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Offline chrisNova777

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« on: September 24, 2017, 03:56:02 AM »

Platform Hardware
Building an AMD K6-based system nowadays is easy and hard at the same time. It’s easy because about any component can be found on eBay for cheap, although this tends to be less and less true with the years passing, but at the same time it’s hard to know which components to buy.

In 1999 there were lots of reviews about which motherboard to chose, which chipset to get, what graphic card to combine it with to avoid incompatibilities and so on…lots of these reviews and knowledge now point to 404 errors.

On this page I’m referencing some nice and working hardware one can buy to build a hobbyist K6 computer without too much trouble. For the sake of simplicity I’m going to stay with standard ATX hardware which fits in current PC cases.

Motherboard and Chipset

The first thing to chose when considering a Super Socket 7 system is the chipset. Back then there were numerous chipset vendors with very different characteristics and qualities…In the end the 2 most known and best chipsets were the VIA Apollo MVP3 or ALI Aladdin V.

I posted the ALI Aladdin V press release here and the VIA Apollo MVP3 there if you want to read them. They can swap your A and B drives, be prepared 😉

The ALI Aladdin V is probably the best “all-rouder” chip which was used by many good motherboard manufacturers like Asus on the P5A or Gigabyte on the GA-5AX. It was known to have the best AGP performance but a major complaint from the over-clocker community was the inability to desynchronise the FSB from the PCI/ISA/AGP bus which lead to instabilities if you went above 100MHz.

The VIA Apollo MVP3 was the “opposite”, it was loved by over-clockers for its ability to desynchronise the FSB from the PCI/ISA/AGP bus but had slightly less good AGP performance. I have to say that I never used a motherboard with this chipset.

There were also the VIA Apollo MVP4 and ALI Aladdin 7 which existed but they were not very widespread and are globally uninteresting nowadays. The VIA Apollo MVP4 had an integrate graphics chip we don’t care about and the ALI Aladdin 7 found its way on very few motherboards, had bugged AGP support and didn’t have any good BIOS support.

So, let’s talk about motherboards…as I’m not really interested in over-clocking my CPUs and only want a good retro-gaming PC I’m going to stay with the ALI Aladdin V based boards.

In 1998 I had the Asus P5A PCB rev 1.04 and it was just fine and stable with my K6-2 450 MHz. Later on I tried to run a K6-2 550 MHz on it and it was just unstable as hell…searching the web nowadays it seems like there is a fundamental design flaw with the P5A as soon as you exceed the 500 MHz barrier, probably some signal starting to leak where it shouldn’t. If you intend to build a PC running at 500 MHz maximum it’s still a very fine and widely available motherboard. Before buying one just take care to check the PCB revision, it should be a 1.04 or more. This is written between the PCI slots.

The other motherboard people are widely using is the Gigabyte GA-5AX with a PCB revision 4.1 or higher; again this is written between the PCI slots. It’s virtually the same as the Asus P5A from a features standpoint and it doesn’t seem to have the stability issues past 500 MHz. It’s a bit less available on eBay but still findable within a couple of weeks. I would recommend this board.