Looking for some Retro help with a P166MHz system.

tarxsix

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Looking for some help and pasting this around.
For the following system:
SL27K (Intel Pentium MMX 166 MHz)
MICROSTAR MS-5187 VER:1
32MB 10NS 3.3V PC100 RAM
Sound Blaster CT4170 (SB 16)
SIS 6326 4MB (PCI)

A few years ago I tried installing DOS 6.22/Win 3.1 and Win 95 on this system but could not get it work so I just installed Windows 98 and it worked fine. Last year I played through Blood and it's expansions on this system and they ran really well, great frame rate. But I really wanted to have this system running DOS 6.22/Win 3.1 and Win 95 (separate drives) so I tried again and this time was able to get them all installed and working.

Then I installed Blood in Win 95 but it would only run 15-20 FPS. Tried a bunch of things and could not improve it so I installed Win 98 just to test but had the same problem. When booting to DOS in 95 and trying to run Blood there it could not find the FM synth chip in sound setup and then would crash when trying to start the game. 98 would not even boot to DOS, just hang. Did not make sense to me as it was running great in 98 before but there was one other thing I did before the new installs. I reset the BIOS to defaults and did not mark down previous setting... I played around with all the setting but still no luck.
Attached are my current setting (need to change Memory timing back to 10NS). Any help would be appreciated, I really want this system running well again.

166BIOS_BIOSFeaturesSetup.jpg
166BIOS_ChipsetFeaturesSetup.jpg
166BIOS_IntegratedPeripherals.jpg
166BIOS_PNPPCIConfiguration.jpg
166BIOS_PowerManagementSetup.jpg
166BIOS_SpecialFeaturesSetup.jpg
166BIOS_StandardCMOSSetup.jpg
 

Dan_D

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There is absolutely no reason not to have Quick Power on Self Test enabled. However, everything else looks about right. I am curious what your actual choices are in Bank 0/1 and Bank 2/3 DRAM timing are though. I don't remember what the values are there and if you might gain anything by adjusting that.
 
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You might want to try installing SciTech Display Doctor or a universal VESA driver. I remember that making DOS games run better on PCs of that era, but it's a vague memory, and I don't remember what works for what.

As for the sound, you have on-chip sound disabled on page 2.
 

tarxsix

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But there is! It gives you more time to access the BIOS when you are doing so frequently :D
Attached is the memory I'm using and the BIOS does have a 10NS option.Celestica32MBSDRAM_20210718.jpg
 

tarxsix

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I'm not using the on-board sound or video. I did try but had problems with both. Again this system was working great with the previous 98 install until I reset the BIOS. This is what makes me think that it has be a BIOS setting that is causing the performance and sound issues in DOS. I use to be able to boot to DOS in 98 too.
 
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Then I don't see anything in there that would tank your frame rate in a serious way. I would look through your autoexec.bat and config.sys... sometimes Windows setup would automatically comment things out.
 
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tarxsix

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Then I don't see anything in there that would tank your frame rate in a serious way. I would look through your autoexec.bat and config.sys... sometimes Windows setup would automatically comment things out.
I'll check those out.
 

evhvis

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"PNP OS installed" would probably cause a lot of issues with your MS DOS. IIRC windows 95 wasn't great at managing PnP either. Do you have an IRQ assigned to the soundcard? It was common back in the MS-DOS and Win 95 days for games to expect the soundcard to be assigned to a specific IRQ (think it was IRQ 5, but more than 20 years since I was fiddeling with MS DOS settings). Some games would let you change it. When loading games in pure MS DOS I would usually use a boot floppy which only loaded the essential drivers.
 

tarxsix

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"PNP OS installed" would probably cause a lot of issues with your MS DOS. IIRC windows 95 wasn't great at managing PnP either. Do you have an IRQ assigned to the soundcard? It was common back in the MS-DOS and Win 95 days for games to expect the soundcard to be assigned to a specific IRQ (think it was IRQ 5, but more than 20 years since I was fiddeling with MS DOS settings). Some games would let you change it. When loading games in pure MS DOS I would usually use a boot floppy which only loaded the essential drivers.
DOS 6.22 worked fine. The SB software has a program that detects the PnP for DOS and Win 3.1.
 

tarxsix

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So other games were finding the sound chip just fine in DOS and you didn't run out of 640k memory?
Correct. But I don't remember if I tried Blood in 6.22... I think I did and it errored too. I did use the DOS memory manager to use extended memory.
 

evhvis

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Pretty sure I used to disable video bios shadow, but unfortunately it has been so long since I last touched these kinds of systems that I don't remember all the settings and why it should be enabled/disabled. FWIW Windows XP was the first OS that I let manage the IRQs and similar. Prior to that I would set everything manual in bios.
 

GiGaBiTe

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When you installed Windows 95, did you install any drivers, or did you just use the default crappy Windows 95 drivers? If you don't have the correct drivers installed, it will cause horrible system performance from things like IDE DMA not working, and chipset drivers not being installed, so Windows uses slower methods to communicate with peripherals on the motherboard. I'd recommend using Windows 98SE over 95, unless you have some Windows 95 specific application that is wonky on 98SE, but that's rare.

Sound Blaster cards also generally required drivers to set the environment variables, control the mixer output and set the IRQ, DMA and base address on PNP cards. Older non-PNP cards could work without the driver, because games usually had the sound drivers built in, but still may need the environment variables set.

You may also want to check for hardware problems. Computers of that era are starting to have capacitor issues, especially in power supplies that can start outputting dirty DC or out of spec power rails that cause erratic behavior. You may also want to run Memtest to check your memory stick for errors.

So other games were finding the sound chip just fine in DOS and you didn't run out of 640k memory?
Blood is a Build engine game and uses DPMI to run in protected mode. There weren't too many games that used a large chunk of conventional memory to where you had to modify config.sys and autoexec.bat to free up space. The only game I ever played that was really annoying to get working was Duke Nukum II that wanted a ridiculous I think 600k of free conventional memory. It's a lot easier to run in Windows 95 or 98 because of VDM, and you can give it as much memory as it wants in the VDM properties page.
 

evhvis

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Blood is a Build engine game and uses DPMI to run in protected mode. There weren't too many games that used a large chunk of conventional memory to where you had to modify config.sys and autoexec.bat to free up space. The only game I ever played that was really annoying to get working was Duke Nukum II that wanted a ridiculous I think 600k of free conventional memory. It's a lot easier to run in Windows 95 or 98 because of VDM, and you can give it as much memory as it wants in the VDM properties page.
We must have played different games. A lot of the games I played back then would not even run properly under win95 and had to be run in a pure DOS environment and often need 580kb or more out of the 640k memory so had to have multiple floppys depending for loading MS DOS depending on the game I wanted to play.
 

GiGaBiTe

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We must have played different games. A lot of the games I played back then would not even run properly under win95 and had to be run in a pure DOS environment and often need 580kb or more out of the 640k memory so had to have multiple floppys depending for loading MS DOS depending on the game I wanted to play.
This is where utilities like QEMM were nice. QEMM could reclaim UMBs in the upper 384k region and increase the amount of conventional memory available. Towards the end of the DOS era, there was a lot of wasted space in the upper 384k, where things like option ROMs and the various video BIOSes were mapped. If you had a VGA video card, you could remap the space used by the MDA/CGA/EGA BIOS to conventional memory. Today, FreeDOS does most of that automatically, and you can have up to 736k of conventional memory available.

Most of the DOS games I ran back in the day were from the DPMI era and didn't require gobs of conventional memory, besides Wing Commander. That game was a PITA to get running, and additionally had timing issues on "fast" processors. About the only way to run it reliably today is in DOSBox.
 

cpufrost

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This is where utilities like QEMM were nice. QEMM could reclaim UMBs in the upper 384k region and increase the amount of conventional memory available. Towards the end of the DOS era, there was a lot of wasted space in the upper 384k, where things like option ROMs and the various video BIOSes were mapped. If you had a VGA video card, you could remap the space used by the MDA/CGA/EGA BIOS to conventional memory. Today, FreeDOS does most of that automatically, and you can have up to 736k of conventional memory available.

Most of the DOS games I ran back in the day were from the DPMI era and didn't require gobs of conventional memory, besides Wing Commander. That game was a PITA to get running, and additionally had timing issues on "fast" processors. About the only way to run it reliably today is in DOSBox.
QEMM FTW! No memory manager got closer to 640K!
And Quarterdeck quickboot was a godsend for SCSI users that had LONG BIOS times! :)
 

trasixes

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I haven't touched an old (pre-Win2K) system in a long, long time. Seeing those screenshots (and the discussion in this thread) brings a tear to my eye. Those truly were the good ole days!
 

cpufrost

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I haven't touched an old (pre-Win2K) system in a long, long time. Seeing those screenshots (and the discussion in this thread) brings a tear to my eye. Those truly were the good ole days!
Indeed, setting Berg jumpers for address, IRQ, and DMA, actually cursing at screen out loud. Didn't even have a modem or connection in the 80s on some systems! And just the sound of starting the system, hearing a clear post beep from an actual paper cone loudspeaker, sound of 3.5 and 5.25 floppies being initialized and (finally) the hard drive itself. Some of those sounded like APUs at trial for ignition! :-D
 

trasixes

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Indeed, setting Berg jumpers for address, IRQ, and DMA, actually cursing at screen out loud. Didn't even have a modem or connection in the 80s on some systems! And just the sound of starting the system, hearing a clear post beep from an actual paper cone loudspeaker, sound of 3.5 and 5.25 floppies being initialized and (finally) the hard drive itself. Some of those sounded like APUs at trial for ignition! :-D

Ah man, you mention all of that and I'm having flashbacks of IRQ conflicts. It's amazing things worked at all sometimes!

I remember my first modem - 800 baud modem dialing up to Compuserve, and later into my local newspapers BBS to read some of the news early. Slower than molasses in the artic, but it was the coolest thing. I was only 8-10 years old but there was nothing I'd rather be doing (except playing baseball).


Edit: Apologies to the OP, didn't mean to derail your thread. I'll refrain from posting anything further unless it is on-topic.
 

tarxsix

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Sorry, stopped getting notifications for this tread. As for the above I will post replies and a big update but right now I've been trying to figure out one more issue that popped up.
Question: for the SB16, it has headers for PC Speaker in. When connected I can only hear the PC speaker if I turn OBS audio on my Line-In all the way up and then very lowly through the distortion I can hear the PC speaker. I've tried using the SB audio mixers in DOS and Win 3.1 but no luck. I've cleaned the connectors but still no change. There is one more option but I'm not sure if it's safe. The SB has headers to amplify the line-out (4 watts per channel). Is this safe to try? I worried it would burn out my motherboard on the capture system through the line-in.
Or if anyone has any other ideas as to why the PC speaker in is so low.
 
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GiGaBiTe

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The Sound Blaster cannot amplify the PC Speaker, because it is not a PCM source, it is pseudo PWM. How the PC Speaker makes more than beeps and boops is it is set to one shot and the CPU interrupts it rapidly to vary the pulse width. The voice coil in the speaker smooths this out, and you get something resembling audio. Plugging the PC Speaker into anything other than the PC Speaker input on the SB16 is not a good idea, and can possibly result in component damage.

Sound Blasters with PC Speaker inputs may have tiny Class D amplifiers to convert the PWM to PCM, but I'm fairly sure it doesn't amplify it.

Really the only way you'll get a louder PC Speaker output is to use the correct speaker. Most computers back in the day had something like a 2" 8 ohm speaker, which gave the best sound output. Boards that had integrated piezo buzzers generally sounded tinny and crap.
 
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How the PC Speaker makes more than beeps and boops is it is set to one shot and the CPU interrupts it rapidly to vary the pulse width. The voice coil in the speaker smooths this out, and you get something resembling audio.

That makes sense. My first PC had no sound card, so I installed a PC speaker sound driver in Windows 3.1. The entire machine would become unresponsive while playing a WAV file.
 

GiGaBiTe

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That makes sense. My first PC had no sound card, so I installed a PC speaker sound driver in Windows 3.1. The entire machine would become unresponsive while playing a WAV file.

Yeah, because the CPU was 100% busy bit banging the 825x program interval timer chip to make the sound. There was an option in the Windows 3.x driver to allow system use during playing sounds, but it introduced delays in the sound playback while other interrupts were being serviced, like the mouse. The slower the CPU was, the more delayed/choppy the audio would get. You could also use the driver in Windows 95, since it was backwards compatible with Windows 3.x drivers. There also was I believe a VxD for Windows 98 that could also play WAV audio over the PC Speaker, but by that point in time, it wasn't really needed. Sound cards had become so cheap and prevalent that even the lowest end machines had some sort of sound, usually an ESS Audiodrive.
 

tarxsix

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Welp... It was just crossed wires. The manual I had must of had the layout for another SB16 (there are so many) with the headers switched. But I can now hear the PC speakers through my speakers!

Ok, taking lots of screenshots and will put together a big update for those interested soon!

Thanks for all the help and input!
 

GiGaBiTe

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Good you got it resolved. Yeah, Creative did make a crapton of different versions of the SB16, and even some not SB16s that used the SB16 chipset.

I used to have a SB16 years ago, but got rid of it, and I kick myself for doing it. Luckily I kept my 3 AWE64 cards.
 

tarxsix

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(Wall of text and screenshots warning!)
Alright, with everyone's help and input I have (for now) come to the end of troubleshooting my 166 system. Blood is still not where it was performance wise but has improved. Here's all I did.

First the BIOS. Using the setting below got rid of all my DOS trouble. The main thing being setting the ISA card resources to manual. I was then able to boot 98 to DOS and Blood ran in DOS 6.22.
166BIOS_BIOSFeaturesSetup.jpg
166BIOS_ChipsetFeaturesSetup.jpg
166BIOS_IntegratedPeripherals.jpg
166BIOS_PNPPCIConfiguration.jpg
166BIOS_PowerManagementSetup.jpg
 

tarxsix

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Next was the sound card (and thanks to 'RetroSwim' for this and the PC speaker info). I was informed the SB16 has know issues with Build Engine games and 16 Bit DMA. That also made me think about the audio options, I had everything set to max. That also made me remember that on my first PC I had to set the voices to 8. So first I set the DMA to 8 Bit and after some testing I was able to have the voices at 16 and KHz at 44k. With these setting Blood did not crash with the 8 Bit DMA and for the starting graveyard area went from a low of 15-FPS to 17-FPS for Win 95-98. And for DOS 6.22 the low stayed at 20-FPS. Other areas for DOS 6.22 would be between 25-40-FPS. Not bad but still does not seem as good as it use to run. I looked into PC Gaming Wiki for Blood and it does have a 3DFX patch and I have a Voodoo 1 card! So I installed my Voodoo and tried the patch on all OSs but it would not even install. Apparently nobody could get that patch working but I might as well leave the Voodoo in the system so I can take advantage of it for games that support it. But this will be it for now as I have no idea what else could be done to improve performance in Blood.
 

tarxsix

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For those interested in the lore.
I have every compute I've ever had except for a Q9450 that got fried (but don't really care about that one) and my first computer. I got my first computer in 96. A Acer Aspire with a Cyrix 150MHz and 33.3K modem, 8MB Ram (I think) and Win 95. And it was a piece of crap.. Windows 95 could barely make it 5 minutes without BSODing but Acer thought it was a good idea to have their own desktop running over Win 95. It could barely go 30 seconds without a BSOD. I quickly learned how to re-image a fresh copy of Windows. Another note, I originally wanted a computer with a Intel MMX processor. That was the new tech I saw advertised on TV but my father and I got suckered into buying that Acer by those suit wearing bastards at Future Shop as we both knew nothing about computers. So I wanted a Win 95 system and this one is the one I wish I had back then. Can you imagine a 166MMX with 32MB RAM and a Voodoo card! That would probably cost 5-6k$ back then!
 

tarxsix

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DOS & Win 3.1
Born in 81 I only had consoles up to 96 and never really thought that much about computers. I knew about the Commodore 64 from commercials but did not really care. I did take a few computer classes at school. Learned word processing in WordPerfect 5.1 and some BASIC in DOS and used Win 3.1 at some point. but I never really payed that much attention in those classes and never really learned DOS. So I wanted this system to also run DOS 6.22 & Win 3.1. They are now installed and working! In 96 my aunt gave me Alien Logic for my birthday and I still have it but never got it working (so never played it) until now! For the first time in 25 years of having it I saw the intro! I also have Ken's Labyrinth on a shareware floppy that I never was able to get running. Now using only these setting I can finally play it with Music set to Adlib and effects set to PC speaker.
 

tarxsix

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Windows 95.
The reason why I built this system. I'd like to say something... If your looking for a Retro system from this era just install Windows 98SE and don't be a idiot like me and try and get Win 95 working... It took over 6 hours with help looking up drivers online to get everything working and this was the 2nd try (I failed the first time to get it working). Windows 95 is the dumbest biggest pain in the butt you will ever swear at! It says it's looking for drivers but it has no idea where anything is! You have to know exactly where every driver file is and point it to it to get a device installed... Some of you were asking if I had the proper drivers installed and I do! Take a look at that Device Manager (the VIA Display Adapter is unplugged so it has a (!)). Nice and clean! I could not get Redneck Rampage or Ironman / X-O-Manowar in Heavy Metal working on this system on any OS but after all the changes they both only installed on 95... Would think they would of worked in DOS but ok... Also note I will not be using 98 on this system as I have my original 98 system! A P3 500MHz with a TNT!
DeviceManagerWin95_1.jpg
DeviceManagerWin95_2.jpg
DeviceManagerWin95_3.jpg
 

tarxsix

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After all this I'd just like to say I'm very happy to have a working 166 system running DOS 6.22/Win 3.1 & Win 95!

Ask yourself this question, when was the last time you played Hover? If you don't know what Hover is... then get off my lawn you damn kids!
HoverWin95.jpg
 
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GiGaBiTe

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Your performance issues are probably related to the SiS 6326.

It was a bare bones entry level video chip really only designed for 2D acceleration. It had virtually no OpenGL support outside a late beta driver that was buggy and incomplete, and had very poor DirectX support.

Without the late beta driver, no OpenGL game is going to work, including GLBlood. GLBlood was a buggy mess to begin with, it was really an ugly bodge because the Build engine wasn't a 3D engine to begin with.
 

tarxsix

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Your performance issues are probably related to the SiS 6326.

It was a bare bones entry level video chip really only designed for 2D acceleration. It had virtually no OpenGL support outside a late beta driver that was buggy and incomplete, and had very poor DirectX support.

Without the late beta driver, no OpenGL game is going to work, including GLBlood. GLBlood was a buggy mess to begin with, it was really an ugly bodge because the Build engine wasn't a 3D engine to begin with.
I'm using my original copy of DOS Blood. It should not be using the GPU at all. It's all processed by the CPU. And again, it use to run better using the same hardware.
 
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