Hey all, I'm in the process of building a late 90's rig for the first time (AMD K6-2 550) and have hit a snag: I'm running out […]
Hey all, I'm in the process of building a late 90's rig for the first time (AMD K6-2 550) and have hit a snag: I'm running out of expansion slots. The motherboard I'm using is a freebie Jetway 530BF that has 3 PCI and 2 ISA slots, however one of the PCI and ISA slots share the same bracket. This means that I can't use all of these cards at the same time:
- S3 VGA (PCI)
- 8MB Voodoo 2 (PCI)
- 8MB Voodoo 2 (PCI)
- AWE64 (ISA)
- Sega IF-SEGA2/ISA (Sega Saturn gamepad card)
I really don't want to sacrifice one of the Voodoos or the Sega card, so that leaves me with taking out either the S3 or AWE64. The motherboard has built-in sound and VGA but neither are ideal... sound is a CMI 8738 and the VGA chipset is an SiS 6326. From what I can gather the 6326 is miserable at 3D but might be okay for 2D, and the CMI 8738 seems to be okay but might struggle with some DOS games in terms of SB16 compatibility.
I managed to finagle the Wayback Machine into spitting out the original 530BF driver files for Win98SE so I should be able to use both just fine, but to even test them properly I'd need to spend about $40 on breakout bracket-mounted ports for VGA and MIDI/Gameport (I'm planning to use my Roland SC-55) so I thought I would ask around about how good/bad the 530BF's in-built features are before buying anything.
Tl;dr, which card should I take out in favor of the motherboard's built-in feature: the S3 or the AWE64?
Integrated 6326 !=standalone 6326 😮
The 6323 is a mediocre video card, but good enough for 2D. The problem here is memory bandwidth. A dedicated 6326 has its own memory and its own bus to the memory. When the 6326 core is integrated into the chipset, as is the case with this SiS 530 chipset, the CPU and VGA share memory bandwidth. Advanced chipsets can do that dynamically, but these old SiS chipsets are blunt: half the memory bandwidth goes to CPU, half to VGA. That means that your K6-2 will behave as if paired with a 32b 486 memory bus. That will result in 50% lower memory bandwidth, which (depending on application) will lose you 25-45% of overall performance. So using the integrated VGA instead of that S3 will kill performance across the board, regardless of the individual merits of the 6326 core, and will affect you just as much using the Voodoos as in 2D.
So leave that S3 card in whatever you do!
As for sound, that's another story, particularly if you want to use an SC-55, so you don't even need the EMU8k on the AWE for MIDI. First off, are you sure it's a CMI8378? Googling the Jetway 530BF I read it has an ESS Solo-1 chip instead. That would be good news, as the Solo-1 is one of the most DOS-friendly PCI chips out there. The AWE64 doesn't have a real OPL3, so the fact the CMI8378 or Solo-1 doesn't either is hardly a show-stopper. Only advantages of the AWE64 are that it doesn't need (TSR) drivers for basic DOS SB functionality and that it supports SB16 (but not SBPro2). Conversely, the Solo-1 has less MIDI issues (MPU stuttering) and does support SBPro2. Tbh, combining both would be best, so you get both AWE and SC55 MIDI, and both SB16 and SBPro2 - but if you need that slot, and really want both Voodoos, I'd ditch the AWE64.