View Full Version : RE: Blast from the Past

10 October 2006, 10:30 AM
Hey Guys,

Need some help with something. Many of you might think that this issue isn't worth bothering with but I want to see if I can push the limits of a p2 333Mhz system I inherited.

I'm looking at upgrading the graphics (currently a crappy Ati Rage Pro 4mb) to something a bit more 3D meater.

Problem is that few cards were produced for the AGP compliant 1.0 port. So I am looking at picking up a PCI version of the various cards that exist in PCI-E format.

My question is: Can a 64-bit Bus Width card work in a 32-bit Bus Wdith Port?



10 October 2006, 03:37 PM
That type of machine would be an excellent starter computer for a small child. Install win98 lite on it, and be done with it. Even web surfing would be extremely frustrating on such a slow and massively obsolete system.

To give you an idea of cutoff, I donate all sub 800-1000 megahertz computers now at the university. It's just not economical to even set them up. The time it takes to properly set one up, and optimize one to perform even the most basic functions matches or exceeds the cost of a new system. Heck, you can get a 3800 x2 dell for roughly 399 usd. (

At those prices, it would be more cost effective to purchase two new 3800 x2 dell's, then to have one IT guy setup an OS and programs on a pentium III 500.

10 October 2006, 03:45 PM
Actually XP does run pretty smoothly and web surfing is pretty stable. The spec of the machine is:

p2 333mhz
300 MB of RAM
Ati Rage Pro 4mb
MOBO: Dont really.

Just need to have that question answered really.

10 October 2006, 05:36 PM
Seriously I'd listen to the expert.
300MB RAM is barely going to cover XP, let alone anything '3D'.

p.s. I don't know the answer to your question about Bus Width sorry!

10 October 2006, 06:35 PM
Listen to what Greg is saying.

Okay, sounds like you got it for free and just want to play about with it, but you are soon going to find you'll be trying to take it beyond its capabilities.

I doubt if what you are suggesting will work, and may in fact cause irrepairable damage, but more to the point if you could find a card to fit of any description the rest of the system is not going to be up to doing "a bit more 3D meater".

Certainly the amount of ram installed is an issue, the chances of you getting some to put in slim, and for that matter enough ram given slots, configuration will also be impractical.

In its time it was probably a good machine, now its a big door stop.

Just enjoy looking at it, think how much it must have cost new, what you can get for the same money, how much we've moved on in such a short space of time.


10 October 2006, 07:31 PM
If I remember right, my P2 266 has SDRAM. Which isn't as rare or expensive as EDO RAM :P I'd imagine the 333 version is in a similar boat.

These CPUs, however are dreadfully slow :P Which is why I tend to dedicate these types of boxes to some sort of firewall or router using linux.

If you want to do the really geeky thing, I'd try installing a very light linux system on the computer, and toy around with that. I would spend as little money on it as possible, since anything really drastic you want to do to it will likely cost much more than you want. In fact, any money spent on getting performance on this machine up, could be better spent (as posted above) on brand new hardware.

So, that being the case, I'd actually go out and hunt for old hardware that some university or someone else, is trying to get rid of.

BTW, that Rage Pro is a fine card. Sure no real 3D power, but what 3D do you expect to do with this machine? :P I have 3 of them in my system at work :) (PCI) they do what I wanted them to do... granted they suck at resolutions higher than 1024x768...

10 October 2006, 10:47 AM
use it to learn some linux instead, it's very usefull IMHO.

10 October 2006, 02:20 AM
I would say check out linux for it. ubuntu server box would be sweet. I currently have dual cel 500 with 400meg ram. and that card in it is great just as it is. I have tnt2 32meg card in mine. Currently it is wasted since I run the box deadhead. You could buy a big drive and use it for storage. You could use it to beat up on then.


10 October 2006, 03:56 AM
Running a 64-bit card on a 32-bit PCI bus depends entirely on the card. I have an Adaptec 39160 running in a 32-bit slot right now.

You will need to check the manufacturer to see more.

However, I don't think you'll see a PCI-E card work in a vanilla PCI bus simply because they aren't pin compatible. Besides, PCI-E needs more power into the board to make it work properly. You probably don't have the PSU requirements to even make it work.

PCI-X might work since it was originally specced before AGP was released but I haven't seen the pinouts on it. That is, unless they changed it in the last year after wider adoption. I haven't paid attention to PCI-X since 1998 or so. I guess I could pull out an old boot magazine and read up on it. I likely won't since they'll all in storage, though.

10 October 2006, 11:52 PM
No one here is going to tell you to keep it and actually spend money on a machine that antiquated. Whether you want to listen to us or not, but it is the truth. Dropping even $100 on 'upgrading' a machine like that is money that could be MUCH better spent saved for a new PC (like was posted above, for as little as $300 you can get a computer many times the speed of your 333Mhz machine).

ANd believe me, I feel your pain, I have a P2-333 sitting on the floor right next to me as my "backup server" (but in reality, it is more of a foot-warmer than anything else). Sure it runs XP decently, and even is fast enough to surf the net, yet it is painfully slow and I wouldn't even dream about spendding more money on it. And the argument can be made that amazing movies like ToyStory where probably made on computers slower than a P2-333, but one thing I have learned is that there is little room in the computer world for nostolgia*. Dump it and move on.

*unless you are talking about the late and great Amiga line of computers.

10 October 2006, 05:20 AM
Take the old computers and either run a render farm or Seti on 'em. You wouldn't have to upgrade the vid card for those purposes. Look for deals or people throwing out old RAM to max the machines out. Other than that, Greg & others are right- it wouldn't be worth the trouble to set it up as a main system.

10 October 2006, 10:12 AM
Thanks guys for your replies.

I plan to make it an on-going thing of looking at the possibilities of upgrading. I appreciate that I won't get much power-per-buck and that its a complete waste of time but I am intrigued.

I already have a powerful workstation (top end mac book pro) so using the money to invest in something more powerful is not an option.

At the moment got a new monitor for $15 and a geforece 2 GTS 64MB for $12 (which I am yet to use). Trying to completely my limit budget to under $50.

Will let you guys know if its of interest, on how I get on with the upgrade.


10 October 2006, 02:50 PM
I would say add the ram and be done with it. Good for rendering nodes but that would be about it. Remember P2 don't have SSE. Don't know if seti works with SSE but folding at home does and it helps alot. What about a server? just use the 333 as your network server and store all your files there.


10 October 2006, 03:00 PM
I wouldn't turn it into a render node. There's a chance it will make renders longer :P Think about it. Computer A is modern, computer B is a P-II 266. Computer A finishes all of its frames, but computer B is still rendering one frame. What if it takes a day for this computer to finish one frame? What if Computer A was able to render it in about 20 minutes?

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