Project DanK8: Normal AMD K8 (Socket 754) build w/ dank 2018 "eye candy"

Discussion in 'Desktop Hardware' started by OverTallman, Jul 8, 2018.

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  1. OverTallman

    OverTallman Notebook Evangelist

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    Remember this vintage PC parts bundle I've posted a while ago?
    [​IMG]
    Recently I've bought more parts and started building it into a complete system :) Let's see how it goes...

    This thread was originally posted in VOGONS: https://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=60999, I reposted it here so you can know the system's current state. Both threads are mostly the same, save for a few words. I'll update as the build progresses.

    Alright, so this is where the project started: A Socket 754 system bundle that I bought for very little $$$ (see above). This includes an ECS motherboard, a Sempron CPU, a stock AMD cooler, 1.5GB RAM, a rusty backplate, a manual and a driver CD, all for HK$30 (~US$4) and they all work. What a bargain!

    By the way, what's with the title? Well what I'm gonna do is build an relatively old system mixed with some modern parts making it totally awkward, ridiculous, out of place, period incorrect, blah blah blah. I know this is gonna trigger some people here but hey it's summer in HK, a "My Summer PC" build doesn't hurt, right? :p

    Parts used
    (Click on the image for a larger one)

    Motherboard: ECS 761GX-M754 (V3.0A)
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    An ordinary Socket 754 mATX motherboard from ECS, with SiS 761GX chipset (no Turion support unfortunately), 2 SATA ports and a PCIe x16 slot (wow). The purple PCB screams ECS and looks dope, I like it.

    Processor: AMD Sempron 2500+ (SDA2500AIO3BX)
    [​IMG]
    Meh, a Sempron, and not only that it's the slowest of them. True it's the slowest Socket 754 desktop chip (runs @ measly 1.4GHz), but at least it doesn't have chipped corner and works well. For $30 what can you ask for?

    CPU cooler: PCcooler E121 Corona
    [​IMG]
    Now that's where new parts start to come. It's a cheap Chinese top down cooler, full aluminum heatsink like the stock one but even lighter. However it has a 120mm fan and it emits a blue dank ring, that's what matters :D

    Memory: 2 * 1GB Speed DDR-400 RAM
    [​IMG]
    I decided not to use the 512MB Kingston and got an (almost) identical 1GB module instead. They're the same obscure brand, one of them has Hynix chips and the other one has Samsung chips, but it should be fine.

    Graphics card: HIS Radeon HD 4350 Silence 512MB
    [​IMG]
    Taken from my "fatten up" HP t5745 thin client (refer to my extended signature). It's silent, can play 1080p videos and okay for light gaming, a great card for web browsers and HTPC.

    Storage: Western Digital WD3200AAJS
    [​IMG]
    A rather common 3.5" 320GB SATA II hard drive by WD, it's bought used but has no bad sectors, very quiet too. It also has the 8-pin jumper which can be handy in some cases. (More on to that later)

    Case: Maxxon Casper
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    A budget mATX case from a local brand, flimsy metal panels and a potential danger to my delicate skin :rolleyes:, surprisingly though I didn't get a cut from handling it. Clear plexiglass side panel may look cringy to some, but overall it doesn't look too gamer-y. Like most new cases there's a USB 3.0 port and HD audio connectors on the front panel, which I'll need to improvise to make use of.

    Power supply: Antec Neo ECO 450C
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    A decent Antec PSU with 80+ Bronze certification, 450W is more than enough for this build considering I'm not gonna drop a power hungry GPU into it. Again it's an used part but there's no funky smell (may indicate leaking caps) so it should be good.

    Fans: 2 * Aigo Aurora 120mm blue LED fan + 1 * AVC 92mm fan
    [​IMG]
    Eyesore alert! Two front panel fans with blue dank ring :cool: Decided against RGB stuff as that adds complexity to the build (e.g. RGB controller and software). The exhaust fan is much more discreet, having another ring besides the ring on the cooler looks kinda messy to me anyway so I'm cool with that. Don't like the rings? It's 2018 boi :D

    These are the parts for now, coming up: System build-up and my "initial adventure" with it :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
  2. OverTallman

    OverTallman Notebook Evangelist

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    System assembly
    (Click on the image for a larger one)

    Time to put the parts together and build the system! First thing to do: toothpaste on the CPU :rolleyes:
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    Nah just joking, it's Noctua NT-H1, cheap and with good quality. I did spread it as I used to do so when I repaste my laptops, works fine for me.

    Now the CPU, cooler and RAM are on board! I had to bend the retention clip so it won't put too much pressure on the CPU and motherboard, seems like the cooler is built for the clips on the later AMD sockets which sit higher.
    [​IMG]
    Look at the size of the cooler! The cooler and the retention clip do exceed the edge of the motherboard, I wonder if they'll hit the PSU...

    I also did something on the backplate: the original one is rusty so I decided to get another one from a used PC parts shop, didn't cost me a lot. Then I painted it matte black with my leftover Tamiya spray can.
    [​IMG]
    Sadly it crapped out (empty) at the 2nd layer and coughed up paint droplets in the end, there goes the smooth surface :( However, once dried it gives a surface like a textured fine art paper, alright.

    Some parts had to be fitted into the case before I drop the motherboard in.
    [​IMG]

    And for the hard drive, previously I've mentioned the jumper, turns out the SiS 964 southbridge has issue with SATA II/III drives, which is also the case for most SATA-capable southbridges from VIA. Solution? Short out pin 5-6 to downgrade the hard drive to SATA I speed.
    [​IMG]

    Core parts finally in, the cooler retention clip didn't hit the PSU :) I'll tidy up the cables later as I'm gonna give it a spin.
    [​IMG]

    Test run
    (Click on the image for a larger one)

    Now the system is almost ready, let's fire it up and see if it works, and see how awesome those dank rings are :D
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The front looks great and I'm happy that I've painted the backplate, but how does the side look? (Warning: May cause epilepsy seizure)
    [​IMG]
    Are your eyes burning yet? Well more eye cancer coming soon ;)

    As for running an OS, I skipped XP cause I knew for certain it'd work, the motherboard officially supports it after all, instead I did a full Windows 7 Professional install onto the HDD. It supports booting from USB which saved me a lot of hassle, as you may realize there's no optical drive at the moment. After 15-20 minutes plus an initial set up I'm greeted with Windows 7 desktop, yay!
    [​IMG]

    However, things didn't turn out so well beyond this point as the graphics card started to go frantic, sometimes it'd sense two monitors plugged in even though I was only using the DVI port, sometimes only the VGA port worked, sometimes the system went frozen, sometimes it wouldn't even POST... Reinstalled the graphics driver and underclocked the memory to 333MHz, the situation improved somewhat, but it still crashed the system occasionally. Then I tried clearing CMOS settings as last resort, believe or not it was very effective: it's now quite stable under Win7, DVI port works every time.

    But then the card started to act up again when I decided to upgrade to Windows 10, the system would freeze in the middle, causing the upgrade process to fail, after several failed attempts, I removed the card and it successfully upgraded to Win10 at last. Win10 doesn't support the onboard SiS graphics though so I'd really want to have a dedicated GPU, but once I put the card back it'd show a black screen with loading cursor when the system booted to OS. Reinstalling Win10 has no effect.

    I know the original TeraScale GPU doesn't officially support Win10, but I have two Core 2 Duo desktops with HD 4350 and 4670, both work fine under Win10 using the default driver, showing correct resolution and their respective performance. In fact, my t5745 was also running Win10 with the 4350 and I didn't see any problem with it. Perhaps the graphics card has finally kicked the bucket? Put the card back to my "fat client" and it worked perfectly so it's not dead.

    Luckily I have two spare cards to test, a Quadro FX 4500 (underclocked GeForce 7800GTX 512) and a GeForce 9800GT Green Edition (lower clock, no external power needed). With the Quadro installed (with 6-pin power connector plugged in), the fan spins but the motherboard doesn't detect the card, not even in Device Manager. On the other hand, 9800GT works fine and I can finally see the Win10 desktop in correct resolution :) Maybe NVidia is the way?

    This sums up my initial findings on this machine. Coming up, a hunt for a graphics card that works on this machine under Win10!
     
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  3. Starlight5

    Starlight5 Don't call me Chris, my name is Elvis

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    Socket 754 K8 was last AMD machine (and last desktop, btw!) I ever had - only Intel-based laptops since then! Felt betrayed by AMD jumping sockets like crazy at the time, after being their fanboy and overclocking the hell out of K7s for years.
     
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  4. OverTallman

    OverTallman Notebook Evangelist

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    Ironically, after Socket 775/771 it was Intel who was changing sockets and breaking backward compatibility every 2-3 years. Anyway AMD has since learned the lesson, at least IMO.

    By the way, a big update coming soon!
     
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  5. Starlight5

    Starlight5 Don't call me Chris, my name is Elvis

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    Didn't feel it - my Core 2 Duo laptop which I bought to replace the K8 desktop lasted ~6 years with numerous upgrades (socketed CPU, MXM GPU and all). =p
     
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  6. OverTallman

    OverTallman Notebook Evangelist

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    Well mobile Core 2 Duo is in the same age as the desktop counterparts so that can be understandable, with proper BSEL mod one may even run 1066MHz Penryn on a 965-based system. Performance wise, Core 2 Duo systems are still viable as budget daily drivers with some tweaking.

    P.S. Updates on the project in the progress!
     
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  7. OverTallman

    OverTallman Notebook Evangelist

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    Some delays on porting the latest update to here, was very busy for the whole week but at last it's coming :)

    New parts
    (Click on the image for a larger one)

    Graphics card: Gigabyte GeForce GT 430 OC 1GB and XFX GeForce 9500 GT 512MB
    [​IMG]
    Since I had good luck with an Nvidia 9800 GT from my preliminary test I bought two more low-end Nvidia cards, the CPU's gonna be a bottleneck anyway so I don't think I need to spend big on a graphics card.

    Wi-Fi card: B-Link BL-LW04-A2
    [​IMG]
    A very common Chinese PCI wireless card that floods the eBay market. The chip is Ralink RT3062F, (theoretically) capable of 300Mbps but no 5GHz band support. Despite its low cost (bought a few of them for £8-10 each in UK) and lack of dual band capability it gives a respectable network speed.

    Optical drive: Asus DRW-24B3ST
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Just a typical 24x DVD drive, works albeit a bit noisy. It's dirt cheap (only $20!) as its faceplate was missing, no big deal cause I've got an idea to fix it.

    Mid-season upgrades
    (Click on the image for a larger one)

    Now I have two Nvidia cards, let's try both. First I tried the GT 430 and... it failed miserably, in fact it's worse than HD 4350 as not only it didn't work in Win10, it didn't work in Win7 as well! The driver simply refused to initialize the card and gave Error 12, I ain't gonna disable a few ports just to make the card work so it looks like Fermi is no go.

    How about the older 9500 GT? It's a Tesla card and I've tried a 9800 GT with success, moreover a fella in VOGONS was also using a 9500 GT on his/her S754 system so the 9500 GT should work on my system right? Well upon its first boot it didn't show any image, then I realized I forgot to plug in the DVI cable, silly me :p For some reason the card won't show image if no video cable is plugged in when it's powered on. I turned on the machine again (this time with the DVI cable plugged in) and installed the latest driver in Win10, after a restart I was finally greeted with Win10's desktop in 1920*1080 resolution :)

    Graphics card sorted out, now I'm focusing on the looks again. Like the motherboard backplate I painted the backplates of the graphics card and the wireless card (using a new can of spray paint), so the back of the machine will look more uniform.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    For the DVD drive and its missing faceplate, I reused the front panel cover, cut and sanded down some plastic so it won't get stuck when the disc tray closes. To make up for the 15mm gap between the improvised faceplate and the disc tray I used numerous layers of double sided foam tape stacked together.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Sure it isn't perfect, but it's at least better than nothing. For such a ghetto solution it's really not too shabby.

    I've also tidied up the cables, took me a few hours to get them right. (And I really hate this part :mad:)
    [​IMG]

    Now this build is pretty much done and working well, let's have a look on it. This is probably my favorite build as for now.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
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    From now I'm gonna thoroughly test the system and post my findings, overclocking included! Up next I'll state the purpose of this build and christen it, just like what I did to my 10+ laptops. Perhaps some name suggestions?
     
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  8. OverTallman

    OverTallman Notebook Evangelist

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    A month has passed, any real progress on the build? Yep, but not as much as you'd expect for a month. At the very least though I'll fulfill my promises in my previous post and share the build's current state.

    Objective
    I haven't stated the purpose of this build yet, I'm gonna do that now so you may understand the build and the configuration better.

    The reason I built this machine... well besides feeling bored and had some cash to burn, I wanted a relatively powerful retro gaming machine. It's not like I don't have an old system, I had a few P2/P3 desktops and several thin clients (mostly VIA based) in storage that can be good candidates for Win98/XP games, but otherwise they're rather too slow for everyday tasks in 2018. I totally understand old hardwares have their charm, I like tinkering with old computers too, but space is limited in HK, I can't just stuff a lot of PCs that I rarely use in my home, therefore I want a do-it-all machine that can play old games well while also acceptable for average Joe work, so I can use it as a backup machine in case my workhorse decides to strike. Apart from that, old parts are rather hard to find as we don't have luxuries like eBay and Craigslist here, so I'd like to use newer stuff in place of period correct hardware.

    As such, I've laid out my main requirements/preferences on the build:
    1. Has good Windows XP/7 support, better if it also supports Windows 98 and 10
    2. Preferably has SSE2, considering Win7 has recently dropped support for SSE2-less CPUs (screw you M$ :mad:)
    3. Able to use modern PSU and 12V CPU power plug
    4. Must have USB 2.0 onboard
    5. Preferably have a PCIe x16 slot and/or 2 SATA ports
    With such tight constraints, I've locked myself into K8/S775 or newer hardware, or S462/S478 if I forgo the PCIe slot (as well as SSE2 for S462). I crossed out S462, S478 and S775 P4 due to different reasons: S462 for lack of SSE2 and fragile dies, S478 for lack of cooler choice, S775 P4 for being too hot and power hungry (except Cedar Mill).

    S775 Core 2 Duo is a viable path: parts are cheap and readily available, with great performance. However, I already have a supped-up Conroe desktop in my home (precisely it's a Lenovo SFF desktop), having two similar machines just make me bored and unimpressed. Besides, what's the challenge of it? It's just too easy to build a C2D system and get it up and running. Then I found the cheap S754 system bundle and I was set on it. I haven't experienced on AMD systems a lot before so that's another good reason to go for it :)

    Name christening
    What about the name? Actually I've already decided, from now on this machine will bear the name of "Reinforce"!

    And now you may ask the million dollar question, where the hell does this name come from? Well, if you're into Gundam series this name should sound familiar to you, as this is the name of a space cruiser in Mobile Suit Victory Gundam. 11 years later this name was reused in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's for another character.

    I chose this name for several reasons:
    1. The main hardware is old, with some parts dating back to 2004/2005. Reinforce in MGLN is part of an ancient tome existing for centuries before A's story.
    2. The build's main color scheme is black, blue and purple, similar to Reinforce in MGLN (black and dark blue outfit, purple magic color)
    3. The build is a mix of old and new parts, similar to Reinforce in MSVG. The battleship was later rebuilt into a more substantial one (aka Reinforce Junior) with parts from a captured enemy battleship.
    The name may sound silly... well the truth is I just wanna jump on the PC naming bandwagon like others, but with some real meaning in it rather than just slapping a random name. If you're interested, feel free to send a PM and ask me about the meaning of my PCs' names!

    Operating systems
    (Click on the image for a larger one)

    Now the machine is good to go, I can finally get to the software part. As mentioned above it's gonna be a multi-purpose PC: being a powerful retro gaming machine as well as a backup PC that I can rely on. Therefore, I'm gonna do WinXP/Win7 dual boot on its single HDD: WinXP gets 100GB, Win7 gets ~200GB. After a few nights I managed to get both OS running and with the latest updates installed. I've also used EasyBCD to tweak the boot menu so it shows "Windows XP" instead of "Earlier version of Windows".

    Windows XP
    [​IMG]
    "Official XP Themes Pack" (by SpringsTS-san) installed, currently using Embedded theme with "New Bliss" wallpaper (from Royale theme).

    Windows 7
    [​IMG]
    Stock Win7 theme with Aero effect enabled, really who doesn't like bling blings? Wallpaper comes from my collection of 1800+ (and still increasing) anime wallpapers :p By the way they are the two heroines in MGLN series, talk about theme matching...

    Curiously, on this machine Win7 actually runs better than WinXP: programs load faster, system feels more responsive, less stuttering... overall I'm really happy with its performance on Win7, despite only having a slow single core Sempron and 2GB RAM. On the other hand I'll have to investigate on the issues on WinXP, it should run better than that. Gotta get a better-looking theme for WinXP too, compared to Win7 it just looks plain. More work to do :oops:

    Overclocking
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    CPU overclock
    Well both the Sempron and the motherboard don't support multiplier change, which means bus overclocking is the way. [Insert Ugandan Knuckles meme here]
    [​IMG]
    After some trial-and-error, 225 was the best I can get, 230 would cause the system to not POST. Also, I had to downclock the RAM to 333MHz otherwise the system would easily lock up or get BSOD, the motherboard manual does say it'll dial down the memory to 333MHz when both slots are used so not a big loss here.

    Anyway, it's a 12.5% bump from its default bus speed (200) and my little Sempron now goes from 1.4GHz to 1.58GHz!! And since the memory controller is in the CPU, the memory also gets overclocked from 333MHz to 350MHz!! Two birds with one stone ;)
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Temperature looks good too: 41 degree C in BIOS.
    [​IMG]

    GPU overclock
    OCing graphics card is easier and more straightforward cause it can be done with software. I used MSI Afterburner as I'm familiar with it, plus it has a few more functions that can be handy.
    [​IMG]
    With default setting I can go up to 715MHz core/520MHz memory but I stepped back to 650MHz core/450MHz for stability and less heat. I believe it's bottlenecked by the slow Sempron even at stock speed so I don't think I need to go hardcore on GPU OC.

    Alright, OC is done, what's next? Well, stress test it! I'm gonna fire up a few benchmark programs and some of my favorite PC games :cool: Besides that, I'll have to work on the WinXP part more, it looks kinda desolate at the moment.
     
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