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ragnargd

Research on AM3+ board and chipsets: Resume

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ragnargd    13

[done! be my guest!]

Hi,

it's time to post my resume on my research on AMD-chipsets and boards.

This will be a long post, split up in some mails, for the purpose of clarity and transparency.

All of this is not "matter-of-fact", but my very personal opinion and experience, so: YMMV

------------------

In a nutshell:

After all the years, with the appearance of the 870A chipset, AMD-boards, with the modern socket AM3+ appear on the screen for W98SE-User with a Bang!

And we didn't see that coming...

Depending on board and chipset, they have some drawbacks and advantages, but something can be said right now:

There has never been better compatibility. Some work just right out of the box, and with a minimum of AddIn-cards, you get gaming-enabled boards.

You can now go to the shop, and, by careful selection, buy a brand-new board, a brand-new CPU, install, and have fun!

(and perhaps a NIC, if you are lazy, and definitely a used sound-card, as the necessary exception from the rule).

This is WAY better than P35/P45 or similar Intel-Chipsets, and as a bonus on top, provides excellent Dual-Boot capability with Windows 10 (and XP, of course, but that goes without saying).

All of this would not have been possible without the help and programming skills of RLoew, one way or the other, so Kudos to him!!!

------------------

I added some further mails:

- one for each chipset tested (AMD 970, 990*, 870A, 890, 880G*, 770) (*not done yet, but will follow later)

- one for miscallaenous hardware that was tested (to make this happen), and

- one for the "Dual-GPU-stunt", which is of interest for people who want to Dual-boot with i.e. XP and W10, and want to put in some extra effort to have such a modern machine ready for some serious gaming, while they are at it.

-------------------

What to think about, before trying this yourself:

The socket AM3+ provides space for the modern FX- and Opteron-CPUs, capable, and cheap (and for legacy, use your old Phenom II or Athlon II, that would otherwise gather dust in the corner).

Unfortunately, they have some drawbacks: Their single-thread performance cannot touch those of modern Intel CPUs, and to add insult to pain, they can only deliver their subpar speed with an enormous usage of power.

Even though their idle-power usage is actually not really bad (and, if done right, still better that i.e. Intel Wolfdale or Yorkfield CPUs, like the latest Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad, and maybe even on par with the first generation of i3/i5/i7), these are not really machines for your everyday use, especially with the dual-GPU-stunt.

Still, a machine with a good AMD 970 board, and some ATI x800 or NVidia GF 7600 GT, can still provide a good gaming experience on W98SE (and perhaps even XP), and provide an ok machine for browsing and such activities on W10 64bit. Believe me, it is still a much more performant combination than any Legacy-build. And regarding legacy hardware now slowly becoming expensive on ebay, and ageing, this may even be the cheapest solution, if you don't have the right - and *intact* - hardware lying around.

And as a (perhaps secondary) machine built for gaming only, you can, via the dual-GPU-stunt, enjoy Full-HD-gaming in XP and W10, and, with some restrictions, on W98SE as well (kind of... more in the "normal" HD range...)

IMHO: At the moment, these provide the best build for W98SE on "modern" PCs. Maybe this will change again some time later, when RLoews research on modern Intel-chipsets succeeds. But until then... ;-)

--------------------

Restrictions, and problems (of which most can be circumvented by choosing the right hardware):

On many boards, you will have difficult times - at least during installation, and definitely with KVM-switches - if they don't have two separate PS/2-ports.

PCI-PS/2-port cards (of which i only know of one model) don't work at all on the boards tested by me.

For W9*5* users, this means, either to have two PS/2-ports, or end of the show (for experience with W95 on such chipsets, better ask RLoew, as i don't use it, and equally I'm not using WME...).

If you want sound, you need a compatible Soundcard, and a free and well-positioned PCI slot on that board. I always recommend Soundblaster Audigy 1 or 2 PCI.

For LAN, boards with the RTL 8111E are common, and if you know how to, you can use them with the NDIS2-driver (aka DOS-driver). I always have problems with that, so, as there are always ample of free PCIe 1x slots on those boards, for my convenience, i install an RTL 8111B Gigabit NIC, which can be bought in shops, and has drivers for W9x.

For NVidia-cards on 890 and AMD 9xxx chipsets, to avoid stuttering because of an incompatibility of the NVidia-Driver with those chipsets, you need a commercial patch by RLoew. It also includes the NVidia-Ram-Size Fix, so this gives you further options. You don't need this on 870A chipsets (and probably not on 880G chipsets). You don't need this patch for ATI-cards, like the x800, so, yes, AMD/ATI-fanboys can rejoyce... :-)

Because USB2 on W98SE will only work (on AMD 9xx and 890 chipsets, and not hang your board on 870A) when you fiddle with the USB2-legacy-settings, you will have trouble with booting from USB-devices, which very often need legacy-compatibility. If you do that (as i.e. you don't want to work with DVD-drives), you will have to find an individual way around this. It always woked out for me in the end, but was tedious.

--------------------

All of this may work with AM2, AM2+ or AM3 boards, if you have one of those lying around, provided they have the same chipsets. But don't bet on that, and, moreover, better don't spend money or much time on those - this has been tried, with unconvincing results. And, until further notice: The AMD 770/710 chipset, today also sold as "AMD 980", or "760G", is NOT fit for W98SE (even though they are tempting, because of their onboard-equipment looking like feature-heaven for W9x-users). You have been warned.

--------------------

Why i did all this:

1. for the same reason old man (with too much time and money... kind of...) lay under old (nice) cars on their weekends

2. since the ASRock Dual Series, i had some Phenom II lying around, and i asked myself: Why the f*** can't i run an AMD CPU with W98SE AND W10 on the same machine? I can do this with Intel... heck... now... let's do this...

--------------------

I hope all of this is useful for you - it was nice for me, but pretty expensive. Does anyone need an AMD 770 board right now? ...

Cheers,

Ragnar G.D.

Edited by ragnargd

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ragnargd    13

AMD 970

Tested with: ASRock 970 Pro3 R2.0, MSI 970A SLI Krait Edition, Asus M5A97 (ask RLoew on than one)

----------------------------

Generally, if you DON'T want to use the Dual-GPU-stunt (aka no gaming on W10, or no W10 at all), this is the chipset of choice, as it usually has the lowest power usage on idle, and has the cheapest usuable boards (and with good features, too.) - you may even use a MicroATX board in this situation.

----------------------------

ASRock 970 Pro3 R2.0:

Connect any SSD (or HDD) to port 5 or 6 for W98SE installation, set SATA-ports to "mixed mode". The system will not see disks on Port 1-4 (which is good for Multi-Boot, as you can set them to AHCI for perfect SSD-performance of SSDs on W10. Remember the problems with ICHRx? ;)

Set "USB Legacy Option" to Auto, or W98SE will hang during installation

The Dual-GPU-stunt works on this board, but delivers sub-par results, as by necessity the "better" GPU is restricted to an PCIe 2.0 4x slot.

----------------------------

MSI 970A SLI Krait-Edition:

This board has been chosen, because the Dual-GPU-stunt works on this board.

Fair warning: This board will work out, but can be a headache. It has a pretty bad reputation on newegg because of the lack of quality-control by MSI, and i can only second that: My first one was DOA, the second had the CPU-12V-connector blocked by a cooler that was not fit for the board. The third one worked ok, finally. Many users also recommend with not going beyond a 95W TDP CPU, and always use a top-down blower-cooler, as the Northbridge gets too hot too fast. I use an 95W TDP AMD FX 4320 (4GHz).

You cannot set SATA-Channel 5 and 6 to IDE-compatibility, as MSI did not implement that in their BIOS. When intending to Dual-boot, or the Dual-GPU-Stunt (and why would you not, when choosing this board?), you therefore either have to buy RLoews SATA-patch, or use an PCI-SATA-controller in an PCIe-toPCI adapter in a PCIe slot.

My Soundblaster Audigy PCI only worked after i configured RLoews GPU-patch for NVidia-GPUs to include the interrupt of the soundcard - this may me due to the fact that patch fixes interrupts blocked by the NVidia-driver on that chipset.

Set "USB Legacy Option" to Auto, or W98SE will hang during installation.

----------------------------

Asus M5A97:

The Asus M5A97 has been tested succesfully by Rloew, as far as i know.

Edited by ragnargd
Midified experience with MSI 970A SLI Krait

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ragnargd    13

AMD 990FX

Not tested yet, but expected to behave like the best of the 890 and 970 chipset.

The reason for not testing was, i did not find a board with two separate PS/2-ports, and an equally well positioned PCI-port for the sound card. Still,  if it is somewhat similar to 890FX, and you can live with only one PS/2-port (which you usually can, this is just KVM-users like me who have a problem here), these may provide the best gaming boards.

Found: ASRock 990FX Extreme3 - you will have to live with the fact that one the W98SE-compatible SATA-ports is eSATA. A PCIe-to-PCI-adapter and a PCI-SATA-controller, or bringing the eSATA back into the case can help overcome the problem.

Still: Don't sue me, i did NOT test those yet, and probably will not do this in the near future.

Edited by ragnargd
Board with acceptable layout found

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ragnargd    13

AMD 870A

Tested with: GigaByte GA-870A-USB3 Rev 3.1

This chipset mostly supports only Bulldozer, and not Vishera, so your choice in CPUs is a bit more limited.

You absolutely need a USB2-AddIn card with this chipset, as all available boards with this chipset don't have two PS/2-ports, and don't provide working USB2 as well (driver install on W98SE, but don't initalize. You can use them on XP and W10, though). So if you want sound as well, you need a board with *two* PCI slots, and a good layout.

On the other hand, for the Dual-GPU-stunt, many of these boards have a convenient BIOS-setting, allowing to choose the primary PCIe-slot (which you i.e can't do on AMD 970 boards), so on this chipset, you have the option to set the slower card to the PCIe 2.0 4x slot.

Boards with this chipset are hard to get, and even those accessible on ebay are more expensive than new AMD 970 boards, so only choose one of these, if you have good reasons (as i.e. you already own one).

Edited by ragnargd

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ragnargd    13

AMD 890

Tested with: ASRock 890FX-Deluxe5

This is my board of choice for the moment: It has two PS/2-ports, two 16x 2.0 slots for the perfect Dual-GPU-stunt, 2 USB3-front-panel-ports, a floppy-connector (convenient!), SATA3, and a good layout. It uses much power though, and the freaking huge Northbridge-cooler has a sirring fan (which is necessary, unfortunately). I'll install an FX 3850 on it, with a wraith-cooler, as it doesn't matter anyway, regarding noise.

Basically, this is alreay the 990 chipset, except for max. memory (32GB here, 64GB on 970 and 990).

The choice of good 890 boards with good layout is quite limited, though, so this may be the only MoBo from this generation fit for the task, so have a look for the 990 chipset boards, perhaps..

Edited by ragnargd

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ragnargd    13

AMD 880G

Deomsh and nomen tested boards with this chipset and found them to be working - look in this thread further down.

@nomen and deomsh: Thank you!

Edited by ragnargd
Thanks to deomsh and nomen
  • Upvote 1

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ragnargd    13

DON'T USE: AMD 770

Tested on: ASRock 980DE3/U3S3 R2.0, ASRock 770iCafe (seemingly made especially for South-Korean Internet-Cafes... i bought this from a refurbisher from Seoul...)

These cheap boards have many nice features for W98SE, very often two PS/2-ports, compatible LAN-cipsets, IDE-ports, Floppy-ports, whatnot...

Unfortunately, even with everything onboard switched off, W98SE on these boards was instable, even on safe mode, without any indication of causes.

Unless someone with too much time and money looks for it, i'd stronly advise against those for W98SE.

These ARE good AND cheap boards for XP and W10, though, if you want the AM3+ platform, i.e. because you are a student on a tight budget.

Edited by ragnargd

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ragnargd    13

On Miscallaenus necessary Hardware

I used a good measure of Geforce 6xxx and 7xxx cards, as well as an ATI x800. If you want to Dual-boot with W10, and don't intend on using the Dual-GPU-stunt, go for the NVidia GTX 7900 with 512MB. You will ned the patch of RLoew, for BOTH reasons (NVSize AND INTR-Fix), though, so: $$$. But heck, this card can even be passively cooled, i.e. with an Accelero S2 Re. 2. And even with active cooling, my EVGA-cards are near-silent.

The x800 series, as the cost-free alternative to NVidia series, is good for the Dual-GPU-stunt, but not as a perfect single card, even if it works ok in 2D mode, as it lacks a driver for W10 having DX-support. Unfortunately, it is reported to have problems on pure DOS games  - this does not bother me, though, as on that machine, i'd use DOSBox on W10 for pure DOS-games anyway.

I already reported on the PS/2-USB2-combo card for PCI. This would have been perfect to solve a problem with the GA-870A-USB3, having only the dreaded "combo-port". But, alas, doesn't work at all. PS/2-split cables are wasted money on those board as well, as its the boards restriction making the use of two PS/2-devices on the same board impossible.

For the 870A-chipset, and possibly the 880G chipset as well, you need a compatible USB2-AddIn card, especially if you only have one PS/2-port, as you have no choice then. I use this one:

https://www.startech.com/Cards-Adapters/USB-2/Card/7-Port-PCI-USB-Card-Adapter~PCIUSB7

...as its chipset is cross-compatible with W98SE and W10, and has both internal and external USB2-ports en masse.

For soundcards, i can only recommend the Audigy 1 or 2 (ZE) PCI, as they were the best and latest for W98SE, and as with Alchemy, they are cross-compatible with W98SE and W10. You can get a lot of them via ebay, and they're pretty cheap right now. The Audigy "value" or "SE" PCI do NOT work, and neither do PCIe-versions.

For those - like me - prefering silent systems, you have a problem with this platform, as many chipsets need a top-blower for good cooling. So, if you are like that, choose well...

Edited by ragnargd
typos

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ragnargd    13

On the Dual-GPU-stunt

... - and some (probably final) words on why not to dream of SLI...

------------------------------

This is not something new, and definitely not my invention, but it is such a convenient method for Multi-booters to enable their W98SE-machine for gaming, i cannot but present it here.

------------------------------

The problem:

I have a GPU compatible with W98SE. All is good.

I want a fairly actual machine - which is possible now! - that longs for W10, like with an FX 6300 and up, and a board with SATA3, and an SSD, and enough money for a good *modern* GPU...

My momentary GPU may be good for W98SE, but, most probably, it is only barely sufficiant for W10(/XP), or, even worse, does not have full drivers for W10 (like the ATI x800 series).

How to combine this?

You need a board with two PCI 16x slots - almost every ATX-board with AMD-chipset has one of those, AMD is very proud of Crossfire... but this also works good enough on many Intel-P45 boards.

Put the W98SE-card in the primary slot, connect it to VGA, boot, install everything (XP an W10, too), install all patches (yes, ALL of them, work until everything is done).

W98SE only boots from the primary slot, so, yes, there is no choice but.

Put the modern Gaming-Card into the secondary slot, connect it to any other port of the same Monitor (i.e. DVI-D or HDMI), install the driver on XP (if you want) and W10 (in any case), reboot.

Now, set bind your desktop to the secondary card in "Display settings" on XP and/or/W10, if still necessary, and reboot.

You will get a blank screen, once the machine gets to the start of the Windows Desktop of XP or W10. Switch off and On the monitor, or switch the input-setting or your monitor (depends on drivers and card which is necessary, works more covenient with cards with mutually exclusive drivers, as i.e. old ATI and new AMD card together, or old and very new NVidia card together).

You can now safely disable the "slower" card in system settings on XP or W10, and the "faster" card on W98SE.

With boards, of which the secondary PCIe-slot is only 2.0 4x, your faster card will have a fps-reduction in the range of 5% to 20%. The extent very much depends on your card, selected screen-resolution for the game, and the game itself.

This can only be avoided on some boards (AMD 870 from GigaByte only, it seems) with setting the 4x slot as primary (which does not work on most newer boards, because of lazy BIOS-programmers), or by buying a board that provides their secondary PCIe-2.0 slot with 8x or 16x.

Remember to build in a power-brick with enough Watts, depending on your cards (600W being safe bet). You CAN nowadays have a good experience and FullHD gaming with modern cards (and old cards) without any additional PCIe-power-cables, though, as with some selected GeForce 7600GT PCIe or ATI x800, and selected GeForce GTX 950. One of those nice upcoming low-power Polaris GPUs, or possible upcoming NVidia 10x0 are tempting as a secondary card, but remember NVidia and AMD support XP only for some cards, if you want to have XP in your boot selection.

This method henceforth be known as the "Dual-GPU-stunt"...

------------------------------

Some (final?) words on SLI

------------------------------

Since the VooDoo cards, noone ever heard of SLI on W9x. This will remain so, and unless you lived under a stone for the last decades, you are not surprised.

But the situation is even a bit worse: Even if you accept "No SLI on W9x ever", you might think "But at least on XP or W10!", right?

Wrong.

On AM3+ boards, GPUs of GeForce 8600 GT and above can do SLI on XP and W10, while members of the GeForce 7 series, even when SLI-enabled, do not.

Neither NVidia, not ASRock or MSI, provided any info (prefering not to answer at all!), when confronted with questions about SLI and GF 7xx0 cards on their SLI-enabled AM3+ boards.

Without being able to provide technical infos, for lack of skill or knowledge, I suspect a technical reason, as i.e. the community-drivers for "Hybrid SLI", which enable to do SLI on non-SLI enabled boards (even with GPUs that are different from each other), only work with GeForce 8600 GT and up.

SLI for GF 7xx0 cards was definitely working on and up to NForce 6 chipsets on XP, but since then, no reliable info can be found on the internetz about the GF 7xx0 series together with SLI at all.

For the time being...

--------------------------------

Edited by ragnargd
Typos, SLI

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Nomen    15

I bought a couple of new motherboards about a year ago when they were on sale + rebate: Asrock 970 Extreme3 R2.0 and Gigabyte 990FXA-UD3. Which one would be more "compatible" with win-98 based on your study?

The Asrock 970 has PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports (the 990FXA has a single PS/2 port).

Edited by Nomen

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ragnargd    13

For a start, try out, if you have both, but don't use licenses yet, use the "test phase" to try out first.

If you don't have problems with "just" one PS/2-port, i'd start with the 990FXA. But My Personal Problem(tm): I just speculated on that chipset, i did not try that one out, so: Don't sue me! ;)

But both don't have "perfect" layout:

The FXA has two true 16x 2.0 slots - but unfortunately, one of them is adjacent to the PCI-slot. This means, if you build in a W98SE-compatible soundcard (which is always PCI), you can only use a 1-slot PCIe-GPU as your second graphics-card, if you want to use the Dual-GPU-stunt. This can mean some comprimise in the selection, and will put some heat to the soundcard as well.

It also has one of it's SATA-ports as eSATA, and i don't know if it's one of the "Legacy"-compatible ports - this is not on the homepage. If you want to use a HDD/SSD for W98SE, AND an ODD, this might be a real problem.

So the GigaByte board might only be the better choice if you want to force the Dual-GPU stunt without buying a new board, and then still you may waste some time.

If you DON'T want to use a second, faster GPU for other operating systems, the ASRock board is better, as it uses less power, and produces less heat at the same time. Otherwise, it is pretty the same featurewise. I have nearly the same board (you saw that probably in the test), and it's quite ok. It has the better layout regarding PS/2-ports, as you already mentioned, and also has all 6 SATA-ports onboard, which maybe better in comparison for using both ODD and HDD together on W98SE, as mentioned above.

Does that help already, or do you need more input?

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rloew    93

My SATA Patch can take care of any problem with the SATA Ports.
I routinely use multiple HDDs and ODDs in some of my Computers.

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cdoublejj    0

sorry to be off topic but, has any one tried using ESXi and using pass through for video card and sound card? so instead of dual booting you could run 10, xp and 98 all at the same time, might need a kvm switch though. if your rich a dvi and or vga capture card running in the main os to capture the out puts of the other guest and keyboard and mouse with KVM switch. some of these AMD board and chipsets don't always support VT-D which is needed for pass through.

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deomsh    6
On 6/18/2016 at 3:40 PM, ragnargd said:

AMD 880G

Not tested yet, as i did not find boards with a good layout yet, and as the special feature of this chipset - onboards graphics - is wasted on W98SE.

AMD 880G/SB710 seems okay for Win98se. See My report of 27 november 2016 on Asrock 880gm-le in "Modern-motherboards-which-are-working-with-windows-98-discussion"

Thanks a lot for your research.

There are also some 880G boards who seems to be suitable for your dual-GPU stunt.

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