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IAmJefferson

Planning to get this PC for a particular build

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Posted (edited)

So I've been hunting for the best Pentium 4 computer that I could find for Windows 98/XP retrogaming (my priority) and multimedia (particularly DVD playback). What I've found is this one particular computer, which is the Dell Optiplex GX260 from 2002 (yes, 2002 is my favorite year for computing):

BCIqhFK.png

It has the following specifications:

  • 2.4GHz Intel Pentium 4 "Northwood" processor
  • 512MB of system RAM
  • ATI® Radeon™ 7500 graphics card with 32MB VRAM (plus S-Video output)
  • Integrated AC'97 audio chip
  • Integrated Intel Pro/1000 MT Network chip
  • CD-ROM drive

Here are my plans that I'm going to turn it into "the ultimate 2002 multimedia (and gaming) PC" (once I bought that computer):

  1. Install a 120GB 3.5" IDE hard drive and install Windows 98SE and XP on the 120GB IDE hard drive, plus install the drivers (except for the ATi Radeon 7500 graphics card) on both OSes.
  2. Replace the CD drive with an IDE DVD drive. (or option 2: use an external USB DVD drive, but it will only work on Windows XP)
  3. Replace the ATI® Radeon™ 7500 graphics card with a Leadtek GeForce4 Ti4400 (with 128MB of SGRAM, plus S-Video out)
  4. And last, but not least, install the Linksys WMP54 PCI WiFi card to have Wi-Fi connectivity.
Edited by IAmJefferson

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Posted (edited)

Before you buy it you should ask the seller for the service tag number and do a search on Google and bing images for a picture of the motherboard.  There were several different scus and motherboard layouts I think. You should make sure it has the expansion slots you want.  AC97 sound is really lacking so you should plan on adding a sound card as well.  

I think for 98 the PC would be fine for XP it really lacking in my opinion.  XP is more Core 2 duo of things in my opinion or pentium M. and usually 2gbs of ram on a XP 512 is no good for XP.  But 512 is perfect for 98.

I personally fell like 98 is more of a Pentium 3 thing but Pentium 4 is good too.  For retro gaming I fell like ISA slots are needed which very few P4 boards have, usually only boards from like supermicro, itox or like tyan would have them on p4s if any.

 

Most the games that would run good on a TI4400 would run just fine or better on 2000/XP not that its not a perfect card for 98 becasue it is.  Just my perspective is the hardware gaming requirments of 90s era games is very low.  Once you step into 2000/XP more powerful hardware theres no advantage 98 brings.

 

VRAM is bad.  Don't get cards that have Vram.  Vram means Virtual ram.  That means it is using system memory instead of on board memory.  Vram does not mean video ram.

Edited by Destro

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Quote

"Most of the games that would run good on a GeForce4 Ti4400 would run just fine or better on Windows 2000/XP, not that it's not a perfect video card for Windows 98, because it is." -Destro

The GeForce4 Ti 4400 is identical to the GeForce4 Ti 4600, but only with a lower clock speed. This and the GeForce4 Ti 4600 both have drivers for Windows 98SE. Windows 98SE can took advantage of the GeForce4 Ti 4400 with a majority of games that were released from the early DirectX days up to 2004 or 2005.

 

Quote

"Just my perspective is the hardware gaming requirements of 90's era games are very low.  Once you step into Windows 2000/XP with more powerful hardware, there's no advantage Windows 98 brings." -Destro

Some games that are released in the late 1990s are actually demanding, take a look at Outcast, a PC game that came out in 1999 had steep hardware requirements (Pentium III 600MHz+ and 128MB of RAM). Not all graphic cards that were created in the 1990s are equal. Some of those cards actually struggle that time, like those Matrox graphic cards back in the day.

4 hours ago, Destro said:

I think for 98 the PC would be fine for XP it really lacking in my opinion.  XP is more Core 2 duo of things in my opinion or pentium M. and usually 2gbs of ram on a XP 512 is no good for XP.  But 512 is perfect for 98.

I personally fell like 98 is more of a Pentium 3 thing but Pentium 4 is good too.  For retro gaming I fell like ISA slots are needed which very few P4 boards have, usually only boards from like supermicro, itox or like tyan would have them on p4s if any.

Some of the Windows games have issues when running on the Pentium 4 (even when running on Windows 98SE). And yes, when the Core 2 Duo came out (at that time Windows XP was still in mainstream), a majority of PC games that came out between late 2001 until 2013/2014 would run fine.

 

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8 hours ago, IAmJefferson said:

The GeForce4 Ti 4400 is identical to the GeForce4 Ti 4600, but only with a lower clock speed. This and the GeForce4 Ti 4600 both have drivers for Windows 98SE. Windows 98SE can took advantage of the GeForce4 Ti 4400 with a majority of games that were released from the early DirectX days up to 2004 or 2005.

 

Some games that are released in the late 1990s are actually demanding, take a look at Outcast, a PC game that came out in 1999 had steep hardware requirements (Pentium III 600MHz+ and 128MB of RAM). Not all graphic cards that were created in the 1990s are equal. Some of those cards actually struggle that time, like those Matrox graphic cards back in the day.

Some of the Windows games have issues when running on the Pentium 4 (even when running on Windows 98SE). And yes, when the Core 2 Duo came out (at that time Windows XP was still in mainstream), a majority of PC games that came out between late 2001 until 2013/2014 would run fine.

 

Like i said it was a perfect card for 98se, but games that require more system ram or memory or even more CPU run alot better on 2k/xp.  In this scenario 98 is inferior to NT.  If you want to build a XP gaming rig just make one so that it doesn't struggle in games.   If you want a 98se rig and a XP rig at the same time to play games.  If every game you want to play runs fine on 2k/XP than You are basically lowering your FPS for the sake of OS compatibility.

The only reason I think to play games on 98se are as follows.

1. game runs too fast on modern hardware.

2. game wont run properly on newer os.

3, game wont run at all without real mode dos. (theres always dos box)

4. game will only run with 3dfx glide.  (theres always nglide wrappers) 

5. Game is only going to run good with specific sound cards. and specific graphics cards  Like Final Fantasy 7, or Resident Evil 1-2

So out of all of those specific scenarios I dont see how a P4 with 512 ram and a geforce 4 fits that category.  This is only my opinion.

 

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16 hours ago, Destro said:

VRAM is bad.  Don't get cards that have Vram.  Vram means Virtual ram.  That means it is using system memory instead of on board memory.  Vram does not mean video ram.

The Leadtek GeForce 4 TI440 does not appear to use VRAM, but SGRAM.

http://ixbtlabs.com/articles/digest3d/itogi-video-gf4-4400.html
https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814122134

I am putting it down as a case of OP using the wrong terminology.

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If you plan to run Win 98/SE as long as possible, I suggest you double up on the hardware. I did this with my Dell C610. I have 2 of the exact same computers. When one fails due to hardware, I have a backup and just swap drives. I have not got Windows 9x running in VMs like I want to. Once I move all of my laptops to 64bit I will focus more on tweaking it. Development for Win9x is far behind, we have a few people who's helping, but when they have left the scene we'll be sol.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tripredacus said:

I am putting it down as a case of OP using the wrong terminology.

I am putting it down as a generic misunderstanding, I don't see where the terminology by the OP (IAmJefferson) is wrong, these definitions are pretty much tolerant:

http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/definition/video-RAM

https://techterms.com/definition/vram

While actual "VRAM" is only a specific subset:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_RAM_(dual-ported_DRAM)

But VRAM AFAICR has never been meaning  "virtual ram".

jaclaz

 

Edited by jaclaz

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Posted (edited)

That may be true jaklaz.  I'm a bit of a stickler like people refering to pci express as pci-x, or pci when theyre totally different.

Edited by Destro

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One concern I'd have if I were buying the machine listed by the OP is for the condition of the motherboard capacitors.

Dells from this era up to around the mid 2000s often used electrolytic capacitors of substandard quality for the voltage regulators that power the CPU. That might be another good reason to ask for a pic of the motherboard - are the capacitors near the CPU socket bulging?

As previously mentioned, older systems with ISA slots for SoundBlaster 16 era audio cards would serve better for DOS gaming, but this system would work well for later era Windows 9x games and early XP era games.

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If I wanted to build a new 98 computer I would go for a 440bx chipet or a 810.  I would go for Piii CPU 733-1ghz.  I would need at least 1 isa slot.

I am personally biased because I have always felt like Pentium 4s were junk.  It was a bad architecture design.  Intel just wanted to ramp up clock speed numbers to sell CPUs but they were actually pretty slow due to long pipe line and branch prediction.  p4s were also vere energy inefficient. read all about it here.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_4

 

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A *much* better card from 2002 would be the ATI 9700 Pro 256MB AGP. DX9 is better than DX8, and the card was just faster. I'd say, the best GPU of that time, and the start for AMD making history.

I'd always, unless under dire circumstances, choose a card that supports at least DX 9.0(c)... why settle for less? Same price on ebay anyway...

But i had that Dell (long time ago), and found it to be suspectible to thermal damage, as ventilation is pretty bad, and the P4 is generating a lot of heat on its own.

Even the GF 4Ti (which i own, as well as the ATI 9700 Pro) might easily prove too much for that case for thermals.

As building a W9x-PC might mean long hours of working in a tight space, I'd look for a big-tower case with ample of space, rounded edges, and such, and a PSU at the top to help with ventilating the case, and, of course, a side-window, to show the fruits of your labor. Look for i.e. the venerable Chieftec CS-601 with windows-panel (i have three of them, white, blue and red - call me a fanboy...).

Use a Soundblaster sound card, any for PCI will do, but 2002 means Soundblaster Audigy 2. SBs have the lowest CPU-utilization, it helps with games a lot. And at that time, their sound quality was unprecedented. $5 at ebay, there is no reason not to. It has good sound even with Windows 10.

If you use just W9x, a P4 is just fine for the 2002 are, as it is reliable, and cheap. For dual-boot with XP, i'd always vote for a dual-core CPU at least (any, AMD or Intel, and a 4-core would be even better), it's just that the first consumer-Dual-Cores came up 2005, not 2002. So P4 it is. I made an excption here, and took the AMD Athlon 64 3200+, fitting Socket 754, from 2003, as it has just a better energy-efficiency than the contemporary P4s (and not even speaking of Athlon XP were we... well... hot... crap... burned away three MoBos of mine), and the boards from 2003 used the more comfortable DDR-400, and already had SATA. And i hate the cabling of IDE, for practical, and thermal reasons... but that's just me... btw.: SATA1 is from 2002, so it's cool here.

(In 1999, i bought my first ABit BP6, using a Dual-Celeron, technically Pentium-III-class, but you will have a hard time finding these in working condition for a reasonable price - starts at around $120 atm. Mine are long-gone - i had three. I had the maximum of 3x 256 MB on board, and it rocked with W98se as well as Windows 2000. But that's long before 2002, so don't bother).

Well, 2002/2003 WERE good years! :-D

 

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In general I would advise anyone to avoid "prefab" (Dell/HP/Compaq/eMachines/etc.) computers for any type of gaming build and especially for Windows 9x builds. From my experience with certain Dell machines that originally came with XP, Dell seems to make subtle undocumented changes to the motherboards which can cause the onboard devices to not always function as expected despite having 9x-compatible drivers. Also they frequently use garbage OEM BIOS'es which not only severely limit the options available to the user but can even cause wide incompatibilities and annoyances when trying to run Windows 9x. Also avoid any Intel-branded motherboard later than the D875PBZ for this same reason. Intel chipset-based boards by say Gigabyte, MSI, etc. are fine, just as long as they use AWARD BIOS or something else besides Intel.

I personally like P4's and have a whole stockpile of P4-compatible hardware. But if you're going to do this, don't settle for anything less than 3GHz and 4GB of RAM, especially if you plan to dual-boot with XP.

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On 1/8/2018 at 8:16 PM, LoneCrusader said:

In general I would advise anyone to avoid "prefab" (Dell/HP/Compaq/eMachines/etc.) computers for any type of gaming build and especially for Windows 9x builds. From my experience with certain Dell machines that originally came with XP, Dell seems to make subtle undocumented changes to the motherboards which can cause the onboard devices to not always function as expected despite having 9x-compatible drivers. Also they frequently use garbage OEM BIOS'es which not only severely limit the options available to the user but can even cause wide incompatibilities and annoyances when trying to run Windows 9x. Also avoid any Intel-branded motherboard later than the D875PBZ for this same reason. Intel chipset-based boards by say Gigabyte, MSI, etc. are fine, just as long as they use AWARD BIOS or something else besides Intel.

I personally like P4's and have a whole stockpile of P4-compatible hardware. But if you're going to do this, don't settle for anything less than 3GHz and 4GB of RAM, especially if you plan to dual-boot with XP.

i agree generally on what is being said here, my main reason for opting for pentium 4's in w95 osr 2.5 - 98SE builds instead of pentium iii is many reasons, but mostly it's because i have the intention or at least wan't others to have the ability to browse the web better and have websites load properly from the added instructions (SSE2 VS SSE), the difference doesn't seem to be much but i do remember some sites not loading properly with SSE only capable processors where as SSE2 processors had more compatibility, also hardware for SSE2 compatible is more readily available / cheaper and CAN offer just as much, if not more support than pentium iii or older hardware in terms of combining legacy and modern functioning in one computer / operating system. sure, SSE2 still might limit web browsing, but some boards can accept also SSE3 processors which i think most websites or sites work properly with, i think it is SSE2 and lower that may not load every site out there properly, but don't quote me on this, im just guessing this based off some random experimenting with some SSE2 based systems in the past, however SSE only is limited to very basic sites and web browsing such as wikipedia. 

btw lonecrusader, thanks for the info on the motherboard version and bios stuff, it's nice to know this when assembling or picking out a pc build, especially if you want to maximize legacy and modern in one package. 

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Palemoon has an SSE1 build that works with most websites (but I don't think it'll run on 9x). I used to play games too on a P4 that had 2.6 or 2.8GHz. But for browsing websites that fart javascript all over your PC, I'd guess the old architecture on socket 478 ought to be avoided. Remember as well that any hyper threading on offer is gonna be disabled for 9x.

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