VOGONS


Most stable and compatible win9x configuration

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First post, by Scoob

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I want to build a PC and be done with it, so it would be nice if it run a lot of games with no issues or crashes to the desktop, because I never know what I might want to try.
I am aiming at maximum game compatibility and system stability for the win9x era.
For what I gather it seems that a 440BX is the most solid base for this project. Also Windows 98 SE.
My initial thoughts are a Voodoo 3 and a Creative AWE 64, but I was hoping for advice, not only regarding the hardware, but also drivers, directX and that kind of stuff.
Thank you.

Reply 1 of 163, by Joseph_Joestar

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If you're primarily interested in playing Windows games, get a SBLive for cleaner sound output and EAX support. But if you also want to play DOS games, you can keep the AWE64 as well, since it has better DOS compatibility.

In terms of software, first install the relevant motherboard drivers from the CD, then install the latest official reference drivers for the Voodoo3 (v1.07.00) and pair them with DirectX 7.0a. The SBLive and the AWE64 have their own driver CDs which you can find on http://www.vogonsdrivers.com/

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 163, by Caluser2000

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When you are installing/removing games/applications all the time on Win9x something is bound to go POP! on the system eventually.

My Win98 system was very stable but I stuck with a few known stable software for around 4-5years before I was given a XP Pro system.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 4 of 163, by Jo22

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2021-07-03, 12:56:

If you're primarily interested in playing Windows games, get a SBLive for cleaner sound output and EAX support. But if you also want to play DOS games, you can keep the AWE64 as well, since it has better DOS compatibility.

EAX? I thought that A3D was the legendary audio standard everyone loved. 😀

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Reply 5 of 163, by Joseph_Joestar

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Jo22 wrote on 2021-07-03, 13:06:

EAX? I thought that A3D was the legendary audio standard everyone loved. 😀

Sure, if you can find an A3D 2.0 capable card for a reasonable price. That's becoming quite a challenge nowadays.

On the other hand, SBLive cards are easily obtainable and can be had for next to nothing.

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 6 of 163, by SScorpio

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A3D 2.0 is superior to EAX, but many more games have support for EAX than A3D. I have both in my Win98 machine and I have a cable running from the optical out header on the A3D card into the digital-in CD-ROM header of an SB Audigy. That way I just need to adjust which card is outputting what without having to worry about additional noise. I do have a Live Drive I also use with MIDI modules so it makes sense to have the SB for the final card providing output. I used to have an SB Live and had the A3D card running to the digital-in headers of the Live Drive, but upgrading to the Audigy broke something with how it's handled, so cd digital-in is A3D, while the Live Drive's digital-in header is the CD-ROM.

I recommend checking the prices of the SB Live vs Audigy, they were almost exactly the same when I was looking at them. The only gotcha with the Audigy is if you need the game port, the Audigy has a firewire port on its back, and has a header for the game port.

I also recommend thinking about getting an SD to IDE adapter. This made things so much easier. SD cards are dirt cheap, and once you have it formatted I can easily switch it to a modern PC to transfer files. I also used this as an easy way to wipe out a Windows installation and start fresh. Just keep the boot files, and Win98 installation media in a directory. This helped a lot as I was swapping out drivers for different versions trying to get the correct version and install order to make the multiple sound cards work.

The main system is an A64 with a VIA VT8000 chipset. GPU is a new FX 5500. The CPU, MB, and GPU are all post-98 hardware, but are compatible. This lets me run drivers that were developed later and the system so far has been very stable. The CPU supports Cool 'n Quiet which means it has a BIOS unlocked multiplier so can slow it down without needing to open it up. It's not great for older DOS games as it doesn't have a real OPL, but with the speeds, I'm only interested in running late-era DOS games which generally moved over to MIDI and CD Audio. I have a P233-MMX with an SB16 and Yamaha 719 for speed-sensitive games and max compatibility with DOS audio.

After that wall of text, my advice to you is to first come up with a rough budget for your build, that will help make the part decisions easier. It doesn't make sense to get a Voodoo or A3D card that have gotten expensive if you have a lower budget. Next, what era of games do you want to play? Are you OK with only playing DOS games from the 9X era, or are you trying to build a difficult all-around build?

Reply 7 of 163, by AlexZ

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440BX has AGP 2x but it works with AGP 8x cards (those that have 2 slits). GeForce FX5200 are dirt cheap, FX5500 also obtainable and cheap. No need to lash out on AWE64, those are very expensive. Just get a cheap SB Live!, it has a DOS driver.

Pentium III 900E, ECS P6BXT-A+, 384MB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, Voodoo 2 12MB, 80GB HDD, Yamaha SM718 ISA, 19" AOC 9GlrA
Athlon 64 3400+, MSI K8T Neo V, 1GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 7600GT 256MB, 250GB HDD, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS

Reply 8 of 163, by cyclone3d

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AlexZ wrote on 2021-07-03, 16:33:

440BX has AGP 2x but it works with AGP 8x cards (those that have 2 slits). GeForce FX5200 are dirt cheap, FX5500 also obtainable and cheap. No need to lash out on AWE64, those are very expensive. Just get a cheap SB Live!, it has a DOS driver.

DOS on SBLive / Audigy / Audigy 2 is a joke as far as compatibility and good quality audio go.

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Reply 9 of 163, by mothergoose729

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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 11:54:
I want to build a PC and be done with it, so it would be nice if it run a lot of games with no issues or crashes to the desktop, […]
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I want to build a PC and be done with it, so it would be nice if it run a lot of games with no issues or crashes to the desktop, because I never know what I might want to try.
I am aiming at maximum game compatibility and system stability for the win9x era.
For what I gather it seems that a 440BX is the most solid base for this project. Also Windows 98 SE.
My initial thoughts are a Voodoo 3 and a Creative AWE 64, but I was hoping for advice, not only regarding the hardware, but also drivers, directX and that kind of stuff.
Thank you.

I think you more or less got it right. A Voodoo card with an intel chipset is the definition of stable. Whether or not you want an AWE 64 or a EAX card will depend on what you plan to do with it.

I have had a very good experience on my 440BX chipsets as well as on my intel 865p chipset. The former is better for DOS, obviously, and the latter has more performance to spare for windows.

And of course, 512mb or less of memory with 120gb or less of storage. That is about as no fuss as it gets.

Reply 10 of 163, by Jorpho

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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 11:54:

I want to build a PC and be done with it

That's a nice dream, but it's never going to happen. Especially if you place no limits on "what you might want to try".

Reply 11 of 163, by Caluser2000

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-07-03, 19:10:
Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 11:54:

I want to build a PC and be done with it

That's a nice dream, but it's never going to happen. Especially if you place no limits on "what you might want to try".

Exactly. Pop! goes the weasel...😉

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 12 of 163, by Scoob

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Thank you all for all the input. I thought about it and I want to separate things, so maybe later I will build a PC just for DOS. But this project I want to focus entirely on Win9x games and I won't be playing any dos game on it. I think that maybe wanting to do too much will make the system not so trouble free. Also, if possible, I would like to play games from like monster truck madness, tomb raider, quake, but also max payne, mafia and return to castle wolfenstein.

Reply 13 of 163, by mothergoose729

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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 20:32:

Thank you all for all the input. I thought about it and I want to separate things, so maybe later I will build a PC just for DOS. But this project I want to focus entirely on Win9x games and I won't be playing any dos game on it. I think that maybe wanting to do too much will make the system not so trouble free. Also, if possible, I would like to play games from like monster truck madness, tomb raider, quake, but also max payne, mafia and return to castle wolfenstein.

Get a Pentium IV or athlon setup then. Personally I recommend the P4.

Reply 15 of 163, by Caluser2000

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Nothing wrong with the later P4s at all. Even Celerons will fit your use fine. Both are extremely stable platforms.

Some members on vogons say they can't view youtube or vlc video otr use a browser to surf the interweb.. Which from my own personal experience is utter crap....😉 Select the appropriate 32-bit OS and you are good to go. This one is on 24/7.

In fact I am about to set up a 3.0GHz one very shortly.

Last edited by Caluser2000 on 2021-07-03, 21:28. Edited 3 times in total.

There's a glitch in the matrix.
A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 16 of 163, by mothergoose729

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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 20:47:

My avatar is my facial expression right now.

For me personally, the 865p chipset is the best I have used in windows 98. The performance betwen athlon 64 and P4 in windows 98 games, especially 754 socket athlons compared to northwood p4s, is about the same - even intel favored. You just need to manage the heat, and on the northwood CPUs aren't nearly as bad as prescott. I am big advocate of P4 for windows 98.

Reply 17 of 163, by Scoob

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mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-07-03, 21:09:
Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 20:47:

My avatar is my facial expression right now.

For me personally, the 865p chipset is the best I have used in windows 98. The performance betwen athlon 64 and P4 in windows 98 games, especially 754 socket athlons compared to northwood p4s, is about the same - even intel favored. You just need to manage the heat, and on the northwood CPUs aren't nearly as bad as prescott. I am big advocate of P4 for windows 98.

I guess I'll have to start researching again. But what about early win95 games compatibility?
865 chipset and maybe a GeForce gts and a Live!

Reply 18 of 163, by AlexZ

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cyclone3d wrote on 2021-07-03, 17:23:

DOS on SBLive / Audigy / Audigy 2 is a joke as far as compatibility and good quality audio go.

philscomputerlab praises SBLive in terms of DOS compatibility. Acceptable sound quality is very subjective as price pays a role as well. SBLive cards cost nothing nowadays so it makes sense to start with that and upgrade to something more compatible later for a good price instead of buying from profiteering AWE 64 speculators. That's what I would do to get AWE 64 as cheap as possible.

Last edited by AlexZ on 2021-07-03, 21:58. Edited 1 time in total.

Pentium III 900E, ECS P6BXT-A+, 384MB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, Voodoo 2 12MB, 80GB HDD, Yamaha SM718 ISA, 19" AOC 9GlrA
Athlon 64 3400+, MSI K8T Neo V, 1GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 7600GT 256MB, 250GB HDD, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS

Reply 19 of 163, by AlexZ

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mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-07-03, 21:09:

For me personally, the 865p chipset is the best I have used in windows 98. The performance betwen athlon 64 and P4 in windows 98 games, especially 754 socket athlons compared to northwood p4s, is about the same - even intel favored. You just need to manage the heat, and on the northwood CPUs aren't nearly as bad as prescott. I am big advocate of P4 for windows 98.

People seem to dislike P4. I'm selling a P4 865 board with socket 478 + 2.6Ghz CPU cheap and nobody wants it. It got like 1/3 of views of a surplus Athlon XP board I was selling which got sold quite quickly. That Athlon XP was much slower CPU, no SATA and it also lacks SSE2. I was selling both for the same price. I'm seriously thinking about pulling back the ad and buying a Northwood 3Ghz P4 CPU (I found two for €3 each). If nobody wants it I'm gonna keep it.

Good socket 754 boards with AGP and Athlon 64 3200+ are rare. P4 is a very good alternative.

Pentium III 900E, ECS P6BXT-A+, 384MB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, Voodoo 2 12MB, 80GB HDD, Yamaha SM718 ISA, 19" AOC 9GlrA
Athlon 64 3400+, MSI K8T Neo V, 1GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 7600GT 256MB, 250GB HDD, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS