Yeah, it's a different kind of fun. I like tinkering and testing more than gaming most of the time, so I took my 4090 gamer budget and put it towards this and nostalgia. My idea of fun is testing troubleshooting and benchmarking, not just throwing a GPU in a gaming.
I dug out about 4 different old PCs from my childhood and up to use as test benches. It's been a journey getting the different cards working and benchmarking. It was kind of like seeing the progression of computer's I've had through the years.
These 3 were PC's I used for AGP testing. The motherboard on top is a Duron 700mhz, the white Dell on the left is a 1ghz PIII (SDRAM) and the Dell on the right is a P4 2.4ghz. I had to swap the DVD drive around when installing Windows (the other drives are CD only). I even got to update the BIOS of one of them using a floppy.
This is the Duron 700mhz. An old motherboard box worked fine. That card is the 8400 GS PCI- the only PCI card I have. This board was so old it didn't have a built in NIC so I had to use a PCI card.
Another picture of the Duron 700mhz running 3DMark 2001.
This was the first PCIe test bench I used. I dremeled a cutout in an old mining frame so the PCIe card would fit flush. I didn't use this long because that's a PC I use daily- it's an AMD Ryzen 5600.
This board is an AM3+ board. I was using it to try to get SLI working on a GTX 285. I got through the entire installation of Windows 7 when I realized it's crossfire only (doh!).
This is the PCIe test bench I've been using for most of the testing. I bought a Z270 FTW K board and put a 7700K in (overclocked to 5ghz) with some 3000mhz EVGA ram. The Thermaltake P3 case was used because it works well as a test bench. On the bench there is the Titan (with the GTX 780 cooler) and in front is the 980 Ti.
That test bench got off to a rough start. Turns out you shouldn't mix EVGA GQ SATA cables with other EVGA SATA cables. Lesson learned when I made some smoke and burnt up part of my AIO. The "RGB" part of that AIO is now just a blinking red. But, the pump and fans still run and keep the 7700k cool enough.
This is the original artifacting from my 780 Ti Kingpin. That card arrived and was effectively dead after installing a driver. I ended up fixing it with the oven trick.
I twitched streamed some of the teardown, love the red.
Oven prep for the 780 Ti KP. I used standoffs with bolts to elevate the GPU instead of the "crumpled up tin foil" method. That worked well. I used some tin foil to cover up the right side of the PCB- I'm trying to reflow the solder on the core, not the rest of the PCB.
Looks hot in there.
Pretty exciting seeing this when it's done.
I did a little bit of twitch streaming of some of the GPU troubleshooting and benchmarking.
Obviously the XR1 was used to screen capture.
I also set up a little photo booth with some lighting a friend gave to me to take all of the GPU pictures. That turned out well.
More to come, I have an EVGA X79 Dark motherboard coming next week. That should support SLI on older cards. Fun fact: the Z270 doesn't support SLI on older gen Nvidia cards (my cards older than the GTX 480 didn't let me SLI). That's actually called out in the Z270 manual that I didn't read until later, haha. I have 3 of the 2gb GTX 285's that I'd like to see SLI run on for fun.