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Maes

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About Maes

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    Here's an old post I made on the subject,

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  1. For those of you who get off to such stories, here goes:

    my Super Duper Oldsk00l b0x may soon acquire a brother!

    I found a dumped modern PC case by some garbage bin, in accordance to my being ghetto and shit lifestyle. I coupled this with an 400W PSU -also found in the garbage, I just replaced a fuse and it was good to go- and hey presto, here's a nice case + PSU combo. It had a broken power button though, but no problem: I just wired it to the reset switch (that will do, for now).

    I also had a donated DFI 586ITDX rev. C+ mobo, and some pentium-1 class CPUs to spare, along with some RAM. The mobo itself is quite nice compared to the MITAC PH5400V I have on the other box: it has a standard ATX 20-pin connector, actual USB ports, soft-off, better BIOS/CMOS settings, temp sensors etc. and generally everything you'd consider standard on modern mobo.

    To my surprise, it even accepted a 256 MB DIMM, however the onboard IDE controllers appear to be fried :-/

    I'm now trying to see how far it will go with an ISA (!) anonymous floppy and IDE controller I had lying around. It has trouble getting to boot from CD-ROMs or even consistently recognizing HDs in the BIOS.

    I'm gonna try and find one of those cheap VIA SATA+IDE PCI cards and see if that will do the trick...

    Update: so far it seems able to work consistently off the anonymous ISA controller, hooked to a CD-ROM and a 1.7 GB hard disk (I'm sure the controller is not designed to handle disks greater than 512 MB natively, however Windows XP can overcome this limitation if you get it to read the MBR). Likewise, my other oldskool box is working with a 20 GB HD despite it having ancient IDE controllers that would normally barf with anything over 8 GB.

    1. Show previous comments  8 more
    2. Maes

      Maes

      First post from the new box, using Google Chrome, nonetheless ;-)

      To save time and preserving settings, I "migrated" the 20 GB hard disk from the Mitac box to this one with the installation/repair trick. Now the Mitac box will be DOS-only, at least until this one kicks the bucket :-p

      Overall, it feels pretty much like an low-end Pentium II box with the K6/233 CPU. The cacheable memory limitation is pretty felt though, as programs may speed up and down as more data is made local in the CPU's L1 cache (64 KB). However, disk trashing is minimal, and compared to the 64 MB box, you can be "lavish" and even open 2-3 Google Chrome tabs ;-)


      About the sound, I decided to stick with the SB Vibra. One reason is that I needed a PCI slot for the USB 2.0 adapter card (all the others are full: ATI Rage Pro 3D GFX, Ethernet adapter, IDE "RAID" controller. So I had to choose between two ISA cards: the Vibra and the ESS1868, which however misbehaved and made the whole system laggy and choppy. I thought about throwing in the SB 2.0, but no way I'm going back to mono sound, sorry :-p

      As for the PCI cards (I gave them all a try except the Audigy 4):

      Yamaha WaveForce: unexceptional OPL clone sound.
      Sound Blaster PCI: no FM sound (at least no way to trigger it under windows)
      CMI8738SX card: ok sound, but no FM under windows just like the SB PCI.

      So Vibra it was :-p

      I'll now go overboard with the "new" box and even give it an antivirus, probably NOD32 ;-)

      Interestingly enough, the good old MS GW Synth did not tax the CPU as much as I expected: maximum peaks were 25% with typical values of 10-15%, not that much more than playing a multichannel module in Winamp, so that's a pretty viable alternative.

    3. Planky

      Planky

      Funny, I never had any issue with the ESS1868 cards - they always just worked. After my first CMI card, I vowed never to touch them again.

      All this talk of old computers makes me wish I hadn't sold all my old stuff. I think the only things I have left is an Intel Overdrive CPU and a couple of 4/8mb simms that get put on my keyring.

    4. Maes

      Maes

      Planky said:

      Funny, I never had any issue with the ESS1868 cards - they always just worked. After my first CMI card, I vowed never to touch them again.


      It worked well, unless I was loading stuff from the disk or moving windows while using the card (this even included FM music), which means that at least Windows XP default drivers didn't do a very good job at handling bus contention/buffering. I could run a DPC latency check and search for DMA conflicts, but I was too lazy and just swapped the card.

      Planky said:

      All this talk of old computers makes me wish I hadn't sold all my old stuff. I think the only things I have left is an Intel Overdrive CPU and a couple of 4/8mb simms that get put on my keyring.


      I wonder if that would run 2000/XP given the RAM, the installer is known to barf on 486 class CPUs. BTW, for some reason XP has much, much better FM timbres for Creative than those available on Win 3.1. The ESS1868 sounded particularly rich, too (3D circuit?). It almost makes listening to FM midi enjoyable ;-)

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