VOGONS


First post, by sharc

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it's very funny to imagine this as something to ask about at vogons, but i've been thinking about a few things that would make it very useful to keep a dedicated XP rig.

  • easily consolidates some hardware and application needs that are currently either spread out or not getting filled at all
  • good platform for freeware/indie games from this era that give me trouble in win7+/wine/VMs/everything
  • as a bonus, would also be an easy way to run some mid-2000s games i missed out on like FEAR or STALKER

it's been a long time since i did anything with a desktop; this seems like it would be a fun quick project to get back in shape, and a cursory check indicates most hardware of this era is all really cheap right now.

the first question is what processor to go with. it seems like the best options for something of this period would be either...
earlier: athlon xp or 64
later: core 2 duo

personally leaning towards the duo. it's such a beloved CPU, and over-spec seems like a better angle for a broad-purpose build when period-correct parts are not higher priority than overall performance.

Reply 1 of 16, by mothergoose729

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The XP era is pretty accommodating. You can go overkill with sandy bridge/haswell system (or even faster) and later era graphics. You can do period correct which seems to be where you are going. You can also aim for early XP which has its own set of considerations.

An XP build makes a lot of sense. Especially if you want to experience EAX.

In terms of performance and quality of life I favor overkill performance personally. You can't do much better on cost and performance than sandy bridge i3 and i5. There are a lot of graphics cards to choose from in the 20$-50$ range with various strengths and weaknesses. And while you can find some cases where a mid 2000's card like the 7800gt or 8800gt will behave differently than say a 780ti, they are rather rare and probably driver dependent.

See this thread for relevant discussion:
Best WinXP Video Card

The other approach is to aim for the 2001-2003 era, in which case you probably want to go Nvidia FX and your choice of AGP platform.

Reply 2 of 16, by gerry

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i second mothergoose, the possibilities are broad

personally once into the tech of 2006-7 i'd be tempted to consider a Windows 7 (or lovely ol Vista!)

for XP you can go with a "last of" build - the final Athlons XPs or the P4 3ghz+ HT and a good AGP graphics card to go with it, add 1gb of RAM and a big hard drive and you have a wonderful best of 32bit era machine with an OS that wont tax it and a wealth of windows 32 bit era software that will (mostly) run just fine

Reply 3 of 16, by sf78

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For an XP build I myself would go all out and not try too hard on period correct. The reason is that pretty much all the games from 2001-2010 runs fine on XP no matter the HW, so I did my build around i5/GTX 670 just to make sure everything runs. Obviously you could go for i7 and whatever top end card you happened to have in the junk box. In my case, the i5 and GTX only cost a few coins anyway and are much more available than, let's say, Phenom X4. You're also not missing out on anything by doing it this way, on the contrary. 90's rig would be much more difficult, you'd want to have a Voodoo card, MIDI audio etc. that would make it a more complicated mater.

Last edited by sf78 on 2021-01-13, 11:24. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 4 of 16, by The Serpent Rider

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The other approach is to aim for the 2001-2003 era, in which case you probably want to go Nvidia FX

GeForce FX + Windows XP = BAD.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 5 of 16, by God Of Gaming

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If it has to fit into the mid-2000s period, a core 2 duo or athlon 64 x2 combined with nvidia 7000 series or preferrably ati x1900/x1950 and a creative/auzen x-fi pci sound card is just about the optimal for game compatibility and period-correctness. PCi-E mobo and graphics card, no need for AGP for XP. If you want something beefier you can go up all the way to core i7 and nvidia gtx maxwell 900 series or amd GCN hd7000 series cards, but at that point it's no longer a mid-2000s build

1999 Dream PC project | 2001 Dream PC project | 2003 Dream PC project

Reply 6 of 16, by chinny22

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Love my XP rig.
Good number of later 9x games work fine or were re-released while remaining faithful, C&C Decade for example.
OS sits right in between retro and currant in look and feel.

I'd go with the S775 based system that's plenty fast for XP and cheap. I'll admit the Athlons give you more street cred though
Graphics cards still had support up to about 5 years ago! that gives you a lot to choose from with many been able to give good frame rates even with AA, etc set to max.

I'd also recommend card with EAX support as this is the final OS to support it.

Reply 7 of 16, by fosterwj03

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I would go for overkill. Windows XP, being an NT derivative, will use all of the CPU cycles, cores, and memory it can get.

I have a Core i5-3570 with 8GB of memory that I like to use with XP (it's actually for most of my operating system experiments; I just swap out SSDs and peripherals as needed). I host the Core i5 on a Gigibyte GA-P75-D3 motherboard with a B75 chipset. The board has SATA, USB 2 and 3, PCIe x16 and x1, and 4 native PCI slots. A board like this would allow you to play with almost any expansion card except ISA and AGP, and almost any device supported by XP.

While not period correct for mid-life of Windows XP, official support ended in 2014. So, you could say an Ivy Bridge or Haswell was part of the XP life cycle.

Last edited by fosterwj03 on 2021-01-13, 15:43. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 8 of 16, by Jasin Natael

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You have a pretty wide swarth to cover for XP era.

So first thing is to pick what games you would like to play on the rig and then decide if you need to go early XP era with a Athlon XP/64 or P4 or what have you, or later era and focus on Core2 or Phenom era.

if you are going to focus on the later era then I would just go all out and build a i5 rig or something with overkill specs. There is really no reason not as the parts are pretty cheap these days.

The true early to mid era is a bit more complicated and if it were me I would probably go Athlon XP or maybe 64, I just have more nostalgia for those.

AOpen AP53 AMD K6/2 - 233MHZ - 64MB RAM 20GB WD HDD Win98SE

Compaq Presario 5152 AMD K6-III+ 550MHZ 512MB RAM ATi Radeon 9250SE 256MB PCI Aureal Vortex 2

Asus A7V-VE AMD Athlon T-Bird 1.20GHZ 512MB RAM ATi Radeon 7500 DDR 64MB Vortex 2 32GB KingSpec SSD

Reply 9 of 16, by Wanderer

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With recent modified drivers, XP can still run on most modern hardware (except for graphic cards).
You can have all the goals checked without buidling a dedicated machine and have insane performance as a bonus!

Reply 10 of 16, by The Serpent Rider

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Core 2 is just very cheap these days and sufficient enough for Windows XP era. Athlon XP and Pentium 4, on the other hand, are not sufficient. Barely can play S.T.A.L.K.E.R. with stable framerate.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 11 of 16, by RandomStranger

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I currently have one and a half XP build. One is an early-to-mid era and the other is a mid-to-late era.

The one that is fully built, only lacks a sound card, but maybe this weekend it gets an SB0460 is this one: Prescott XP
It gives decent performance up to aboutn 2005-2006 games, but have a few shortcomings:
The lack of SH3.0 support makes it so Unreal Engine 3 games are either won't start or won't display correctly.
Also for the same reason sometimes the image quality isn't up on a Geforce 6 level.
On the other hand, for early era games where SM3.0 support isn't an issue, the X800XT is generally substantially faster than any GF6800 series GPU.
Also the Prescott can be very hot and coolers can be very loud. My Zalman deals with the problem, but decent s478 coolers can be pricy.
Though you can always go s775 for which aftermarket coolers are cheap.

The other that is not fully built for late era:
AsRock G41M-VS3
Core2 Duo E8200
Gigabyte Radeon HD4670 1GB
4GB DDR3 RAM

It's basically just a box of spare parts, but I think a good foundation. On one hand, for XP you don't really need more than 2 cores. Games of the era can't really benefit from more and the E8000 is the fastest period correct option. It has plenty of power for everything. As for RAM, for XP 32bit there is no point going above 4GB (VRAM included). I'll probably downgrade the graphics card to a Radeon X1950 Pro/XT or Geforce 7900 GT/GTX series (I just made an offer for a 7900GT), but any 8800, 9600 or GT240 card should be able to give you 3-digit frame rate in everything except Crysis and they are cheap and available. If you want something special, then you can throw in a PhysX card like the ASUS P1 though basically nothing uses it except for Arkham Asylum and some benchmak games like Cellfactor. SB0460 works well here too.

Or if you don't want anything fancy only something that just works than any Ivy Bridge i3 with with a Nvidia Kepler based graphics card (GTX650/GT740 or higher) can do the job. Though I'd still keep the VRAM on 512MB.

sreq.png yt.png

Reply 12 of 16, by frudi

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I have two over-specced XP builds, one using Core2 Duo E8600 on a P43 motherboard with DDR3 memory, the other using a Xeon X5650 on a X58 board. Both systems use 4 GB of DDR3 1600 memory both are overclocked to 4 GHz. Outside of benchmarks, I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between them when playing games. For any game up to DirectX 9, which is what you'd run on an XP build, Core2 Duo is already overkill, especially one of the E8xxx line. Doesn't need to be overclocked either. These chips are dirt cheap, like $5 for a 3 GHz E8400 and even the fastest E8600 at 3.33 GHz shouldn't be more than $10.

Motherboards are also really cheap, especially if you're not looking to overclock and aren't insisting on DDR3 memory (which makes little difference compared to DDR2 on a C2D anyway). You can probably trip over a discarded G31/G41 board just going out for a walk. Kidding aside, you should be able to find one for like $10 at most. If you look a bit better, you should even be able to get a P35/P43/P45 board for that cheap, but usually these do cost a bit more. Not that much more though, like $20 should be enough to get one without much trouble. Add two 2 GB sticks of DDR2-800, which are also cheap, basically the cheapest 4 GB of memory you can get.

Reply 13 of 16, by Standard Def Steve

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I don't by any means recommend doing this, but I play most of my XP games on an overclocked (1.63GHz) PIII system. Handles everything from Quake III at 208 FPS to F.E.A.R. at admittedly less than stellar frame rates. It even has an X-Fi for all of those snazzy EAX effects! I do it because this was my main desktop computer until early 2006, so I'm used to seeing some of the 2005 titles dip below 30 fps at times.

2006 and later games play just fine on my Win10/Ryzen 5900X machine.

I used to have a dual core Opteron/GeForce 8800 machine to handle 2004-2007 XP games, but that machine stopped working about a year ago, thanks to the dreaded nForce4 BGA solder problem. So now the PIII and Ryzen are handling the games that the Opteron used to run. Yeah, I could build another tweener, but I'm finding that the two machines handle 2000-2020 just fine.

OK, now for some real advice, and it's going to mirror what a lot of people have already recommended:
-Core 2 Duo E8600 on one of the many cheap G31 to P45 motherboards that are available. These are much cheaper than the x58/1st gen Core i7 stuff, and you don't need anything more for even the most demanding XP games.
-4GB of RAM
-X-Fi ExtremeMusic for PCI, or X-Fi Titanium for PCIe. Avoid the ExtremeAudio variant - it's not a real, hardware-accelerated X-Fi.
-GeForce 8800 GTS to GeForce GTX 560. They're all cheap, and they're all freakishly fast for D3D9, so just pick whichever comes your way first.

Standard Def Rigs
Super P3: PIII-S @ 1.63 GHz/FSB155 | 2GB DDR-310 | 6800GT AGP | 500GB 7200 RPM
Super G4: 2x PowerPC 7455 @ 1.5 GHz | 2GB DDR-333 | 7800GS AGP | 300GB 10k RPM
Super G5: 4x PowerPC 970 @ 2.5 GHz | 16GB DDR2-533 | x1950XT PCIe | 512GB SSD

Reply 14 of 16, by NTG2001

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I recommend going with a 775 based platform as the mobos are pretty cheap (you can even get very high end mobos for less than $100 if you keep an eye out.) CPU wise basically any Core 2 Duo will do more than well enough for most XP games. You can go with a Core 2 Quad, but it probably won't add much for XP era games. Or if you want a bit older you can stick with 775 and go for a Pentium 4 or D, though they may hold you back a lot for newer games. And for graphics, there's a lot to choose from. If you want a little bit more of an authentic build maybe go for an Radeon X1900 or Geforce 7800 or 8800. However if you want something a bit newer the GTX 280 and HD 4870 are pretty good picks (my personal choice would be the 4870). You could also opt for first gen DX11 GPUs like the GTX 480 and HD 5870 which will give you modern game support. And if you want to go really modern I believe AMD supported XP up through the HD 7000 series and I think there are even some 900 series Nvidia cards that have XP drivers.

My personal XP rig is:

EVGA nForce 680i SLI
Core 2 Quad Q6600 OC'd to 3 GHz
4GB DDR2 800 MHz
8800 GTX (plan on getting a second for SLI soon)
Sound Blaster Audigy
240GB SSD (might seem unnecessary for an old OS but it really does speed things up)

Hope this gives you some ideas of what to build.

Reply 15 of 16, by Pierre32

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I've got an XP build in the pipeline, just being put together from things that have found their way to me.

- Asus P5B
- Q6600
- GTX275
- SB Audigy

Looking forward to it destroying all the things that I wish my PIII system could do!

Reply 16 of 16, by chrismeyer6

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That's a great 775 system you have. I'm still daily driving my 775 system. It's also got a EVGA 680i sli board, 8 gigs of ddr2 1066 and a E8600 with a GTX 470. It still runs plenty fast for normal use I built but back in 07 and it's been rock solid since day one with some upgrades along the way.