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First post, by Hezus

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Let's build a hypothetical pc! 😃

I was browsing through the Steam hardware survey of December 2020 and I personally love to scroll down the to end of the spec lists and see the ancient hardware people still use to play Steam games on. So I wondered:

What would be the slowest, saddest PC configuration we could come up with that would guaranteed make the far far end of the hardware survey list? 😄

The current minimal specs to launch the Steam client on are:
- x86-64 (AMD64) instruction set (lm in /proc/cpuinfo flags)
- CMPXCHG16B instruction support (cx16 in /proc/cpuinfo flags)
- SSE3 instruction support (pni in /proc/cpuinfo flags)

The client should still work with Windows Vista. Not sure what Linux or MacOs it will still run on.

With the SS3 minimum, the Pentium 4 Prescott comes to mind. Or the Athlon 64. Could we pair that up with some low end PCI video card? Or does anyone know of a motherboard that would even get an ISA videocard into the Steam hardware survey? 😁

Go crazy!

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Reply 1 of 14, by Tali

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Well, there are plenty of industrial P4 boards now, even if most of them are effectively new, so don't know whether that qualifies. But most have at least one ISA. Whether they would boot with VGA in the slot - no idea, haven't tested.

If not, there are some "fancy" PCI cards out there... like anything based on Trident TGUI9440, which is supposed to accelerate Windows UI. But doubt it will do much for Vista. It has to be Vista, right? 😀

Oh, and if it has to be the slowest CPU in existence, pick a Celeron. How about Celeron D 331?

Then stick a single RAM module in, preferably 1 Gb (I know Vista used to work with this, just not sure anything else will on top). Poor timings is a bonus.

Finally, while an HDD is pretty much assumed at this point, a small, 4200 RPM laptop HDD would be just right.

EDIT: This just gives me an idea... while not the lowest build ever on Steam, nowadays that thing probably screams "cheapskate tryhard" to anyone who is not a retro connoisseur. I should boot Emperor and hope Steam hits me with a survey... P4 Prescott, a pair of X1800XTs, Ageia PhysX... it's right around the minimal requirements for Mass Effect 1 (except for PhysX card which nobody cares about anyway), and most people don't even know how much all that stuff costs these days 😀

Last edited by Tali on 2021-01-21, 21:06. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 2 of 14, by mothergoose729

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I am sure there is at least one title in the steam library that you can run in software mode. I don't know what the requirements are to run the windows vista + steam UI. I think even on linux it requires some basic display libraries.

You could get a prescott CPU to run on an industrial board with ISA. Assuming the ISA graphics card would work at all.

Intel Diamond View and later atom processors are x86_64, and there are also some obscure bobcat cores from AMD that are slower than a prescott, even if a fair bit newer. I am not sure about ss3 support, but it is probably there.

Reply 4 of 14, by DosFreak

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You should probably verify if the latest version of Steam works on Vista instead of assuming.
According to this you have to jump through some hoops so your likely minimum as of today is probably 7 32bit if you want to use the latest steam version.
https://msfn.org/board/topic/181799-trying-to … xtended-kernel/

Last I heard Steam only required SSE2, did something change yet again?
I do remember this being the most recent thing I was tracking but IIRC it only affected Linux not Windows:
Steam possibly dropping old processors

For other operating systems you can probably make the assumption that if Chrome can run then Steam can run (assuming a Steam client that is using CEF and not the older Steam clients) so try ancient linux and macos versions and go from there.

If you don't care about using Steam then:
Goldberg Steam Emulator works on Vista and also on XP if you use OneCoreAPI or Xompie or 2000 with BWC
SmartSteamEmu works on XP and also on 2000 with BWC

Those two would cover the majority of games with the rest being:
Cracks
Steamless
LumaEmu
RevEmu

Valve really needs to get off their ass and:
1. Release games that "gamers" want to play
2. Offer a stripped down game launcher instead of their bloated compatibility breaking bullshit when all most people want to do is download and launch a game. JFHC

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Reply 5 of 14, by Srandista

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Also, out of curiosity, I checked today, that (with some older files) you can still run Steam under XP (it didn't work for some time, but fortunately it started working again).

Socket 775 - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 4GB RAM, Radeon 9500@9700, ESS Solo-1, Win 98/XP
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Reply 6 of 14, by Doornkaat

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While as a fellow customer I agree with your demands I don't think Valve are going to

DosFreak wrote on 2021-01-21, 23:27:

Offer a stripped down game launcher instead of their bloated compatibility breaking bullshit when all most people want to do is download and launch a game.

They make money from people buying games, not from people playing them. They have to provide access to the games they sold you but what they want is for you to visit their store and buy new games. This is why you need the whole steam app running and not just something like a small DRM program that requires you to login after each restart and after that lets you launch your games traditionally from the desktop or start menu.
With the new library redesign they even started advertising DLCs in the library. Why would they now go and create a simple interface that lets you organise and launch your games in a convenient matter without having you look at advertisements first?
I also want that simple steam interface but I know it's not going to happen anytime soon because it would cost money to create and maintain while reducing sales. Offering that is not a wise business decision as long as their current store/launcher application is not yet inconvenient enough for people to stop using it altogether.

Reply 7 of 14, by Hezus

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Srandista wrote on 2021-01-22, 10:12:

Also, out of curiosity, I checked today, that (with some older files) you can still run Steam under XP (it didn't work for some time, but fortunately it started working again).

Interesting! That might help lowering the specs.

Just to be clear: the goal is to run the Steam Client and upload the system into the hardware survey. So any alternative or illegal Steam build is out of the question. If it runs any of the games isn't important.

And whatever your opinion is about Steam is probably better saved for another thread.

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Reply 8 of 14, by Error 0x7CF

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I think it's now a trivia question: What is the slowest SSE2-supporting (32 bit or 64 bit) processor. (Or, "What instruction sets does Steam really require?") I'm sure whatever that CPU is would be able to run either Vista or 7 for steam, since 7 can run on a Pentium Classic. At least, I think Steam works on Vista just fine. I know people were discontinuing Vista support at the same time as XP but it differs so little from 7 that it could probably be coaxed into working.

I've heard about software SSE2 emulators before but never seen one, so if you could find one of those and run it then you could maybe run Steam on a Pentium 60 if Steam wasn't looking for other instruction sets (SSE1?) that it would lack.
Possible candidates:
P60 (No MMX, no SSE2, single core) (supposes SSE2 emulator exists and works, and steam requires neither MMX nor SSE). Slowest CPU 7 can boot on?
PMMX 166 (MMX, no SSE or SSE2, single core) (supposes SSE2 emulator exists and works and steam does not require SSE1)
Cyrix 6x86MX PR166 (MMX, no SSE1/2, single core) (supposes SSE2 emulator exists and works and steam does not require SSE1)
600MHz Duron XP (MMX, SSE, but no SSE2, single core) (supposes SSE2 emulator exists and works)
1GHz VIA Nehemiah C5XL (SSE, MMX, single core) (supposes SSE2 emulator exists and works) (sounds faster than it is), Socket 370 platform with 133FSB and option of using SDRAM.
\/ technically compatible CPUs, but not sure which is slowest.
Opteron 140 (1.4GHz Athlon64-like, one core. MMX, SSE, SSE2, 3DNow) 800FSB. Fastest memory: PC3200 DDR1
Intel Atom 230 (1.6GHz first-gen Atom, SSE1-SSSE3, 64 bit, hyperthreaded single core) 533FSB. DDR1? DDR2? not sure.
1.3GHz Willamette P4 (MMX, SSE, SSE2) 400FSB. RAMBus only? Are there socket 423 motherboards with SDR?
Eden-core VIA CPUs (as low as 400MHz)

VIA Eden CPUs with the Esther core come in frequencies as low as 400MHz and support SSE1-3.

If you can find an Eden 400 that's on a motherboard that can boot Windows 7 then that might be the winner if Steam's instruction set requirements truly are set in stone. I don't think a 1.6GHz Atom or 1.3GHz P4 could possibly be slower.
If SSE2 isn't a hard requirement (whether that be by launcher tweak or SSE2 emulator) then the 1GHz Nehemiah could maybe be slower. If SSE isn't a hard requirement, then a 6x86MX / MII would probably be the slowest. If MMX is not required, you could run it on the slowest CPU that can boot 7 (P60? K5?)

Old precedes antique.

Reply 9 of 14, by Standard Def Steve

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Error 0x7CF wrote on 2021-01-22, 14:15:

I'm sure whatever that CPU is would be able to run either Vista or 7 for steam, since 7 can run on a Pentium Classic.

Does Win7 actually work on a Pentium? I remember trying to install it on a 233MMX w/ 512MB ages ago, but failed miserably. Since it worked just fine on a P2-400 with the same HDD, RAM, DVD drive and GPU, I had always assumed that Win7 uses i686 instructions - but I definitely could've been running into a different roadblock.

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Reply 10 of 14, by Error 0x7CF

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https://youtu.be/kGXERfhe-Oo

It doesn't show the install process so it may be that the install will fail on non-i686 CPUs.

Then again... https://youtu.be/Mfsm76wFJTo
(Though that one is apparently in an emulator)

All theoretical as far as this thread is concerned if there's no way at all around the CPU having to support SSE2 anyway.

Old precedes antique.

Reply 11 of 14, by Standard Def Steve

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Very cool. From the video description, it looks like he had to use a 686 class processor (K6-2+ 600MHz) to get Windows installed, then was able to swap in the Pentium after installation. Still, I have to wonder how many (if any) of Windows' regular processes and routines call for 686-specific instructions and crash on a Pentium.

But I'm getting way off topic here. 😀

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Super P3: PIII-S @ 1.63 GHz/FSB155 | 2GB DDR-310 | 6800GT AGP | 500GB 7200 RPM
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Super G5: 4x PowerPC 970 @ 2.5 GHz | 16GB DDR2-533 | x1950XT PCIe | 512GB SSD

Reply 12 of 14, by DosFreak

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I'm still unsure if this thread is for hacking a solution to get steam to work or using vanilla OS with vanilla steam.

If you want to emulate things like SSE then this may help:
Intel® Software Development Emulator
Unknown what the minimum OS for that would be. May have to play the version game if the latest version doesn't work on an older OS.

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Reply 13 of 14, by Srandista

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Hezus wrote on 2021-01-22, 12:58:

Just to be clear: the goal is to run the Steam Client and upload the system into the hardware survey. So any alternative or illegal Steam build is out of the question. If it runs any of the games isn't important.

Yeah, that should work, if you'll have a luck and Survey will show up. It did for me recently on XP, with my T430 laptop (not retro, but still, I was on XP when Survey showed up).

Socket 775 - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 4GB RAM, Radeon 9500@9700, ESS Solo-1, Win 98/XP
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Reply 14 of 14, by mothergoose729

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DosFreak wrote on 2021-01-22, 19:37:
I'm still unsure if this thread is for hacking a solution to get steam to work or using vanilla OS with vanilla steam. […]
Show full quote

I'm still unsure if this thread is for hacking a solution to get steam to work or using vanilla OS with vanilla steam.

If you want to emulate things like SSE then this may help:
Intel® Software Development Emulator
Unknown what the minimum OS for that would be. May have to play the version game if the latest version doesn't work on an older OS.

Well mostly it is just fun.

I think the goal should be to get steam to run a hardware survey on the oldest hardware possible. I have a pentium mmx board in storage and some very old PCI video cards... maybe we can get validated on linux using MMX instead of SSE2?