VOGONS


DOS pc advice

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First post, by lutz79

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Hello guys!
I need your advice about a "new" pc for pure DOS games! I don't have much space, so I must choose.
i have the following pc available:
1) 486dx4-100 with 24mb RAM, S3/dx video card and ISA sound card, DOS 6.22+W311
2) Pentium 3 with 2gb RAM, S3/dx video card and ISA sound card, W98SE
3) "modern" similar Pentium 4, with 2gb RAM, S3/dx video card and Sound Blaster Live 5.1 digital Pci sound card, W98SE.

In your opinion, what's the best choice? Thanks!!!!

Reply 1 of 5, by BinaryDemon

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For pure dos, that’s easy - option 1.

Check out DOSBox Distro:

https://sites.google.com/site/dosboxdistro/ [*]

a lightweight Linux distro (tinycore) which boots off a usb flash drive and goes straight to DOSBox.

Make your dos retrogaming experience portable!

Reply 2 of 5, by dionb

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What "pure DOS games" do you want to run?

ISA is very very useful for DOS, and there's not much out there that won't run fast on a P3-600, so you can ditch the P4.

As for choosing between the P3 and 486, it depends on the target games. The P3 is much faster and probably does not have a 'turbo' function. You can disable caches, but it will always run several times faster than the 486. If you want >1994 games, that's generally an advantage. If you want <1994 games, the 486 is already very fast and things might get unplayable or worse, games would crash and audio would glitch out due to timing issues on the P3.

For reference, I've built a 486SX33 with turbo (=slowdown) function for old games and a K6-2 350 for new DOS games. Even at 350MHz (and 64MB RAM) I'm hitting stability problems which may be clock speed or RAM size related.

If I had to choose one system for the largest number of DOS games, I'd go for the 486. But if you are less interested in Monkey Island and Ultima 6/7 than in Quake and Descent, the P3-600 might be better.

Also, not all ISA sound cards are equal or equally desirable. Which do those systems have?

P.s. 2GB on P3? There are a few board that allowed it, but it's highly unusual. Expect problems with DOS >512MB, Win98SE too unless you patch it. Maybe worth double-checking that figure. If it is true, the board might be very exotic (Serverworks chipset...) which could introduce other complications. In any event, there is no reason whatsoever to have that much RAM for any pure DOS system. I find 64MB to be the sweet spot for later DOS games, which is more 'normal' on a P3 anyway: a single 64MB PC100 DIMM.

Reply 3 of 5, by alvaro84

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I have 512MiB in my DOS-oriented (read: very late compo machine, with GUS 3.74, thankfully working in this MSI 694T Pro) Tualatin P3 rig. It has a single 512MiB module and could probably take said 2GiB in double stacked 1G sticks but even this amount is an overkill. I don't really know about anything that needs >64MiB under pure DOS (Q2DOS, maybe?) but few games/demos have problems with it and even those can usually be fixed by spamming large XMS blocks until the free XMS goes under 32MiB.

Why 512M then? Because this board is the only sensible place for a 512MiB SDRAM stick I have...

Why not double stacked 1G? Because I plan to use W98 on it too and it's more pain there than under DOS 😁

I'm with dionb asking what ISA card is it?

Shame on us, doomed from the start
May God have mercy on our dirty little hearts

Reply 4 of 5, by Robin4

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I would say non of your systems if you want to cover 99% of the dos games.

Earlier dos games works perfect on your 486 system, but later would be a problem..

If you want to have the sweet spot go for a pentium classic 90 Mhz or so. With a earlier pentium motherboard with turbo switch header.

~ At least it can do black and white~

Reply 5 of 5, by lutz79

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Sorry, i got confused. The P3 have 512mb RAM installed. I'm interested in games from the 80s until 97/98. The ISA sound cards in my possession are: Opti 82C925 (AD1845JP) and Crystal CS4231A-KL (Reveal Sound FX RV82C929KT).
Thanks!