VOGONS


First post, by Shponglefan

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First, I'm curious how people would define the DOS era? I'm assuming it would cover at least from 1981 at the advent of PC-DOS and MS-DOS? But where does it end? Does it go to 1995/DOS 6.22? Or should it include Windows 95/98/Me, since technically those OSs still had DOS-based architecture and go to 2001?

Depending on how you define the DOS era, how many different builds do you think are needed to adequately cover the DOS era?

I figure there are probably at least 4 to 5 solid builds to cover various eras of gaming, starting with XT and monochrome/CGA, Tandy 1000, and then 286/386/486 era, Pentium, up to late 90's Win 9x builds.

Trying to delineate what is ideal in a particular era though has been challenging? Is it worth having a 286 build when that can be covered by 386/486 era systems? Is it worth a 486, when a Pentium can cover the same territory? Etc.

Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 1 of 29, by Warlord

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socket 7 adequatly covers majority of games you can play in dos becasue of its ability to go slow however it has gaps in perfect slowness.

386/486 isn't totally ideal for earlyer dos gaming because its ability to go slow is turbo switch. Since there was no standard regarding turbo implementation some boards will just go too slow and others not slow enough. Plus it can't play anything past doom 30 FPS with dips into 20fps. There are outliers to that exception, but it's definatly more of the example rather than the exception.

VIA C3 slotkets are a good alternitive to socket 7, but I don't reccomend them becasue you need a special slotket and only works well on a couple boards.

If you don't need a all rounder than you need probably 2 builds to cover everything. A 98 computer that isn't overkill somthing period correct like a 440bx, and a 486 class machine.

All that being said my personal opinion is there are plenty of DOS games that are not worth playing outside of curiosity or childhood nostagia. A lot of them might fall into the category of needing some kinda special hardware to run, where as a good chunk of the games worth revisiting dont require that much special hardware to run, or getting them to run isn't that difficult.

There is then another class of dos games that might use special APIs too look their best like glide or somthing like that and if you want to play those games and don't have the hardware you are better off just using emulation in which case emulation is all you really need brother for most games at this point.

Last edited by Warlord on 2022-10-02, 02:39. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 2 of 29, by AppleSauce

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I've squeezed mostly everything from 86,87ish to 97 with a pentium 1 build , consisting of a s3 trio 64 v2/dx , voodoo1 , powervr , sound blaster 16 , awe64 , gravis ultrasound and mpu 401 interface card.

I've also got a tandy lpt for tandy titles and a cmslpt for gameblaster games.

Plus a decent stack of midi sound modules.

I can mostly get away with playing most titles with a few hiccups here and there , so I'd imagine with one more rig , maybe a 286 you could probably cover most stuff from 81 to 1997. So I'd go with two rigs if you set it up right.

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Reply 4 of 29, by AppleSauce

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Warlord wrote on 2022-10-02, 02:43:

how well does a P1 handle a power VR.

The cpu is a pentium 233 mmx.
Coincidentally I've got a separate hard drive from my dos 6.22/win3.1 drive on the same rig with win95 installed alongside 2 powervr titles: resident evil and revolte.

Resident evil runs at a nice solid framerate and revolte honestly runs a bit too fast.

Reply 5 of 29, by Horun

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How many builds adequately covers the DOS-era of gaming?

As many as it takes 🤣.

Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor.

Reply 6 of 29, by BitWrangler

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You can trim it down to 5 machines per decade, remembering of course that the 90s was like 3 decades in one. 🤣

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 7 of 29, by leileilol

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PowerVR's made for Pentiums and strong FPUs. The questions about PowerVR handling should be more reserved for Cyrix systems. 😀

I personally define DOS era up to 1996. Any DOS game after's a development hell holdover or Bethesda jank. There was much reluctancy about Win95 and DirectX around this time, especially as PCI graphics and 5th gen CPUs+ weren't quite on the masses yet. Also I don't miss DOS and never felt compelled to make a "DOS only" system, especially considering how limited 6.22 (and earlier) were with filesystems and memory management. I don't miss it.

Last edited by leileilol on 2022-10-02, 03:41. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 8 of 29, by Standard Def Steve

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I play all of my DOS and Win9x games on two machines: A 486-80 running DOS 6.22 and a Celeron-1400/A3D/V3-3500 running Win98SE.
The two machines handle my DOS/9X games splendidly. The 486 runs the 1984-1994 DOS games, while the Celeron takes on tough SVGA DOS and Windows games up to around 2000.

P6 chip. Triple the speed of the Pentium.
Tualatin: PIII-S @ 1628 MHz | QDI Advance 12T | 2GB DDR-310 | 6800GT | X-Fi | 500GB HDD | 3DMark01: 14,059
Dothan: PM @ 2720 MHz | MSI Speedster FA4 | 2GB DDR2-544 | GTX-280 | X-Fi | 500GB SSD | 3DMark01: 42,148

Reply 9 of 29, by konc

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Most people do not care about games of the pre-vga era and XTs so two PCs with some tweaking and compromises might cut it.
But to answer the theoretical question you'd need to also cover mono/Hercules and CGA.

Reply 10 of 29, by Jo22

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"How many builds adequately covers the DOS-era of gaming?"

Back in the 90s or early 2000s, people perhaps would have had recommended:

- an PC/XT or Turbo XT with CGA card
- an 486DX2-66 PC with VLB graphics and turbo button

Some people in the 90s may also have had recommend an AT/286 instead of an PC/XT.

Back in the day, people sort of enjoyed 'discriminating' 286 PCs and their users.
286es were considered slow, big/bulky and useless.

Maybe because they were considered too fast or uncool for
belonging to the XT platform and too slow for being part of the AT platform.

Also, they didn't support 32-Bit software, which 386/486 users were addicted to.
- They perhaps didn't like the idea that not all ATs could run 32-Bit software, which was seen as the new norm.

"Friends" and acquaintance salways had something "nice" to say about 286 systems. 😉

Edit: 286 PCs couldn't run Memory Managers such as EMM386, QEMM or 386Max or Multimedia Cloaking.
That's why they were kind of being avoided, too.
Though strictly speaking, a few products like QRAM or DR-DOS/Novell DOS (286 chipset support) did work on 286es.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 11 of 29, by Joseph_Joestar

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Shponglefan wrote on 2022-10-02, 01:03:

First, I'm curious how people would define the DOS era? I'm assuming it would cover at least from 1981 at the advent of PC-DOS and MS-DOS? But where does it end? Does it go to 1995/DOS 6.22? Or should it include Windows 95/98/Me, since technically those OSs still had DOS-based architecture and go to 2001?

You won't find many native DOS games made after 1997, so that's my personal cutoff point. In fact, a good number of games made in '96 and '97 had some way of running under Win9x, though that often ended up being more buggy than their native DOS version (see Master of Orion 2).

I personally don't play many DOS games made before 1990, so a Pentium MMX covers my needs perfectly. It can be easily slowed down to 386 and 486 speeds via SetMul and/or disabling the L2 cache on the motherboard. At full speed, it doesn't have enough power to smoothly run some of the later 3D DOS games like Quake and Tomb Raider in higher resolutions (e.g. 640x480) when using software rendering. However, pairing that CPU with a Voodoo card allows you to use 3D acceleration in those titles, which gives you fairly decent performance.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / Audigy1 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 12 of 29, by Intel486dx33

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TWO ( 2) Builds.

1) 486dx4-100 or AMD 5x86-133
16gb ram
SVGA Video card.
Sound Blaster 16
DOS / Win3x
CDROM
Can be down clocked to 286@20mhz to run CPU critical games

2) AMD K6-III+
DOS/Win98
256mb RAM
Voodoo 3 3000 ( 16mb )
Sound Blaster AWE64
CDROM/DVD
Can be Clocked down to 486 speed.

So Between these two computers you can cover CPU Speeds from 286@20mhz to Pentium class CPU at 550mhz.
This should play most DOS era games with good performance.

Reply 13 of 29, by AppleSauce

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leileilol wrote on 2022-10-02, 03:34:

PowerVR's made for Pentiums and strong FPUs. The questions about PowerVR handling should be more reserved for Cyrix systems. 😀

I personally define DOS era up to 1996. Any DOS game after's a development hell holdover or Bethesda jank. There was much reluctancy about Win95 and DirectX around this time, especially as PCI graphics and 5th gen CPUs+ weren't quite on the masses yet. Also I don't miss DOS and never felt compelled to make a "DOS only" system, especially considering how limited 6.22 (and earlier) were with filesystems and memory management. I don't miss it.

Blood and Shadow warrior came out in 1997 though , and there were a few other decentish titles like Callahan's Crosstime Saloon.
And sometimes DOS is better because its single task and there's less overhead vs windows.
I feel like 1997 was MS-DOS's last hurrah before windows obliterated it.

Reply 14 of 29, by ThinkpadIL

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Well, you will be surprised, but DOS is actually pretty alive even today. There are many cheap new laptops that are sold today with DOS. I guess it is some version of the FreeDOS, but still it is a DOS! Yes, no one is going to use those new laptops with DOS, but still, it works pretty well in a price reducing niche.

Last edited by ThinkpadIL on 2022-10-02, 11:37. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 15 of 29, by PTherapist

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You could probably scrape by with 2 or 3 builds maximum, if you accept various compatibility problems and utilise slow down tricks and patches etc etc.

There's a lot of crossover with DOS era gaming, ie. you could find games released in the early 1990s that could still run on an original IBM PC from the 80s. The latter DOS period crosses over with the early Windows 3D gaming period, so for that alone you might desire 2 separate builds to cover everything with a bit more period correctness.

For myself, I made use of what I had and did it like this for the least amount of builds:

XT/8088 4.77MHz + 640KB RAM - Covering CGA gaming from the 80s & early 90s. Can of course also manage Monochrome games.

<- could have added either a Turbo XT and/or a 286 build inbetween here for a better performing CGA/EGA crossover build.

386SX 16MHz - Covering EGA gaming and early VGA gaming from the 80s & early 90s. A 386DX build would be better than SX, but I don't currently have one.

486 DX2 66MHz - Covering VGA and some SVGA, late 80s & early 90s DOS gaming. Could also respectably cover Windows 3.1 era games. Can also run some late 1990s DOS games too, with varying performance levels.

<- then you could fit a Pentium/Pentium MMX Win95 build in here, but I decided to skip it to save space as the other builds covered my particular gaming needs. There's also the option of a 486 DX4 100MHz + VLB graphics build too, but there'd be a lot of crossover with games you could quite as easily play on either the DX2 or the Pentium.

AMD K6/2 500MHz + Voodoo 3 Graphics Card - Covers mid-late 1990s DOS gaming as well as early Windows 3D gaming with Windows 98SE. Though I primarily use this for Windows gaming + Glide supported games. A Slot 1 Pentium II build would also work for this era.

My next build after that was a Windows 2000 build, as I pretty much consider 1997-1998 the absolute cut off point for DOS gaming.

Reply 16 of 29, by AlexZ

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PIII on 440BX with ISA sound card covers the whole DOS and Windows 98 era. Few speed sensitive DOS games where disabling cache doesn't help can be run on DosBox-X or 86Box on modern hardware. 86/286/386/486 builds are for enthusiasts and not a necessity for most people.

The best DOS games come from 1995-1997. If you want a DOS build, focus primarily on that time period.

Pentium III 900E, ECS P6BXT-A+, 384MB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, Voodoo 2 12MB, 80GB HDD, Yamaha SM718 ISA, 19" AOC 9GlrA
Athlon 64 3400+, MSI K8T Neo V, 1GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 7600GT 512MB, 250GB HDD, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS

Reply 17 of 29, by Jo22

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AlexZ wrote on 2022-10-02, 12:33:

86/286/386/486 builds are for enthusiasts and not a necessity for most people.

That may be true today, though in the 90s/early 2000s, people still considered them to be common technology.

The 486 platform remained a long-time favorite of the demoscene, for example.

I've downloaded new DOS demos in 1997 from the internet, I vaguely remember.

The late 486 era was full of crazy things, like:

Big towers, MHz displays and turbo buttons , 486DX4-120 or Am5x86 CPUs, VLB SVGA cards, 3.5+5.25" floppy drives, huge speakers,
handy scanners, first CD writers, big joysticks, natural keyboards, track balls (vs mice), VR glasses, Video CD and CD-i, stereograms or MOD files on CD,
multiple soundcards, FM radio cards, pagers, having a bunch of modems..

The 486 platform saw so many things and was the first type of PC owned by multimedia nerds.
It's not just about a processor, it's about a way of life.
The 486 era was incredibly iconic, like it or not.
Even me, who's a 286 fan, can't help myself but has to recognize this.

Many telephone-based BBSes/Mailbox systems ran on such hot-rod 486 systems.
BBSes were common up until 1995-1997, roughly.
That's the last time I saw them mentioned in magazines.

Sure, from a practical point of view, a small Pentium I/II in a beige mini tower will also suffice.
But it's not the same feeling as back then when we had our man caves and upgraded 486 PCs.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 18 of 29, by AlessandroB

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2022-10-02, 08:49:
TWO ( 2) Builds. […]
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TWO ( 2) Builds.

1) 486dx4-100 or AMD 5x86-133
16gb ram
SVGA Video card.
Sound Blaster 16
DOS / Win3x
CDROM
Can be down clocked to 286@20mhz to run CPU critical games

2) AMD K6-III+
DOS/Win98
256mb RAM
Voodoo 3 3000 ( 16mb )
Sound Blaster AWE64
CDROM/DVD
Can be Clocked down to 486 speed.

So Between these two computers you can cover CPU Speeds from 286@20mhz to Pentium class CPU at 550mhz.
This should play most DOS era games with good performance.

i’m follow similar road but with 486DX2/4 and Pentium4 1.6. I whis to cover ALL DOS+Win98 era very weel, i’m not interested in XP era games…

Reply 19 of 29, by AlexZ

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AlessandroB wrote on 2022-10-02, 18:00:

i’m follow similar road but with 486DX2/4 and Pentium4 1.6. I whis to cover ALL DOS+Win98 era very weel, i’m not interested in XP era games…

Early Windows XP games run on Windows 98 as well and represent the best one can play on that OS - Combat Flight Simulator 3, Comanche 4, Fifa 2003, Nhl 2003. Once you try these you don't really want to go back to 1998-2000 games which had low resolution textures and few objects.

Pentium III 900E, ECS P6BXT-A+, 384MB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce FX 5600 128MB, Voodoo 2 12MB, 80GB HDD, Yamaha SM718 ISA, 19" AOC 9GlrA
Athlon 64 3400+, MSI K8T Neo V, 1GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 7600GT 512MB, 250GB HDD, Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS