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A Voodoo 3, Vortex 2, Slot 1 based Glide machine

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by badmofo, Jun 26, 2015.

  1. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Over the years I’ve had some nice hardware accumulate in my collection that I’ve had no immediate use for, and the time has come to make something of it. The nucleus of this build is a Voodoo 3 3500, bought from this eBay seller who seems to have an unlimited supply. Drivers for this card can be found here – I had success with the “3dfx Voodoo3 V1.07.00” driver. There is a ‘3500 TV’ specific driver too, but the generic drivers are recommended by falconfly for stability and performance. The virtues of the Voodoo 3 are well documented here by everyone’s favourite retro hardware blogger, but I’d never tried one myself; up until this point my Glide machine has been my existing PIII, which has been saddled with a barbaric SLI Voodoo 2 and pass-through setup for far too long.

    So far the Voodoo 3 experience hasn’t disappointed; the image quality is significantly improved over dual Voodoo 2’s – Quake II has never looked so good – and it’s been rock solid in both performance and stability. The (S)VGA compatibility and output quality have also lived up to the hype - all told it’s a very useful card.

    [​IMG]


    The other technology I wanted to explore with this new machine is the Vortex 2 chipset, which – being a Creative boy – I’ve never tried. Some people rave about it so I’d like to see for myself how it stacks up against the Live!. The specific card I’m using is a TechWorks Power Vortex 2 SuperQuad, the installation of which was a snap using the provided driver disk, and first impressions are very good. The included demos hint at what the A3D can do and in the games I’ve tried so far - Dues Ex, Quake II, Half-life, etc – it’s performed very well. Whether it’s better than the Live! or not is a question for the ages – I like both.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    The AU8830’s DOS compatibility was also a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t expecting much from a PCI sound card but the Windows 98 installation process added the relevant lines to my AUTOEXEC.BAT (a SET BLASTER and a call to AU30DOS.COM which initialises the card - a 25k TSR but can be loaded high), and it’s worked flawlessly so far. The FM emulation blows chunks as you’d expect from this era card, but the working wavetable header more than makes up for that. The SB Pro support seems solid and sounds great; the only issue I’ve identified is that there was no mixer software provided, and the default levels were way too loud. Vogons to the rescue – vortmix, which works OK (ish).

    To test the wavetable header I added a 2MB Diamond daughterboard (pictured next to an NEC XR385 to show how tiny it is) and it too sounds surprisingly good – I think I’ll leave it on.

    [​IMG]


    Initially I was thinking Super Socket 7 for this build but it turned out that I’d given the relevant motherboard away some time ago. The next candidate was a Socket 370, 667MHz PIII, but that motherboard turned out to be stone cold dead. I finally settled on an MSI MS6199VA - a slot 1 board I’d picked up somewhere along the way. The thought of using Slot 1 has always left me cold for some reason but this is a nice looking board that has 2 lovely ISA slots, and came with an 800MHz Coppermine and 256MB RAM already installed. I was surprised to see a Packard Bell splash screen appear on powering it up, but flashing to the latest BIOS sorted that out.

    [​IMG]


    The PIII 800EB with both the thermal paste and fan replaced. These cost $851 at introduction apparently! Oh my.

    [​IMG]


    I’ve been looking for an excuse to use this ‘air conditioner’ and I found it in this build, because the Voodoo3 gets extremely hot. I could of course just strap a fan to Voodoo but that strikes me as inelegant, and this unit efficiently and quietly expels the heat out the back of the case instead of just dispersing it inside. Without the air-con parked next to it, the Voodoo3 was too hot to touch when idle. With it, I can comfortably leave my hand on the heatsink with the card under full load.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    For a HDD I ended up going with a Seagate Medalist 6422, which at 6.4GB is a little on the small side but fine for my purposes. I always enjoy rummaging through my stock of IDE HDD’s – they’re all pulled from the various machines I’ve rescued over the years so I never know what I’m going to find. More often than not there’s a working OS, some games, and the previous owner’s documents to peruse. Nothing much of interest this time unfortunately, but I did discover a drive that was on death’s door, and at this point I was starting to wonder how much of my hardware stockpile is actually useable.

    All of this hot hardware is housed in a stylishly unstylish AOpen KF45. I picked this case up for a 10er years ago with a dull-as-dishwater P4 Celeron setup inside - which I promptly removed - and it’s been sitting idle ever since. The CD-ROM and floppy drive are both replacements, the originals having proven themselves unreliable during the Windows 98 installation process.

    As painful as this project was at times thanks to all the dead or dying hardware I met along the way, I’m happy with the result. I did plan on filling one or both of those nice ISA slots with sound cards but the Vortex 2 seems to handle DOS sound duties well enough for now – I won’t be able to leave them empty forever though. Also on my to-do list is replace the PSU with something more substantial than the Thermal Master I’m using currently, but otherwise I’m calling this bad boy done.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. philscomputerlab

    philscomputerlab Member

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    Very nice build :thumbup:

    Unreal is a game you should try out. It's made for glide and still looks very very nice. The V3 runs it very well at 1024 x 768.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Will do, thanks for the suggestion. The misspending of my youth began at around that time so I completely missed the Glide era - Unreal included.
     
  4. Flamin Joe

    Flamin Joe Member

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    Holy cow those Voodoo cards are cheap. Might be worth picking up a couple myself for the hell of it. :thumbup:

    Love the choice of case too. Last place I worked was a distributor for AOpen cases, use to build quite a few in the KF45. This is going back 10 years ago but I remember them being very sturdy not like some of the cheap crap you get these days.

    And last but not least, the speakers. :thumbup::thumbup: I had the 4.1 version of the Creative/Cambridge Soundworks speakers and had them for a good 10 years or so. For the size of the speakers, they sounded really good and good clarity as well. It's why when I went hunting for a good set of retro speakers for my Sound Blaster 2.0 I went no further then another set (this time 2.1).

    Nice build, but personally I would have gone with a Slot A. :p
     
  5. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Yeah I bought those Soundworks (also 2.1) in '05 or so when I was getting back into PC gaming. The first game I tried them with was FarCry, and I vividly remember having my socks knocked off by their high levels of awesome - I even dragged my future wife in to listen. Her socks remained firmly on her feet as I recall but I've been loving on them ever since regardless (both the speakers and my wife) (too much information?)
     
  6. BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Nice build badmofo. :thumbup:

    It's amazing how hot the Voodoo 3's run - the card you sent me a while back gets seriously hot just idling in the Windows 98SE desktop (at 1600x1200), but a case fan blowing in its general direction makes it cool to the tough.
     
  7. philscomputerlab

    philscomputerlab Member

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    Yes they get insanely hot. That's why I slap a fan onto them. Not the prettiest solution, but it looks after the cards :)

    Another not, for enabling and disabling v-sync, you need to install the overclocking tool. It's a the bottom of this page:

    http://www.philscomputerlab.com/drivers-for-voodoo-3.html

    It also enables overclocking of course. This is an official tool, it just adds stuff to the standard driver.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2015
  8. Urbansprawl

    Urbansprawl Member

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    How much was freight on those 3dfx cards? That's a bonkers price.
     
  9. DonutKing

    DonutKing Member

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    Great build!
    I'm tempted to buy one of those Voodoo 3's even though I have literally no use for it (already have a win98 box with a Voodoo 5 in it)

    Any plans to get a slocket and upgrade to a Tualatin? :)

    I second the Unreal nomination, its probably the best looking Glide game.
    Some other Glide games worth checking out are Thief, Battlezone and Myth: The Fallen Lords.
    System Shock 2 isn't a Glide games AFAIK but its from the same era and definitely worth playing.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    That's interesting - from memory there's a v-sync option in the 3dfx tools that came with the driver, does that not work?

    I got em as part of a bigger package via a freight forwarder, so not sure.


    I never say never :D My BIOS would have to have support wouldn't it? Or does the slocket take care of that?
     
  11. philscomputerlab

    philscomputerlab Member

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    You might be right. Maybe it's only for Glide or something like that. But I'm sure that the overclock tool will add more v-sync options.

    My next build video will be something to do with Voodoo so I'll make sure to mention it.
     
  12. shaneb74

    shaneb74 Member

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    I inquired about that a few weeks ago, still have the card in my watch list, here was his response;

    "Good morning the lowest freight cost will be with postal office $25.75 and for the same freight cost it can fit 2 pieces in the same box, if you need more then one Thank you"

    This was probably USD as well.

    Too much for me for just one card, retro group buy maybe? :)
     
  13. DonutKing

    DonutKing Member

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    If you get a Powerleap PL-iPT/3 or similar, it should take care of that for you. I run a 1.4 Tualatin Celeron using that adapter in a 440BX board.
     
  14. philscomputerlab

    philscomputerlab Member

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    I swear, it's cheaper and easier finding a Tualatin board that that adapter :)

    I've seen a few standard slot 1 adapters, but not Tualatin compatible ones.

    I have to OEM Acer boards, overlooked by everyone, fully Tualatin compatible with Intel chipset. Just got to look around a little.
     
  15. JidaiGeki

    JidaiGeki Member

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    Nice build! Very clean, and getting any computer complete, running and stable is a good thing. I personally think Slot 1 is pretty versatile, you can run everything from a P2-233 up to a 1.4GHz chip on the one board, and the AOpen case is cool (biased as I have the same one and also ditched a Celeron out of it). Nice choice of sound card, I recall A3D sound was much more effective using headphones.

    Also, good to see the air con I sold you in use :lol: didn't know you were an OCAUer then! Wasn't quite sure what it could be used for, thought the fan would be anemic, but great that it has a practical application :thumbup::thumbup:
     
  16. flu!d

    flu!d Never perfect, always genuine

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    You just mod the standard adapter, we all used to do it in the day at the peak of the P!!! era.

    P3 1.2 Tualatin, BX mobo and modded slotket = Wins all round.

    There used to be a massive thread here on OCAU about it.
     
  17. Cannula

    Cannula Member

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  18. philscomputerlab

    philscomputerlab Member

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    Talk about blast from the past :lol:

    That thread is from 2002. Awesome, will study it.
     
  19. flu!d

    flu!d Never perfect, always genuine

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    Those were the days....

    Czechmate was an awesome bloke, he had the best BX based system around.:thumbup:
     
  20. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    That was you! Hilarious! I had to chop it a bit obviously because they're designed for an ISA slot, but yes it works surprisingly well. It's running as we speak and there's a nice warm jet of air blowing out of it.

    It was probably designed for those old AT cases with little to no air flow - I might jam the other one into my P166!
     

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