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What is the fastest practical DOS build?

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Reply 40 of 90, by demiurge

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If we are listing problems. I know there is a thread on here documenting that the VideoLogic Neon 250 cannot take a system with a too many MHz. I can confirm it won't work with my LGA 1366.

Reply 41 of 90, by Shponglefan

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2024-01-22, 08:10:
Yeah, no PCI sound card has perfect DOS compatibility. Using SB-Link will get you 99% there, but motherboards which offer that f […]
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Shponglefan wrote on 2024-01-21, 23:59:

Speed sensitive games are a problem, and PCI-audio is also a bit hit or miss as I am finding out.

Yeah, no PCI sound card has perfect DOS compatibility. Using SB-Link will get you 99% there, but motherboards which offer that functionality are rare, and usually have ISA slots as well, making the feature kinda redundant. The next best thing is DDMA support, which is a bit more common, and can usually be found on VIA and SIS chipsets. It's not quite as compatible as SB-Link though.

In addition to the aforementioned stuff, certain sound cards have fallback approaches like TDMA (Solo-1) or DSDMA (Yamaha YMF 7x4) which offer slightly reduced game compatibility, but can work on a wider assortment of chipsets. I have no idea what Creative or Aureal PCI sound cards use, but their compatibility was never 100% either.

In short, DOS compatibility of PCI sound cards can vary greatly depending on which chipset you pair them with.

In terms of compatibility I wonder how much of it is a symptom of speed sensitivity versus audio incompatibility. In my own testing of the ESS Solo-1 on a Pentium 4, at least a couple of game issues seem to be resolvable by throttling the CPU.

I'm just wrapping up testing the ESS Solo-1 in TDMA mode. I'll give DDMA mode a try next and see how that performs, then move onto testing a Yamaha YMF7x4 card.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 42 of 90, by Shponglefan

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MikeSG wrote on 2024-01-22, 07:45:
Shponglefan wrote on 2024-01-21, 05:29:
MikeSG wrote on 2024-01-21, 05:17:

Get a Geforce 2 mx for an inexpensive all-rounder. Should be able to run Half-Life, Quake 3, Carmageddon 1 & 2, GTA 1-3.

It should but not on this computer. DOS only. 😉

Geforce 2 mx's have good DOS compatibility. https://www.reddit.com/r/dosgaming/comments/g … _compatibility/

True, the nVidia GeForce lineup seems quite good for DOS.

I was actually thinking I might end up installing Windows on this system after all. It might make for a good quad boot setup: DOS / Win95 / Win98 / WinXP.

I'll probably start testing some nVidia cards and see how they perform.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 43 of 90, by Shponglefan

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I've some systematic testing of the ESS Solo-1 on this Pentium 4 setup. Motherboard is an Asus P4S533-E with the SiS 962L southbridge chip.

In TDMA mode, I've hit roughly 80% compatibility. In a couple cases like the Day of the Tentacle's digital audio and Blackthorne's music, CPU throttling seems to help. I still can't get either FM or GM music to play during Blackthorne's intro cutscene.

I further tested Dark Forces' General MIDI on my Windows 98 system using a Vortex 2 card. It also froze up in that scenario.

I haven't tested these games extensively. So it's possible there could be further audio issues with some of them.

edited:

ESS Solo-1 testing results available in this thread: ESS Solo-1 DOS Compatibility Testing on Multiple Systems

Last edited by Shponglefan on 2024-02-04, 02:16. Edited 2 times in total.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 44 of 90, by Joseph_Joestar

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Shponglefan wrote on 2024-01-23, 01:18:

I'm just wrapping up testing the ESS Solo-1 in TDMA mode. I'll give DDMA mode a try next and see how that performs, then move onto testing a Yamaha YMF7x4 card.

It's been a while since I've tested my own Solo-1, but from what I remember, it had problems with digital audio in Dyna Blaster and Prehistorik unless SB-Link was used. I think Tyrian also had some digital audio crackling, while Rambo 3 didn't play FM synth music.

You can find instructions on how to switch between SB-Link (if supported and physically connected), DDMA and TDMA in this thread. You might need to make ESSOLO.INI read-only to have the changes stick.

As for the the YMF 744 card, I think Tyrian refused to start with DSDMA on one of my systems, while Duke3D crashed with digital sound but only under Win9x. Games which don't like EMM386.EXE such as Turrican 2 were problematic as well. And Doom 1&2 crashed in pure DOS when DSDMA was enabled unless DOS32A was used instead of DOS4GW. Again, it's been a while so my memory may not be completely on target for some of these.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / YMF719 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 2100+ / ECS K7VTA3 / Voodoo3 / Audigy2 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy2
PC#4: i5-3570K / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 970 / X-Fi

Reply 45 of 90, by Shponglefan

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2024-01-23, 03:22:

You can find instructions on how to switch between SB-Link (if supported and physically connected), DDMA and TDMA in this thread. You might need to make ESSOLO.INI read-only to have the changes stick.

It turns out my ESSOLO.INI file was already defaulted to 00 (DDMA), but every time the card initializes it reports being in TDMA mode. I tried repeatedly editing the INI file, but it seems to make no difference.

I wonder if it's an issue of the specific card make/model?

As for the the YMF 744 card, I think Tyrian refused to start with DSDMA on one of my systems, while Duke3D crashed with digital sound but only under Win9x. Games which don't like EMM386.EXE such as Turrican 2 were problematic as well. And Doom 1&2 crashed in pure DOS when DSDMA was enabled unless DOS32A was used instead of DOS4GW. Again, it's been a while so my memory may not be completely on target for some of these.

I'll have to give it a try at some point as I am curious how they compare.

Right now though I'm having way to much fun with this ESS Solo-1 especially now that I've hooked up an MT-32 to it. 😁

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Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 46 of 90, by Joseph_Joestar

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Shponglefan wrote on 2024-01-23, 03:40:

It turns out my ESSOLO.INI file was already defaulted to 00 (DDMA), but every time the card initializes it reports being in TDMA mode. I tried repeatedly editing the INI file, but it seems to make no difference.

In my particular case, I had to make the ESSOLO.INI file read-only after editing it, otherwise my changes wouldn't stick. But that might be platform or model dependent as well.

I wonder if it's an issue of the specific card make/model?

Could be. There are many versions of the Solo-1 and not all of them behave the same way. For example, some can use ESSVOL.EXE to adjust the mixer, while others cannot. There are more details about that here.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / YMF719 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 2100+ / ECS K7VTA3 / Voodoo3 / Audigy2 / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3400+ / Asus K8V-MX / 5900XT / Audigy2
PC#4: i5-3570K / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 970 / X-Fi

Reply 47 of 90, by MikeSG

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The Aopen AW200 (and similar) are another early PCI audio card compatible with DOS.

Supports DDMA, Support for legacy DMAC Emulation
Compatible with DirectSound, DirectSound3D, Blaster, Sound Blaster Pro, and Sound Blaster 16 Emulation

Manual: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/1257052/Aopen-Aw200.html

Drivers are specifically made for DOS, NT 4.0, Win 9x, Win2k. Although with Sound Blaster emulation maybe no driver is necessary?

I'm selling one on eBay. There's about 15 total. Plus some Aopen AW850 which look like the high-end version (200MHz CPU and above recommended).

Reply 48 of 90, by appiah4

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This build does DOS & Win9x as fast as I think is possible while retaining OPL3 capabilities. The only reason I say it is not the FASTEST possible is because I have an E4600 in it and not an E6600.

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 50 of 90, by Shponglefan

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2024-01-23, 03:46:
In my particular case, I had to make the ESSOLO.INI file read-only after editing it, otherwise my changes wouldn't stick. But th […]
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Shponglefan wrote on 2024-01-23, 03:40:

It turns out my ESSOLO.INI file was already defaulted to 00 (DDMA), but every time the card initializes it reports being in TDMA mode. I tried repeatedly editing the INI file, but it seems to make no difference.

In my particular case, I had to make the ESSOLO.INI file read-only after editing it, otherwise my changes wouldn't stick. But that might be platform or model dependent as well.

I wonder if it's an issue of the specific card make/model?

Could be. There are many versions of the Solo-1 and not all of them behave the same way. For example, some can use ESSVOL.EXE to adjust the mixer, while others cannot. There are more details about that here.

My particular card is a Terretec branded one.

I tried setting the .INI file to read only, but that had no effect. If I remove the file, the ESS Solo driver complains it can't initialize the card. So the file is being used, but the DDMA/TDMA setting is being ignored.

This card does work with the ESSVOL mixer.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 51 of 90, by Shponglefan

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Bancho wrote on 2024-01-23, 08:39:

I have a Pentium 4 3.04ghz build, with a 5900XT and an ISA CMI8330. This is running on a Soyo SY-P4I845PEISA which has 3 ISA slots in total.

That's wild, never even know there were such boards with as many as 3 ISA slots. Searching through the Retroweb list, it looks like this is the only motherboard with that many ISA slots with that particular chipset. A rare one indeed!

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 52 of 90, by Jasin Natael

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My fastest is my Via C3 Nehemiah on Intel 440BX. It clocks up to 1.6ghz without complaint. It also clocks quite low and has a real ISA sound card, and a Geforce 3.
I really don't see much point in going faster, although I am still seeking a Sl5QV for a cheap price, I guess that would be faster.
You said practical, I can't personally see a practical need for more horsepower.

But obviously many people push the envelope quite a bit farther.

Reply 53 of 90, by Shponglefan

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Jasin Natael wrote on 2024-01-23, 22:02:

I really don't see much point in going faster, although I am still seeking a Sl5QV for a cheap price, I guess that would be faster.
You said practical, I can't personally see a practical need for more horsepower.

My two main reasons are:

1) Pushing performance in software 3D games especially at higher resolutions.

2) Seeing how broad a range of native OS/hardware gaming is possible and what sort of compatibility trade offs result.

The possibility of having a system that could natively cover everything from late 80s DOS all the way to mid-2000's Windows XP gaming is intriguing to me. 😁

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 54 of 90, by Shponglefan

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appiah4 wrote on 2024-01-23, 07:53:

This build does DOS & Win9x as fast as I think is possible while retaining OPL3 capabilities. The only reason I say it is not the FASTEST possible is because I have an E4600 in it and not an E6600.

That's a nice looking build!

Have you tried it under native DOS or just via Windows 98SE?

MikeSG wrote on 2024-01-23, 07:39:
The Aopen AW200 (and similar) are another early PCI audio card compatible with DOS. […]
Show full quote

The Aopen AW200 (and similar) are another early PCI audio card compatible with DOS.

Supports DDMA, Support for legacy DMAC Emulation
Compatible with DirectSound, DirectSound3D, Blaster, Sound Blaster Pro, and Sound Blaster 16 Emulation

Manual: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/1257052/Aopen-Aw200.html

Drivers are specifically made for DOS, NT 4.0, Win 9x, Win2k. Although with Sound Blaster emulation maybe no driver is necessary?

I'm selling one on eBay. There's about 15 total. Plus some Aopen AW850 which look like the high-end version (200MHz CPU and above recommended).

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll take a look at these AOpen cards. I might have one kicking around my parts bins, I'll have to check.

Pentium 4 Multi-OS Build
486 DX4-100 with 6 sound cards
486 DX-33 with 5 sound cards

Reply 55 of 90, by appiah4

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Shponglefan wrote on 2024-01-23, 23:42:
That's a nice looking build! […]
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appiah4 wrote on 2024-01-23, 07:53:

This build does DOS & Win9x as fast as I think is possible while retaining OPL3 capabilities. The only reason I say it is not the FASTEST possible is because I have an E4600 in it and not an E6600.

That's a nice looking build!

Have you tried it under native DOS or just via Windows 98SE?

MikeSG wrote on 2024-01-23, 07:39:
The Aopen AW200 (and similar) are another early PCI audio card compatible with DOS. […]
Show full quote

The Aopen AW200 (and similar) are another early PCI audio card compatible with DOS.

Supports DDMA, Support for legacy DMAC Emulation
Compatible with DirectSound, DirectSound3D, Blaster, Sound Blaster Pro, and Sound Blaster 16 Emulation

Manual: https://www.manualslib.com/manual/1257052/Aopen-Aw200.html

Drivers are specifically made for DOS, NT 4.0, Win 9x, Win2k. Although with Sound Blaster emulation maybe no driver is necessary?

I'm selling one on eBay. There's about 15 total. Plus some Aopen AW850 which look like the high-end version (200MHz CPU and above recommended).

Thanks for the suggestions, I'll take a look at these AOpen cards. I might have one kicking around my parts bins, I'll have to check.

It normally runs Win98SE but I have booted DOS from floppy to test a few small DOS games, it works. The biggest hurdle was using a SATA optical drive and getting Win98Se to run on 2GB memory.

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 56 of 90, by Jasin Natael

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Shponglefan wrote on 2024-01-23, 23:32:
My two main reasons are: […]
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Jasin Natael wrote on 2024-01-23, 22:02:

I really don't see much point in going faster, although I am still seeking a Sl5QV for a cheap price, I guess that would be faster.
You said practical, I can't personally see a practical need for more horsepower.

My two main reasons are:

1) Pushing performance in software 3D games especially at higher resolutions.

2) Seeing how broad a range of native OS/hardware gaming is possible and what sort of compatibility trade offs result.

The possibility of having a system that could natively cover everything from late 80s DOS all the way to mid-2000's Windows XP gaming is intriguing to me. 😁

This was pretty much my reasoning for the VIA build. To try and cover as much ground as possible.
But yes some Build engine games can be hell on a CPU, especially on higher resolutions.

Reply 57 of 90, by vetz

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Shponglefan wrote on 2024-01-23, 23:32:
My two main reasons are: […]
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Jasin Natael wrote on 2024-01-23, 22:02:

I really don't see much point in going faster, although I am still seeking a Sl5QV for a cheap price, I guess that would be faster.
You said practical, I can't personally see a practical need for more horsepower.

My two main reasons are:

1) Pushing performance in software 3D games especially at higher resolutions.

2) Seeing how broad a range of native OS/hardware gaming is possible and what sort of compatibility trade offs result.

The possibility of having a system that could natively cover everything from late 80s DOS all the way to mid-2000's Windows XP gaming is intriguing to me. 😁

I'm in the group with Jasin here, not much point in going faster unless point 2. The issue I've personally experienced is that the more you push it, the more strange behaviours are going to occur, and you are always going to have a feeling at the back of your head that it's due to the setup you're running that's causing it. My venture has been into W98/DOS on Core2 systems, and it just wasn't stable enough. I didn't really need the power for the games that could run under DOS/W9x on that sort of a CPU. Heck even a P4 is overkill, so I personally think it's better to save yourself the trouble, atleast if you intent to keep the system for actual usage and not just testing. At the moment I'm using a P4C800-E Deluxe which officially supports Win9X as my dual boot system and that has been a much more pleasent experience. So for me "practical" and "fastest" is the S478 platform.

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Reply 59 of 90, by Jasin Natael

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I used to have a Socket 754 Windows 98 machine, I can't even remember what GPU I used or the speed of the CPU.
I just remember it being almost ridiculously fast for the games I was running.
That whole early XP to Vista era is a tough sell for me as I just wasn't really using PCs much at that time, so I guess I just don't have nostalgia for it.
Once I got back into working in IT, I kind of rekindled my interest in the retro stuff. More specifically Socket 7 era, that of course led to the faster PIII/Athlon era as many of the games just run much better with the faster hardware.
But anything beyond 2001-2002 just doesn't hold much interest for me, so I stick with the older hardware.