VOGONS


First post, by Zack1982

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Hello to everyone.

I am building a system for my new brother's home to allow him to play games from 386 to PII eras. I would like to create a kind of "server" for old games to put in the cellar and connect to the TV in the living room.

In case you have suggestions on how to improve or you would like to do the same, specs are:
- Abit BE6 II (I wanted other HDDs ports)
- 2x256MB PC133 (7ns CL2 ECC)
- PII 400 from 24th week 1998 (unlocked multipliers, from 3.0 to 5.0 in steps of 0.5)
- Riva TNT2 M64 16 MB AGP (to be replaced with a S3 Virge DX 4 MB PCI)
- 2 Voodoo2 Game3D with 110MHz ram
- Awe 64 Gold + SimmConn module with 32 MB Simm + SPDIF module
- 6 x 120GB IDE UDMA133 7200 RPM hard drive (not RAID) - I would like to store all the ISOs of the games plus installing the games on the 2 hdds that are on the UDMA 33 controller.
- 1 x 40 GB IDE UDMA133 7200 RPM hard drive
- Generic USB 2.0 PCI card (better for moving files, I don't want to use network)
- Generic IDE CDRW
- Floppy 3.5"
- Windows 98 SE (without SP3)

I tested during Christmas and with the Riva AGP I was able to go from 3.0x66=200 MHz to 3.5*142= 497 MHz without any crash/instability. I set the CPU cache to 15 when setting the fsb to 142, but I think that with the S3 PCI I should have less issues in going up to 3.0x166 = 498 MHz. I tried on the BE6 II and also on a P3B-F to set the multipliers to 2.0 and 2.5 by switches, but it did not work, the pc was not posting. By deactivating the L1 and/or L2 cache it should be feasible to simulate the 386 and 486 when set to 3.0x66 MHz.

I read quite a lot and I still have two doubts:
- Is the S3 really so better for DOS games?
- Would a PCI SB Live! be beneficial for the Windows games? In the end the quality of the Awe 64 gold is not bad.

Reply 1 of 10, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

Maybe, although the RISC like internal architectures of Intel CPUs post PMMX get penalized very hard by disabling cache. I know they can hit performance in the 286/low 386 range, but my understanding is they have trouble with intermediate performance. VIA C3 Ezra/Ezra-T scale much more smoothly and tend to be preferred on this forum for the slot-1/socket 370 platforms when time traveling.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 2 of 10, by Zack1982

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

I checked the VIA too, but I could not find anything with unlocked multiplier, that is why I went for the PII 400.

I still have to test it properly, but my idea is to leverage 5 possible combinations:
- 200 MHz with L1 and L2 off: it should be a low end 386
- 200 MHZ with L1 off and L2 on: it should be a high end 386 or 486
- 200 MHz with L1 on and L2 off: it should be something like a P100 or P133 probably
- 200 MHz with L1 and L2 on: it should be like a 233 MMX
- 500 MHz with L1 and L2 on: full power for most "recent" games, with also V2 overclocked

Reply 3 of 10, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
Zack1982 wrote on 2020-01-13, 16:58:
I checked the VIA too, but I could not find anything with unlocked multiplier, that is why I went for the PII 400. […]
Show full quote

I checked the VIA too, but I could not find anything with unlocked multiplier, that is why I went for the PII 400.

I still have to test it properly, but my idea is to leverage 5 possible combinations:
- 200 MHz with L1 and L2 off: it should be a low end 386
- 200 MHZ with L1 off and L2 on: it should be a high end 386 or 486
- 200 MHz with L1 on and L2 off: it should be something like a P100 or P133 probably
- 200 MHz with L1 and L2 on: it should be like a 233 MMX
- 500 MHz with L1 and L2 on: full power for most "recent" games, with also V2 overclocked

VIA multis are unlocked. It's how they do power gating.

I suggest testing the CPU before going too far. I suspect you'll find that cache disabling cripples performance pretty harshly instead of just taking the edge off.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 4 of 10, by kolderman

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

> Would a PCI SB Live! be beneficial for the Windows games? In the end the quality of the Awe 64 gold is not bad.

One word: EAX.

And using a K6-3+ would probably be best. The Via C3 slows down wonderfully....but is woefully slow at the top end. It struggles against a MMX let alone a P2. The K6 scales up much better, and while it has a little less mid-range variance than the K6, I have never had any issues getting games to work on it. S370 (Via) has other benefits over S7 (K6) though, like better USB support, better IDE controllers, better AGP support...although the Via chipset most compatible with Via CPUs has troubles with both AGP and the SB Live!. I ended up with two systems - S7/K6-3+ and S370/C3-Ezra-866. The C3 struggles with 99 era games, Unreal for example.

Reply 5 of 10, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
kolderman wrote on 2020-01-14, 05:03:

The C3 struggles with 99 era games, Unreal for example.

Don't expect miracles. Unreal benefits from a much higher performance system, ideally P3 or better. An Ezra in the 1 to 1.2 ghz range is fine in place of a P2, but more intensive Win98 titles really deserve better kit.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 6 of 10, by Zack1982

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Thank you all for the replies, but I am not clear on one point: if the C3 for 1 to 1.2 GHz is in range of a PII, and there are PII like the one I bought that allow to change the multipliers, moving from a 386 to a good PII 500 MHz, what could be the advantage of a C3?

I looked also the K6-3+, but they are very expensive, the K6-III+ 550 MHz is over 200 USD on Ebay.

Reply 8 of 10, by gdjacobs

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++
Zack1982 wrote on 2020-01-15, 06:48:

Thank you all for the replies, but I am not clear on one point: if the C3 for 1 to 1.2 GHz is in range of a PII, and there are PII like the one I bought that allow to change the multipliers, moving from a 386 to a good PII 500 MHz, what could be the advantage of a C3?

I looked also the K6-3+, but they are very expensive, the K6-III+ 550 MHz is over 200 USD on Ebay.

P2, P3, and P4 are hit very hard by cache manipulation. They're like a car that has a high gear and a low gear with nothing in between. The C3 Ezra, Ezra-T, and Samuel cores have lots of gears due to their CPU design and caching features that can be manipulated. The Nehemiah core behaves more like a P6 chip with gaps in the middle of it's performance. It has the same features to toggle as the earlier designs, but the penalty of disabling caching is fairly drastic.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 9 of 10, by AlessandroB

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

PII can go lower to 133Mhz.

In my opinion, the speech is as follows: some titles need specific machines (some low-power others high-power), but the vast majority of the titles up to 1999 work very well on a unlocked low-end 233Mhz P2 keeping the charm of the real machine and ISA, PCI cards etc. Some platforms plan to scale very well in frequency, but they are always compromises, in my opinion the best way to use titles around 1990 is to have a 486 system to change the CPU from 486 to 20Mhz up to the POD or AMD 5x86 at 160Mhz to have the real involvement with REAL CPUs.

Reply 10 of 10, by Zack1982

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

I tried to set the multiplier to 2.0 or 2.5 (via jumpers/pin on the P3b-F and also on the Be6-2) but the pc was not posting. I have no serial here, but it's a regular PII 400 MHz from 24th week 0f 1998. Even by enabling or disabling the B21 pin, it can go from 3.0 to 5.5 as multiplier. I tried with the 66 MHz bus.

Replacing the cpu is too long, I would prefer to work on the cache when possible. My brother should by home soon, I will have to enjoy placing the pc in the cellar and wiring up to the living room.