Dochartaigh wrote on 2020-01-10, 15:35:
auron wrote on 2020-01-10, 02:56:
you need to go to the sewer in E1L2, this is where at least SB Live! cards crash. and yes, onboard audio will be fine for win9x, but some games like half-life sound better with hardware EAX support from a Live! card. diablo ii from your list also supports EAX. GM synth = roland SC-55 for example, which is the hardware many games such as duke3d and doom were originally composed for.
Thanks for the info. I'm going to hold off picking out an exact sound card(s) until I find a MB with an ISA slot - then I will go down that rabbit hole 😉
You don't have to wait. There are two separate soundcard targets here:
1) DOS sound. Needs ISA, or some more-or-less competent solution to get ISA-like functionality. This one you better wait with.
2) Win9x sound with hardware EAX and/or A3D support. No reason not to do this right now, as this is applicable to your current board - you can add a PCI sound card easily.
There are quite a few options. SBLive is one, but not a perfect one. If you see an Aureal Vortex 2-based card, that gives you A3D instead.
After learning all this recently, and how lacking my MB's ports are, I'm definitely not keeping it (wasn't planning on it anyway - wanted something new to tinker with). I will find something with both ISA, PCI, and an AGP port.
Good start. For DOS ISA is essential. AGP usually isn't but helps when you really want to push performance.
My problem is I'm limited to eBay (yes, I've been on Craigslist, FB MK, LetGo, OfferUp, etc. looking for a higher mhz P3 in a non-beat-up mid-tower beige case twice a day for over a year!), and a couple FB groups I'm on (where there's been no offers for what I'm looking for) - and it's hard to find what MB a computer comes with, let alone look-up that MB's specs to see what ports it has (and some have even thrown me for a loop - like this Dell last night I really liked and was thinking of buying - has AGP even, but once I researched some more found out the AGP doesn't work for video cards! grrr). Dell seems to still have a really good online archive of manuals and service manuals, Gateway is pretty bad, as is IBM actually - seems like they use a lot of propriety stuff? (been looking at their Aptiva line since I like the looks), haven't researched too many Dell's quite yet...but I'm still looking.
As a rule, brand-name systems are less flexible and more complicated to configure/upgrade. By the sound of it you're new to this game. It might make sense to start off with some nice standards-compliant white-box stuff instead.
As for not being able to find anything outside of eBay... that strikes me as odd. Take a look on Amibay, there's an Asus P3V4X going for USD 39 at the moment (shipping from Poland will cost a bit if you're in the US, but total will probably still be far lower than eBay ). It's not *the* ultimate DOS motherboard, but it has ISA and AGP, supports all Slot 1 CPUs (and all So370 too with a suitable slocket), so would probably be exactly what you need. If you had more choice, I'd suggest a board with two or more ISA slots, as once you go down the DOS sound rabbit hole you'll soon find there is no single card that is best for all situations 😉
- Pentium 3 of 800mhz or higher - maybe P4 if it's the rare type with good backwards compatibility (not likely to find, or even know if I find something like this...)
- HAS to have ISA, PCI, and AGP slot
- beige mid-tower case not jacked-up (like looks of Dell Optiplex, IBM Aptiva, and some Gateway's so far - yes, looks is still important to me for the aesthetics of a retro machine in my gaming room)
- will look more into a good DOS ISA sound card or ISA "AWE64/SB Audigy combo" like foil_fresh suggested (another suggested a PC-PCI? card would be good as well, if it has the port)
PC/PCI (aka SBLink) is a good substitute for ISA, but motherboards with it are a lot rarer than boards with ISA - and most of those *also* have ISA slots... Plus there are only a handful of cards with it, albeit some very good ones with the Yamaha YMF74x chipsets.
For general DOS, what you need above all is Soundblaster Pro 2.0 compatibility. Irritatingly, Creative itself didn't make the SB16/32/64 cards fully SBPro2 compatible. Also, Creative's later Soundblasters are notorious for various MIDI bugs. Now, with the very late games you're mentioning here that's not so much of an issue, as they natively support SB16 and AWE stuff, but if you run older games too, or want to play around with external or internal (Wavetable boards) MIDI modules, a 'genunine' Soundblaster is a poor choice.
If you have the ISA slots and you can find the cards, I'd recommend an AWE32/64 combined with an Aztech 2316-based card (Sound Galaxy), as they have real OPL3 synth, bug-free MIDI and full SBPro2 support. If you can only do a single ISA card, you could look for a C-Media CMI8330-based card. They are cheap and unloved, but they offer SBPro2 *and* SB16 support, fairly good MIDI and FM synth. As a single-card solution the only better option would be a Gravis Ultrasound Extreme, but once you see the price of those you'll see why I don't recommend one 😉
[*]GeForce 4XXX might be high-up on the video card list - I was told that has higher VESA compatibility than the 5XXX or 6 series???..... then on the other hand I still have like a half dozen people who STILL tell me I have to use a Voddoo 2 for Glide? and DOS use....but they keep on discounting how I really have to have games like Warcraft III played at high res/frame rates...so Vodoo 2/3 sounds like it's still out -- so I'm still torn on what to get here.
Firstly, a Voodoo2 is an add-on card that works next to your main VGA card, so it's not either-or: you can do both. Secondly, GeForce4 is probably the sweet spot for absolute maximum performance for an old P3 platform while still having good compatibility. In fact a GeForce 2 or 3 will hardly be slower as the CPU will be the bottleneck, and in DOS these cards' power won't be called on anyway. My main Win98 system has a P3-1400S and a GeForce3Ti200 (with a Voodoo2 next to it). My high-end DOS system has a K6-2, a TNT2 and a Voodoo1. You could definitely use a faster CPU for your games, but there's not much point in faster GPUs if you're only doing DOS.
[*]haven't even started to look for a 5.25" floppy drive yet - that's on the list to research (are those really like $50 for a used, questionable reliability one???)
That really depends on your location. I regularly pick up large batches of untested old crap for about that money. Frequently they contain 5.25" drives, which sometimes even work. I wouldn't shell out that much for a bog-standard drive in any event.
Why the need for 5.25"? The games you are talking about are CD-Rom games, and if any floppies are involved, they will be 3.5"