First post, by bZbZbZ

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Hello everyone, first post...

This is, for the most part, a re-assembly of the first computer I put together by myself ~20 years ago (I was in high school at the time). I rescued several old computers from my parents' house last year and decided, inspired in part by all of you, to re-live some childhood memories.

This first PC here actually had Windows XP on it, and it had a Radeon R100 64MB DDR. We had another PC (Celeron 533Mhz) with a Voodoo3 3000 AGP (which our family had bought in 1999). I decided there was no sense keeping both the Celeron and PIII so I put the Celeron and Radeon in storage and paired the Voodoo3 with the PIII (Glide is fun). Of course I stripped all the parts down for cleaning and re-assembly. I wiped the hard drive and installed Windows 98SE.

The only thing here that's NOT original are the two fans which I've installed below the Voodoo3. As you know, the Voodoo3 tends to get very hot and I decided to add some active cooling. However I wasn't too keen to physically modify the card, or install janky fans onto the heatsink with zipties, etc. Instead I found this "VGA cooling bracket" on AliExpress for ~$3, which accepts 92mm fans and installs immediately below (but doesn't touch) the video card. I picked up a couple Arctic fans and a fan controller. This is definitely overkill but it works fabulously. Otherwise, all of the below parts were bought ages ago and kept. Everything works perfectly, except the optical drives which sometimes have trouble.

CPU: Intel Pentium III 700MHz Slot 1
MB: ABIT BF6 (Intel 440BX), with 512 MB SDRAM
VGA: 3dfx Voodoo3 3000 AGP
Sound: Creative Sound Blaster Live! Value
LAN: Linksys 10/100 PCI
Case: knockoff A500
Storage: Seagate 40GB 7200RPM IDE, Lite-On DVD reader + burner
LG Flatron 19" CRT monitor (this is our only surviving CRT, which we purchased on Boxing Day 2004)
IBM Model M keyboard (label says 1987, we acquired it sometime in the late 1990's)
Logitech ball mouse with 3M "precise mousing surface"


Reply 1 of 5, by kolderman

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Nice rig. I also use those cheap fan brackets...the thing that annoyed me was they take up 2 pci slots, while not actually screwing into both for support. $3 from China, what to expect. I also had a LG flatron back in the day.

Are you planning on putting an ISA sound card in there?

Reply 2 of 5, by bZbZbZ

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The fan bracket does indeed block 2 PCI slots... this was an inconvenience because several of my PCI slots share IRQs and I'm now effectively out of slots.

Personally I never got into DOS... our family's first computer was a Macintosh (System 7) and we didn't get a PC until Windows 95 had become established. I remember playing a few DOS games here and there, but only from within Windows 9x. So I don't see myself [at least for now!] shelling out the increasingly high prices to buy good ISA sound cards for DOS gaming.

I did pull an ISA sound card from our Celeron system- with the Crystal CX4235 chip. I think Phil did a YouTube video specifically about how lousy the card is for DOS gaming, so it's probably not worth the effort.

Reply 4 of 5, by bZbZbZ

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The Athlon 64 X2 required a bit of work... I found all of the 6.3V VRM capacitors had either bulged or leaked. Also I opened the noname power supply to find a leaky cap as well. The system powered on but crashed frequently. A low quality power supply, capacitor plague era motherboard, and my 20% overclock must've been quite the combination for those poor VRMs.

After watching some YouTube I decided to try my hand at soldering, and ordered some replacement capacitors (one set of direct replacements, one set of polymer caps). I tried a polymod first, and to my delight the system booted and has been rock solid stable. I ditched the sketchy power supply and brought in a more modern unit (a nice thing about Athlon 64 is it doesn't need an old school 5V heavy PSU). I also clean installed Windows XP SP3 on a fast-ish SATA hard drive... the IDE hard drive was actually fine but I decided to preserve my IDE drives in case the Pentium III rig ever needs a transplant. Also the video card fan developed a nasty squeal... I put a drop of oil into the bearing and it's been quiet for months since.

So apart from the PSU and hard drive (and 7 capacitors) this computer is exactly as it was in 2005. It's surprisingly usable even today... the motherboard has gigabit ethernet and I use DaemonTools to mount CD images off my NAS. It also runs Mac and DOS emulators very well (including Duke 3D!).

CPU: Athlon 64 X2 3800+ s939, overclocked to 2.4 GHz, with Zalman CNPS7000B-AlCu
MB: Gigabyte K8Nsc (nForce 3 250), with 2 GB DDR400
VGA: ATI Radeon X850 Pro AGP, soft modded to 16 pixel pipes
Sound: Creative Sound Blaster Audigy
Case: generic noname with stealthed optical drive
Storage: Seagate Momentus XT 500GB SSHD*, LG DVD burner (IDE)
PSU: Enermax Pro82 525W*


Reply 5 of 5, by SpectriaForce

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bZbZbZ wrote on 2020-03-01, 19:08:

So apart from the PSU and hard drive (and 7 capacitors) this computer is exactly as it was in 2005.

I like seeing those quality capacitors! Good job.