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Throwback Build - Northwood Pentium 4 + Voodoo 5 5500

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Specs
  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 2.53 Northwood Socket 478
  • Mobo: Gigabyte (Fujitsu Siemens) GA-8STXC Socket 478 w/ SiS 645DX chipset
  • RAM: 256MB DDR SDRAM
  • Video card: Voodoo 5 5500 AGP
  • HDD: 80GB Western Digital Caviar SE
  • CD-ROM: LTN-403

Background

About 6 months ago, my friend gave me his Voodoo 5 5500 video card (!). I’ve been sitting on it for that time until today.

One of the quirks with this card is the requirement for a 3.3V AGP slot. Now, when the Pentium 4 was introduced, 3.3V was discontinued. Well, for the most part that is. There were a few 3.3V AGP motherboards introduced by board partners eventually for a short amount of time. The GA-8STXC is one such board.

I wanted to test out the Voodoo 5 in something that won’t bottleneck. I could have got it up and running in my Pentium 2 box, but this is more suited for the Voodoo 2. I was looking around the web for a second hand Pentium 3 board initially, but everything was overpriced. I eventually came across the GA-8STXC – one of the few Pentium 4 3.3V AGP compatible motherboards! I found it on eBay for sale in Greece for a reasonable amount with international postage (some of these boards are listed at ridiculously high prices).

I already had the Pentium 4 CPU laying around which is suited for this board. It’s not one of those fancy Northwood chips with 800MHz FSB that came out a bit later – it’s one of the older 533MHz FSB Northwoods with no HT.

I ended up putting everything together in a case which I’ve owned for about 15 years now. A fitting setting for a system of this vintage I think. It even has blue lights on the front! RGB… er, well, B, 2003 style!


Build Pictures

The GA-8STXC motherboard with Pentium 4 2.53 Northwood installed into the 478 socket. I'm using the noisy stock CPU fan for this setup. I remember there being plenty of third party socket 478 CPU coolers back in the day, but I can't seem to find anything available on the second hand market anymore. Oh well.
01_mobo.jpg02_cpu.jpg03_heatsink.jpg04_thermalPaste.jpg05_moboCpuHeatsink_angle.jpg06_moboCpuHeatsink.jpg07_moboBack.jpg

The Voodoo 5 beast. A little bit of vintage dust build up on the board - I'll clean this up later:
08_voodooFront.jpg09_voodooBack.jpg

Trusty old WD Caviar:
10_hdd.jpg

Everything inside the case. Cable management at its finest ;):
11_insideCase.jpg12_insideCaseClose.jpg

A look around the back:
13_caseBack.jpg

Built and installing Windows XP:
14_complete.jpg15_complete_angle.jpg

I’ve installed Windows XP on her at the moment. Next up I’ll install and play some of those Glide games.
 
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I was thinking of building a Pentium 4 build recently but was undecided on earlier P4 such as Northwood or later P4 Presler. Shame you didn't have a WD Raptor 74 GB.
 
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I was thinking of building a Pentium 4 build recently but was undecided on earlier P4 such as Northwood or later P4 Presler.
What would be the intention of your build? The only reason I have this setup is for that 3.3V AGP slot to support the Voodoo 5.

Shame you didn't have a WD Raptor 74 GB.
Did those ever come as PATA IDE? This mobo has no SATA.
 
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What would be the intention of your build? The only reason I have this setup is for that 3.3V AGP slot to support the Voodoo 5.
Retro build for older software such as Windows XP/Vista, and older graphics card on AGP to me it would of fun to revisit. I didn't put much time into researching it.

Did those ever come as PATA IDE? This mobo has no SATA.
Only the 36 GB Raptor is reported as having PATA interface but I couldn't find anything.
 
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Retro build for older software such as Windows XP/Vista, and older graphics card on AGP to me it would of fun to revisit. I didn't put much time into researching it.
Well here's a good list of AGP compatible socket 775 motherboards if you decided to go down the Presler path:
Otherwise you could go down the AMD path and try to pick up a Socket 939 board with an AGP slot.
 
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Great setup! You could at least find a universal AGP slot with non-Intel chipsets. All Intel chipsets are keyed for 1.5V AGP cards.
 
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My first custom computer had a P4 Northwood (2.66GHz) with a Radeon X800 , 512 mb RAM, and a ASUS motherboard.
 
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My first custom computer had a P4 Northwood (2.66GHz) with a Radeon X800 , 512 mb RAM, and a ASUS motherboard.
What a beast!

My first was a 2.6C GHz Northwood Pentium 4 with a 800MHz FSB (I remember ordering the 2.4C GHz model, but the vendor had run out of stock so they upgraded me to the 2.6C GHz model at no extra cost!), PowerColor ATI Radeon 9600XT, Abit IS7 motherboard with the 865PE chipset, a couple of SATA Seagate Barracuda 120GB drives in software RAID0, 2x256MB PC 3200 Corsair DDR SDRAM (dual channel), an Antec TruePower 550W PSU, a couple of PATA optical drives, and a floppy drive.

Things attached were the LG Flatron T930B 19" monitor, Logitech Elite keyboard (the one in the pictures in the OP), Logitech Z-640 5.1 speaker system, and the Microsoft Wireless IntelliMouse Explorer mouse.

I ended up being able to overclock the FSB to 1000MHz, which in turn cranked the CPU frequency up to 3.25GHz (or thereabouts). I had a big copper Gigabyte heatsink with a built in blower fan to cool the CPU which worked nicely.

Those were the days. Being able to overclock a $AU321.00 CPU to outperform a $AU719.00 CPU (the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 was this much at the time).
 
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Aside from the GPU, that system was given to me by my gaming clan. Back when Battlefield was the new game, I was gaming on a pre-built Compact with a XP1400 cpu, the x800 (that I added) and a Compact 17" CRT monitor. Well my CPU wasn't fast enough for BF, and my clan wanted me to play BF with them. So one day when I wasn't online, they apparently had a discussion, and several guys decided to send me their old parts they had laying around. One guy sent me the CPU and MB, one guy the RAM, one guy had a PSU and a case. The gesture about floored me. Completely caught me off guard. To be given $800 (approximate value at the time) worth of hardware by people I have never met in person, I had never experienced anything like that before. IIRC, I was able to OC it to 3GHz.
 
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Aside from the GPU, that system was given to me by my gaming clan. Back when Battlefield was the new game, I was gaming on a pre-built Compact with a XP1400 cpu, the x800 (that I added) and a Compact 17" CRT monitor. Well my CPU wasn't fast enough for BF, and my clan wanted me to play BF with them. So one day when I wasn't online, they apparently had a discussion, and several guys decided to send me their old parts they had laying around. One guy sent me the CPU and MB, one guy the RAM, one guy had a PSU and a case. The gesture about floored me. Completely caught me off guard. To be given $800 (approximate value at the time) worth of hardware by people I have never met in person, I had never experienced anything like that before. IIRC, I was able to OC it to 3GHz.
That's awesome. Just goes to show how amazing and tight-knit our community can be sometimes. What a great memory.
 
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So my intentions of getting things up and running on Windows XP were short lived. I couldn't get Glide games to work. UT99 kept throwing a glide2.dll missing error, and I was too lazy to look into getting working community drivers, so I reverted back to Windows 98 SE.

I installed the reference drivers from 3dfx, found here. Now things are happily working together.

Before I post captures of some games running, below are some screenshots from HWiNFO detailing the system.

System summary:
01_summary.png

Voodoo5 summary:
02_voodoo5Info.png

CPU summary with benchmark results:
03_cpuInfo_benchmark.png

Sensors:
04_sensors.png
 
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I didn't know 3Dfx cards have problems under XP. Its totally crazily overpowered with that system to run 98SE.
 
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I didn't know 3Dfx cards have problems under XP. Its totally crazily overpowered with that system to run 98SE.
Phil's Computer Lab started suggesting the Pentium 4 CPUs for Windows 9x builds because there more plentiful, and easier to find at a lower cost.

Found the video.
 
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Phil's Computer Lab started suggesting the Pentium 4 CPUs for Windows 9x builds because there more plentiful, and easier to find at a lower cost.

Found the video.
I think anything older than Pentium 4 is starting to hit that "vintage" bracket in computer timeframes, where there are only collectors looking for this stuff which is getting rarer and rarer as the years go on.

Even the Pentium 4 stuff is beginning to go up in price, particularly the motherboards (not so much the CPUs themselves yet). This seems to be the case with anything older than LGA 775 now.

This may be regional though, as it seems like anything to do with computers is just inherently expensive in Oz.
 
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Phil's Computer Lab started suggesting the Pentium 4 CPUs for Windows 9x builds because there more plentiful, and easier to find at a lower cost.

Found the video.
I know, I didn't say it's bad or anything. Just saying it will be a damn powerful one. Not a bad thing for a gaming PC. I'm a subscriber of Phil's channel so I watch every video he posted :laugh:
 
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Unreal Tournament and Quake II footage below. Running bloody marvelously on this system at 1024x768 and 800x600 in Glide, respectively.

Unreal Tournament:

Quake II:

Sorry for the crappy, bloomy capture from my video camera and lack of audio. I really need to invest in a VGA capture card. :oops:
 
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Cool build. I ran a Voodoo 3 2000 PCI with an AMD K6-2 500MHz. I was pulling 100fps in Q2 with Glide and 3Dnow extensions. If anything, I bet a good Pentium 3 or Athlon would be a great fit. They had a more limited memory bus, but they had the FPU grunt for games.
 
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Unreal Tournament and Quake II footage below. Running bloody marvelously on this system at 1024x768 and 800x600 in Glide, respectively.

Unreal Tournament:

Quake II:

Sorry for the crappy, bloomy capture from my video camera and lack of audio. I really need to invest in a VGA capture card. :oops:
Could use screen recorder software for capturing game play.


Edit: http://www.etrusoft.com/screen-recorder/
 
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I've still got my old computer with a northwood cpu with HT and ATI Radeon X1950 XT. The heatsinks on those old cpus would totally warp the main board. After the switch from AGP graphics to PCIe i fell from computer gaming till the time of the i5 2500K.
 
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I ran a Voodoo 3 2000 PCI with an AMD K6-2 500MHz.
Sounds very similar to this one that I got up and running a little while ago.

Could use screen recorder software for capturing game play.
Thanks for the link! I'll give this a try. There should be enough CPU headroom for this to record well hopefully.

The heatsinks on those old cpus would totally warp the main board.
Very true. Once I fixed the heatsink to the socket, it was very obvious to me that it was bending the board. You can see that clearly here:
07_moboBack.jpg
 
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Very true. Once I fixed the heatsink to the socket, it was very obvious to me that it was bending the board. You can see that clearly here:
Reminds me I tried the stock cooler once on the Pentium 4 2.8 GHz I had. I later moved to a Zalman copper heatsink cause of the bent motherboard issue.


Edit: Tried overclocking it to 3.4 GHz, only got 3.3 GHz.
 
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Reminds me I tried the stock cooler once on the Pentium 4 2.8 GHz I had. I later moved to a Zalman copper heatsink cause of the bent motherboard issue.

This is the one I used back in the day to overclock my 2.6C GHz Northwood to 3.25GHz:

Interesting note on 3DCooler-Ultra - the blower fan stopped working after a couple of years of use. I ended up running it passively with just case cooling. This was with a 3.25GHz overclock!

I guess a humongous chunk of finned copper was enough in the end :p.

It's interesting looking back at some of these designs now - they were just beginning to figure things out and were experimenting a lot in the days before the standard tower design manufacturers have since perfected.
 
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@biffzinker, I tried Quick Screen Recorder, but unfortunately the CPU usage was too high for it to capture anything smoothly. Everything pretty much comes to a grinding halt once I hit record.

I thought this might be a result of Windows 98 not handling multiple processes very well, so I decided to install Windows 2000 on the system to see if things ran more smoothly. Well I have some good news, I managed to get the system up and running with Windows 2000 and the 3dfx drivers found here: https://3dfxarchive.com/vsa100.htm

Quake II and UT99 are running fine on this system now; no missing .dll error like before.

The bad news however is that CPU usage is still high when capturing in Quick Screen Recorder. :(
 
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Sounds very similar to this one that I got up and running a little while ago.


Thanks for the link! I'll give this a try. There should be enough CPU headroom for this to record well hopefully.


Very true. Once I fixed the heatsink to the socket, it was very obvious to me that it was bending the board. You can see that clearly here:
View attachment 125533
I had modded my V3 a little. I glued a 25W heatsink to the GPU, as I believe it was common practice to OC these a decent amount. I still don’t know what ever happened to that old system. I don’t recall throwing it out, but none of it is in my legacy parts bin.
 
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Processor Ryzen 7 3800X
Motherboard MSI B450 Tomahawk ATX
Cooling Cooler Master Hyper 212 Black Edition
Memory PNY Anarchy-X XLR8 Red DDR4-3200 16GB kit & PNY Anarchy-X XLR8 Red DDR4-2666 16GB kit
Video Card(s) MSI GeForce RTX 2060 GAMING Z 6G
Storage Samsung 970 EVO NVMe M.2 500 GB, SanDisk Ultra II 480 GB
Display(s) Samsung SyncMaster C27H711
Case Phantek Eclipse P400S (PH-EC416PS)
Audio Device(s) EVGA NU Audio
Power Supply EVGA 850 BQ
Mouse SteelSeries Rival 310
Keyboard Logitech G G413 Silver
Software Windows 10 Professional 64-bit v21H1
@biffzinker, I tried Quick Screen Recorder, but unfortunately the CPU usage was too high for it to capture anything smoothly. Everything pretty much comes to a grinding halt once I hit record.
Maybe FastStone Capture has less overhead? Their multipurpose image viewer is well regarded, and popular.

Could try the latest version, wasn't sure if it's compatible with 98.

I tried it out, and it keeps one core at 100% usage during screen recording. Probably not going to work out any better.
 
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