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Resurrecting an old PC

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Old 08-24-09, 08:26 PM Thread Starter   #1
3line
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Resurrecting an old PC


Kinda drifted away from this forum for a while due to school and other stuff with life, but I though I'd share this. I'm feeling rather good right now.

Over the weekend, I managed to get the first computer I ever owned up and running again. Now, it was only a Pentium, but this thing got me all through middle school, so doing a rebuild on this thing was a trip down nostalgia lane. I remember playing the old X-Wing and TIE Fighter games on this thing, and I remember being ****ed that a lot the classic games stopped working in Windows 2000.

Anyway, this machine was a Packard Bell with a semi-proprietary LPX motherboard ("Hillary" http://www.geocities.com/siliconvall...4/hillary.html ). When I got it it came in this configuration:

Pentium 75mhz
0kb L2 Cache
8mb Fast Page RAM
850mb Maxtor Hard Disk
4x NEC CD-ROM
1mb VRAM
Windows 95


It looked like this, though the case is flatter and only has one 5.25" drive bay:
http://www.recycledgoods.com/zoom_s_p_33471_1.jpg

This thing got shelved when the CD drive broke and I got my new computer. That was a decade ago, and just over the past few weeks, I finally got down to rebuilding it.

Fortunately, I had 128mb of EDO SIMMs lying around, so those went in. I also had a spare 20gb Seagate Barracuda IV which I also put in. A spare 12x CD-ROM I picked up from a friend replaced the broken drive. Those were obvious upgrades...

But why stop there? The great thing about the socket 5/7 format is just the sheer amount of upgrades that are compatible with it. From ebay I bought a power adapter socket mounted with a K6-3 for $60--a bit pricey, but a damn good price given the rarity of these parts.

This particular motherboard had a riser card of three slots: 2 ISA and 1 shared PCI/ISA. That gave me only one PCI slot to play with. I thought long and hard about whether to get a PCI vga card for it, but in the end I opted for one of my spare USB cards. The added functionality of the USB would make things a lot easier to install, and it's not like this computer can actually play 3d games well anyway. For the two ISA slots I inserted a Soundblaster AWE64 and a 3com LAN card. I upgraded the video memory to 2mb with a couple of SOJ chips.


A number of issues I ran into:

1. The original bios would only detect the 20gb hard disk as an 8gb hard disk. This was resolved with the BIOS upgrade, after which the motherboard could see the full 20.

2. A slew of IRQ conflicts were reported in the POST when I stuck the USB card in and started this computer with the original BIOS. I was afraid that I might have had to ditch any hope of getting this computer USB-ready, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the third-party BIOS upgrade supplied by Evergreen (the manufacturer of the K6-3 socket adapter). Whereas the supplied Packard Bell BIOS did not allow the user to change any of the system settings, Evergreen's own "Mr. Bios" BIOS offered many new advanced tweaking features like PCI latency, memory timing, and (yes!) manual PCI IRQ assignment. PROBLEM SOLVED.

3. The Triton 430FX is apparently incapable of booting off the CD, so I had to work with boot floppies. Not every boot floppy, though, allows for DOS-based detection of the CD drive, so I ended up making Win98se boot disks. However, the 98se diskette which had booted up on the old BIOS ran into problems on the new one. It would hang loading the file aspi2dos.sys (Adaptec AIC-6260/6360/6370 ASPI Manager). I removed this from the config.sys, and this issue seems to have been fixed.

4. Unfortunately, the BIOS update also killed the PS/2 mouse port for some reason. It could be more IRQ crap from maxing out the expansion cards on this machine. Consequently I had to use a serial mouse for the Win98se install. Once Windows was up and running, I upgraded this to a Logitech optical USB mouse, which runs flawlessly.

5. The first installation of Windows 98 loaded, but for some reason it did not recognize the CD drive. My only guess is (again)some IRQ conflict, since the USB card takes up multiple IRQs. I resolved this problem by moving the CD-ROM to the same cable as the hard drive. I reinstalled, and everything went without a hitch.


The final configuration, after all the hassle:

K6-3 380@400mhz
256kb L2 cache
128mb EDO RAM
20gb Seagate Hard Disk
12x Takaya CD-ROM
2mb VRAM
Windows 98se w/sp2.1a


Overall, I am quite happy with how this has turned out. Although Firefox and IE6 are a bit too heavy for this machine, it is running the efficient K-meleon browser. It is also running older versions of Adobe Acrobat and Open Office, which seem just about right for the hardware. I can do almost all basic tasks with this computer with the exception of graphical work and playing flash-intensive internet video.

I am most impressed, however, with the upgrade package from Evergreen--and especially the BIOS. It really reflects how much overclocking has changed over the years, from back when everyone was using Socket 5/7. These days you really don't see third party companies releasing alternative tweakers' BIOSes, especially not for specific, proprietary motherboards from individual manufacturers. These days, computers are much more disposable items, which is probably why the age of these upgrade solutions has long passed. The el-cheapo Dells and all get dumped now before anyone feels like upgrading them.

Now, all I need to do is to find some time to play some TIE Fighter.

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Last edited by 3line; 08-25-09 at 03:07 PM.
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Old 08-24-09, 10:12 PM   #2
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Seeing this post is a breath of fresh air.

I hate to see good stuff go to waste. My personal collection of old stuff was reduced in a move. I had to make some tough decisions on what I kept and what got scrapped..

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Old 08-24-09, 10:14 PM   #3
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Now this is interesting.

I have a Compaq Pentium in the closet...
And one of the old 486 boxes I built back when.

A while back I loaded Doom on the system in my sig, it loaded, I could kill the monters but no sound and what good it is to fire the Double Barreled Shot Gun or Chain Gun when you can hear the BooOO000M?

I may play with them again.

I could go hunt some TIE Fighers too, now where did I put those codes??

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Old 08-24-09, 10:17 PM   #4
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Hi DUSNOETOS,

I see you have a T-30 also, see the one in my sig? I upgraded the processor and memory in it. Runs like a top.

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Old 08-24-09, 10:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rider200 View Post
Hi DUSNOETOS,

I see you have a T-30 also, see the one in my sig? I upgraded the processor and memory in it. Runs like a top.

?? I thought the memory on the T30 was capped at 1gb.....

Mine has never given me a issue.- well I cant get sound with Ubuntu??? but other than that it has been a solid running laptop for me... But I do wish that it had better video on it.

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Old 08-25-09, 12:08 AM Thread Starter   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DUSNOETOS View Post
Seeing this post is a breath of fresh air.

I hate to see good stuff go to waste. My personal collection of old stuff was reduced in a move. I had to make some tough decisions on what I kept and what got scrapped..
Yeah, now that I am older I am really developing an interest in vintage hardware. I just got a free powerbook 1400c from my department, thrown out by a prof. If I ever find a CD drive for this thing, I'm going to try to turn into a classic mac machine.

Hey, you still run an opteron in your main rig too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rider200 View Post
Now this is interesting.

I have a Compaq Pentium in the closet...
And one of the old 486 boxes I built back when.

A while back I loaded Doom on the system in my sig, it loaded, I could kill the monters but no sound and what good it is to fire the Double Barreled Shot Gun or Chain Gun when you can hear the BooOO000M?

I may play with them again.

I could go hunt some TIE Fighers too, now where did I put those codes??

It certainly would make an interesting side project. I would look into some of the various upgrade adapters (evergreen, powerleap, overdrive) on ebay, if you want some extra power.

I would also recommend that site www.oldapps.com if you're looking for win98 compatible software that runs on legacy machines. It's silly how much bloat is in modern applications.

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Old 08-25-09, 12:11 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DUSNOETOS View Post
?? I thought the memory on the T30 was capped at 1gb.....

Mine has never given me a issue.- well I cant get sound with Ubuntu??? but other than that it has been a solid running laptop for me... But I do wish that it had better video on it.
When I had it apart I looked at the ATI chip, but didn't do any research in to an upgrade chip to replace it. This is my travel laptop, I don't mind doing things like the processor, memory, or SSD for the hard drive but desoldering and resoldering a new chip may mess up the motherboard so I opted out of that one.

Ya, 1024x800 is a little squized after using a 1280x1024 19" all day every day.



Go to Kingston and drop your model number in the search you will find 1 gig modules for about $47 (that is what I paid for mine) I was thinking of going to 2 gig but the money wasn't there so I kept the 512 meg module and upgraded the 256 to 1 Gig. The best part of the deal was the increase in FSB from 400 to 533.

I went to North Carolina at the first of the month and the T-30 was great, made my son think about upgrading his new HP...

As for the sound I don't do Linux but the drivers should be around have done a search for Sound Max drivers for Linux?
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Old 08-25-09, 01:06 AM   #8
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I should see if my K6-2-400 fires up. Wish i had more time to play with it!

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Old 08-25-09, 01:13 AM   #9
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I wish I still had a P100 or 486DX-100 lying around. Emulators just don't give the experience with old games that the old hardware does.... I miss playing Strike Commander on my ol P100, 16MB RAM, with Sound Blaster 16. I think I had a massive 80mb hard drive at the time too.....

Funny, I just realized its not the old system I miss but tinkering around with DOS..... Back in the time before OS's had in integrated GUI and no one could really use the things except the people who should be using them..... Hmmm, I can see why computer had to move past that.....

Funny that I don't really like Linux because so much CAN'T be done through the GUI.....

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Old 08-25-09, 01:34 AM   #10
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Man, too bad you're in Oz, i have a stack of the suckers :P

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Old 08-25-09, 01:43 AM   #11
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Lol, its weird. When I went to my Athlon 600 (Slot A) I couldn't wait to get rid of my old hardware, same happened going to my AXP 2500, then my A64 3200, then my Opty 165.....

Before that I was Intel all the way, first system was a 386SX, upgraded to a DX and then upgraded to the P100. Had the P100 running without a heatsink. Touched it at one point and left my fingerprint in the middle of it (my skin too).....

I wanted to go Intel this time round just to break the cycle but the Core2's are kind of end of life and the i7's cost more than I wanted to spend.... Maybe next time round, guess I'm just a cheapskate.....

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Old 08-25-09, 04:50 AM   #12
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I should dust off my old Compaq armada laptop.. has a Pentium 1 in it....

And I also have a 486 based IBM thinkpad.

I have windows 98se that I could put on the Compaq....maybe I could go with a Linux based OS..

as for the old thinkpad...Not sure what i could do with that. I don't have any software that would run on it...an only a floppy drive really limits what I could do....

AH nostalgia.
Right now I am in the process of resurrecting an old Socket A system see this thread for details: http://www.ocforums.com/showthread.php?t=616196

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Old 08-25-09, 06:09 AM Thread Starter   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjw21a View Post
I wish I still had a P100 or 486DX-100 lying around. Emulators just don't give the experience with old games that the old hardware does.... I miss playing Strike Commander on my ol P100, 16MB RAM, with Sound Blaster 16. I think I had a massive 80mb hard drive at the time too.....

Funny, I just realized its not the old system I miss but tinkering around with DOS..... Back in the time before OS's had in integrated GUI and no one could really use the things except the people who should be using them..... Hmmm, I can see why computer had to move past that.....

Funny that I don't really like Linux because so much CAN'T be done through the GUI.....
For me, I've always liked the tinkering aspect of computing. I get a certain thrill out of taking an old piece of equipment and pushing it to its maximum potential. A lot of vintage computing crowd is into historical accuracy and authenticity, but I'm more interested in making old equipment useful.

This machine now runs those DOS games even better than it did.

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Gigabyte X58-UD5: Xeon W3505@3800mhz (19x200)/1.275v/3600mhz Uncore 1.36v w/Xigmatek HDT-1283, 3x2GB Mushkin Redline 6-7-6-18-1T@1600mhz, EVGA GTX480 1.5GB@800/1600/2000, Galaxy GT430 Physx, 500gb Seagate Momentus XT, Xigmatek Green 700W

Supermicro P6DGU: 2xSlot Coppermine 1Ghz w/Golden Orb HSF, 2x512MB IBM PC133 2-2-2-5, Nvidia FX5900 128MB, Seagate Cheetah 15k.3 73.4GB, OCZ PowerStream 420w

Last edited by 3line; 08-25-09 at 09:45 AM.
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Old 08-25-09, 06:36 PM   #14
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More fun with clone boxes..... Heck, I've never liked brand names when it comes to a computer for myself.....

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Old 08-25-09, 06:43 PM Thread Starter   #15
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More fun with clone boxes..... Heck, I've never liked brand names when it comes to a computer for myself.....
This was the only brand name desktop I ever got, since it was my first computer. As you can see from my sig, I build plenty on my own.

What is most interesting about this socket 7 generation of computers is just the sheer amount of upgrade options available, despite many designs being proprietary. You even had companies like evergreen releasing third party bios updates with tweaking features unavailable in the standard bioses.

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Gigabyte X58-UD5: Xeon W3505@3800mhz (19x200)/1.275v/3600mhz Uncore 1.36v w/Xigmatek HDT-1283, 3x2GB Mushkin Redline 6-7-6-18-1T@1600mhz, EVGA GTX480 1.5GB@800/1600/2000, Galaxy GT430 Physx, 500gb Seagate Momentus XT, Xigmatek Green 700W

Supermicro P6DGU: 2xSlot Coppermine 1Ghz w/Golden Orb HSF, 2x512MB IBM PC133 2-2-2-5, Nvidia FX5900 128MB, Seagate Cheetah 15k.3 73.4GB, OCZ PowerStream 420w
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Old 08-25-09, 06:50 PM   #16
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Yea, a shame AMD stuck with the socket 7 for so long. Super7 systems used to play up that much....

Anyone notice they never got truly competitive till they had their own mainboard platform.

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Old 08-25-09, 07:04 PM Thread Starter   #17
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Yea, a shame AMD stuck with the socket 7 for so long. Super7 systems used to play up that much....

Anyone notice they never got truly competitive till they had their own mainboard platform.
What are you talking about? AMD's K6 platform was a good match for Intel offerings until the coppermines hit. The K6 and its successors were AMD's breakout chip, setting them on the path of being an independent cpu manufacturer. Up until that point they were stuck making knock-offs of 486s.

In the late 90s they had something like 1/3 of the retail market (though the business market favored Intel and continues to do so).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMD_K6-2

Quote:
The K6-2 was a very financially successful chip and enabled AMD to earn the revenue it would need to introduce the forthcoming Athlon. The introductory K6-2 300 was by far the best-selling variant. It rapidly established an excellent reputation in the marketplace and offered a favorable price/performance ratio versus Intel's Celeron 300A. The Celeron offered superior floating-point performance, but the K6-2 offered faster system RAM access (courtesy of the Super 7 mainboard), as well as 3DNow graphics extensions.

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Old 08-25-09, 07:43 PM   #18
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I only ever saw the issues with apps written specifically for Intel systems around this time. I guess my perception of AMD didn't really change until the K7's, though the K6's did trigger my interest in them.

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Old 08-25-09, 08:37 PM Thread Starter   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjw21a View Post
I only ever saw the issues with apps written specifically for Intel systems around this time. I guess my perception of AMD didn't really change until the K7's, though the K6's did trigger my interest in them.
Yep, the K6 was a beaut...

Some of those later K6-III+ chips were known to overclock well past 600mhz

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Old 08-27-09, 09:31 PM   #20
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More cache on the K6-3 too.... The mags tried to hype it too much though vs the P2, then the P3 came out.... Still, its performance was tops compared to the intel setups of the time..... Kind of like how AMD is positioned now I guess....

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