet whether to go AMD or Intel on the CPU. The ability to mount an AM4 cooler sounds great, I have one free to use (Got a Wraith Spire or Stealth when buyng the Ryzen 3600, never used it, should be enough for those low-power solutions) so it would likely help with the noise levels, so I'm leaning towards that solution, unless there is a distinctive advantage of going for pentiums?

Also, how about a GeForce 6200? I see one passively cooled piece for 10 $.

For around 25$ there are those:

9600XT by Club3d:

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MSI 4200Ti:

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Radeon 9800XT by MSI:

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Powercolor 9600 Pro:

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Are any of those worth the 25$?

Not particularly excited about those crappy old fans, will likely have to replace them immediately.

Reply 21 of 60, by dionb

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In terms of performance the 9800XT would win clearly, but as very hot cards most tend to be dead these days. So unless the 9800XT is tested and guaranteed good, the Ti4200 would be a much safer bet - and superior to the FX5500 you currently have. Whether it's USD 25 superior... I'd say that's for you to decide. Maybe build the system first and see how performance is and if you want more speed, what the bottleneck is. It's safe to say on an Athlon64 the FX5500 would be a bigger bottleneck than on a P3.

Tbh I'd also turn around the question of what to get: I'm jealous of both the prices and the range of stuff on allegro.pl, but still, you're pretty much dependent on what happens to be available. As I read it you don't really care about the hardware so long as it runs Win98SE software natively and doesn't cost too much. Given you already have a dedicated DOS machine, life - and requirements - is simplified a lot. So unless you have an overriding need to have one very specific board/CPU, it's probably better to look what is available and decide whether it's suitable to your requirements and if multiple things are, go for the best.

As for the P3/P4/Athlon64 choice - it might help to name some software titles you want to play. That would narrow down your performance requirements - although in case of doubt faster is probably better (again, you're not going to be playing speed-sensitive DOS stuff here).

Regarding noise, that's one of my pet peeves. Noise production of PCs was generally neglected during the race for more performance - but there have always been (near) silent options. I recently got my hands on some NOS Zalman CNPS So370 and So478 coolers, big passive copper things combined with a bracket to mount a large, slow, quiet fan over them. By default they're almost silent; replace the stock 80/90mm fan with a modern 120mm low-noise model (I like Noctua Redux for that job) and it becomes completely silent while still being able to cool >75W CPUs adequately. Note that VGA coolers can actually be noisier than CPU coolers, so consider after-market stuff there too (Zalman did good work here too - although it could be tricky to find one). That might also be an argument to go for a newer low-end card with passive cooling rather than an older high-end one making a racket. But the advice that some Athlon64 CPUs can use modern coolers is good as that gives you a lot more choice.

Reply 22 of 60, by Joseph_Joestar

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From the listed cards, the Ti4200 is the most balanced one in terms of performance and game compatibility.

ATI cards don't support palleted textures and table fog which can be an issue with earlier Win9x games. Nvidia cards after the 5xxx series have similar issues, and also need newer drivers which further reduce compatibility. For more info check this thread: Table Fog & 8-bit Paletted Textures

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 VirgeDX / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 23 of 60, by frudi

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Since you're concerned about noise levels, I would recommend avoiding Pentium 4 and going with Athlon64 instead. Not only do Pentium 4s use more power and get hotter, tracking down a decent and quiet cooler for socket 478 these days is going to be a bigger issue than finding any of the other components for your system. Meanwhile basically all AMD coolers of the past 15 years that use the stock mounting bracket can be used on either socket 754 or 939 motherboards. Unfortunately your Wraith Spire/Stealth won't fit, since for reasons only AMD themselves understand, it's mounted with 4 screws directly to the backplate, not to the stock mounting bracket. Wraith Prism would fit, as well as stock AM2/3 coolers.

You also don't need a high-end Athlon64 to run Windows 98 games, so if you want a quiet system, you can always get a lower-end CPU and even further dowclock it to something like 1-1.5 GHz to decrease power consumption; or even undervolt it if the motherboard allows, which will even further decrease power consumption and allow quieter cooling.

As for the GPUs you posted - the Radeon 9800 and GF 4200 TI are well worth $25, even if they are Medion models, they usually still sell for well above that. But they both lack DVI, which I would highly recommend if you plan to use an LCD monitor. If you're using a CRT, then lack of DVI isn't an issue. The 9800 will blow the 4200 TI away in terms of performance and gets you good DX9 support, on the other hand the geforce has better retro compatibility (supporting palletized textures and table fog for the few games that use these). Personally I think the emphasis often put on palletized texture and table fog support is vastly overrated, not that many games actually require these features. So unless you know a specific game that's important to you needs one or the other, I would take superior performance any day of the week.

I wouldn't pay $25 for any Radeon 9600, but that's because they go for 5-10€ over here so $25 seems expensive; but that's region dependent and I guess elsewhere $25 might be a more common price for these cards.

Reply 24 of 60, by Retrojanusz

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Thank you for the comments. Very pleased that this is such an active and helpful community. Definitively blows reddit out of the water.

Given the feedback above, I'm inclined to try the 4200Ti first. The comment on 9800XT being both power-hungry and (often) faulty is slightly off-putting. Buying a card just to have it die after a week would suck. Some of those allegro.pl sellers use the "baking in the owen" trick to give those cards 2nd life, but as far as I know, such methods only prolong the life of a dying card for a while and then it dies anyway.

I will get the MSI 4200Ti card for now.

Also, based on the feedback, I am definitively leaning more and more towards an Athlon-based PC - I really like the idea of using modern coolers to make it (nearly) silent, something that would be likely (much) harder on Pentium4. Even if that means having to buy something like a Wraith Prism. Shame my cooler won't fit, but oh well, a 2nd hand Prism isn't often that pricey.

I will be definitively using a CRT. For now, my 17" SONY will have to suffice as a monitor for both my DOS machine and my Win98 one. Perhaps I will have better luck in the future with 19" or 21" CRTs, but so far, the ones I had the opportunity to test were basically garbage: taking 10+ minutes to get to black levels that don't look like milky fog, blurry and abused, probably working for 30 000 hours - meh. Poland was very poor back then (in the 90s) so most people bought low-end monitors at best and clinged to them for years, resulting in difficulty of finding a proper higher-end CRT that isn't used past any reasonable levels.

I'd also like to ask about a PSU here - what is the most modern PSU that you would recommend for an Athlon64-based build? I would rather not use the retro PSUs available, I don't think they have much life left in them.

Reply 25 of 60, by dionb

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Athlon64 uses 12V for CPU, so basically demands are no different than a modern system - any decent modern PSU will do. I'd recommend rather going for a low rating and good brand rather than high rating and dubious one. 400W would already be overkill for a system like this.

Reply 26 of 60, by Joseph_Joestar

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Retrojanusz wrote on 2021-03-06, 14:18:

I'd also like to ask about a PSU here - what is the most modern PSU that you would recommend for an Athlon64-based build? I would rather not use the retro PSUs available, I don't think they have much life left in them.

Any modern PSU will work fine on an Athlon64 system. I would recommend getting a budget PSU in the 500-600W range from a reputable manufacturer like Seasonic, Corsair etc.

One last thing, try to get one with the 20+4 pin plug where the extra 4 pins are detachable. Some motherboards from that time period have large capacitors located very close to the 20 pin PSU connector. This doesn't leave any room to hook up a non-detachable 24 pin PSU.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 VirgeDX / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium

Reply 27 of 60, by Retrojanusz

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That's excellent news, tho due to cryptocurrency mining craze, 600W PSUs may not be easy to buy, nor cheap nowadays. 😉

The 4200Ti I bought is a 64MB RAM version, pretty sure there were 128GB RAM models around as well, hopefully it doesn't make that much of a difference for (mainly) WIN98 usage.

Quite a shame there isn't an easy way to install two graphics cards on a single old MOBO and just plug the monitor to whichever you need!

Reply 28 of 60, by SScorpio

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Retrojanusz wrote on 2021-03-06, 15:17:

Quite a shame there isn't an easy way to install two graphics cards on a single old MOBO and just plug the monitor to whichever you need!

If one was PCI you can plug both a PCI and AGP card in and Win98 will work. I remember games having selectors for which graphics adapter to use which made a lot of sense with a Voodoo 1 or 2, and another card that also supported 3D.

My Win98 build is actually being cooled by the stock cooler that came with my 3700x, my only issue is I don't know how I feel about blinging out a PC of that era with an RGB fan.

If you do go with an Athlon64, try to get one that's marked as having "Cool 'N' Quiet". I believe they run cooler as they can do basic speed stepping, but you can also modify the multiplier in your BIOS to underclock them. I believe I have a 3000+ that runs at 2Ghz and lets you set the multiplier from 5x-10x, so it can be downclocked to 1Ghz which might help some games.

For PSU I just have a modern EVGA 450W. The only issue is dealing with modern cables you don't need (PCI-E, extra CPU 4/8 pin, maybe SATA) if you get a non-modular one. EVGA in the past has had direct sales through their site with low wattage PSU for $20-25 with a limit of one of each model so I tend to order at least one or two as they keep disappearing into various projects over time. If you go for an older processor you can start running into issues where they need more powerful 5V rails.

In terms of other hardware needs, you can stick with modern stuff. The Athlon64 uses 12V so modern PSUs work, motherboards are ATX so you can use a modern case, modern coolers are fine. The only thing that might have an issue is SATA HDDs. MBs of that time started coming out with SATA onboard, but not all of the chipsets will let you boot off SATA to get into Win98. I use an SD2IDE adapter without issue. SD cards are cheap, and they are 0ms seek with 100MB/s+ read speeds which is more than enough for games of that time period. It can also be quicker to eject the card and plug it into a modern PC to transfer games rather then trying to get networking access going to a modern network, or the slow USB 1.1 or 2.0 speeds off thumb drives connected to one of those old PCs.

Reply 29 of 60, by mothergoose729

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I have used socket 754 and socket 478 with windows 98, and I have found that they are close enough to equal when it comes to performance. My P4 systems was maybe 20% faster. Probably because of slightly better chipset compatibility. Both are dramatically overkill.

I had much better I/O performance on my P4 system. That was the most significant difference. In particular storage performance was a lot higher.

If you end up dual booting XP, you can expect the higher end socket 754 CPUs to generally perform better. Although you will need a much faster graphics card than the FX 5500 to see the difference.

Reply 30 of 60, by bloodem

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frudi wrote on 2021-03-06, 11:50:

But they both lack DVI, which I would highly recommend if you plan to use an LCD monitor. If you're using a CRT, then lack of DVI isn't an issue.

Have to disagree with this. There are quite a few modern 1440p monitors that have excellent upscaling, sharpening & aspect ratio correction when connected on VGA (features that are not present for the DVI input). These things help tremendously when dealing with the lower resolutions and 4:3/5:4 aspect ratios that were the norm on Windows 98. Another thing worth mentioning is that, in my experience, older nVIDIA cards like the GeForce 4 / GeForce FX series had very poor DVI output quality (which is particularly noticeable at lower resolutions).

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 4 x Socket 7 / 6 x Super Socket 7 / 5 x Slot 1 / 3 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 5 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 4 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: Core i7 7700k

Reply 31 of 60, by frudi

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Geforce cards typically had poor output quality period, VGA output was even worse than DVI. That's before taking into account additional distortions and artifacts that come from using VGA input on any LCD screen.

I'll take your word about 1440p monitors having good upscaling, since my experience is mostly limited to 1200p monitors (1600x1200 or 1920x1200 with aspect correct upscaling) that largely bypass these issues. On those, upscaling 800x600 or 640x480 to 1600x1200 is not an issue even on DVI.

Reply 33 of 60, by bloodem

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frudi wrote on 2021-03-06, 21:37:

Geforce cards typically had poor output quality period, VGA output was even worse than DVI. That's before taking into account additional distortions and artifacts that come from using VGA input on any LCD screen.

No, not all GeForce cards are built the same, some of them had very good output quality (like Elsa cards). And even those that had extremely bad output quality are easily fixable. It should also be mentioned that this output quality problem was visible at very high resolutions, while I was talking about lower resolutions, where DVI output quality on GeForce cards is very bad (particularly in MS DOS). Radeon cards don't have this problem, though. 😀

frudi wrote on 2021-03-06, 21:37:

I'll take your word about 1440p monitors having good upscaling, since my experience is mostly limited to 1200p monitors (1600x1200 or 1920x1200 with aspect correct upscaling) that largely bypass these issues. On those, upscaling 800x600 or 640x480 to 1600x1200 is not an issue even on DVI.

You mean that your monitor is correcting the aspect ratio on DVI to 4:3, instead of displaying a stretched image? That would be very weird... what monitor do you have? I myself own three different LCD monitors (and have tested more than that) and not one of them does this when using DVI, so I need to rely on video card drivers for AR correction (and, unfortunately, Win98 drivers lack this type of features, not to mention that MS DOS is virtually unusable).

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 4 x Socket 7 / 6 x Super Socket 7 / 5 x Slot 1 / 3 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 5 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 4 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: Core i7 7700k

Reply 34 of 60, by frudi

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Currently I'm using a Dell U2412M, a 24" 1920x1200 IPS display. It has an option of manually setting aspect ratio, either 4:3, 5:4 or default 16:10. 4:3 or 5:4 get displayed with black bars on the sides. Would be ideal if it had an option to always use original aspect ratio without having to manually change it, but whenever I'm using it in 4:3 mode I rarely switch to a different one anyway, so it's not a major bother.

Reply 35 of 60, by bloodem

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frudi wrote on 2021-03-07, 14:50:

Currently I'm using a Dell U2412M, a 24" 1920x1200 IPS display. It has an option of manually setting aspect ratio, either 4:3, 5:4 or default 16:10. 4:3 or 5:4 get displayed with black bars on the sides. Would be ideal if it had an option to always use original aspect ratio without having to manually change it, but whenever I'm using it in 4:3 mode I rarely switch to a different one anyway, so it's not a major bother.

Very interesting! All monitors I tested only had these options when used on VGA, I've never once seen this option available on DVI (which is why on DVI I always rely on drivers to achieve the AR correction).

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 4 x Socket 7 / 6 x Super Socket 7 / 5 x Slot 1 / 3 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 5 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 4 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: Core i7 7700k

Reply 36 of 60, by candle_86

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Pentium 4 with a VIA or Intel chipset
Radeon 9000 or 9200 (Geforce4MX is also affordable)
512mb Ram

Most cost effective method, also the above mentioned parts where very common in everything from HP/Dell all the way to gateway/emachine, you can basically get those machines for free

Reply 37 of 60, by Retrojanusz

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Receieved the MSI 4200Ti today, like I said, it's the 64MB variant, but it was pretty cheap (4200Tis on allegro.pl usually do cost twice as much - paid roughly 25$).

Decided to look for Athlon64 build, so I can apply a modern cooler like Wraith Spire.
I will use a modern PSU, as well. Probably something along the lines of BeQuiet or EVGA, 300-400W, once I can get one on a promo or sale.

I would love a "old new" case. Are there any cases that actually look like the "dull white" retro cases of 1990-2000 period? The old ones are OK, but usually heavily discolored (yellowed) which doesn't look nice at all. Plus, they often smell! yeah, people keep them in damp places where they get smelly.

For mouse, I guess MS Intellimouse for ~10$ would work fine.
For keyboard, sure, IBM model M would work, but those are stupidly expensive, and buckling spring is likely too hard for a gaming switch. Would like a retro equivalent of MX Cherry Red.

Monitor - still looking. I may never find the 21" CRT I'm looking for. Sad.
I don't think I will bother with retro HDDs, will the modern ones work with an Athlon64 mobo? I mean, they are more reliable. The old ones are plagued with bad sectors.

Reply 38 of 60, by mothergoose729

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Retrojanusz wrote on 2021-03-09, 21:51:
Receieved the MSI 4200Ti today, like I said, it's the 64MB variant, but it was pretty cheap (4200Tis on allegro.pl usually do co […]
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Receieved the MSI 4200Ti today, like I said, it's the 64MB variant, but it was pretty cheap (4200Tis on allegro.pl usually do cost twice as much - paid roughly 25$).

Decided to look for Athlon64 build, so I can apply a modern cooler like Wraith Spire.
I will use a modern PSU, as well. Probably something along the lines of BeQuiet or EVGA, 300-400W, once I can get one on a promo or sale.

I would love a "old new" case. Are there any cases that actually look like the "dull white" retro cases of 1990-2000 period? The old ones are OK, but usually heavily discolored (yellowed) which doesn't look nice at all. Plus, they often smell! yeah, people keep them in damp places where they get smelly.

For mouse, I guess MS Intellimouse for ~10$ would work fine.
For keyboard, sure, IBM model M would work, but those are stupidly expensive, and buckling spring is likely too hard for a gaming switch. Would like a retro equivalent of MX Cherry Red.

Monitor - still looking. I may never find the 21" CRT I'm looking for. Sad.
I don't think I will bother with retro HDDs, will the modern ones work with an Athlon64 mobo? I mean, they are more reliable. The old ones are plagued with bad sectors.

If you want to avoid paying the retro tax, go with socket 754 over 939. The 1mb L2 cache versions of the 3200+ and 3400+ are a bit faster but also often a bit more expensive . The 90nm "Venice" cores run a bit cooler and overclock pretty well if you decide to do that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_AMD_Ath … microprocessors

If you go socket 754 you will probably have to use an IDE interface. I would recommend any decent cheap SSD and an IDE to SATA adapter. You can expect to get 33mb/s-66mb/s reads and writes on an ultra IDE bus with DMA enabled.

Windows 98 cannot index more than about 128gbs of storage without patching, so I would say get an SSD hard drive of that size or smaller. For the best write performance, you will want to partition the drive in a modern system (linux or windows 10) as this will ensure proper write alignment and give you the best performance. Although you can partition it with FDISK on the windows 98 CD if you don't care.

As for keyboards, there are a lot of cherry mx boards that are PS/2 compatible with a passive adapter. If you will ONLY be gaming in windows (no DOS at all) then you use a USB keyboard no problem. If you are forced to go down to DOS, you can also make a USB keyboard work there too with a USB driver.

Since this is a dedicated windows machine, I would look at 4:3 VGA monitors. You can find them for about 60$ on ebay (in the states), and some of them have decent IPS panels. In typical SVGA modes you can also use a modern monitor so long as it supports 4:3 scaling options in the OSD (or automatically). I don't know specifically what those models are but the vogons community can definitely tell you.

As for mice, Logitech has a PS/2 native optical mouse you can find online for about 20$. I don't remember the model number but they aren't hard to find if you search for PS/2 optical mouse.

Reply 39 of 60, by Joseph_Joestar

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Retrojanusz wrote on 2021-03-09, 21:51:

I don't think I will bother with retro HDDs, will the modern ones work with an Athlon64 mobo? I mean, they are more reliable. The old ones are plagued with bad sectors.

If your motherboard supports SATA in Legacy mode, any modern hard disk will do, including SSDs. If not, go with a SATA to IDE adapter.

Lastly, stick with drives that are 128 GB in size or smaller. Otherwise, you may run into issues under Win98.

Last edited by Joseph_Joestar on 2021-03-10, 04:14. Edited 1 time in total.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 VirgeDX / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium