LGR – Restoring a 1998 Packard Bell Multimedia PC

[♪ Music and Keyboard Typing ♪] Greetings, and welcome to an LGR thing and this thing is a Packard Bell.


[♪ Music and Keyboard Typing ♪] Greetings, and welcome to an LGR thing and this thing is a Packard Bell
Multimedia model 955, a late ’90s white box computer that is
pretty notoriously… not good. *chuckles!* This is not worth restoring in any objective sense, and yet, that is what we’re going to be doing here today! Putting it back together to its factory
original condition and then some, and just seeing what kind of horrors and
weird, strange things we come across. In a subjective sense, I really enjoy these machines.
These Packard Bell computers are very nostalgic to me, you know, I- it’s a fascinating example of one of those
late ’90s cheap computers that were all over the place. This one in particular was actually in the top ten
of computers being sold in late 1998, and it came equipped with the then-new
Windows 98 (that’s the first edition), and an AMD K6-2 processor running at 330 megahertz. Well, this one doesn’t work whatsoever, but, one reason that I want to try to get it working again
is because overall, it’s in pretty decent shape. It just needed a little bit of Goo-Gone, just get
the crap off the side there from some tape. And, the rest of the case is… already relatively clean, it just needed a little bit
of dusting on some of the edges here and there. But yeah, you can see that there’s just not
much dirt that this paper towel is picking up at all. Even the underside of this computer is looking pretty good! And I have seen some NASTY Packard-Bells of this era.
These things were very unloved in later years. Alright, let’s get inside of the case itself, and you can see
the *delightful* late ’90s crappy, cheap PC design inside. Cable management? Nope, this is cable anarchy, which was actually pretty par
for the course, especially with these pre-built machines back then. So, some of the specs, you get the aforementioned
AMD K6-2, 330 megahertz with 3DNow! technology. And also, this was right on that edge of the
“capacitor plague” of the turn of the millenium, so I did want to check the capacitors in
here too. Thankfully, they look okay. This 955 dooesn’t have any RAM at all.
It hasn’t since I’ve owned it. It originally had 64 or 128 megs, and it came with this Maxtor 8.4 gigabyte IDE hard drive. Another thing I really wanted to check because
it’s notoriously a very bad part is the power supply, And… unfortunately, yeah, this is one of
the 90 watt G-Powers that is eh… *Chuckles* Well, it’s got a reputation for blowing up, setting on fire,
or just crapping out in spectacular fashion, so we’re going to replace that. In fact, this one smelled like it had already kicked the bucket,
like it smelled *awful,* so yeah, it needed replacing anyway. Also something that I wanted to replace is this cooling system,
or at least the fan, because its horribly loud. I’ll probably keep the heatsink, but then there’s
the fact that the CPU is completely *stuck* to this. That thermal grease needs replacing too. So yeah, just snapping that off there with a screwdriver
and there we go, we’ve got some caked-on thermal grease, it’s been on there for like 20 years, almost. Next up is to take out the hard drive,
or well, that was the plan… It doesn’t seem to slide out of there or come out
at all. I- I don’t know how that’s attached. Turns out I had to take off
the front cover of the entire computer, and there are four screws, screwing
in the hard drive from the front. Anyway, taking those out and the hard drive
just plops right off right there, and there you go. There’s a hard drive that I’m going to be replacing because… Last time I had this thing powered on, it was
popping and skipping and making horrible grinding noises. This thing is on its last legs. Down in the bottom of the case, I noticed that there was an ISA slot
and something plugged into it that I didn’t recognize, and it turns out that we have here a Symbios Logic controller card for SCSI. This was not something that came in there stock,
but I’m gonna leave it in there. That’s kind of useful. And this was at a time when computers were starting
to move away from separate cards for video and sound, and in this case, it has a built-in
integrated ATI Rage IIC AGP 3D chipset, and a 16-bit Crystal SoundBlaster-compatible thing. Oh, I dunno. I’ve never used one exactly like
this one, so we’re gonna see what it does. Okay, time to addressed that caked-up CPU, and I’m just gonna get some anti-static foam here and
place the CPU down in there so we don’t mess up the pins, and then I’m just gonna use one of
these decal removers with a plastic blade, These are usually used to remove decals
from cars and whatnot, but it works very well for getting rid of this crappy thermal
grease junk that’s all over this thing. And just using a cloth and some isopropyl alcohol and we get it
all cleaned up, and there, look at that shiny new-ish looking AMD K6-2. What a perfectly average CPU for the time.
And that’s the point, at least for this project. Next, I’m gonna remove the CR2032
3 volt BIOS or CMOS battery. It’s needing probably to be replaced soon.
It’s been almost 20 years, so… Ah yeah, that’s fine, just a standard battery.
Those can be found really easily. And I was surprised that the inside
of the computer is actually pretty clean too! It just needed a little bit of scrubbing with a toothbrush
and some distilled water and cleaned right up. It was just a little dusty. Got our freshly-cleaned CPU right here,
no bent pins, thanks to that nice foam. And we’ll just line up the notch with the notch
and uh, put it right back in place and there we go. Zero insertion force Socket 7. I ended up keeping the heatsink and I just replaced
the fan with this Cooler Master fan, which is used, I had it lying around. I hope that
it’s quieter than the crappy one. Okay, some fresh thermal paste and put that back
in place. Clips together and… lookin’ good! Now, for the RAM situation.
It had none in there at all. We’re gonna put the maximum, at least
from the factory: a 128 megs of PC133. Mmm! This brings back some memories. I upgraded my Compaq Presario with almost
this exact stick of RAM back in 2000 or something. And the second slot from the left is slot one,
so that is where it’s going to go. Time to replace that Maxtor drive that
sounded like a friggin’ train wreck, and we’re swapping it with this Western Digital,
which is something from a Compaq that I had, but it’s blanked-out
and it works and it’s “quiet.” It’s the same capacity, pretty much. And just got to mount it to the front
of case again, which… *Chuckles* I- You know- I’m assuming this was some sort of a cost-cutting measure.
That way, they don’t have to have any kind of caddy or… tray or mounting… things in here. It’s like, “Oh, just stick it
on the front of the case and put some holes in it.” And yes, I did actually hook up the older drive
to my modern machine and imaged all the contents, But we probably won’t need to use anything
from it, as you’ll see in a moment. Finally time to get rid of that fire hazard
and dreadful old power supply, and replacing it with the Lite-On version
that Packard Bell also used on these. Pretty much the same exact power supply: 90 watts,
it’s the same form factor and everything, but… It doesn’t blow up. Or at least it shouldn’t, and I checked all
the caps and everything and it seems fine, so… we’re going to go ahead and put that in here. And, I’ve restored it to its factory-original cable management. Ahhh, look at how “clean.” ‘Mkay, gonna stick the side of the case on here,
and another small touch but something that I think is- I dunno, it’s something that makes me happy-
is putting fresh case screws on the back here. So I’m to fit the original aesthetic;
no thumbscrews or anything like that. And it actually didn’t have any, so yay!
That makes it feel more complete. It’s about time for the moment of truth.
Time to try this thing out. I’ve got a monitor here, I’m going to plug in
all the accessories and stuff that I need to to see if everything is working for its first boot. Turning on the power, aaaaannnnnndddd….. Alright! It looks like we have
some… display, which is good. And it detects the new hard drive and the CD-ROM
and whatnot, and we’ll go into the BIOS here and… Uh…. *Chuckles* Well, great, it has
a password on there from the previous owner, and since I was not the original owner of this, I dunno
what it is. It disables the system if you try to do anything. So what you do for this is you just go in there in
the motherboard and switch the CMOS jumper here to clear it. Switch that over, power it on, put it back, and then there you go, the password is gone and
you’re able to access whatever you need to in the BIOS, which isn’t much in this case, but
I just didn’t want a password on it. Next step is to take care of the hard drive itself
and get it ready to install Windows and whatnot on, I’m going to use a Windows 98 boot disc here, and run fdisk,
enabling the Large Disk Support so we can get the full 8 gigs. And once that’s done, I’m going to use
one of these Packard Bell Master CDs. This one’s from August ’98, just
about when this was manufactured and this comes with all the drivers and the software and everything
that the Packard Bell computers would have come with, at the time. Unfffoortunately… the CD-ROM doesn’t want to read it. At first I thought maybe it was because I burned
the disc, but then I tried an original Windows 98 disc, and that didn’t read either, in fact, no CD that I tried was reading,
and I swapped the cables and did some settings, nope! It seems that the CD drive is dead. So that’s fun. Time to take it apart once again, and take off that front cover *once again,* and get this original CD-ROM out of here! This is another Lite-On model, an LTN-301, 32x CD-ROM. Uh yeah, I ended up trying it on another computer just to be sure,
ah, it doesn’t work at all, so I’m just replacing it with another Compaq spare that I have lying
around, this is a little faster… a 48x, and the LED isn’t in exactly the right spot
for the front of the case, but… It’ll work for now. I just wanna get things installed on here. Also, that Cooler Master fan that I put on the CPU… *Chuckles* It turns out that was really noisy too, not as noisy as the one
that it had on there, but it’s still louder than it needed to be, so… I had a few of these brand-new StarTech CPU coolers, and considering these are still new in the box,
I figured they should be much quieter, and thankfully, they were. So I got that
installed on there really quickly, no problem. And while this was opened up, I happened
to notice that its Mitsumi 3½ floppy drive… the eject button is missing – the little plastic piece
is supposed to go on this metal clip right here, it’s just not there, so when the case is on the computer, you can’t eject the floppy without a screwdriver,
so I’ma have to fix that at some point. Anyway, onto that Packard Bell
Master Disc in the new CD-ROM drive, and here we go! It booted up perfectly fine, no problems at all. And this is the Master CD Restore System.
We’re going to be doing… the “Restore System,” because there’s nothing
on this hard drive whatsoever. In fact, it has not even been formatted. So that is one thing that program is going
to do here… is completely formatting that, and writing the drive table, creating directories,
and copying files over and all that good stuff. As much as I *like* fresh Windows installs with
no OEM bloatware or anything like that on here, I also don’t wanna mess around with trying to track down
all the drivers and stuff for the hardware that’s in here, so… It’s kind of nice with these pre-built machines
to just have the OEM, original master disc, and just does everything automatically, all the setup of all the files
and all the programs and the drivers, and just does it in one go, including all of the stuff that
it normally came with, like Word 97 clipart. Oooh! Yeah, there’s a lot of stuff in here that
I really don’t need and I’ll probably uninstall, but still, it’s worth it, I think, to have that original
fresh from the factory feel, which is what I’m going for. You still need to put in the Windows 98 product key,
which, you know, whatever, no big deal. And then you’re greeted with
the Packard-Bell introduction, ooh! VO: “Thank you for buying a Packard-Bell computer. We’ve included some special features to
help you get the most out of your new machine.” Yeah. “In the lower right of the screen,
you’ll find the navigator assistant. This convenient group of buttons lets you access
some of the most important features on your computer.” Well that was useful… sort of. Not really, like pretty much all the stuff
that’s pre-installed on here, it’s just filled up – look at all those icons in the taskbar and all those shortcuts
on the desktop and that weird ribbon thing, I mean… *Chuckles* It’s just… Ohhh no! Oh hey, you can switch your wallpaper
on the fly, so that’s… worth it. It did come with a few pre-installed pieces of software
I was not familiar with, it’s kind of intriguing, like KiddoNet. [♪ Jaunty MIDI Music ♪] It’s like a safe space for kids to play around with,
like Internet ’90s things and games and… Uh, whatnot, it’s just uh… [♪ Cartoony Crash SFX ♪] *Chuckles* Oh, I like these things, I dunno why. I mean,
I do know why, because… I- I like them. But, you know, look at that, you can color things,
there’s MIDI music playing, you can go to fake websites, and *real* websites if you have an internet connection, which,
I dunno, maybe I’ll hook up the Internet to this at some point, not today, but you know, whatever.
It does have Ethernet, so I could. It also comes with the Packard Bell
How To and… *Chuckles* This just cracks me up. Check it out, have you ever wanted
to learn how to use Microsoft Paint or the Calculator? Check it out! The Calculator, oh man! VO: “To choose the type of calculator, click ‘View.’
For complicated calculations, click ‘Scientific.'” Yeah, that’s enough of that, we’re going to go
straight into MSConfig and start disabling junk. *Chuckles* Because, it takes way too long to start
this thing from a cold boot, like, two minutes! Disabling startup options, clearing out a bunch
of programs, just trying to get it to run a little cleaner. So that we can put more stuff on here, like
Commander Keen: Goodbye Galaxy! Something that I always like to try on computers that
I put together, just because I know how it should look and run. And uh, well yeah, here’s how it looks and sounds. [♪ Music & SFX ♪] So while the AdLib compatibility is…
pretty decent, I would say, there is a problem with the graphics, and that is *very very*
common across a huge variety of video graphics adapters, and it is one of those things where it’s
the SVGA compatibility causing problems. And you can… switch around some options in
the Options menu to try to alleviate that, but… it didn’t work, there’s still stuttering and weird screen
tearing, no matter what combination of options I use. So… games like this may not run very well on here, HOWEVER… Something like Jill of the Jungle,
I was surprised at how well that worked and that- this is one of those games that can be very hard
to get looking and sounding correctly, and… here you go. [♪ Music & SFX ♪] So the game’s running at the proper speed – that’s nice, that does not always happen
with systems of this kind of configuration. And then there is the AdLib sound, which – you know, while it doesn’t sound exactly like an OPL2,
so maybe it’s not the most accurate to that it’s doing some interesting things with it anyway. I- It just sounds kind of robotic-y, crunchy,
electronic and weird and- I dunno, I sorta like that. [♪ Music & SFX ♪] Of course, something else I gotta try
for DOS game compatibility is Duke Nukem 3D because sometimes it’ll run oddly slow or choppy, and
I’m gonna try it out right here, and well… here you go. Duke: “Damn, those alien bastards are
gonna pay for shooting up my ride.” [♪ Music & SFX ♪] So, I did run into just a little bit of unexpected slowdown
in 640×480 VESA mode, but, you know, uh, it’s fine. I mean, it’s Duke Nukem 3D, there’s no weird flickering,
and it’s totally playable, so this one gets a pass. Next up though, I wanted to try POD, and this is
a game that is *notoriously* difficult to run, even on computers of its time, like this one. But oddly enough, it *runs* on this one!
I was really surprised at that. Check it out. [♪ Music & SFX ♪] So this is just the unpatched POD 2.0
you bought in the stores here in the U.S. and it actually recognized both MMX capability
and the ATI Rage chipset for video, so it’s not necessarily like 3D accelerated
as far as I can tell, but… It is running and it’s doing it just fine
at the correct speed and everything. I run into weird issues with this game on AMD CPUs and even anything clocked over
233 megahertz or anything with integrated video. I- I was seriously surprised that this worked. But yeah, that’s about it for what
I wanna show and talk about and do with this Packard Bell,
Model 955 Multimedia thingy today. Man, this computer is a delightful piece of crap, I gotta say. This is one of those examples of a computer that I can point back
to in future videos (and just for my own amusement), say, look, “Here’s a sort of ‘generic’ pre-built computer that
you would get for $900 in late 1998, and it may not have been… great at anything, but it was *decent,*
it was passable at a lot of things. They hadn’t completely eschewed DOS compatibility –
you can still run DOOM and whatnot on here, but… It also had a little bit of capability for late ’90s PC gaming.
You could run Need For Speed 2 on here by default. It’s software rendering and it’s not
very fast, but, hey, here it is.” And that would have made me quite happy back in the day,
so it’s pretty fun to go back to and just sort of see how it works. And I think this is most importantly, to me, a prime candidate for a future set of upgrade videos I can think of,
probably half a dozen things that I would want to put in here. and just try out. You know, upgrades for 3D acceleration
and DVD-ROM, some different sound devices, and… all sorts of things that I would have done (and did do!)
back on the late ’90s, on a computer kinda similar to this. This is just one of those nice little project boxes that
I’m sure you’ll be seeing it show up again in the future. So I hoped that you enjoyed seeing it come together. And if you did enjoy this episode of LGR,
than thank you very much. I enjoy doing restorations in old computer-y
things as often as I can, so… check back for those every
Monday and Friday, here, on LGR. And as always, thank you very much for watching.

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