Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

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Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby bergqvistjl » 2017-10-22 @ 11:02

I currently have a PIII Coppermine (1.Ghz) System running DOS 6.22 (plus WfW 3.11), but I was wondering if there's a better-compatible architecture for mid-90s DOS games, specifically the "final" batch, released around 1996, when the transition to Win95 was being made. I'm talking Privateer 2, Duke Nukem 3D, that sort of thing.

Would going back 1 generation to Pentium 2, or even further to Pentium 1 help, compatibility-wise, without going too far back as to compromise performance?

I have an AWE64 Gold sound card, and a QDI Legend V2200 AGP Card, with SLI'd 12MB Voodoo2 PCI cards, so i'd need at least 1 ISA slot and 3+ PCI slots (i'd like to stick in a PCI network card too).
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby brostenen » 2017-10-22 @ 11:50

I think that what you are looking for, is a machine, based on the fastest Pentium-MMX CPU.
I actually don't know if there were an 266, though the 233 should serve you well, combined with the right GFX/Soundcard.
AWE64-Gold is probably one of the best you can get for these last-dos-era games, though V2-SLI might be overkill.
I would go for something like a V1 instead, if the machine is for Dos only games.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby clueless1 » 2017-10-22 @ 12:39

I agree with brostenen on the 233MMX. But I personally would forget about any Voodoos. To me, they feel more at home in a Win9x system.
Here's the tricky part: There are some late DOS games, that when played in SVGA resolutions, get a bit choppy even on a fast 233MMX. A few that come to mind are System Shock (especially full screen), US Navy Fighters, and Screamer 1 and 2. There's really no way to play this handful of games in SVGA with good framerates unless you move up to a Pentium II in the 400Mhz range. So you're left with some choices if these games in SVGA are important to you:
1) deal with the choppy framerates, knowing that this was as good as it got back in the day ;)
2) play these games in VGA with a cringe on your face
3) move up to a faster system and forgo the warm, fuzzy period-correctness.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby BitWrangler » 2017-10-22 @ 13:01

The 266MMX was a mobile processor, only had 233 for desktop.

Edit: and dammit man, do you expect me to play all my old 8 bit games in black and white, because that was the spare TV we had.....
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby jesolo » 2017-10-22 @ 13:39

Pentium 233MMX was only introduced in mid 1997
By that time the first Pentium II CPU's started to hit the market as well (granted, back then they would have been very expensive).

But, based on the other hardware that you have available, I would say get yourself a Pentium II 400 or 450 MHz if you really want to enjoy those "last batch of DOS games" to their fullest.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby bergqvistjl » 2017-10-22 @ 14:48

I was just thinking that a "Proper" pentium MMX would be more compatible with certain games than a Pentium 2, really. Certainly more compatible than a 1.0Ghz PIII anyway.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby carlostex » 2017-10-22 @ 17:03

IMO the K6+ CPU's are the best all rounders
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby Moogle! » 2017-10-22 @ 21:26

Not to derail a thread, but what does a p233 do right that a PII Slot and a Coppermine do wrong?
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby kaputnik » 2017-10-22 @ 21:42

carlostex wrote:IMO the K6+ CPU's are the best all rounders


Probably yes, but it's time consuming and expensive to source parts for those systems.

A Via C3 system is an alternative if you want that extreme flexibility. Slot1 boards, slotkets and C3 CPU:s are still quite abundant and cheap. You'd have to read up some on slot1 boards though, to make sure you get a late one capable of delivering the lower voltages the C3 CPU:s needs. A high end Ezra or Samuel2 C3 should be able to deliver performance enough for the Build games in at least 640x480, and got the same, or maybe even better flexibility than those K6+ CPU:s when it comes to speed tuning for compatibility with earlier games.

---

Personally I have a Tualeron 1.4GHz and a P233MMX system though, completely covering all my needs. The P233MMX is tunable in very small steps downwards, and so far I haven't ran into anything that needs something within the gap between, and won't run well on any of my systems. I believe OP would be fine with a P233MMX system as a complement to his existing PIII one.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby jesolo » 2017-10-22 @ 21:50

Based on the specific games that the OP mentioned, I would say that a Pentium 233MMX is a nice build to have. I know that Privateer 2 does have issues on faster systems but, I think there are patches available for this.
However, as also mentioned, there are some of the "last batch" of DOS games that struggle to really perform on a Pentium 233MMX and this is where you will benefit from a faster system.
Carlostex's proposal of a K6+ based system is also good, since these type of CPU's can be slowed down in various "steps", should it be required.

Having said that, Moogle! is also correct that most late DOS games, that will play on a Pentium 233MMX, should also play just as well on a Pentium III.
Since you are leaning towards a Pentium 233MMX, go for it and keep your PIII Coppermine (1 Ghz) system around in case you feel you require a bit more performance.
However, as mentioned earlier, a Voodoo2 SLI configuration is much better suited for a Pentium II or even Pentium III system. You could perhaps forego the one Voodoo2 and only have one in your Pentium 233MMX

PS: Any particular reason why you are running DOS 6.22 and WfW 3.11 on a PIII Coppermine System? Windows 98SE (with a dual boot configuration) will do the job just as well.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby kanecvr » 2017-10-22 @ 22:37

clueless1 wrote:I agree with brostenen on the 233MMX. But I personally would forget about any Voodoos. To me, they feel more at home in a Win9x system.
Here's the tricky part: There are some late DOS games, that when played in SVGA resolutions, get a bit choppy even on a fast 233MMX. A few that come to mind are System Shock (especially full screen), US Navy Fighters, and Screamer 1 and 2. There's really no way to play this handful of games in SVGA with good framerates unless you move up to a Pentium II in the 400Mhz range. So you're left with some choices if these games in SVGA are important to you:
1) deal with the choppy framerates, knowing that this was as good as it got back in the day ;)
2) play these games in VGA with a cringe on your face
3) move up to a faster system and forgo the warm, fuzzy period-correctness.


Or get a socket 7 slowdown machine up and running. Stick a K6-2/K6-III in there and all your svga dos games will run great. Set the CPU to 200MHz and disable L2 cache using SetMul.exe and you got a 386/486 class machine.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby gdjacobs » 2017-10-23 @ 00:11

Pentium MMX machines can also make excellent slowdown systems if they support the TR12 registers. In some ways, they can be better than a K6-2, as Ultima 7 can't disable TR12 register settings the way it can force L1 cache to turn on.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby badmojo » 2017-10-23 @ 00:58

Moogle! wrote:Not to derail a thread, but what does a p233 do right that a PII Slot and a Coppermine do wrong?


Nothing that I know of - I have a 1GHz Coppermine for late DOS gaming and I can't think of a single time when too much speed was a bad thing. Getting high frames in some of those SVGA games takes some horsepower. PIII stuff is still pretty common and you can get ISA slots for sound card fun - it's the way to go me thinks.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby vvbee » 2017-10-23 @ 02:57

gdjacobs wrote:Ultima 7 can't disable TR12 register settings the way it can force L1 cache to turn on.

Patch to force ultima 7 cache off. http://personal.inet.fi/muoti/eimuoti/u7dcp.zip. Based on gog's dos version, may or may not work on others.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby BeginnerGuy » 2017-10-23 @ 03:48

badmojo wrote:
Moogle! wrote:Not to derail a thread, but what does a p233 do right that a PII Slot and a Coppermine do wrong?


Nothing that I know of - I have a 1GHz Coppermine for late DOS gaming and I can't think of a single time when too much speed was a bad thing. Getting high frames in some of those SVGA games takes some horsepower. PIII stuff is still pretty common and you can get ISA slots for sound card fun - it's the way to go me thinks.


There are very few examples that I can think of myself and most are easy to patch. Turbo Pascal (Jazz Jackrabbit) comes to mind, but that may complain on an MMX233 as well. You can play jazz right out of the box on a p5 166. I think for your average gamer looking for late 80s through ~1999 a coppermine P3 AND socket 7 setup that will let you disable l1 and l2 (drops it all the way down to a 386) is the optimal setup, just to play devils advocate and tell OP to have both machines :blush:
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby appiah4 » 2017-10-23 @ 08:26

K6-2 400 anyone?
1993:PCI597-1|P133|32MB|Trio64V2/DX|ES1868
1995:P5I430VX|P233MMX|Virge/DX|CT4520
1997:S1573S|K6-2/400|64MB|M220|V2/SLI|CT4500/32M
1999:BE6-II|P3-700E|256MB|V3-3000|MX300
GX110LP:36XMT|PIII1000|512MB|G450|CT4780|YMF-719
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby infiniteclouds » 2017-10-23 @ 09:55

I don't see any reason to use anything different from what you have right now CPU-wise if your only plan to play late DOS since they aren't speed sensitive and the software rendered ones will take as much CPU power as you can throw at it.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby Moogle! » 2017-10-23 @ 18:15

appiah4 wrote:K6-2 400 anyone?


On a regular Socket 7? I've had two boards fail trying to run a 2.4v 450 on one of those. The Tyan worked, though, and ran a memtest without errors.
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby bergqvistjl » 2017-10-23 @ 18:19

jesolo wrote:PS: Any particular reason why you are running DOS 6.22 and WfW 3.11 on a PIII Coppermine System? Windows 98SE (with a dual boot configuration) will do the job just as well.

I have no games that specifically need Windows 98. It turns out that Privateer 2 has dodgy support for Rendition Cards (I got it working with the official patch by disabling my memory manager, but video playback was awful, and it crashed about 15mins in). Which might explain why that wasn't working. It's all very temperamental, getting stuff to work with the right combination of hardware etc. Especially when you have games that just don't work with either combination.

I've heard that performance suffers when using more than 64MB ram in a Socket 7 system, is this the case with a P3 System? But then wouldn't Windows98 performance suffer if I switched to that, rather than just DOS?
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Re: Friendliest CPU family for mid-90s "final" DOS-era games?

Postby kanecvr » 2017-10-23 @ 19:35

badmojo wrote:
Moogle! wrote:Not to derail a thread, but what does a p233 do right that a PII Slot and a Coppermine do wrong?


Nothing that I know of - I have a 1GHz Coppermine for late DOS gaming and I can't think of a single time when too much speed was a bad thing. Getting high frames in some of those SVGA games takes some horsepower. PIII stuff is still pretty common and you can get ISA slots for sound card fun - it's the way to go me thinks.


Yeah, p3 machines are not bad for dos gaming if you don't play any early dos games. They do start to act up on some early 90's dos games like supaplex and dyna blaster tough. I guess you can't really go wrong with either build, but some sacrifices have to be made. A k6-II/III won't be able to push as many fps in duke3d or quake @ 1024x768 as a fast p3, but a p3 doesn't slow down as much as a k6-II. The 233MMx is someware in the middle.

As for K6 machines, you don't really need to go for a super socket 7 board. A simple via VP2 or via VPX mainboad will work fine, and they usually have multipliers up to 5.5x even if they are not printed on the PCB - and these socket 7 boards are CHEAP. K6-II chips are cheap as well, and so are socket 370 machines. It's your choice really.
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