The Ritron Classic: A blast from the past.

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by Flamin Joe, Feb 8, 2018.

  1. Dellwood

    Dellwood Member

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    Noice.

    I bought an Intel 430TX chipset motherboard from fleabay for cheap a few months back. I got it because it supports SD-RAM, although it doesn't have an AGP slot. The seller was overseas and when it arrived, they'd wrapped it in a single layer of bubblewrap then put it into a paper envelope and that's it. All the caps along one edge were pushed over, as was the bottom ISA slot, and one corner of the board was crushed so it basically has a 45 degree angle taken off the corner.

    I've pushed the ISA slot back in place and I'll replace the caps but I don't hold much hope for it.

    Since then I picked up a job lot of boards and CPUs. The auction didn't list what was in the lot, but I could see in the picture that one of the boards was a socket 7 with SD-RAM slots as well as an AGP slot, which was my main draw. It also came with a few 486DX2-66 CPUs, a 486SX-33, a 486DX4-100, a couple of P90s, a couple of P166MMX, and a AMD K6-266, as well as some other random CPUs (Athon XPs, etc.) and some other motherboards I'm not interested in. Most of the CPUs had bent pins, but a pair of tweezers and a bit of patience fixed that.

    At least that seller used anti-static bags and plenty of bubblewrap, not to mention packing them in a box.

    So I'll probably get around to putting together a system one of these weekends.
     
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  2. OP
    OP
    Flamin Joe

    Flamin Joe Member

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    Finally some progress!

    Had some Nichicon 6.3v 1500uF caps arrive on Friday just in the nick of time for the weekend. Got started on them this morning, there was just the 6 to replace around the CPU plus 2 just above the onboard cache.


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    As you can see, someone forgot to take into account space considerations on a motherboard and got ones which are slightly too wide and are quite a tight fit. :) To be fair I'm used to doing recaps on vintage power supplies and CRT's where 9 times out of 10 the cap is smaller. Lesson learned however!

    The one in particular sitting between the cluster of jumpers and the CPU socket arm actually prevents the arm from swinging out when you unhook it from the socket and bring it up. So I ended up cutting the little tag on the socket which the arm clips into so it's now just a straight up and down. Not ideal but it works!

    The end result.....success!!


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    Note that's it posting with a known to work with this motherboard SDRAM stick I had I was using during testing. I'm not sure if I'll stick with 128MB as may drop it down more in line with what I had at the time. Sounds silly to be downgrading but I'm trying to keep it as original as possible.

    Next on the list of things to do is to install Windows 98 SE which I'll do in a later update. :thumbup:
     
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  3. adz

    adz Member

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    I think 128MB was the threshold for socket 7 systems, any more and performance went backwards, I did some testing years ago, 64MB seemed to be the sweet spot.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
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  4. pfrcom

    pfrcom Member

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    64MB was maximum cacheable on a board with Intel VX or TX chipset

    But HX chipset boards were capable of caching 512MB - like the mighty Asus P55T2P4 with appropriate TAG SRAM upgrade :thumbup:
     
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  5. JidaiGeki

    JidaiGeki Member

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  6. OP
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    Flamin Joe

    Flamin Joe Member

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    Nah never, she's keeper! In doing this build I came to realise just how much nostalgia is packed into this PC (which I'll touch upon with later updates) so it's not going anywhere. :)

    Interesting thing I noticed from that PC is in the 3rd photo of the back of case. Just above the PCI slots is an upside down Ritron warranty sticker so it was one of their builds at one stage. Libra Data probably re-purposed/rebadged it at a later stage as the components don't fit the date of the warranty sticker. The case is dated 05 May 1995 and from a quick Google the Cyrix 6x86MX-PR233 didn't come out until 1997.

    Cool find! :thumbup:
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2018
  7. mkusanagi

    mkusanagi Member

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    My computer growing up had the same case, I was lucky enough to find one a couple of years ago on eBay and snatched it up. However we bought that case from the local computer fair when they were still a thing. I had a Pentium 120 with integrated heatsink, 440tx chipset but 72Pin memory only and the slowest Fujitsu hard drive known to man! Good times.
     
  8. adz

    adz Member

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    Yes, it's all coming back now :thumbup:
     
  9. badmofo

    badmofo Member

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    You guys are lucky finding the exact case you had back in the day - I've been trying to track mine down for years. I had a flip top desktop with a side power switch - I've found a few over the years that came close but apparently this case was cloned to death because it comes in countless variations, so finding the exact one has been hard - particularly when you throw my dodgy memory into the mix :lol: We bought it from one of those fly-by-night shops that had those tiny little adds in the back of the green guide, so it certainly wasn't a branded thing in any way.
     
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  10. OP
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    Flamin Joe

    Flamin Joe Member

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    First, apologies but this is going to be long winded....:D

    Finally got around to do an update on the progress of this PC. Well where do I start? I'm now come full circle with this PC as I ran into quite a few issues when attempting to go the the VA-503+ motherboard. As it turns out it has more issues other than dodgy caps which only manifested itself while attempting to install Windows 98. I kept getting hard lock ups, the occasional General Protection Fault and one time it even got as far as starting Windows for the first time after copying all the files only for Windows to complain that the registry was corrupt and needing repairing.


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    Windows just got better...haha :lol:

    I tried all various troubleshooting in the hope that it was something other than the board, ran memtest on the memory which passed, clocked the CPU down/tried different CPU, removed all non essential expansion cards (Encore Dxr2 decoder, sound card) tried another video card, no dice. As a last resort I tested the HDD and low and behold the Samsung diagnostic tools found an error so I though I finally found the culprit. As it turned out it was somewhat of a false lead as while the locking up vanished completely and I was finally able to complete the Windows 98 install, the GPF's returned and I was getting all sorts of strange happenings such as the device mananger reporting that the sound card was unable to find a free IRQ.

    After doing a bit more messing around, changing which slot the cards were in and trying different video cards, all of a sudden I stopped getting a display from the board even though you could hear the POST beep/floppy drive seek and then the hard drive churning away as Windows loaded. It would just refuse to display from any card regardless which card it was and if it was PCI/AGP. Time to call it a day on that motherboard. So I went back to the original Intel 430 VX Chipset motherboard with the P100 and all the issues were gone! Why did I even bother upgrading? :D

    It's disappointing but I'm not overly disappointed as with all the components I have in there at the moment, period wise it is all a better fit for what I had at the time so I'm still happy with it.

    Just for the sake of it I decided to start fresh and reinstall Windows. This time I actually decided to go with Windows 98 first edition for it's period correctness with this build and also because it has a bit of nostalgia attached to it as well.


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    Back in early 1997 I took up an interest in Microsoft Windows Beta's even going as far as visiting a few dodgy sites so I could download the latest "Memphis" builds. Then one day I read on a site where you could apply directly to join the Microsoft Beta Group simply by sending an email to betareq@microsoft.com with your name, address followed by your current system specifications (my good old Ritron Classic!). I didn't expect anything but then probably a month later I received an email reply to say I was accepted and to expect this which came a few weeks later via courier!


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    I was supposed to destroy this....and the dozens of discs I received over the years. :D

    This started an awesome journey which lasted a good 10 years starting with Windows 98 Beta 2 as above, Windows 98 SE, Plus! for Windows 98, Windows Millenium, Windows XP, Windows 7 and ending with Windows 8. But wait there's more....


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    This is a group that probably not many people have heard about or knew it existed. Sometime during the Windows 98 SE Beta, a call went out in the Micrososft Beta newsgroups looking for people to join an internal games beta testing group that was being put together which was later called the Microsoft Games Core Beta Group and getting selected for me was like winning the lottery! I think initially the group only consisted of around 100 people worldwide and I think (at least at the start) I was the only aussie from little old Adelaide!

    It was an absolute blast and a total thrill to be apart of and I tested (in no particular order) NBA Drive '99 (which I think later became NBA Drive 2000), International Football 2000, Microsoft Baseball 2000, MW4: Mercenaries, Halo PC, Fable: The Lost Chapters, Zoo Tycoon 2, MW Vengeance, RalliSport Challenge, Impossible Creatures, Dungeon Siege, Combat Flight Simulator 2 (and 3), Midtown Madness 2, Motorcross Madness 2, Microsoft Baseball 2001, NFL Fever 2000, Crimson Skies, Flight Simulator 2000, 2004 and Century of Flight and last but not least StarLancer and Freelancer. I only remember all these because I kept the discs...tsk...tsk. One day I'll get around the scanning the disc art but unfortunately bit rot has taken care of most of the data. :(

    Speaking of StarLancer (or is it Freelancer?) I can't remember which it's been so long. But there is an NPC with the name "Spencer" (my last name) in the game. Everyone who was apart of the Beta got their last name in the game as a kind of reward. There's my sole claim to fame! :lol:

    In doing this build I've come to realise just how much nostalgia is tied up in this PC, it's quite incredible to think about and took me by surprise. Such a fantastic period of my life just thinking back on firsts I did on this PC from the beginning of 3D accelerated gaming for me, my first media centre with the addition of DVD movie playback capabilities, all the testing I did for Microsoft which in the early days was a huge thrill. Fantastic PC and absolute joy to work with.
     

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