Building The Ultimate Old Skool Gaming Rig (part 2)
After I finished salivating all over the high performance parts for their day, the sort I could only dream of owning back in the day. I had a really fun time with this build and all its quirks. The case, albeit an older model, is a much improved updated sku with mod cons such as cable management tie downs, grommeted cable holes and no sharp edges for me to cut myself on. It was a dream to use a few newer items also, like a 240mm AIO water cooler from Cooler Master. It can be a problem getting these to fit the 775 socket, as many have no mounting option for this socket and the ones that do fit, might end up fouling something else on the board as these type of coolers were not around for the board partners to keep in mind when designing the layout of the board. A fast boot drive was needed and unfortunately we have no sata 3 and even Nvidia’s implementation of sata 2 is poor to say the least. The work around was to add an m.2 ssd on a pcie riser card using the motherboards pcie lanes and giving us some much needed storage/boot drive performance. I took a few libertys in using a GTX 770 but seeing as though it’s just a GTX680 with a name change, it’s not too far from the speed of a high end card or two from the correct era. Besides I was curious just how far we could push this platform. We round out our parts with the socket modded 771 to 775 xeon cpu and 3 way SLI motherboard from EVGA with the fasted supported ram, two 4gb sticks of 2000mhz ddr3 for a total of 8 gigs still plenty for most people in 2017.
With one of the fastest Xeon’s we could find for this socket (X5470) and overclocking it is where we can really make the difference going from quite a fast stock speed of 3.33Ghz to a speedy 4.2Ghz stable, and not using too much voltage. The 2000mhz ram is probably helping us out a bit when overclocked as this was a time when ddr2 was mainstream and ddr3 was the new kid on the block, only being supported on a handful of boards from this era.
As you can see from our game benchmark graph, there is some evidence of at least one title suffering from some sort of bottleneck. GTA V sees little to no difference when dropping the settings from Very High to High, this could be attributed to a lack of video memory on our graphics card or much more likely a lack of CPU performance. It has to be said that this is more the exception than the norm, with most games playing just fine and for a machine of the era, its keeping up surprisingly well.
3DMark 11 (below) old now, but still a demanding DX11 test, puts our little rig somewhere between a gaming laptop and a VR ready rig. Not too shabby and makes me think, I wonder if I can get our Vive working on it? Probably not, but maybe a possibility of a part 3 to this little experiment.
Firestrike ran fine but the rig shows its age here and for some reason Firestrike Extreme result gave us a driver compatibility error.
Superposition benchmark (below) from the folks at Unigine is a new one for us, so expect to see it in our test lineup in the future.
We round off our synthetic tests with Tomb Raider’s built in benchmark (below) which shows our rig performing strongly.
It has been so much fun going back in time with this hardware. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it held up in our tests, but it was not without some problems. Games that are particularly cpu heavy are going to suffer from being underpowered despite our massive 4.3Ghz overclock. On occasion Windows seemed a bit laggy for some reason but not a deal breaker. A lack of modern features like USB 3 could be a problem if you need fast data transfer from USB drives. But all in all if this was my daily driver I could get by and still play almost any game I want. It still looks great and it tickles my tech nostalgia whiskers. I can see myself revisiting this rig to do more testing as we add more game titles to our testing procedure.
Written by Craig Davison