First post, by alexanrs
Recently I managed to build a nice Spitfire Duron system based on the one I had in my mid-early tens. The specs are as follows:
- Motherboard: PCChips M810LU rev 8.0
- Chipset: SiS 730S
- Processor: AMD Duron 950 MHz "Spitfire"
- RAM: 2x 128MB PC133 CL3
- Video: SiS 630/730 (integrated to the chipset)
- Sound: SiS 7018 (integrated to the chipset) - based on a Trident designed with hardware acceleration
- HDD: 80GB PATA drive
- ODD: LG DVD burner
- Operational Systems: Windows 2000 + Windows 98 SE
Yep, I'm using the onboard stuff. Back when I had my original Duron that is what I had for a while (until I got a hand-me-down GeForce MX 440 AGP8x), and wanted to have that experience again 🤣 Anyway. here are some pictures of the hardware. I decided to stick to a single IDE channel to reduce the clutter inside the case. My cable management skills are lacking, but I believe I did a good enough job 😀
My first issue with the onboard vídeo is that it does not support widescreen resolutions, so I had to settle for 1280x1024. Back in the day my Duron was hooked up to a 15" cheap CRT that could not go past 1024x768 anyway, so I guess I should not complain. Video performance is, by far, nothing to write home about, as expected. Seems stable, though, and I don't think there is a big performance difference between the Win98 and Win2000 drivers. Also, lowering the resolution to 640x480 makes it perform much better.
As far as DOS goes - DOOM, Duke Nukem 3D and Commander Keen 4/5/6 seem to work fine. DOOM has this weird behaviour, though, that both in Win98 and Win2000 it will not update the screen correctly (kind of like tearing, but all over the screen), but in pure DOS it works perfectly. How odd. The analog signal quality is passable, but nowhere near Matrox quality levels.
The interesting thing about the SiS 630/730 chipset is the sound core. Unlike the SiS 7012 used in later chipsets, the SiS 7018 is hardware accelerated and not some dumb software-driven codec. It also has DOS drivers and a decent mixer. In Windows I don't really have anything to say except that I had no issues with the sound drivers. The WDM drivers do not support the acceleration features of the sound core, so I had to pass a parameter to the sound driver's SETUP.EXE to force it to install the VxD drivers. It features a software GM synth that is nothing to write home about, and the analog output quality is decent, but does have a faint background hiss.
For DOS gaming.... OPL emulation sucks. Like... really sucks. And in Windows the VxD drivers seem to fail to expose the software synth to DOS apps within Windows. GM works just fine in pure DOS. Also, the DOS drivers can be set to emulate either a SB16 or a SBPro and take about 30KB of conventional memory. It uses two files, SNDINIT.EXE and SNDTSR.EXE - the first EXE just initializes the hardware (and the mixer), and the second allows the emulation to work fully. Duke Nukem 3D crashes when exiting, and DOOM crashes in OPL mode (not that you'd ever want to use it). Since I have no capture hardware, I just recorded the sound of me playing DOOM for a while with GM, then trying to do so with OPL (and freezing the PC), them Duke Nukem theme song both in GM and in OPL mode. There are a bunch of missing notes when trying to play OPL tunes, which makes it ever crappier for Adlib games.
DOOM - GM.mp3
DOOM - FM.mp3
Duke3D - GM.mp3
Duke3D - FM.mp3
EDIT: One thing I forgot to mention. This board has legacy USB support, so both USB mice and keyboard will behave like their PS/2 alternatives. The only issue is that, in DOS, whenever there is a lot of mouse movement or key presses MIDI tracks will suffer some weird slow down. It works perfectly with PS/2 mice and keyboards.
One interesting thing, though, is that the MPU-401 interface (for external synths) seems to be separated from the audio core, and it is not even PnP (you have to choose the MPU port in the BIOS setup) and seems to not need the DOS sound drivers to be loaded, and that is very nice!
Wow... I can just say I'm having fun messing with this system. With an AGP card this could be a very nice mid-late Win98 gaming machine! I'm pondering which of these card is a better fit for this system: a Geforce4 MX4000, a Quadro 980XL or a Matrox G550.
Well, that is it. I just wanted to share my findings about this system. So, any thoughts, ideas or suggestions of things to try?