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Numerous problems with retro rig

Last response: in Systems
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October 13, 2011 9:41:25 PM

Hey people, just a few days ago I finally finished putting together the following system:

PSU: OCZ Fatal1ty 550w
CPU: Athlon XP 1800mhz
Motherboard: ASUS A7V266-E
Graphics card: 3dfx Voodoo5 5500 AGP
Sound card: Sound Blaster Live 5.1 Value
RAM: 1x 512MB PC2100 DDR

etc. Running Windows 98 SE. Since the first boot I've been having a lot of problems. The first one to present itself was that if I moved the case at all, opened it or even unplugged it, the CMOS is completely reset, and each time I have to boot with the monitor plugged into a 2nd graphics card, an ATI Rage 128 PCI, and change the primary card in BIOS to the AGP one. The motherboard was brand new, still sealed in the box, so I don't understand how a dead CMOS battery could be the problem.

Second, the computer alternates each time I boot up between recognizing 512MB of RAM and only 256MB. I only have one DIMM installed.

Then, I've been getting a lot of error messages in Windows. Only a couple hours after installing it I had to replace a corrupted regscanw.exe file with the installation disc. Last night on one bootup I got a succession of errors, starting with systray, proceeding to .DLLs, a message telling me there was no more memory left, and finally a message telling me that Explorer.exe could not be loaded and I had to reinstall Windows. I pushed reset and Windows booted up fine; no errors. That's why I love Bill Gates. :sarcastic: 

Finally, my floppy drive stopped working. It was working fine and then wouldn't read a particular floppy, and then started saying the same for all of them; general failure, abort, retry, fail in DOS. It doesn't fail to read them right away, the light comes on, and after 10-20 seconds (much longer in Windows) the error comes up. In Windows, it tells me that every disk I try is unformatted, which is obviously not the case. I swapped out the drive for another one, same problem. I have the BIOS set to check for floppy in POST and the drive lights up, but it won't boot into DOS with a disk after that. I was thinking I had a virus, especially since I also have the errors in Windows, but shouldn't I still be able to boot from a floppy if that's the case? Also, I already scanned with both Clamwin and Avast and they found nothing. Also, if the floppy controller was dead, would I still be receiving power, and would POST still detect it?

Give all these failures, is it possible that I could have a bad motherboard? Even in absolutely ancient systems I've never seen so many problems present at once, and I just put this PC together this week, and the motherboard was brand new, still sealed in the box. The CPU is used, is there any chance that it could be the problem?

Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated. :) 
October 13, 2011 11:48:00 PM

If the battery was installed in the motherboard several years ago, then it should be replaced. Also make sure the RAMvoltage is correct.

Why would you run such an old system and OS? Win 98 SE hasn't been supported for more than 10 years.
October 13, 2011 11:56:07 PM

LOL, yes, I know it's an old system and OS. :)  The reason is because the only games I'm interested in playing are older games, especially those that only support 3D in Glide; NHL '98, Need For Speed III, that era and older. Many of the games I'm interested in aren't supported by XP, so that's why I'm running 98. The last chipset to support 3.3v AGP cards was the VIA kt333 for Athlon XP boards, mine is based on the kt266a chipset from 2002. Support for 98 SE didn't end until five years ago, by the way. ;)  I'll get a new CMOS battery, the mobo was new in the box and so has only seen a few days of use, but it's a 9-year old motherboard, sooo yeah. I'm not a hardware expert, I assumed the CMOS battery only degraded if it was used, thanks for the info. I'll check the RAM voltage too, what should it be at for PC2100?

Would a dead/dying CMOS battery also explain the death of the floppy drive?
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October 14, 2011 12:52:26 AM

Actually the CMOS battery is used whenever no power is applied to the motherboard.

Check the memory specs to know what the voltage should be.
October 14, 2011 1:03:46 AM

on old hardware like that you have to start looking at things that will fail eventually like CAPACITORS. have a good look over the motherboard and I bet you will find a few capacitors bulging at the top and possibly leaking. If you have some soldering experience you can replace them yourself.
October 14, 2011 1:11:02 AM

Nah, the capacitors all look good, that was the first thing I looked for. I'll find a new CMOS battery at any rate and see what that fixes, thanks.
October 14, 2011 2:35:23 AM

3dfx Voodoo5 5500 AGP
WOW awesome dude im actualy a lil jelouse sounds like fun

SO is the CPU a 1800+
or is it a 2200+ at 1.8Ghz ?
I had the the 1800+ and did overclock it.
If I were you though, the board is so old I wouldn't risk it.
But enjoy , I wonder what I did with my voodoo 2000 and my 1500+ which both got upgraded into a 7000 VE and an 1800+ then sold....hmm time to go through my junk
October 14, 2011 2:48:28 AM

2200+, not oc'ed, and thanks! :)  I was just playing NFS III Hot Pursuit at 1024x768 with 4x FSAA and no lag, your mouths would all have been hanging open back in 2000. :D  Maybe someday when I have more space for such things I'll put together a Voodoo 1, Rush or Voodoo2 SLI machine on the uber-cheap, for this one I basically went for close to the best 3dfx machine I could assemble.
October 14, 2011 2:56:28 AM

GhislainG is right . The battery has been powered on for years , even in the box .
Replace it

and consider upgrading to Windows ME .
Despite the bad reputation it really is the best of the DOS based windows OSes
!