VOGONS


First post, by kynikos_

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Hi all,

I recently went through my old hardware that hasn't been touched in over a decade and am hoping to build up a DOS/Windows 98SE gaming computer. I'm out of touch with this stuff but did some research and it seems like my best options would be one of the 440BX or i815EP motherboards below along with the Voodoo 5 and Sound Blaster Live! for late 90s-early 00s games (Half-Life, Battlezone, Myth 2, Diablo 2, etc.). Any recommended builds with the parts below? Ideally, I'd also like to be able to play older DOS games like Commander Keen, Raptor, Stunts, and Doom but don't know if that's realistic. Anything else worth keeping from the list for future projects?

Asus A7N8X-E socket A/462 (Nvidia NForce2 chipset)
Asus A7V133 socket A/462 (VIA Apollo KT133A chipset)
Asus A7V333 socket A/462 (VIA KT333 chipset)
Asus CUBX-L socket 370 (Intel 440BX chipset)
Asus PTG-LA socket 775
ECS K7S5A socket A (SiS 735 chipset)
Asus TUSL-C socket 370 (Intel i815EP chipset)

AMD Athlon 1.4GHz socket A/462 (A1400AMS3C)
AMD Athlon XP 2400+ socket A/462 (AXDA2400DKV3C)
AMD Duron 800Mhz socket A/462 (D800AUT1B)
Intel Celeron 1.3GHz socket 370 (SL5VR)
Intel Celeron 1.3GHz socket 370 (?)
Intel Celeron 500Mhz socket (370FV524RX500)
Intel Pentium 4 3.0GHz socket 775 (SL7Z9)
Socket 370 slotket adapter

Chieftec Dragon ATX case w/ Enermax 330W PSU
IBM Model M keyboard

3dfx Voodoo 3 3000 PCI
3dfx Voodoo 5 5500 AGP
Asus 9600XT AGP
Asus Falcon2 TV Tuner PCI
ATI Radeon 8500 AGP
ATI Radeon X1300 AGP
Diamond Monster Fusion PCI (Voodoo Banshee)
Diamond Viper V550 AGP (Riva TNT)

Aztech Sound Galaxy Washington 16 ISA (MMSN834)
Creative 5507 PCI
Sound Blaster Live! PCI
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz PCI

Thanks in advance! Just getting back into this stuff and it's been a fun nostalgia trip.

Edit: dug up some more stuff to add to the list

Last edited by kynikos_ on 2020-11-18, 20:16. Edited 4 times in total.

Reply 1 of 7, by Stermy57

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Hi kynikos, it all depends games era that you want to play.
If you want to cover from middle/late DOS era to late 1999/2000 it will be really hard with one build.
You will find compatibilities problems, high or low speed sensitive issues.
If I were you I would build two or three builds to cover all era from DOS to late win2000 games. (if you want to play them maxed out with the best audio and video option)

Let's find out:
Asus CUBX-L (Intel 440BX chipset) = Good Mainboard, few tweaks and you will be able to use Tualatin CPUs
Intel Celeron 1.3GHz (SL5VR) = Good item
1.5GB RAM (drop to 512MB?) Yes if you want to use Windows98SE i will drop to 512MB: it doesn't work well with more RAMs. Don't trust strange fixes or patches to "resolve" this issues
Chieftex Dragon ATX case w/ 360W PSU Case are personal choice, 360W specific model?
IBM Model M keyboard

3dfx Voodoo 3 3000 PCI = Awesome card, in my opinion the best choice with late Coppermine/Tualatin core CPUs
3dfx Voodoo 5 5500 AGP = Very rare and nostalgia GPU but there is no real reason to go with it only specific reason like Unreal at 1600*1200 or GLIDE games at higher resolution. Needs more than 370 platform to show his power
Asus 9600XT AGP = Bga or TSOP model? anyway no reason to go with it. Bad OpenGL performance and support. No DX5 features support: no Table fog or paletted textures support
ATI Radeon 8500 AGP = More or less same as Radeon 9600TX but there's more to talk about this specific model but not now
ATI Radeon X1300 AGP = Too new card (Driver support) more or less same 9600pro-TX performance level
Diamond Monster Fusion PCI (Voodoo Banshee) = Interesting card best spot is to paired it with and AMD k6-2 or K6-3 platform or slow SLOT1 CPUs
Diamond Viper V550 AGP (Riva TNT) = Same as Banshee but there isn't really reason to choice it (it's the only card that gives you the possibility to play INCOMING without graphics error)

Aztech Sound Galaxy Washington 16 ISA (MMSN834) = I don't have it so i can't help you
Sound Blaster Live! PCI = Classic Windows 98 Audio cards, lower CPU usage than Aureal Vortex 2. Really fast with VXD driver
Turtle Beach Santa Cruz PCI = Good card but more Windows 2000/XP environment
You need two sound cards if you want to cover DOS and Win9x games; ISA for DOS games and PCI card for Win games

See you soon
Claudio

Reply 3 of 7, by bloodem

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If you want to build a "time machine PC" that's capable of running 95% or more of all DOS games released between 1985 - 1997 & practically all Windows 95/98 games (*with an additional Voodoo card for best compatibility), I would recommend a build with the Asus A7V333 / Athlon XP 2400+.

I have the Asus A7V8X-X (KT400) and A7V600-X (KT600), and they are GREAT boards (and from what I'm seeing, the A7V333 should also be very good). You'll have very granular control over CPU speed: multiplier, FSB, L1 & L2 cache options. Your Thoroughbred 2400+ CPU has an unlocked multiplier and from my experience is also a great overclocker (I have many Thoroughbred CPUs). All of these unique capabilities make this one of the most versatile platforms: using a combination of BIOS settings + setmul + throttle, you can easily drop the speed down to 386, 486, Pentium MMX levels. Or, if you wish, you can overclock the CPU for extreme/overkill Windows 98 performance (although, you don't even need to overclock it for this - it's already overkill out of the box) 😀

The VIA chipset is also great and basically the only option for such a PC - stay away from nForce chipsets if you want to also play DOS games. Likewise, depending on what DOS games you want to play, you might want to also stay away from the Intel 440BX/815 chipsets - they lack the granular speed control that the aforementioned platform has to offer (a Pentium 3 running on these chipsets can be either very fast or very slow).

Now, getting back to the PC I suggested, for the best compatibility/performance, you will also want:

  • a Yamaha YMF724/744 sound card - one of my favorite sound cards, with real OPL3 FM synth + very good Windows performance with great MIDI sound (a joy to use it in Final Fantasy 7)
  • an nVIDIA card such as the GeForce 4 Ti 4200/4400/4600 or a GeForce FX 5900 series.
  • BONUS (nice to have): a Voodoo 2 card, which will also allow you to play most of the very early DOS & Windows Glide games, which did not have DirectX/OpenGL support (the Voodoo 3 is less compatible with these games, but there are patches for some of them). In addition, the Voodoo 2 is a 3D only card, so switching between it and your main video card will be seamless.

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Reply 4 of 7, by kynikos_

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bloodem wrote on 2020-11-18, 21:08:

...

Thanks, I like the idea of using stuff I already own. Would I be able to sell off the 440BX and i815EP boards easily if I don't end up using them?

The Yamaha card sounds great and I found my copy of FF7 with the rest of this stuff too! Would I need the nVIDIA or Voodoo2 card if I plan to use my Voodoo5? It seems like the Voodoo5 would cover most games I want to play - do I already have any video cards that would be better suited to DOS games?

Reply 5 of 7, by ODwilly

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I would also like to add that Turtle Beach card looks really interesting. There is actually an ancient TomsHardware review still up! https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a-soundb … ter,368-17.html

Main pc: AsRock x370 Killer SLI a/c, Ryzen 5 2600, 1tb WD black nvme ssd, 24g ddr4 2400 @2933mhz, rx 480 8gb reference card, 2tb Hitachi Deskstar.
Retro PC: Soyo P4S Dragon, 3gb ddr 266, 120gb Maxtor, Geforce Fx 5950 Ultra, SB Live! 5.1

Reply 6 of 7, by bloodem

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kynikos_ wrote on 2020-11-19, 03:13:

Thanks, I like the idea of using stuff I already own. Would I be able to sell off the 440BX and i815EP boards easily if I don't end up using them?

The Yamaha card sounds great and I found my copy of FF7 with the rest of this stuff too! Would I need the nVIDIA or Voodoo2 card if I plan to use my Voodoo5? It seems like the Voodoo5 would cover most games I want to play - do I already have any video cards that would be better suited to DOS games?

You're welcome!
You should be able to sell the 440BX and especially the 815EP (the Asus TUSL-C is a very sought-after motherboard, many people are using it paired with the fastest Pentium 3 Tualatin 1.4 GHz). I also have two myself & love them, so my advise would be to not sell the TUSL2-C. Then again, I'm a bit crazy and have TOO many retro PCs & parts, so... take my word with a grain of salt 😁

The Voodoo 5.... truthfully, is a collector's item (and a very nice one at that). However, from a pure functional standpoint... it's not very useful. I have one that's been sitting on a shelf for the past 5 years. It's a strange card... its speed/performance is similar to that of a GeForce 256 DDR (and in certain titles it can even surpass it, particularly at very high resolutions), however, it's still a very weak card overall compared to what a GeForce 4 Ti / GeForce FX 5900 can do when paired with a powerful CPU. And because it's too "new" compared to a Voodoo 2, compatibility with old Glide games is very poor.

So, to answer your question, yes, if you want the best possible compatibility and performance in Windows 98, there's no way around buying an nVIDIA GeForce 4 Ti / GeForce FX 59xx card.
The ATI Radeon 9600XT is also a nice and powerful card and it generally works well in both Windows 98 and DOS (in DOS it's actually much faster than the GeForce 4 / GeForce FX cards). However, as Stermy57 pointed out, it lacks support for older DirectX versions (no fog table / paletted textures support). The lack of paletted textures is an issue for games such as Final Fantasy 7, which will refuse to run in Direct3D (only software mode will be supported - although there are some patches that address this issue).

2 x Socket 3 / 3 x Socket 7 / 4 x SuperSocket 7 / 4 x Slot 1 / 2 x Slot A / 5 x Socket 370
3 x Socket A / 1 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 2 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: AM4 - Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: LGA1151 - Core i7 7700k