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I picked up this beige Gateway E-3400 at the same time as my Dell Dimension XPS T700r that I covered in a previous article. Looking at the case it seems like a pretty standard beige box from the late 90s though when we turn it around we will see it’s a little bit different. There are two 5.25 and two 3.5-inch bays in this mid-tower which although is more than enough for most users is a little lacking compared to other full tower cases which have three or four 5.25-inch bays. Mid case we have a power (that lights up) and reset button along with an HDD activity light. On the very bottom right we have a button you press when removing the side of the case.

Looking at the rear of the case we can see it looks a little nonstandard. This is due to the motherboard form factor which we will take a look at in a moment but my first reaction was that this was some kind of server or workstation type PC. Near the top of the case we have a strange open slot, this is actually a slot for the AGP video card which we will look at after looking inside the case. To the right of the opening we have various I/O ports starting with a printer port and a standard VGA port which on my machine was covered up with a cap. Next we have dual serial ports followed by PS/2 ports for both keyboard and mouse. Lastly, we have dual USB ports (most likely USB 1.x as the user manual dated March 8, 2000 does not specify) and some audio jacks for line out, microphone, and line in. At the bottom of the case we have five expansion slots and at the very bottom of the case we have our power supply. Having the power supply at the bottom of a PC tower case as opposed to the top was fairly uncommon in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Taking off the side of the case on the E-3400 also removes the top of the case.

With the case open we can see the E-3400 uses the NLX motherboard form factor which is a motherboard form factor that some OEMs like IBM and Gateway used in some PCs in the mostly late 90s and early 2000s. I also covered my IBM 300PL Type 6862 which also used this motherboard form factor. Other than the form factor this is a pretty standard socket PGA370 board using the Intel i815 chipset. The most immediately noticeable difference are the PCI slots being located on the daughterboard and the AGP slot being completely separate from the other expansion slots.

On the bottom of the case across from the power supply are three bays for housing hard drives via guide rails. My E-3400 came with two 40GB hard drives.

1) CPU – My E-3400 came equipped with an 800MHz Celeron CPU running on a 100MHz FSB. I decided to upgrade this to an 800MHz Pentium III running on a 133MHz FSB as a nice little speed bump. The E-3400 should be able to handle all Coppermine Celeron and non-Tualatin Pentium III CPUs up to 1.13GHz

2) RAM – With only two slots for memory expansion the E-3400 is only capable of supporting up to 512MB of SDRAM, at least according to the manual. This is fine if you’re planning to run Windows 9x or even early XP titles though it may become a hindrance if you wanted to make your PC into a more capable Windows XP gaming machine where you may want at least a gig of memory.

3) Expansion slots – For expansion slots on the daughterboard we have five PCI slots. On the E-3400 there is also a neat little plastic guard that goes over all the slots, it really doesn’t do much but it does look neat. It would have been nice to have a 16-bit ISA slot or two if for DOS but seeing as this is a Pentium III class motherboard the vast amount of users that plan to use this PC for retro gaming are likely looking to build out a Windows 9x or XP machine.

4) AGP slot – The AGP x4 slot, unlike on most motherboards is located away from the other expansion slots. Because of the form factor you will need an NLX video card and a special NLX style bracket. Fortunately Diamond Multimedia made a large number of video cards with various different graphics chips in the late 90s that comply with the NLX standard.

5) Daughterboard – Other than the PCI slots the second half of the NLX motherboard also houses the floppy and IDE connectors with Ultra DMA/66 support as well as some power connectors and connectors to the front buttons and LED lights

6) CMOS battery and a piezo speaker.

Expansion cards

The first expansion card is an Ethernet card, I believe the one pictured is a 3Com Tornado LAN card which I also believe came standard with this PC.

Sound

Looking my motherboard over I could not seem to locate an obvious sound chip for the built-in audio (a reader did comment that the sound chip should be the chip located between the audio jacks and the CMOS battery) but the user manual indicates the sound is Integrated audio using a AC’97 compliant audio Codec chip.

My PC did however come with a discreet PCI sound card powered by the CMI8738 chip. Nothing very fancy but perhaps better than the built-in audio. The sound chip seems to have decent adlib/FM support but spotty Sound Blaster DOS support as well as EAX support in Windows though it doesn’t sound as high quality as a true EAX card from Creative. You do get a joystick/controller port with the card which is a bonus.

Video

Some E-3400s according to the manual do have integrated video though some like mine came with a discreet ATI Rage video card.

My PC came with an ATI Rage XL based card in the PCI variety as opposed to an AGP card. The Rage XL could be considered the pinnacle of the original Rage line of video cards and was widely used as a low cost video card in servers and workstations into the early 2000s. The card actually performs surprisingly well in games and I was honestly impressed with its performance. I found games like the original Quake under DOS as well as Forsaken under Windows 9x ran quite well and looked good. Games from around 2000 such as Quake III did not perform so well though and you should turn down settings if you want better performance. In theory the Rage XL should be the best card for playing ATIs proprietary API CIF on though unfortunately this is not possible mainly due to the newer drivers which are not compatible with CIF supporting games that the XL card requires.

There’s nothing wrong with the Gateway E-3400 and with some effort it can be turned into a good Windows 9x or early XP gaming PC but I didn’t find it quite worth the effort. The strange form factor doesn’t really hurt this PC but it does limit you a little on what AGP cards you can use. The limit of 512MB of RAM can also be a hindrance if you want to build a more powerful XP gaming PC. I also had some issues with the side of the case fitting correctly and the plastic tabs on my PC broke fairly easily. There are just better and more convenient options out there for retro gamers than the E-3400. If it’s all you have go ahead and pimp it out but if you have other options just go with those.

In the 1980’s and 90’s it seemed like everyone was making IBM PC compatible computers from Canon and AT&T to bigger names like HP and Dell. Of all these OEMs Gateway 2000 perhaps made one of the greatest of all these IBM compatibles. Enter the iconic 486 based Gateway 2000 4DX2-66V (Desktop) released around 1993 and retailing for a whopping $2995.

Not to say the other OEM companies didn’t make some impressive PC’s back in the day but the 4DX2-66V from Gateway 2000 really stood out as a massive and powerful PC of the time. This thing meant serious business and if the specs didn’t impress you the large case and relatively high build quality should have.

The model we’re looking at in this article is the desktop version although an even more impressive to look at tower version was also available for purchase.

The 4DX-66V (4DX standing for 486DX CPU and 66V standing for 66MHz with Vesa Local Bus slots) is a rather large desktop case and is fairly heavy with a mostly all metal case. To the left, we have a key lock with a green power LED located underneath followed by a reset button an HDD activity light and finally a turbo button. On the far right side of the case, we have three 5 1/4 external bays. One thing I do dislike about this case is the complete lack of any external 3 1/2 bays forcing you to use a 5 1/4 bay adaptor for the obligatory 1.44MB floppy drive.

I attempted to replicate the look as closely as possible to a stock 4DX-66V and placed my drives according to some older advertisement photos I found. On the top is a 1.2MB 5 1/4 drive with a 1.44MB 3 1/2 floppy drive taking up the middle bay and finally a CD-ROM drive at the bottom.

I want to note here that there seems to be some difficulty in determining the stock CD-ROM drive type. Although IDE would be the standard for an OEM PC like this I’ve read some sources claiming the original CD drive was actually a SCSI x1 or x2 drive. The machine in question here did, in fact, come to me with an SCSI card installed and no CD drive and I had a very hard time getting an IDE CD drive to install and work correctly. In the end I did opt to install an SCSI CD drive though the drive itself is a newer and faster Sony drive.

The front of the case also lacks any power button. There is a power switch located on the right back side. This is a design more in common with earlier 80’s machines like the 5150.

This design also makes it difficult to find and fit a replacement PSU should yours die since standard AT or ATX power supplies with AT adaptors lack this side switch and are of a smaller size.

Taking a look at the back.

There is nothing too special about the rear of this PC and we have a pretty standard layout with parallel and serial connectors as well as an AT keyboard port and eight expansion slots.

Before we open the case I wanted to take a look at the keyboard Gateway sold with this machine.

This PC came with a massive 124 key Gateway 2000 “Anykey” keyboard. This keyboard featured extra function keys on the far left as well as 8 directional keys and has macro keys for programming your own macro commands.

Opening the case is fairly easy and requires unscrewing screws at the rear of the case and sliding the top section of the case forward and then up and off.

To the left of the three 5 1/4 external bays we do have two internal 5 1/4 bays. As I stated earlier the design of this case certainly feels a little out modded for the 486 era and internal 3 1/2 bays would have been a much more useful option seeing as your going to need some adapters to properly install and secure a standard 3 1/2 hard drive.

The case also features a real cone speaker nestled in the front of the case as well as guide/support ridges for extra long expansion cards.

Lastly, as far as the case goes we do unfortunately have the “rail system” in effect on this case. Rather than using simple screws to hold drives in place you must first attach rails to your drives before installing and securing them. My PC came with several drives missing as well as missing rails so extra rails of roughly the same fit had to be salvaged from other builds.

Early magazine advertising listed a 340MB 13ms IDE hard drive as standard but the closest I had was a Western Digital 853MB Caviar 2850 manufactured in 1996 which installed with the help of a bay adapter into one of the internal bays.

Despite the case itself having some by even the early 90’s standards a relatively outdated design the motherboard itself featured some very advanced and useful features such as dual built-in IDE controllers and even a CPU upgrade socket.

The motherboard used in the 4DX-66V is a Micronics board and sports eight 16-bit ISA slots two of which double as VLB slots.

1) CPU – The standard CPU in the 4DX-66V was, obviously, an Intel 486DX running at 66MHz. This CPU was more or less the gold standard during the 486 era and offered excellent performance in a wide range of games while not being too slow or too fast as well as offering stable reliability. The DX2 CPU in the 4DX-66V came stock with a small heatsink but did not feature a fan for extra cooling.

Next to the CPU socket there is also a CPU upgrade socket to allow for easy upgrading of the CPU via chips such as the Intel Overdrive which greatly increased CPU power.

2) RAM – The 4DX-66V is capable of supporting a maximum of 64MB of FPM memory via four 72 pin memory sockets. Mine currently has 16MB installed which is still a rather healthy amount of memory for the early 90’s. The stock amount seems to of been 8MB.

3) L2 cache – Unlike most 486 era motherboards which used DIPP chips installed in several sockets on the motherboard the 4DX-66V employed a single socket which accepted a CoaST (Cache on a STick) module. This is the same method used by the infamous M919 socket 3 motherboard as well as many early Pentium motherboards. The 4DX-66V seems to of been sold standard with a 256K cache stick but mine only has a 64K module for some reason. I’m not sure why someone would have downgraded the L2 cache on my machine but perhaps at some point in the past the original L2 stick was damaged or lost and the former owner only had a 64K module as a replacement.

4) Switch – Behind the L2 cache module is a small switch block. Unfortunately, I did not have the manual for this PC nor could I find a guide to this switch block online. I did find a Video by Silicon Classics which did briefly display a page from the manual with some functions of the switch block which I was able to screen capture. switches 5-8 appear to set the CPU type.

(Click to enlarge)

5) Battery – One thing I did find fairly odd for this motherboard is the seemingly complete lack of any kind of on-board CMOS battery to save BIOS settings. The only apparent method of installing a battery is an external battery connector located next to the Keyboard port. The 4DX-66V seems to of come standard with an external Rayovac 844 battery. Thankfully the battery is easy to replace and modern equivalents using three AAA batteries can be found cheaply on eBay. It is HIGHLY recommended to change the battery before tinkering with the 4DX-66V as it seems very finicky and you’re likely to run into many random problems when operating with a dead CMOS battery

6) IDE – The 4DX-66V motherboard came with two IDE controllers built-in for a total of four usable IDE devices. This was rather uncommon to see built into a socket 3 motherboard and a very welcome addition. On my machine though the IDE was extremely problematic and picky about both the hard drive and the CD-ROM drive. In the end I decided to forgo the built-in IDE altogether and opt for an ISA EIDE card.

Above the IDE connectors we have a standard floppy connector.

7) Finally to the left of the IDE and floppy we have I/O connectors for the serial and parallel as well as the AT power connector.

Expansion cards

For the various expansion cards I attempted to get this Gateway as close to stock as I could though I did take a few liberties in the name of power, convenience and necessity.

IDE – After getting fed up with the fickle nature of the built-in IDE I did finally give in and installed a SIIG SC-JE4012 16-bit ISA IDE controller card. This card offered faster access speeds then the built-in controller as well as made life much easier when choosing hard drives. I may be wrong but I believe the built-in IDE controller hits a 512MB limit when looking at hard drives and most of the time regardless of the size the built-in controller was just not seeing the drive or only sporadically seeing the drive. It’s quite possible the controller is failing with age but regardless, a more reliable IDE card like this SIIG card is certainly recommended.

SCSI – Even though my machine did come with a VLB SCSI controller card installed and I read sources that indicated that the stock CD drive was SCSI, my original plan was to remove the SCSI card and run both the hard drive and CD-ROM drive off the IDE controller. Unfortunately this was another element during the restoration of this PC that almost drove me insane as even with the separate IDE card installed my particular 4DX-66V was incredibly picky about what drives worked and what master/slave configuration they were in. The form factor and length of the IDE cables did not help this situation in the slightest. Eventually I decided to give up and run the CD drive off the VLB SCSI controller, which after being set up properly gave me no issues whatsoever.

The SCSI controller used was a Buslogic BT-440C/445C VLB card. I’ve used this card before in my main 486 PC and I’ve found them to be reliable and mostly trouble free cards. I did briefly consider going all out with SCSI and replacing my IDE hard drive with an SCSI drive but in the end decided to stay with the IDE drive since not only was it more “stock correct” but was already setup at this point.

Sound – The sound card is another area where I took a little bit of a liberty in choosing the card. Finding out what card came installed factory from Gateway proved to be a challenge and I never did find a concrete answer. Some sources cited the Sound Blaster Pro CT1330A as being sold along with the PC while other sources claimed early Sound Blaster 16 cards like the CT1770 would of been the stock card.

I also stumbled upon the Gateway 2000 branded 16MVCARD based on the JAZZ 16 chipset from Media Vision.

The seller of the card claimed it was pulled directly from a 4DX-66V though it’s completely possible it was a later replacement for the original card or it came from a similar but not exact Gateway model. I did decide to install the JAZZ 16 based card but unfortunately the card was non-working with audio being barely audible over extreme and constant audio “noise” and squealing.

The card I did finally settle on though was the Creative Sound Blaster AWE32 CT3910. Even though this by all accounts was not the stock sound card in the 4DX-66V I feel it does make a very good fit. The CT3910 is an earlier non-plug & play card with a real Yamaha OPL chip for authentic FM sound. It lacks a wavetable header but it does have a standard IDE connector (though again, I had no luck with mine when trying to setup an IDE CD-ROM drive on this machine). It’s more or less a cleaner sounding SB16 with built-in MIDI capabilities which is nice for playing games like DOOM and Duke3D on this PC.

Video – Lastly we have the video card and unlike the sound card it was actually extremely easy to find out what card came stock in the 4DX-66V. That card was a special cut down OEM version of the Mach32 card from ATI possibly known as the Mach32 XLR or CLX. This was a VLB card and differed from the retail version of the VLB Mach32 card by having a slower RAMDAC and only 1MB of video ram standard.

The card I have installed is the more capable retail version of the Mach32 for the VLB slot.

If you look to the right side of the card you’ll notice a large square socketed chip labeled ATI68875, this is the improved RAMDAC. On the OEM card this socket would be empty and instead the lower rectangular socket which is empty on this card would be populated with the slower RAMDAC chip. These cards support a full 2MB of RAM which mine is currently outfitted with.

Like any high-end VLB video card these days the Mach32 goes for a pretty penny on eBay. The card is fast, It came in right behind my ET4000 based VLB card in most benchmarks I performed and it also makes an excellent Windows 2D accelerator but unfortunately it does fall a little short when it comes to compatibility. For instance I had some pretty bad scrolling issues in Commander Keen 4 even with the option to fix scrolling issues checked in the options menu. To be fair my ET4000 also had some odd graphical issues as well but these went away completely by checking off the SVGA box under options and scrolling was silky smooth.

Despite the somewhat outdated case design and relatively minor issues like the use of rails and an awkward to replace power supply the 4DX-66V is an impressive PC for 1993 even with the stock configuration. The board is pretty easily upgradable and the CPU upgrade socket makes adding something like an Intel Overdrive CPU a cinch. I would of prefered at least one external 3 1/2 drive but the case does look very stylish. The Mach32, even the gimped stock version isn’t half bad though it’s worth considering replacing it in the name of better overall compatibility. Collectors seem to really love the 4DX-66V (especially in the tower form factor) and I expect prices to rise, so if you see one, even if it’s just a shell, snag it.

 

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The Gateway GP7 computers were a series of late 90’s and early 2000’s Pentium III based computers from the Gateway corporation. It appears the GP series were meant for small businesses from what I could find on Gateways old website but it’s hard to tell since information is spotty via the Wayback Machine. I believe the PCs in the series had the same case but used different motherboards as the series progressed. This is why I’m writing this article specifically on the GP7-500 and not the entire GP7 series as the GP7-500 does not seem to represent later computers in the series. The GP7 series ran though models ranging from the GP7-450 to a GP7-850 where the number after the hyphen designates the speed of the installed Pentium III. The series may have sported models with higher CPU clocks but I could not find any first hand. The specific model we’re going to take a look at here is the GP7-500 with a 500mhz Pentium III installed manufactured in 2000.

I have to say I’m not totally in love with the style of this case but it does have some features that make it a little different. Aesthetic wise it’s more rounded then similar cases of the period and it does have a nice sort of grilled indent at the bottom to add some visual flair. Something I found odd was the 3 1/2 drive bay located under the first 5 1/4 bay. This very unusual as usually the bays are grouped together by size with however many 5 1/4 bays on top followed by one or two 3 1/2 bays under them. Functionally it makes no difference but it is a change from standard bay placement. My GP7 appears to of came with the original drives which were a Pioneer DVD drive in the top most bay and a standard 1.44mb floppy drive located underneath with lots of room for two more 5 1/4 drives and another 3 1/2 drive so adding a tape drive, a second CD drive or a ZIP drive is easy.

Another thing I noticed is a strange omission of a reset button. You get two LED’s for hard drive activity and power but no reset button so resetting must be done through the keyboard. CTRL + ALT + DEL.

The rear is fairly standard. My GP7 has a “property of Amiga Inc.” sticker that I did not add but seems otherwise to be stock. The GP7-500 and presumably others of the line came with video and sound cards preinstalled and not integrated to the motherboard which is a real bonus and usually a good sign as integrated graphics and sound in the 90’s and early 2000’s was usually sub par. As for integrated components we have the pretty standard two PS/2 ports, two USB 1.0 ports as well as two serial and one parallel port.

The case is pretty easy to open up via two thumb screws. Everything is fairly easy to access on the inside with a removable caddy below the drive bays which is meant to house up to three hard drives. The PC came with what I believe is a stock 16.5 Ultra IDE hard drive. For the year 2000 this most certainly wasn’t the fastest or the largest drive available at the time and feels pretty budget minded. It’s pretty easy to remove being held on by three screws as well as the metal support bar you can see just above the expansion slots. The PSU appears to be proprietary as it’s a little slimmer then a standard ATX PSU and has a removable plastic shroud used to direct airflow over the CPU from a fan located on the bottom of the PSU. Thankfully unlike DELL, Gateway does not require an additional AUX like power connector found on some Dell models of the time.

The motherboard is a Gateway specific Tabor3 ws440bx motherboard made by Intel. This motherboard also only supports a 100mhz front side bus with BIOS options for tweaking being pretty sparse.

1) CPU – The CPU in the GP7-500 corresponds with the final number being a 500mhz slot 1 Pentium III. This should be consistent along the entire GP7 line though I believe the highest GP7 PC I’ve seen was a 850mhz model and this is in fact the highest clocked CPU this board “officially” can take. The 500mhz model makes a good fast DOS machine or a good general Windows 9x CPU though for those late Windows games, Windows XP or running higher resolutions you may want to think about upgrading.

Unfortunately Gateway didn’t make upgrading super simple. To upgrade your going to need to remove the power supply which isn’t hard but it is an extra step and requires removing five screws (don’t forget the one inside close to the drive bays). The CPU itself also can have a death grip on the little plastic guide stands so be careful in removal. You may also encounter a situation where your case on your replacement slot 1 CPU isn’t compatible with the plastic stands that help keep the CPU from jostling on the slot 1 connector. You can either modify your CPU or remove the posts with a screwdriver and pliers. Doing this will allow your CPU to wiggle a little more freely in the slot but it should be okay and Ive never had an issue. You may also need to remove the plastic shroud on the PSU if your CPU is to tall but this shouldn’t effect things much especially if you upgrade to a CPU with a fan of its own on the heatsink. You should be able to drop in any 100mhz FSB slot 1 CPU up to a 1ghz which is the highest speed Intel went with its 100mhz FSB slot 1 processors.  I have managed to upgrade the GP7-500 up to a 1.3ghz Tualatin Celeron processor by means of a slot 1 powerleap converter. The BIOS reports a 1000mhz CPU on POST but windows 98SE was able to utilize the full 1.3ghz and reported its presence without issue. A 1.4ghz upgrade should also be possible

2) RAM – The GP7-500 came with 128mb of SDRAM installed but could be expanded to 384MB via 3 RAM slots. Speed was limited to PC-100 but you can use PC-133 which will downclock to PC-100 speeds. Installing more then 384MB of RAM with simply result in sticks over 128mb not being utilized at all. This is interesting since on other boards I’ve used when installing larger amounts of RAM the PC would usually use that RAM up to its hard limit. For example if I installed a 128mb stick as well as a 512mb stick in a PC with a limit of 384mb many times I would get my 384mb with 256mb simply being unused and wasted but with my GP7-500 if I attempted this The machine would boot but only give me the 128mb completely ignoring the 512mb stick. If I go into the BIOS the 512mb stick is seen and correctly reported as being 512mb but on POST and in Windows it is completely ignored. This I found was the same when using 256mb sticks so to get your full 384mb three 128mb sticks are required.

Searching various message boards I have found some reports that the chipset will support at least 256mb sticks of SDRAM and some users have even reported achieving 512mb using 256mb sticks but apparently the board is very picky about RAM with your best bet using 8×16 internal org, 16 memory chips (8 per side) DIMMs. I haven’t tested this myself though.

As far as games go This should be more then enough for just about all Windows 9x stuff and even at 128mb complete overkill for general DOS usage.

3) IDE – information on the specifics of the motherboards onboard IDE was a little iffy with specs and manuals being surprisingly difficult to find in any amount of detail. Looking though various sources online as well as Intel’s spec sheet for the reference motherboard it seems the IDE controller is ATA-33. This would be completely usable for a year 2000 machine but definitely on the budget side as ATA-66 and ATA-100 was available in 2000. This can be easily remedied though with a PCI IDE 100 or 133 controller or even a PCI SATA controller.

4) Expansion – The GP7-500 sports one AGP x2/x4 slot as well as five PCI slots (one being shared) and one all important 16-bit ISA slot for enhanced DOS compatibility as far as sound cards go.

5) Piezo speaker

6) CMOS battery

Expansion cards

The GP7-500 did not have video or audio built into the motherboard and thus all units came with a video as well as a sound card. These are the cards that came installed with my machine. I have no way to tell if they are 100% stock cards but from the period of the cards and what I could find out about the GP7-500’s specifications I strongly believe these were the stock cards. Seeing as this machine also seemed to of been marketed as a small business PC the cards also make sense as networking would of been very important as well as a video card that could display a sharp image while sound would of taken a back seat.

Video – The video card that came pre installed was a Nvidia TNT2 Pro with 16mb of memory as well as a DVI output. The TNT2 Pro offers excellent DOS compatibility as well as making an excellent Win 9x card. Except for the Voodoo 3 and TNT2 Ultra it’s possibly the best choice for an all around Windows 9x card. The interesting aspect of this card is its DVI port acting as the only source of video out. Of course a DVI to VGA converter can be used for connection with a standard VGA cable but this is one of the earliest cards I can recall seeing with DVI. This would make a great card for compatibility when hooking up to a more modern LCD display for running DOS and Windows software via a pure DVI or HDMI with a DVI to HDMI adapter. Running the card through the digital DVI connection may also give a slightly better image quality over an analog VGA connection as well.

Sound – The sound is nothing to write home about and is a fairly generic looking Creative Audio PCI. These cards are known to have fairly decent DOS compatibility for a PCI card but the question is why bother with a PCI sound card for DOS if you have an ISA slot available. I’ve never had much luck with these types of cards and even though they get the job done more or less I wouldn’t really recommend them for a retro gaming PC, either DOS or Windows. Much better options exist that won’t break the bank.

Other – The GP7-500 also contained an Ethernet and modem card, both from 3com. I usually don’t give these cards much use or thought but I’m including them here for the sake of posterity.

So what do I think of the GP7-500? Well The closest OEM machine I have on hand to compare it to is my Dell 4100 which is from only one year later but is significantly more advanced out of the box. The 4100 sports a faster FSB, newer CPU types, Faster built in IDE controller, faster RAM and universal AGP slot. The GP7 does have one big advantage though if your thinking about DOS games and that’s a 16-bit ISA slot. It’s hard to state how much this improves the DOS gaming experience and the options it opens up. That said though if you are primarily looking to play Windows 9x games at the highest settings or XP era games you may want to consider passing the Gateway GP7-500 up due to its rather outdated motherboard for the time period. If your looking for a machine to play DOS games as well as Win 9x titles I wholeheartedly endorse the GP7-500 if you can get one cheap.

Of course things can be done to upgrade the GP7. I’ve added a slotket CPU adapter and a 1.3ghz Tualatin Celeron CPU as well as a faster video card and faster PCI IDE controller. With these upgrades you should comfortably be able to play any Windows 9x game and most early XP era games just fine while retaining that old school slot 1 cool factor. The 384mb limit though may be an issue though when thinking of using this PC as a Windows XP machine unless you can achieve 512mb as some users have been reported able to do. The question is, is it worth the effort when more capable machines from that era can be found?

 

 

I really didn’t need another Pentium 1 system but I have a soft spot for the Gateway 2000 especially when they come with matching monitor and keyboard.  Gateway 2000 is what Gateway used to call themselves up until the late 1990’s and they made some pretty quality Pentium 1 and 486 machines. The one I picked up here is from the middle of the 90’s. This is a solid machine that I received from a family and from what I was told had seen much use and still was almost stock with almost all the parts coming from about 1995 with the exception of the CD-Rom drive and some added RAM. The machine still booted up fine from what appeared to be the original hard drive and ran like a champ without having to do anything.

g2k1201

The version I have is a desktop case. I think most of their models also came in a tower configuration as well. Its a nice sturdy case and is nice and high to allow for 3 5 1/4 bays which is really nice. I’m not a huge fan of the vertical orientation slots for the floppy drives but its okay. Its good for saving space but this case is large enough that I don’t think a traditional horizontal orientation would of made any difference except maybe interfering with the gentle aesthetic  “bump” the left side of the case that protrudes. Unlike the Packard Bell machines Gateway had a sane model naming scheme.  P5 I assume designates  a Pentium Processor inside and the 120 after that should designate the CPU speed or mhz. So unless someone has changed CPU’s this machine should sport a Pentium 120mhz CPU. Power button is on the right and we have a big round reset button on the left next to the never used case lock. Below that you have your standard power and HDD light but there is also a turbo light but there’s no turbo button on the case and no keyboard combo I can find that initiates the turbo (slows the computer down). So until I discover otherwise I assume this is just because they used the same case with a different badge for the 486 line.

g2k1202

The rear of the machine is pretty standard. We have two ps/2 ports for the keyboard and mouse though the ports are not color coded on this machine. Above them are two serial and one parallel port. We have 7 expansion ports on the back. A few are specifically labeled for video, joystick/sound and network but you don’t have to put those cards in those slots but I have for looks reasons.

g2k1203

This is actually how the board looked when I first opened it. Covered with years of dust. At least there were no dead insects or mice.

g2k1204

And here is the board after removing most of the dust.

1) CPU – The motherboard uses socket 5 as well as a Pentium 120 which is just as well as that’s the fastest commonly available CPU for that socket. The Pentium 120 is a solid CPU being fast enough for earlier Windows stuff and more then sufficient for most DOS applications without being to overkill. As you can see mine did not come with a fan on the heatsink which though I wouldn’t recommend is apparently fine since this thing ran for a long long time without. I suppose if you had one lying around you could toss in a uncommon Pentium overdrive or Pentium overdrive MMX for a boost of up to 180mhz maybe 200mhz. This motherboard uses the Intel 82430fx chipset.

2) RAM – my machine came with some odd amount of RAM, I want to say 40 something but originally from what I found they came factory with 8 or 16 mb of RAM. I have expanded mine to 64MB but the total the board can take is 128mb. This machine can accept FPM or faster EDO. I went with FPM because I have so much of it here.

3) CMOS battery to keep Bios settings

4) connectors for the serial/parallel ports

5) AT power supply connector

6) floppy drive connector

7) Two IDE connectors

as for L2 cache my particular board came with none and no sockets to add any. There are some vacant suspicious spots right above the CPU that looks like cache chips may belong there but running cachechk program confirms no l2 cache is present on the board.

The board also sports three PCI and four 16 bit ISA slots which is nice for DOS/Win 9x expansion options.

g2k1205

Here are the expansion cards that originally came with this machine. I highly suspect these are also what came factory with this machine. Top left is the modem and to the right of that is the video card which is a PCI S3 Trio64V+ which is an earlier s3 trio card but still very compatible for DOS games but offers no 3D acceleration. On the bottom is the sound card that was installed which is a Sound Blaster 16 CT2800 that uses the less noisy Vibra chip and has a OPL chip for FM. Its a good DOS sound card and adequate for Windows 9x.

I did end up doing some upgrading. I added a fan to the CPU heatsink. I replaced the SB16 with an AWE32 since I have a few of them lying around. I originally switched the tri64V+ with a tri64v2 thinking the same drivers would work for both but I was wrong. In the end I stuck in a Matrox Mystique I had left over from my vintage 3d article to give the machine a nice graphical boost (while hurting the DOS compatibility somewhat) and add some 3d acceleration capability. I also transferred the original HDD which was still running the origional Windows 95 that came packaged with the machine (I think it was about 1.5GB) to a removable bay. so the new loaded motherboard now looks more like this.

g2k1207

Its a nice sturdy system. Personally I like the classic G2K machines and this Pentium 120mhz rig has potential to be a great DOS box for someone.

g2k1208

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