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Computer Gaming World Circa 1999 Pentium III Build (workhorse for study, work and play)

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade Worklogs' started by baronbaldric, May 9, 2020.

  1. OP
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    baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    Planted everything in a case.

    I really like the visual design of this case. Not sure what year it's from, but it's beige and looks great. Overall pretty good condition. It had some rust under the front cooler holder. I removed the rust with rust buster a while back, still not re-rusted so I'm happy. The case came with no feet so I attached large black rubber feet to the bottom of the case with nuts and bolts. The case came with a piezo speaker, but my motherboard comes with a piezo speaker built-in, so rolled the extra wire and I hid it inside the front panel. The case also has a placeholder for a large classic speaker, will add that too if I will be able to find one for cheap.

    A case had a printout of jumper settings glued to the bottom at some point. I removed it to check the bottom of the case because I had a suspicion it might be rusted. The case turned out to be relatively fine, but I think I forgot to take a picture of the printout, unfortunately. I can't find a photo anywhere, would be nice to know what kind of computer lived in it before. This happened way before I decided to build anything in particular in this case, so I can't remember the specs.

    Another recent find on eBay was that Lian Li HDD rack. I really like the design of this item and it fits with the case and the DVD from beautifully in my opinion. It will allow me to swap out the SD card without a full case disassembly.

    I also added a black 3.5" FDD from around 2006, but it ended up not working. It lives under the case cover so it doesn't matter what color it is. I will save my spare beige FDD for another build. I probably misplaced the ribbon cable, will check it next time I disassemble the case. It's not as simple as I would like it to be because there are no side panels - it's old-school with a wrap-around bent sheet metal hood and it has slot-in holders on all three sides plus it has a plastic slide-in attachment on the front end.

    The case came with a front fan and a huge plastic fan holder which obscures a lot of the airflow. There is also a placeholder for a tiny fan on the back of the case. It would be nice to drill a large hole in the front for a standard modern fan and add a back fan too sometime in the future.

    The case has a local company logo complete with a job number :). It is (was) called Village PCs (located Melbourne's South Eastern Suburbs & Mornington Peninsula) and the website is still alive: http://www.villagepcs.com.au/. I love the logo, will preserve the sticker.

    IMG_5428.JPG IMG_5435.JPG IMG_5437.JPG
     

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    baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    Forgot to post the side and back shots.
     

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  3. Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    Excellent thread for a lovely clean build :thumbup:
     
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  4. adz

    adz Member

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    Sooo neat inside :thumbup: Love the case too, very 90's :leet:
     
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  5. OP
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    baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    A couple of benchmark results.

    CPU: 500MHz Katmai
    RAM: 256MB CL2
    GPU: Matrox G400 MAX
    Audio: Aureal Vortex SQ2500
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-BX2000 v1.1

    Graphics Card Driver: Matrox 6.83.017
    Sound Card Driver: Aureal 4.06.2041.04
    A3D Driver: 2.09
    DirectX: Microsoft DirectX 6.1a
    Resolution: 800x600 16bit for all tests
    Power Strip: not installed
    Power management: disabled all power management related settings in BIOS and in Windows

    1. Winstone 99 Business Benchmark
    This is a lengthy benchmark of office productivity tasks AnandTech used to review Pentium III 500 Katmai. My results are slightly better 23.9 vs their 23.3
    2. 3D Mark 99 Max (DirectX)
    I found test results from HotHardware for G400 MAX. Their CPU is only a touch different (Pentium III 450 @ 558MHz OC), they also used slightly older graphics drivers. The results are as follows: mine 4795 vs theirs 5658. Maybe I need to install PowerStrip and disable V-sync, as Phil did in his Matrox video.
    3. Shogo (DirectX)
    Mine: 51 AnandTech: 72

    My DirectX results are much worse. AnandTech used Windows 98 non-SE, older drivers, and probably DirectX 6.2. Hard to tell what version of DX they used from their article. Overall close enough results, just need to figure out the DirectX bit. Maybe do the PowerStrip trick and try other versions of DirectX 6.
    4. Quake 2 (OpenGL) demo1 and crusher
    I tested Quake 2 with a 500MHz CPU just like AnandTech. My driver is much newer than the one they used in their tests (4.xxx.something.x vs mine 6.83.17).
    My results:
    80.2
    41.2

    AnandTech results:
    69.6
    31.8

    I think my OpenGL results are much better because at some point in driver history Matrox implemented a full and complete OpenGL driver (read about it in a magazine interview with the Matrox tech PR lead).

    P.S.: bonus obligatory Expendable screenshot showing the real bump-mapped water effect - the killer feature of this card.
    IMG_5455.JPG

    P.S.S.: I only compared my results to tests done with ~500MHz CPU, so Phil's and other folks' tests do not apply because they test with much beefier CPUs that were not available in 1999.
     
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    baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    If anyone has a box in the USA and can assist me in shipping this ultra-rare thingy https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/373636985608 AUS-side for cheaper than $86.38 AUD please let me know.

    This is a digital-to-digital converter and theoretically, this card will allow me to connect an HDMI monitor to this PIII computer. This card would be an awesome addition to this build. The price is fine, they even accept offers, but the shipping is unacceptable.

    I'm currently "not buying anything to save money". But hey, I'll mow a lawn or something.. First found this listing around 2 years ago, then lost it and found it again by accident. So, apparently, they were not been able to sell it for at least a year or two.
     
  7. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    I do, and i would ship it for you, the thing is, anything i ship with either DHL or Fedex HAS to come/go through DXB, thats one of the requirements for using the huge discount we get, but even then, it would be easily over 100US to ship it here and then to ship it to aus.

    unless i ship it here, and then wait for my next Sydney run, and i could dump it at the iso hotel we stay at...no id if that would even be access-able to you.. since i havent had a sydney run in the last 1.5 years, that could take a while though..lol
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021
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    baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    Thank you mate! I was contacted by another Sydneysider and a fellow G400 enthusiast with a box in the US and we are working out a joint operation, but thanks for offering!
     
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  9. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    No worries at all, let me know if you can't work it out and I'll help out.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2021
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    baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    Was randomly browsing Japanese retro PC sites and stumbled upon an image of the DVD add-on card. No other photos of it anywhere on the web.

    https://akiba-pc.watch.impress.co.jp/hotline/990626/newitem.html
     

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  11. Vanne

    Vanne Member

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    Awesome!!!

    Love it when a plan comes together..

    hannibal_a-team-jpeg.jpg
     
  12. OP
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    baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    So this project has been on standby for a while now because of the issues with PSUs. Today's updte is as follows.

    I cleaned my newly acquired Antec PSU and started slowly recapping it. Here are a few beginner issues I encountered and would like to document here.

    Decapping takes a while because everything is crammed together so tightly. I think I also burned my cheap desolder station which Phil recommend in one of his videos. I tried tightening the nozzle and it shorted and blasted the fuse in the apartment distributor. So now I'm using solder wicks. I ordered a brand recommended by eevblogs, but mektronics sent me a diffirent brand which is not particularly good, doesn't wick that well compared to my other brand reel and crumbles a lot when I cut it.

    I labeled the bigger caps with a sharpie and I draw on top of the photos on my iPhone in "markup edit" mode to denote where each cap lived on the pcb. I also mark the positive through-hole because I read horror stories of "-" being denoted wrongly on PCBs silkscreen print.

    Next steps: buy a mechanical desolder pump, buy more flux, buy a set of capacitors, continue slowly decapping the PSU. There's also surface rust issue on the sheet metal shroud. Anyone found a good gray sealer matching the light gray zinc coating of retro cases?
     

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  13. Grant

    Grant Member

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    I never "got" solder wick until I started lathering flux paste on it before use - regardless of how good it is, being exposed to air over time will make any wick stop working well after a while.

    Also PSU PCBs are notorious for having huge traces/planes covered in huge seas of solder, so you need to apply a lot of heat to get things moving.

    I just had a PSU failure on one of my "technically retro but still in service" PCs, so I'll be doing my own recapping either on that or a working replacement...
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
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    baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    Yeah, I think think solder wick is fine. It’s just some brands have this effect where it crumbles easily and your entire work area ends up covered in copper mulch when you are finished.
     
  15. rugger

    rugger Member

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    Yep, I found this too on these antec PSUs from this era.

    I swear by Goot Wick ... Does everything. The desoldering station is great for a few things I do, but most of the time, I'm gonna stick with wick. Can get it from local Jaycar cheap enough. Normally heat the pads and pull the capacitor out, then clean the solder using wick.

    I take a photo of the board before I start decapping, and use Paint on my PC to label each capacitor as I take it out.

    I never had any luck with mechanical desolder pumps ... maybe I'm holding it wrong.

    Can never have enough flux ... except all the time. I would avoid adding more flux directly when reworking these boards. If you need to, adding a little leaded solder works to help things melt just as well, and contains a bit of flux too. Adding lots of flux is just mess you have to try and clean later.

    As for rust ... call it patina and don't worry about it lol.
     
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  16. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    I've mostly gotten by with wick too but then there's those damn holes that have so much metal around them that it has a heatsink effect, and it's hard to get the solder hot enough to run. I used a sucker on those for my last project and it actually worked pretty well - it was only caps so I removed them first like you mentioned above. And it was only a sound card so I could easily stand it up and attach both sides at once.

    Still not much fun - I noticed a bulging cap on my P4 board the other week so I have that to look forward to; I gave up counting caps at 1 million and 1 :sick:
     
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  17. rugger

    rugger Member

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    Yes, there are certainly those damn holes at times.

    If I can't clean it out with wick, I typically cheat and just force the replacement cap through the hole while having the joint heated up. Once the cap is all the way in, apply a bit of fresh solder and reflow the joint.

    The reason why I avoid the the desoldering iron a lot of the time is that it is very hard on the board and the traces. If there are fine traces near the solder hole, there is a real risk of ripping them apart while trying to suck the solder out.
     
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    baronbaldric

    baronbaldric Member

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    These tips helped a lot. Decapping oceans of solder was a breeze with some extra solder, flux, and wick. One tiny cap was tricky because it was tucked away under all the huge coils but i got him in the end.

    A dozen or so left.

    044451EF-D577-446C-A2FC-64C33F3F9C0A.jpeg 8F59BF9C-A1E6-4F15-8EBB-03D5C2B0471E.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
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  19. Pierre32

    Pierre32 Member

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    Nice one. I am also absorbing all the tips.
     
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  20. adz

    adz Member

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    I find choosing the right soldering tip (no pun intended) makes a huge difference too :thumbup:
     
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