VOGONS


First post, by vorob

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First of all, sorry for my wall of text. Second thing, I love and prefer laptops.

I'm super okay with playing old games on modern pc, but since I love to dig into computers I decided to find a second machine that is compatible with most of the old games. My first goals changed over time and that's how it worked out.

My starting point was Dell Latitude D800 with Pentium M and GeForce 4200. The perfect machine, even compatible with Windows 98. Its GF4 runs old windows games without any compatibility issues. And the quality of the screen was really good. But it also had some cons. First of all, I wanted native DOS support, and this laptop doesn't have a proper soundcard and it has widescreen so dos games are stretched. I also had a Creative PCMCIA soundcard with EAX support and wanted to play newer games on it, like Deus Ex 2, Thief DS and Doom 3, and GF4 wasn't able to run them at decent fps. Also, such a video card can't handle glide emulation and I wanted to cover these games also. So I've started looking for a 4:3 laptop with a newer GeForce card.

My next step was Toshiba Tecra S3 laptop, also with Pentium M but now it was GeForce 6600 inside. And that was a big fail. First of all, the screen was total trash. I do understand that IPS screens were not a thing 15 years ago, but my Dell's D800 screen is just like an OLED panel compared to Toshiba's trash one. Glowing in dark scenes, horrible view angles even on bright pictures. It also wasn't compatible with Windows 98 at all. And the last thing that kill everything was that GeForce 6 suddenly lost some compatibility with older Windows games, the biggest problem was the lack of paletted textures support, so some games wouldn't launch at all and some of them had broken image. This laptop is one big fail.

How Thief II should look like: https://sun9-25.userapi.com/c858528/v85852813 … ZfPPfK0SbtQ.jpg
How it works on any GeForce after 5th: https://sun9-56.userapi.com/c858528/v85852813 … a2OOYjVvAmg.jpg

Then I learned that ATI cards didn't lose compatibility and even paletted textures worked there. So I bought IBM ThinkPad R60. A 4:3 laptop with Core 2 Duo CPU and ATI X1400. It was perfect. PCMCIA for dos sound, powerful CPU for DoxBox emulation (ye I dropped the idea about native DOS), and X1400 for old games and nglide. Even the condition is perfect. Only two issues bothered me: ATI X1400 wasn't good for Doom 3 and games near that year, better then GF4 from my first old laptop, but not as good as GF 6600GO from Toshiba. And, again, the screen was horrible. It was very good for bight pictures, better then Toshiba's, but it was horrible for dark games which I love (Thief, Deus Ex, Doom 3, etc).

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DOOM 3 on Toshiba and IBM R60
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Looks like there were no good 4:3 screens and I should get back to widescreen laptops. My goal was to find a cheap+good+old laptop with a big good screen, powerful ATI card and C2d, and I found it!

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Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1546
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Fujitsu Siemens Amilo Xi 1546	
Processor: Intel® Core 2 Duo Processor T7200 (4M Cache, 2.00 GHz, 667 MHz FSB)
GPU: ATI Mobility Radeon X1800 (12 Pixel / 6 Vertex; 256Mb DDR3; 256Bit) (8.593.100)
Display: 17.1 inch 16:10, 1440 x 900 pixel (Quanta QD17TL022 (QDS002F))
Chipset: Intel 945PM (Calistoga-PM) + ICH7-M/U
Storage: HDD 500Gb, Western Digital, 5400rpm (WDC WD5000BEVT-00A0RT0)
Wireless: Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8169 Gigabit Ethernet Adapter
RAM: 2Gb 333 MHz (DDR2-666)
Audio: Intel 82801GB ICH7 - High Definition Audio
Connectivity: 4 x USB 2.0; 1 x IEEE 1394 (i.LINK, FireWire); 1 x ExpressCard
Dimension: W x D x H / 407 x 295 x 42

Bend your fingers:

  • It's big. 17inch 16:10 screen fully "includes" the physical size of typical 15inch 4:3 screen so no loss here.
  • It's powerful. C2d, again, good for DOSBox, and X1800 can run DOOM 3 on 60 fps and even play TES Oblivion, Prey, Fallout 3.
  • It has good sound. Two speakers supported with a subwoofer.
  • Support for two 2.5 HDDs.
  • Build-in DVI port, so it's easy to connect the laptop to a modern monitor.

And the biggest surprise here is the screen. Just take a look, I'm comparing Fujitsu and IBM:

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Thief II
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Thief DS
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Public domain
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DOOM 3
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So, at last, I'm happy! I can enjoy old games without any custom made fixes, patches, and other things. Just the way it meant to be played. And this happens on a gorgeous giant screen with good sound.

Any cons? Yes, there is. This laptop has a trash cooling system that can't handle X1800. If you look into the internet, users were plagued with overheating, GPU dying, artifacts right from the beginning. It's a surprise that my machine still works after 14 years. And I have to fight with temperatures because if I leave them, I'll have this trash:

https://youtu.be/o1H72qScuGw
https://youtu.be/yKWgx9zICJc

Thing is complicated more because of GPU thermal diode absence. I had to use a multimeter to capture temperature near chip and look like it starts bugging when I caught 65C+ near it. The partial solution here is to monitor CPU temperature since the cooling system is single for both GPU and CPU, GPU heats CPU sensor and CPU gets the same values I'm catching near GPU via an external sensor, at least I can monitor the situation by this. When I'm reaching 60C on CPU I need to do smth. In some way, it's not a big deal since it overheats that much in games that I won't be playing on this machine and older titles don't generate much heat.

Wish it will last for a long time 😀

Reply 1 of 7, by vorob

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Since I'm device internal's nerd, i've got some additional pictures here!

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Xi 1546 without bottom case
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ATI Mobility X1800
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Reply 2 of 7, by vorob

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Looks like i found a temp solution for overheating. Locking CPU on 1300mhz with 0.95v won't give over 61C for GPU and I'm not getting errors in games and video driver won't die. But i still have color dots in BIOS on this temp. I'm never seeing this in windows, but i can't get rid of idea that something is wrong here. Why i see it in BIOS only, what video mode does it use? After some cooling and reboot these dots go away.

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Reply 6 of 7, by vorob

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Ye, i tested cooling system in all ways, it works as it should. This x1800 was just heat damage with previous owner...

Anyway X1900 came to me and it works fine! More tests will come but for now everything works perfect.