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NETSCAPE

Retro Build - can't pass POST - only sealed hardware used

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The Mission:

Build a Windows 98 gaming machine using original boxed and sealed hardware. Everything below is NEW unless specified otherwise.

 

The Build: 

  • OS: Windows 98SE 
  • Case/PSU: GAUSS SM307M (250w PSU included)
  • Mobo: Intel SE440BX-2
  • Processor: Slot 1 Pentium III @ 733MHz with 133MHz Bus
  • RAM: PNY 256MB PC100/133 (4 sticks available)
  • Video Card: ATI Rage 128PRO 32MB (PCI)
  • Sound Card: SoundBlaster 16 PCI (CT4810)
  • HDD: Maxtor 15GB 7200RPM (51536H3)
  • Optical: Creative Blaster 52x (MK4108)
  • Monitor: Sony Trinitron CRT (used)
  • KB/Mouse: Generic Microsoft
  • Speakers: IBM (used)

 

Where I'm at:

The system has been built. PSU, CPU and intake fans all start. During the POST process I receive an error beep code: 1-4-3-3. According to this site the code description is: "Autosize the Cache". I have attempted to move the jumper plug from it's "normal" position to the "configure" position in hopes to set the Processor speed ect. However, this results in the same error beep code. 

I should also note at this point that my monitor receives no signal from the ATI Rage card. I am assuming that since the POST can't pass, no signal is even being sent from my video card technically. And hitting the num/caps/scroll lock keys don't light up, another sign that I am not passing POST. I have 2 VGA compatible monitors, both were tested with my laptop and work. I have tried various DIMM combinations too.

 

A bit of Bro Science:

If you look up the Intel manual for the SE440BX-2 (here) you will come across all sorts of information that would contradict my build due to apparent compatibility issues. Examples of this would be the small DIMM sizes and the slower Processor speeds listed as supported/compatible by Intel. However, after some digging into really old forums from around the Y2K era it became apparent to me that people were throwing in non-coppermine processors far exceeding 450MHz (up to the fastest Pentium III's) as well as using DIMM's that were double the size than what was officially listed as Intel as supported/compatible - and they worked. Technology was moving so insanely fast during this era that at the time Intel listed the supported DIMM size and Processor speeds ect, it would have been outdated by the time the motherboards started shipping! And the support list would have definitely been outdated a year later! I wanted to include this tid-bit just in case someone googles my motherboard, checks the specs or even reads the manual and sees that my Pentium III speed or DIMM size exceeds the manufactures supported hardware list. I found different numbers on different sites actually which was quite confusing. All that said, perhaps my issue is the 133MHz bus speed of my Pentium III. Maybe I need 100MHz bus speed, regardless of the main clock speed. Maybe I screwed up on that one... The only other thread I could find in regards to my issue is found here.

 

Though I have built systems in recent years, a retro project has required some deep digging indeed... Just because I grew up gaming in the 90's doesn't mean I learned anything about computer hardware from that era :)

Thank you for taking any time to help me on my Windows 98 quest.  

Edited by NETSCAPE
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Ok so some bit of advice. 

1st issue

A lot of times you can upgrade a CPU in a mobo that doesn't support it.  But.  Most of the times that requires you to flash the BIOS and when flashing isn't enough setting the bus speed with jumpers and configuring things like memory timings.  Here is your problem.  You cannot get your mobo to post so you cannot flash the bios.  I see nothing in your MOBO manual that would suggest that it will take a 133FSBmhz buz CPU.  It looks like it will only take 100MHZ.

 

2nd issue

Your board supoorts 100mhz ram and while I didn't check what density, just because something has 4 ram slots doesn't mean that it will accept 4 double sided sticks of ram. Next just becasue PC 133 should be backwards compatible it not always is.  Becasue some Mobos are extremely picky about rams, Those ones are usually made by intel, TYAN, Supermicro, ITOX-DFI etc.  You should take all the ram out and individually test trying to turn it on 1 stick at a time.

3.

What you should do is go to ebay find a cheap slot 1 CPU that is 100% compatible with that MOBO.  Take out the 733/133FSB one.  Install like a 450/500 MHZ/100FSB  See if you can get it to post then flash the BIOS.  Once you flash the BIOS you can play with Bus speed jumpers and ram timeings to see if you can put your desired CPU in. 

Everything that I read said the board takes 100MHZ FSB CPU

You want P13 or P16 BIOS Revision.  Yea you can run like 1ghz 100FSB but only with the right BIOS.  I havn't read anything that says you can run 133 fsb

Edited by Destro

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16 minutes ago, Destro said:

Ok so some bit of advice. 

1st issue

A lot of times you can upgrade a CPU in a mobo that doesn't support it.  But.  Most of the times that requires you to flash the BIOS and when flashing isn't enough setting the bus speed with jumpers and configuring things like memory timings.  Here is your problem.  You cannot get your mobo to post so you cannot flash the bios.  I see nothing in your MOBO manual that would suggest that it will take a 133FSBmhz buz CPU.  It looks like it will only take 100MHZ.

 

2nd issue

Your board supoorts 100mhz ram and while I didn't check what density, just because something has 4 ram slots doesn't mean that it will accept 4 double sided sticks of ram. Next just becasue PC 133 should be backwards compatible it not always is.  Becasue some Mobos are extremely picky about rams, Those ones are usually made by intel, TYAN, Supermicro, ITOX-DFI etc.  You should take all the ram out and individually test trying to turn it on 1 stick at a time.

3.

What you should do is go to ebay find a cheap slot 1 CPU that is 100% compatible with that MOBO.  Take out the 733/133FSB one.  Install like a 450/500 MHZ/100FSB  See if you can get it to post then flash the BIOS.  Once you flash the BIOS you can play with Bus speed jumpers and ram timeings to see if you can put your desired CPU in. 

Everything that I read said the board takes 100MHZ FSB CPU

You want P13 or P16 BIOS Revision.  Yea you can run like 1ghz 100FSB but only with the right BIOS.  I havn't read anything that says you can run 133 fsb

Thanks for the reply. I just ordered a couple floppy drives. I have yet to flash the BIOS via removing the jumper for recovery mode. I will try that first, whenever they arrive.

This mobo has 3 DIMM slots. As far as I can tell via it's documentation it doesn't matter which slots are used or how many. But that's good info to know about the ram not always being back compatible (ie 133 to 100). And yes I tried each stick 1 by 1. They clearly state 100/133 all over them but yeah...

I'm totally on board with the 450/100 Processor idea. I was already contemplating this due to old DOS/Win95 games requiring slower clock speeds.

 

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Ya gl it should probably work.  I have a similar mobo its TYAN and with the latest BIOS is will take 800mhz 100 FSB it will not accept a 133FSB Coppermine at all.  To get the 800mhz to work I had to use a 500MHZ and flash the bios.  Then I had to change all the CLK jumpers.  After that it would take the 800mhz.

Edited by Destro

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I only paid a bit over $40 for my sealed/new P.III ...so that's not too big a loss. But dang these P.II prices are insane... I'm too deep into this to stop now though. :)

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Why have a requirement for new old stock.  I bought tons of used parts off ebay and have been incredibly lucky in the past for everything except for ram.

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I found 1 guy with cheap new/unused P.II's actually, just no box. 

But I wanted the boxes for a 90's shrine...because reasons. 

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I was just cleaning up this project from my table(s) and found an insert that I had missed! The insert came with my motherboard and lists Pentium III's from 450-600MHz as supported, but of course with 100MHz bus only... just thought I'd include this find. I'm sure they started throwing in the insert since the official manual only suggests support of Pentium II's up to 450MHz...fast moving technology back in the day. 

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Ya you can run 1000MHZ + CPU on that board because you have the SE440BX-2 revision.  Only with the right BIOS revision.  Must be 100 MHZ fsb

 

440BX chipset is capable of running 133 but not on that board.  Would have to be an ASUS or MSI 440bx or something.

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Upon reading the manual a second time something caught my eye... In the Video Config Menu (BIOS options) The "Default Primary Video Adapter" is set to AGP. You can select PCI but if I have no display I can't really do that lol... so I suppose I need an AGP card in order to see the BIOS options thus enabling me to use PCI or AGP. 

 Should I just pull the trigger on a AGP video card or is there a way to load BIOS options via floppy? (ie editing a file on my modern system, putting it on a floppy, then doing the Boot/BIOS recovery procedure via floppy on my Retro build???) 

A Pentium II 400MHz 100Mhz FSB is on the way, along with some different, older RAM just in case of compatibility issues...

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That doesn't matter. That setting is just for the default init.  Bios just scans for AGP vs before scanning the PCI bus for a display device.  It makes no difference.  In your circumstance.  That setting is for tweaking boot speed.   Flashing the BIOS wont help you because you are trying to run a unsupported CPU.  You cannot run 133 FSB CPU no matter what bios you have.  The only way you can program that kind of bois without booting is a EPROM flasher with like a Genius G540. 

It's difficult to give any unrelated opinions about graphics cards, which kind are better and for which purposes.  Without knowing the purpose of this PC or what games you will be trying to play if any.  Rage 128 will be fine for windows games up to DX7 and Dos games with VESA support.  I beleive that its a good card because it has display modes like 320x480 or whatever I am not totally sure if thats the exact resolution but I know that it is a very low number that are needed for some really older games.  That and dos games cannot utilize AGP so it doesn''t matter.  For windows games AGP will be better.  Personally I use a 3dfx voodo 3 in my machine that is similar to yours, It is only AGP in name but it doesn't support AGP specifications.  But i like the 3dfx alot for other reasons. Mainy for the GLIDE API which is needed in a lot of older 3d titles.

Depending on what games you are wanting the play the sound card is more of the issue i think because it is PCI.  Really older games that run in dos prefer ISA cards, but sometimes you can still get the PCI cards to work.  Newer games I think it's not an issue, it all depends. 

 

Edited by Destro

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Destro, thanks for all your input I really appreciate it. 

I always had some sort of SoundBlaster 16 as a kid I remember, so I'm hoping it works out for the same games. If not no biggie. I got mine for dirt cheap new.

My games list actually includes a lot of windows 95 era games so the system shouldn't be too fast since clock speed dictates game speed to that unplayable level at some point... But at the same time a few of the games require a bit more performance wise to function smoother. Total Annihilation would be one of those "demanding" games I'm thinking of, specifically RAM usage. I can't recall if I had 100 or 133 FSB back when I played TA smoothly. The box I have in my hand recommends 133, so this should be interesting.

I have a large games list but here is what I have already picked up recently (big boxes!) as a priority:

C&C

C&C Red Alert

StarCraft

Total Annihilation

Myst

Riven

...and next games I'll be looking for:

Shadow Warrior

Doom I & II

Blood

Blade Runner

Mech Warrior 2

jazz jackrabbit 2

ect ect...

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