Reposted with more, better pictures. What is cable management? Someone please enlighten these old prebuilt cases. And yeah, I know it's kind of dusty and gross in there. I'll clean it out properly soon.
I've been watching a few retro computer channels lately, such as LGR, The 8-Bit Guy, etc. So, I've had some old parts, systems, and games lying around for a while, and I got the inspiration to make my own Windows 98 retro PC. How hard and expensive could it be? So after disassembling some systems and ordering a few parts to put it together, here's the result. It's trash, and ridiculously overkill, and it all came together pretty well. I love it.
UPDATE: Switched it to Windows ME and it's somewhat more consistent and stable now. ME is actually pretty good if the drivers are up to speed.
- CPU: Intel Pentium 4 531 (Prescott, 3.0 GHz, single-core w/ HT, LGA775)
- GPU: ATI Radeon 9200 (128 MB VRAM)
- Sound: Creative Sound Blaster CT4810 (Ensoniq AudioPCI-based)
- Memory: 2x256 MB DDR-400 SDRAM
- Storage: Crucial BX300 120 GB SSD
- Mobo: Foxconn 865G7MF-SH
- Case: Sony VAIO PCV-RS630G
- OS: Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition
Sourcing vintage, period-accurate parts for Windows 98 (and Windows ME) is very expensive in 2019, and increasingly difficult. So I decided to go the cheaper route. Pentium 4s are abundant, and a number of the boards are still compatible with these older operating systems. A fringe benefit of this is that the resulting PC is also much faster. Replaced a lot of the screws, too, most notably the original case screws with thumbscrews.
This case sucks, as is typical for prebuilt cases around the mid 2000s. I went into more detail on that in this build, but the tl;dr is: No cable management, and lot of proprietary crap. At least it accepts standard mATX motherboards.
All the front panel stuff - the USB ports, the power button, etc. uses proprietary connectors. I've been using an external power button with this case for a while, but finally decided that I wanted to actually get the front panel working. For the power and HDD LEDs, I swapped the original blue and yellow ones with red and green ones that have standard connectors. This causes the VAIO logo to be lit up in red, which is where the name of the PC comes from. For the power button, I cut up some wiring and electrical taped it together to get a standard connector. It's garbage, but it works. I also gutted the front panel I/O entirely, so there's some empty space left that I might want to play with.
I'd wanted to add in a standard 3.5" floppy drive, not because I need it necessarily, but just because I wanted it. It technically fits, but the front panel won't snap in all the way with one installed. So I ended just covering the hole with electrical tape. Sigh. Maybe I'll cut a hole in the case later.
In BIOS, I set SATA mode to SATA only, and disabled Hyperthreading for Windows 98 compatibility. There is also a SATA combined mode in BIOS that I tested a bit, which runs the SATA ports in IDE mode and allows both SATA and IDE drives to be used for a total of four drives. However, the stock drivers in Windows 98 didn't play nicely with this when I tried adding more drives.
I may tinker with it again now that I have the chipset drivers installed. EDIT: It totally does; now I have two optical drives connected to IDE via an IDE/SATA adapter. Make sure to install your chipset drivers! This applies for Windows ME, too.
A few games don't seem to work on this hardware, which isn't too surprising.
This is much better than the newer BX500 - it's got DRAM, it's way faster, and the expected lifespan is longer. If you can find it for a good price, buy it.
I like the little motor rev sound it makes when the PC boots? IDK what to say about it, it's just a generic DVD drive.
Imo, kinda overrated tbh. The accessories it comes with are definitely useful to have, though.
Scavenged out of an old Dell for the secondary DVD drive. It's a tad loud, but it works fine and is fast enough.
Board's alright. I chose it because it has Windows 98 drivers, as well as an AGP slot for graphics instead of PCIe.
Cheap, easy to find, and overall just a good performer for an old system. Athlons perform better, but I had this lying around already. Definitely consider these if you want to build a retro PC.
You can find these and similar Ensoniq AudioPCI-based cards very cheaply on eBay. It's completely unremarkable, but it does the job just fine and has pretty good compatibility. Isn't that all most of us need?
Does what it says - it converts an IDE port into two SATA ports. IDE drives are hard to find these days, so this is useful for older boards that lack SATA ports.
With this particular model, an important thing to keep in mind is that the SATA port further from the power connector is the IDE master drive, and the one in the middle of the adapter is the IDE slave drive.