Pentium III Tualatin Adventures

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by badmofo, Feb 11, 2018.

  1. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    I'm not 100% sure what my motivation was for this project - I suspect that I just like building PCs. I do consider my existing PIII to be my most versatile and useful retro PC so it's good to have a backup I suppose. I had all of the parts on hand except for a motherboard, so I put the word out and was kindly gifted 2 DFI CA-64TC's by the most excellent BuuBox. The CA-64TC is a VIA Apollo Pro 133A based board that a) can handle a 133MHz FSB and b) has an ISA slot.

    One of the boards had bad caps so it was a good opportunity to dive in and practice my re-capping skills:

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    I've done a fair bit of entry level soldering in my time and I have a decent soldering iron to work with, but desoldering ~20 caps (using braid) wasn't much fun at all and it would have been easy to burn a trace. Replacing the caps in my other systems is probably inevitable as they age so I think it's time I invested in a desoldering station - soldering caps back into this board was relatively quick and easy when I finally had clean holes to work with. Anyway, I got there in the end, and after a good wash and sporting nice new Rubycons the motherboard was ready to rock.

    The CPU is a PIII Tualatin 1400-S with a FCPGA mod, bought from this Korean dude a couple of years ago. He seemed to have an unlimited supply but only has 10 left at the time of writing, and he's jacked up the price accordingly. I think it was more like $30AUD delivered when I bought mine. It's very neat work and has worked like a charm for me:

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    For a GPU I went with a Geforce 2 Ultra, which is a lovely card for this era IMHO. The VGA / SVGA output is beautiful and it's of course an impressive 3D card too. I have 2 of these and ended up using the other one - I switched them when I was trying to track down the source of a buzzing noise when moving the mouse (via PS2 only, serial was OK). It turned out that having the mouse cord run over my little SRS processor (which sits b/w the PC and the speakers) was introducing the noise, so I just moved the mouse cable :)

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    For sound I went with a NOS Live! "X-Gamer" that I've had sitting around for years. It's a nice card and installed relatively easily (for a Live!), but I must admit that I find them as dull as dishwater. I use a Vortex2 based "SuperQuad" in my other PIII and I really dig that card - maybe I just prefer an underdog. Anyway the Live! sounds great and having EAX is nice for late Windows 98 games so it can stay there for now - its SB16 emulation is pretty aweful but I'm not planning on using this machine for DOS games anyway.

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    Windows 98 SE installed without a hitch - I'm sticking with 512MB of RAM to keep it happy - and it's proving to be a quiet, quick, and very stable machine so far. The only instability I've seen was during the Live! installation process but of course a Live! can lock up a PC from the other side of the room. Plans for the future are some benchmarking, and maybe finding an ISA sound card to fill that slot.

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    Last edited: May 24, 2018
    BuzzPuppy, Flamin Joe, CAESAR and 2 others like this.
  2. JidaiGeki

    JidaiGeki Member

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    A really nice build! Top work on recapping and a great choice of parts too. I agree with your view of SB Live!s, among other things they are so ubiquitous, but the game pack with that card looks nice, and gives you something to do straight out of the box ;) is the tower case NOS?
     
  3. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Thanks and yes it was nice to have some games to try out with the Live! out of the box, and the software package provided was OK-ish if you took your time with the installer and un-ticked a whole lot of crap that Creative try and sneak into your machine. I did need to install the update package (from the Creative website) to fix it blue screening though which was lame, and the installer change the Windows start sound to an ear splitting thundercrash which was also a bit rich I thought!

    The case was NOS when I bought it ~7 years ago but I've used it for something before this build. It's a relatively cheap thing I suspect but there're no sharp edges, the motherboard tray is easy to pop out, and there's plenty of ventilation. The PSU it came with was a deathtrap so I've replaced it with an Antec Basiq - I have a few of these for older machines and they've never let me down.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  4. Matthew kane

    Matthew kane Member

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    I noticed you didn't bend the flap on the I/O plate blocking the ethernet port.
     
  5. BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Very nice build. Great to see the motherboard was fixable. :leet:

    Everyone always recommends an Intel 815E chipset motherboard for Tualatin builds.

    It'd be good to see the DOS sound support with an ISA sound card (in case the VIA chipset plays funny buggers) and of course how it benchmarks compared to the 815E.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  6. flu!d

    flu!d Ubuntu Mate 16.04 LTS

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    The GeForce 2 Ultra was a little pre Tualatin. I'm pretty sure I was running a Geforce 4xxx by the time the Tualatin came out.

    I love the Tualatin's, I recently built one up myself as a result of BuuBox's good graces. Running a 'Nokia' style case, a GeForce FX5200 (out of era, I know. i used to have a 4200 as well as a Ti4600 - Gave them both away!), 384MB of ram, 40GB 7200RPM HDD and SoundBlaster Audigy 4. Due to the sound card I couldn't get Windows 98 running properly so I settled on Windows 2000, from memory I was running Windows 2000 by the time I was running a Tualatin anyway. My Tualatin's a 1.4 non 'S' running at 1.5Ghz, I also have a Tualatin 1.2-S.

    I admit, since building it I've been right into my Amiga's, so I haven't given it the love I should have as yet. Running an i815 Gigabyte GA-60XET motherboard with the beta bios allowing for 1/5th and 1/6th pci/agp dividers.

    I recently scored a matching silver Phillips 17" LCD with built in speakers, I think that'll be the monitor I'll be using if I ever get the space to set this up.

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    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  7. flu!d

    flu!d Ubuntu Mate 16.04 LTS

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    I recently came back into possession of my old AGP 6600GT, I'm sure I was playing HL2 when it came out using this card on my old Pentium 3 Tualatin system. Would a 6600GT be more 'period correct' or is my memory just up the whazoo?!
     
  8. BuuBox

    BuuBox Member

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    Tualatin was 2001/2002 depending on speed, so you're looking at either the Geforce 3 Ti 500 or Radeon 8500 for 2001, or the Radeon 9700 Pro or GeForce4 Ti 4600 for 2002 (assuming high end cards).

    The 6600GT is a spring chicken in comparison!
     
  9. flu!d

    flu!d Ubuntu Mate 16.04 LTS

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    I'm sure I was running a Tualatin in 2003/4 as I refused to jump straight into the Pentium 4 and was never an AMD person...? I dunno...
     
  10. Matthew kane

    Matthew kane Member

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    The Tualatins was faster than the faster clocked first gen P4 aka Willamette architecture utilizing RAMBUS DRAM, both technologies was a massive fail and an overall architectural platform failure ever to be developed in Intel’s history book.
     
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  11. flu!d

    flu!d Ubuntu Mate 16.04 LTS

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    My first P4 was the 2.4Ghz Northwood P4C, cranked it up to 3.4Ghz - It did OK in the day, still got the processor and motherboard here. I actually think that may have been the machine I ran the 6600GT in. I remember going from DX8 to DX9 in HL2 was like night and day, it looked amazing!
     
  12. OP
    OP
    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Ooh nice one - that case takes me back. You have a decent looking cooler on your CPU and that's something I need to do for mine - I got lazy and just grabbed the one I had in the drawer next to me, which claims to be for Socket 370 but looks more like a Socket 7 sized thing to my eyes. From what I understand the Tualatins run pretty cool but better safe than sorry.
     
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  13. flu!d

    flu!d Ubuntu Mate 16.04 LTS

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    In the day I used the stock Tualatin cooler that came with the boxed CPU, it was actually a fairly hefty unit that allowed me to run my Tualatin 1.2 @ 1.6Ghz. I have no doubt this 1.4 would do 1.6Ghz, but I tend to show a little more respect for such hardware these days...

    ...Having said that the 68030 in my Amiga 1200's running at 40Mhz, up from a default of 24Mhz...!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  14. flu!d

    flu!d Ubuntu Mate 16.04 LTS

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    One point of interest. In the day my GA60XET ran Creative onboard audio (essentially a SB Live!), this identical GA60XET has the pads on the mobo for the onboard audio but doesn't have the Creative chip and it's the same revision?! I found that interesting.

    That IBM keyboard I'm using was the one I used on my original Tualatin based system, it was yellowed as hell. Gave it the retrobrite treatment and it came up like new. One cool thing is, I can still download the software for the specialized colored function keys at the top of the keyboard and make use of them!
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2018
  15. bYrd

    bYrd Member

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    Nice build badmofo!

    I successfully bypassed the P4/early Athlon XP era with a Tualatin setup, using a modified ASUS CUSL2-C and Tualatin Celeron 1.2 @ 1.6ish Ghz, and a Geforce Ti4800 graphics card. Was only until I picked up an Opteron setup cheap I upgraded, but I was getting into OSX86 which made things difficult, so the AMD setup was quickly dumped for a lowly Core2 setup after that.
     
  16. Matthew kane

    Matthew kane Member

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    And you're still running the Core 2? Man old school!
     
  17. flu!d

    flu!d Ubuntu Mate 16.04 LTS

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    The Pentium 3 days were good days, by far one of my favorite processors.

    I loved the slot 1's, still got two 1Ghz slot 1's tucked away here....
     
  18. cdtoaster

    cdtoaster Member

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    awesome, P3 is the best
     
  19. OP
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    badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    Thanks mate! I missed the PIII era actually so I have no real nostalgic attachment to them - I lost interest in upgrading in 97 or so; I was a poor Uni student so couldn't keep up with the hardware and of course I had other priorities. I struggled along with some Cyrix 686 thing until getting back into PC gaming in the mid-naughties with an Athlon64.

    What I dig about the PIII is the range of games you can play on it - of course it has trouble with a few speed sensitive DOS games but when equiped with an ISA slot and Windows 98, a PIII can do most DOS games perfectly and of course countless classic early 3D titles. Playing SVGA games that killed my machines back in the day @ 60FPS+ is a real treat.
     
  20. power

    power Member

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    my P3 sucked (fast but unstable), had a board with a shitty VIA chipset (CUV4X). P4 northwood is where it's at for this type of vintage imo, pair it with a GF4 for the ultimate 98 boxen.
     

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