I wrote about this machine a few years ago on a site called Vogons. Today as I was moving it downstairs to a new room dedicated to old school gaming and electronics, I thought I'd post the "story" here on TR.
I found this computer in the dumpster seven years ago, but it cleaned up well! This machine was crafted to handle only three things and handle them well: DOS games, Windows 9x games, and Glide supported games. I call it Bitchin'Fast! PC '99.
First, some specs:
-Base machine: Dell Dimension XPS T550
-Originally shipped with a "Katmai" core Pentium III running at 550MHz. I installed a 1.4GHz Celeron, mainly because some late-90s SVGA DOS games require an absurd number of processor ponies to sustain 60 fps (example: Screamer 2). With a maximum bus speed of 100MHz, this motherboard won't work with the PIII-S, unfortunately.
-The motherboard is a Dell-customized version of the Intel SE440-BX3 motherboard. This board lets me turn off the CPU caches for speed-sensitive games.
-512MB of CL2 PC100 SDRAM (2*256MB). The board has a memory ceiling of 768MB, but Win98 barfs with more than 512MB installed. Plus, the BIOS loosens DRAM timings with 3 DIMMs installed.
-Voodoo3 3000 AGP video card, overclocked to the speed of a V3-3500. Has 16MB of VRAM overclocked to a blistering 183MHz.
-Aureal SQ2500 Vortex 2 PCI audio
-Sound Blaster AWE64 ISA audio
-Hitachi 80GB 7200RPM HDD, original Pioneer 6x DVD-ROM drive
Here's the beast in all its glory.
Mmm, cable management.
Yowza! 1.4 gigahertz of power is plugged into the mobo's Slot 1 connector!
Two layers of conversion are necessary to support all this horsepower: an Asus Slotket, and a Lin-Lin FC-PGA2 socket adapter. Initially, I was worried about signal integrity, but the machine's been solid as a rock.
-STB Voodoo3 AGP 3000 in the AGP slot, overclocked to the speed of a V3-3500 (183MHz core/183MHz RAM, up from 166/166). This picture is a couple of years old; I have since added a 60mm fan to the heatsink.
-3Com 10/100 NIC in PCI slot
-This machine has two sound cards! There's an Aureal Vortex 2 SQ2500 in a PCI slot, for Win98 games. Games that support the A3D API sound absolutely stunning
on headphones. In fact, I'd say that A3D sounds far more convincing than early versions of EAX, like EAX 2.0 on Sound Blaster Live.
-The second sound card is a Sound Blaster AWE64, sitting in the ISA slot. I use this card in pure DOS mode.
And here she is hooked up to an energy-guzzling plasma display, because LCD just doesn't do her justice. The game on the screen is Virtual On: Cyber Troopers, a 1997 Windows port of the arcade game. This game was available in 2 flavours: a hardware accelerated edition that required a PowerVR graphics card, and a software-rendered version that actually required a CPU with MMX support. The one I have is the software/MMX version, so it doesn't really make use of the Voodoo's features. However, the 1400MHz Celeron easily handles it in high-res 60fps mode. My old PII-233 certainly couldn't do that back in '97!
1902 BungholioMarks, baby!