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Building a fully compatible 98SE computer


Josey
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Hi, :)

 

Over the next few months I'm going to be building two computer which are going to be running Windows 98SE, mostly for gaming. One for myself, and one for a friend.

 

I'm sure that along the way I'll have to ask a few questions, so I've started this thread to ask them all in one place.

 

My first question is about picking out a motherboard. I'm finding it hard to find one that's right for my needs. I want it to be a pretty good one, and my friend wants PCIe (I'm happy with PCIe or AGP). And of course I need to have 98SE drivers for it.

 

I found this motherboard, which has the Intel P965 chipset (which is compatible with 98SE, right?), but I can't see drivers for it anywhere. Would it work with 98SE, or have I made a mistake? And where do you think I could get drivers?

 

http://www.ascendtech.us/intel-dg965lvg1-d36275-502-motherboard_i_mbinlvdg965lvg1.aspx

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The Intel 9xx series boards do NOT have Windows 9x drivers. The motherboard chipset devices can be handled by my unofficial Intel Chipset driver package, but there are no Windows 9x drivers for any of the onboard hardware such as Video, HD Audio, or the Network card. The Intel D875PBZ is the LAST Intel-branded board and the 875 is the LAST Intel chipset that carries official 9x support.

 

I have a lot of experience with 9x on "post-9x" Intel boards and if at all possible I would advise you to AVOID Intel-branded motherboards later than the D875PBZ for Windows 9x systems at all costs. The proprietary Intel BIOS tends to not get along well with Windows 9x and is worthelss for actual customization of any important settings. Third party boards based on Intel chipsets are OK, but look for those that use AWARD BIOS preferably.

 

If you want "everything" to have 9x support out of the box, then I suggest you find a motherboard based on the Intel 875 (or 865) chipset. It will however limit you to AGP for a video card. ATI X850 XT PE/NVidia 7800GS are the last compatible cards. The ATI X8xx series has issues with some old DOS games.

 

If you accept that some tweaking, trial-and-error, and some non-free third party patches may be required, then you can look for a newer board. Accept that you will need rloew's SATA patch and RAM patch, along with a 9x-compatible PCI add-in sound card and you will be able to use a much larger variety of hardware. Many newer boards will work using these, but you will need to carefully select a board that has a Network card with 9x drivers (unless you want to use a PCI card for this as well) and preferably uses AWARD BIOS. NVidia 7950GT is the last confirmed working PCI-E video card. These come in 256MB and 512MB versions; the latter models may require another patch from rloew.

Edited by LoneCrusader
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If you're going to use widescreen, I'd definitely suggest NVIDIA. ATI doesn't seem to do well with widescreen as I've been battling that for quite some time and I ended up just finally getting an NVIDIA card since this is hooked up to my television.

 

So, when you said "fully compatible" do you mean that you want everything to work straight out of the box, or at least get a machine that's working with Windows 98? I'm supposing the former but I like to be sure.

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The Intel 9xx series boards do NOT have Windows 9x drivers. The motherboard chipset devices can be handled by my unofficial Intel Chipset driver package, but there are no Windows 9x drivers for any of the onboard hardware such as Video, HD Audio, or the Network card. The Intel D875PBZ is the LAST Intel-branded board and the 875 is the LAST Intel chipset that carries official 9x support.

 

I have a lot of experience with 9x on "post-9x" Intel boards and if at all possible I would advise you to AVOID Intel-branded motherboards later than the D875PBZ for Windows 9x systems at all costs. The proprietary Intel BIOS tends to not get along well with Windows 9x and is worthelss for actual customization of any important settings. Third party boards based on Intel chipsets are OK, but look for those that use AWARD BIOS preferably.

 

If you want "everything" to have 9x support out of the box, then I suggest you find a motherboard based on the Intel 875 (or 865) chipset. It will however limit you to AGP for a video card. ATI X850 XT PE/NVidia 7800GS are the last compatible cards. The ATI X8xx series has issues with some old DOS games.

 

If you accept that some tweaking, trial-and-error, and some non-free third party patches may be required, then you can look for a newer board. Accept that you will need rloew's SATA patch and RAM patch, along with a 9x-compatible PCI add-in sound card and you will be able to use a much larger variety of hardware. Many newer boards will work using these, but you will need to carefully select a board that has a Network card with 9x drivers (unless you want to use a PCI card for this as well) and preferably uses AWARD BIOS. NVidia 7950GT is the last confirmed working PCI-E video card. These come in 256MB and 512MB versions; the latter models may require another patch from rloew.

If you're going to use widescreen, I'd definitely suggest NVIDIA. ATI doesn't seem to do well with widescreen as I've been battling that for quite some time and I ended up just finally getting an NVIDIA card since this is hooked up to my television.

 

So, when you said "fully compatible" do you mean that you want everything to work straight out of the box, or at least get a machine that's working with Windows 98? I'm supposing the former but I like to be sure.

 

I was thinking I was looking for all hardware working out of the box, but I didn't really know about rloew's patches until now. I want these builds to last a long while, so using newer hardware sounds good, as long as I end up with a PC that runs Windows 98SE more or less flawlessly.

 

Are you saying that, with the patches installed, the motherboard doesn't need to have 98SE chipset drivers? Does everything still work fully? Or am I getting the wrong end of the stick?

 

I'm planning on having a add-on sound card anyway, and wouldn't mind having a add-on network card too if that made finding a motherboard easier.

 

When you say newer, how much newer do you mean? How can I tell if a motherboard would work with 98SE and the rloew's patches?

 

That's good to know about NVIDIA, as I will be using widescreen, at least to begin with.

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I was thinking I was looking for all hardware working out of the box, but I didn't really know about rloew's patches until now. I want these builds to last a long while, so using newer hardware sounds good, as long as I end up with a PC that runs Windows 98SE more or less flawlessly.

 

Are you saying that, with the patches installed, the motherboard doesn't need to have 98SE chipset drivers? Does everything still work fully? Or am I getting the wrong end of the stick?

 

I'm planning on having a add-on sound card anyway, and wouldn't mind having a add-on network card too if that made finding a motherboard easier.

 

When you say newer, how much newer do you mean? How can I tell if a motherboard would work with 98SE and the rloew's patches?

 

That's good to know about NVIDIA, as I will be using widescreen, at least to begin with.

 

The problem is, a lot of people think they can use lots of RAM or even newer motherboards and get away with not having to use Rloew's patches. While you might luck out on some of it, if you're serious about using over a gig of RAM with Windows 98, then his RAM patch is a must. But running more than a gig without his patch will produce the same effect, no matter what motherboard you use. But like I said, if you're serious about this, it's really worth the investment and if you have any problems, he will answer you. So he's not a shady character to be careful of.

 

Basically if you're going with add-on video, sound, and network, then you're really not *too* limited on motherboards. Although I just recently built a machine with a Gigabyte GA-965GM-S2 Rev 2 motherboard and even though it had an IDE port and even could run in IDE mode, Windows 98 still didn't like it and I ended up having to get Rloew's SATA patch as well which wasn't too bad either since it just installs like a regular driver. You could run it in compatibility mode but it's slow, unstable, and just not a good experience. But for a $32 investment for those two patches, it's really worth it in my opinion.

 

A small tip of advice, if you happen along an NVIDIA Quadro FX1500 card which will work with Windows 98 and the fan is really really loud, there is a BIOS update for the card itself and once you flash it, it will quiet the fan down considerably, since before it ran on full throttle mode constantly. Just a little FYI there.

 

I honestly didn't install any chipset drivers for my build. USB worked out of the box, and the way the BIOS works, my USB wireless mouse and even if I left a flash drive plugged in, they both worked in safe mode and the flash drive was just recognized as a hard drive, not a removable drive, but still useful! So yes, USB worked out of the box. I had add-on video and sound. I have a USB wireless adapter for internet/networking so I didn't need the onboard LAN to work. I did need the SATA patch because of the mentioned above. I'm also running the RAM patch since I have 4GBs of RAM installed but only a little over 3 gigs is recognized by the OS itself because hence, it's 32-bit, and that's just how 32-bit rolls.

 

But when you look for a motherboard, as mentioned above as well, definitely go with Award. Gigabyte is pretty much a safe bet since they didn't switch to AMI until this dumb UEFI BIOS garbage came along. Like seriously...why is it necessary in the first place? But anything socket 775/socket AM2+ and possible AM3 should pretty much be Award. But to be sure, an example. http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=2617#sp(This is actually my 98 board)

 

You will see in the specs, that it uses Award. Stay far away from AMI for Windows 98. (Or completely in my opinion teehee)

 

Of course you're free to use whatever brand board you wish, but Gigabyte has been a personal favorite of mine, I've owned four so far. I've heard some MSI boards use Award but many use AMI from what I saw. Biostar used to use Award for quite a while but I think after the early socket 775 models, it switched to AMI as well. ASRock will always be AMI, and Asus is pretty much AMI as well from what I heard, although some Asus boards from OEM seem to use what I call an Award/Phoenix hybrid BIOS. (Award was purchased by Phoenix, but if you're familiar with BIOSes, then you'd know what I was talking about).

 

So yeah, if you can even get your hands on like the original Sound Blaster Audigy, it works with Windows 98 as well, X-Fi and Live 24-bit are completely out as far as I know.

 

But keep posting in this thread, I'll do my best to help you out since I've had quite a few experiences with Windows 98 and getting it to run so now I'm a lot more knowledgeable with running it as well. Of course once you get Windows 98 installed, USP3 is pretty much a must. :)

 

Edit: Also, his patches are completely software related, so theoretically, they should work with ANY motherboard. You can even use his RAM patch on machines that only have 512MBs and below. SATA is pretty much 'about' guaranteed to work but if you're not sure, talk to him, he'll help you get up and running one way or another. Rloew might even chime in on this thread later on and explain more.

Edited by Tommy
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My Patches are "patches" so they need something to Patch. They solve a number of problems with newer Motherboards but do not provide Drivers for anything that did not have a Driver previously.

The main exception is add-on PATA and SATA Cards as my SATA Patch adapts the existing IDE Driver to support them.

I also have a free generic USB Mass Storage Driver but there are other alternatives as well.

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Are you saying that, with the patches installed, the motherboard doesn't need to have 98SE chipset drivers? Does everything still work fully? Or am I getting the wrong end of the stick?

 

I'm planning on having a add-on sound card anyway, and wouldn't mind having a add-on network card too if that made finding a motherboard easier.

 

When you say newer, how much newer do you mean? How can I tell if a motherboard would work with 98SE and the rloew's patches?

 

That's good to know about NVIDIA, as I will be using widescreen, at least to begin with.

Motherboard chipset drivers are not absolutely necessary for a system to run. They are just text files that identify motherboard components by the specific manufacturer's names. Having them can reduce the number of "unknown devices" in the Device Manager and reduce the number of devices given "generic" names, but other than this they don't do much. My unofficial Intel Chipset driver package should handle all Intel chipsets up to at least the X79, so you're covered on this.

As far as everything else working "fully," the answer is yes so long as it has a 9x compatible driver. In order to use SATA ports instead of PATA you will most likely need rloew's SATA patch. On some boards it is possible to set the SATA ports to operate in "Legacy IDE" mode, but not all support this and it is not 100% guaranteed that it will make all of the ports/drives work under 9x, and if the setting gets changed for whatever reason it can lead to crashes. There are no 9x drivers for any HD Audio device, so any of these devices will not work. Some onboard gigabit network cards have 9x drivers, some don't. If it's a RealTek or Marvell chip then you have some hope; if it's Intel forget it.

The main thing to look for is a third-party (Gigabyte/MSI/DFI/etc) board based on an Intel chipset that uses an AWARD BIOS and doesn't have too many onboard devices or anything too fancy added on. Onboard video is useless so I would rule out boards that have it. Be sure it has at least two available PCI slots, one for a sound card and another for network just in case. More PCI slots if you use/need other addon cards for whatever reason. If possible look for a board that uses a RealTek or Marvell Yukon network chip, as these have 9x drivers and may save you from having to add a card.

Order rloew's RAM patch to enjoy up to 4GB of RAM under 9x. Install 98SE using "SETUP /p i" if you have problems with ACPI (usually shows up as crashes during SETUP or onboard devices not working properly). That's about as far as I can take you until you choose a board or start your project.

Of course once you get Windows 98 installed, USP3 is pretty much a must. :)

Debatable on that front; I wouldn't recommend the USP to someone unless they were familiar with backing up their system before attempting it and subsequently knowing how to verify that everything still works as expected once it's installed. I'm not trying to start an argument here, but some of the files contained in it do not work as intended with all systems; the later versions of the 2K USB2 stack drivers in particular.
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Of course once you get Windows 98 installed, USP3 is pretty much a must. :)

Debatable on that front; I wouldn't recommend the USP to someone unless they were familiar with backing up their system before attempting it and subsequently knowing how to verify that everything still works as expected once it's installed. I'm not trying to start an argument here, but some of the files contained in it do not work as intended with all systems; the later versions of the 2K USB2 stack drivers in particular.

 

 

I've always personally had good luck. But at least I really like the main updates feature, that at least should get you much more updated files than a vanilla version of 98SE.

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Along with tens of thousand others without problems.

 

www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/unofficial_windows98_se_service_pack.html

 

Thousands from the official download and Thousands more from various other sites. It's safe to say it been primetime for a while. 

 

You can't find 50 or more people (out of the Thousands) that's having issues and if you do, I'll fix the problems pronto.

 

Comprende!!!!!!!!!

Edited by PROBLEMCHYLD
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Thank you everyone for all the advice. I'm making notes of what patches/software I'll need and which hardware to look out for. This forum is amazing, as are the people on it!

 

I've spent the last few hours looking at motherboards available. While doing so I realized that I, and especially my friend, will want a floppy disk drive connector on the motherboard, which means we have to go a little older, and look a little harder.

 

I’ve found a few possibilities, but I could only find one motherboard that uses an Intel CPU (and has a floppy disk drive connector and PCI-e). All the others are AMD. Will that be an issue?

 

I've seen them all for sale unused.

 

Gigabyte GA-M68MT-S2P http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3726#sp

This motherboard is pretty new (2011), it has a Floppy disk drive connector (using the iTE IT8720 chip, will this work?), PCI-e and uses the AWARD BISO. But it’s AMD not Intel.

 

Gigabyte GA-790FXTA-UD5 http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3258#sp

This motherboard seems to be very similar, but costs a lot more. Again it’s pretty new (2011), it has a Floppy disk drive connector (also using the iTE IT8720 chip), PCI-e and uses the AWARD BISO. Again it’s AMD.

 

Both the above motherboards have support for DualBIOS. Will this be ok?

 

There's only one of both the below boards for sale, so if I got one of them, I'd need to find another for my friends PC.

 

Gigabyte GA-K8NNXP-940 http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=1698#sp

This motherboard is older (2003), but cheaper. It has a Floppy disk drive connector, no PCI-e (so my friend won’t be interested), but it does have AGP. It uses the AWARD BISO, and yet again, it’s AMD. Because it’s older there’s some drivers on the site for Windows 98SE, but it also says “This product does not support Win9X/ME”.

 

Gigabyte GA-8I915G-MF http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=1796#sp

This motherboard is also older (2004). It costs less than the newer ones, but more than the than the one above. It has a Floppy disk drive connector, it has PCI-e, and it’s Intel! I’m guessing it uses the AWARD BISO, but the Gigabyte site doesn’t say (all it says under BIOS is "1 x 2 Mbit Flash ROM". But I did find an online manual saying it does use the AWARD BISO). It also has DualBIOS. It uses the Realtek 8110S Gigabit Ethernet controller, and has two PCIs.

 

What do you all think of these motherboards? Will one of them be good, or should I carry on looking?

 

:)

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As far as new goes, I'd go with this GA-790FXTA-UD5 because it has many expansion slots since most of the onboard stuff won't work so you'll have lots of room to play, but MAKE SURE you have a full ATX case available so that you don't buy the board and it won't fit. As Rloew said, DualBIOS is only a disaster backup so it doesn't affect operation. I've had two DualBIOS boards but never needed the feature yet.

 

The one thing I don't like is how AMD generally takes more power than Intel. My motherboard before this took AMD so I ran an Athlon 64 x2 5000+ which didn't seem to work quite good with Windows 7, even though I primarily used it for Windows 2000. But it's up to personal preference. The board said it'd take a Phenom II X4 945 but it never did really work at all. Also, more RAM slots gives you more play for RAM expansion, especially if you have smaller modules available on hand.

 

Anyway, with that board, I can't guarantee that you could get away with not using the SATA patch, I haven't tried Windows 98 on newer motherboards like that. Not even on the ones I own so I can't tell you for sure...

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I've spent the last few hours looking at motherboards available. While doing so I realized that I, and especially my friend, will want a floppy disk drive connector on the motherboard, which means we have to go a little older, and look a little harder.

 

I’ve found a few possibilities, but I could only find one motherboard that uses an Intel CPU (and has a floppy disk drive connector and PCI-e). All the others are AMD. Will that be an issue?

 

...

 

What do you all think of these motherboards? Will one of them be good, or should I carry on looking?

You may have some good possibilities there, but I have very little experience with AMD over the past 10 years or so. The last time I built and preferred AMD systems over Intel was back in the K6-II Super Socket 7 days. Since the P4 I've only used Intel except in some rare situations for testing purposes. If you chose to run an AMD machine, I'm afraid I can't be of much help when it comes to chipset compatibility knowledge. rloew and others will be of more help in this area.

I would advise staying away from NForce chipsets though; every one I have tested with has had some problem/bug or another when trying to run Windows 9x.

Finding a new"er" board with a FDD connector isn't that hard really. Most third-party manufacturers added a FDD connector to their boards for backward compatibility; only Intel really pushed for its removal. It seems to have vanished now from "current" systems, but many fairly recent systems still have it. There are plenty of Intel based systems to fit the bill as well. Here are some examples; you'll need to see if you can find sources to buy them if you're looking to find them still "new."

 

MSI 875P Neo-LSR

Gigabyte GA-G1975X

Gigabyte GA-965P-DQ6

Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3LR

MSI 975X Platinum

MSI P965 Neo-F

 

There are many more like these, you just have to dig around the manufacturer's websites for other boards in the chipset families you're looking for. DFI also made good boards although I'm not as familiar with them since the old AMD Socket 7 days I mentioned before. The MOBOT motherboard database is sometimes useful as well if you know how to get it to produce the results you want.

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