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First post, by Nexxen

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Hello lovely people,

I often read "help, how to XP/W2K/W98/Me/95/DOS/ P-III*II*I /K-6² ³ / 486... build" topics.

Would be nice to read how you did, if having in mind a specific component to build around or just a nostalgic jump in the past.

Hope it'll bring some answsers 😀

Edit: it's a "how I do it", I'm not asking for help - 🤣
I just wanna know your way of doing things.

Last edited by Nexxen on 2022-11-28, 01:39. Edited 1 time in total.

PC#1 Pentium 233 MMX - 98SE
PC#2 PIII-1Ghz - 98SE/W2K

Reply 1 of 27, by leonardo

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Nexxen wrote on 2022-11-28, 00:38:
Hello lovely people, […]
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Hello lovely people,

I often read "help, how to XP/W2K/W98/Me/95/DOS/ P-III*II*I /K-6² ³ / 486... build" topics.

Would be nice to read how you did, if having in mind a specific component to build around or just a nostalgic jump in the past.

Hope it'll bring some answsers 😀

Don't really plan them. They just keep happening as I fail to let parts be thrown out. 😁

[Install Win95 like you were born in 1985!] on systems like this or this.

Reply 2 of 27, by kolderman

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1. Decide what games/era you want to play
2. Decide if you want a build spanning multiple periods or a single build optimized for a certain era
3. Start researching best components for different eras/games. Lots of threads here about that.
4. Decide how much you want to pay and choose accordingly.
5. Decide if you want authentic everything or wiling to use modern parts in places (e.g. SSD/CF/modern case/LCD/etc).
5. Start shopping for parts!

Reply 3 of 27, by X86

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Don't go broke doing it 🤣 . I like to do period correct builds if I can. You can use wikipedia to see what year hardware was released if that helps. I pick a year and go with what you could have made back in the day. Just fished building my athlon XP 3000 with a Radeon 9800 pro. I always build and install os before putting into a tower. Also new old stock is not always great. As you can see here I had a brand new Maxtor hard drive fail on me. Doing a quick swap and install with an old one I had laying around 🤣

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Reply 4 of 27, by X86

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Oh and back to the last part of the question. I was clearing out a closet one day and found my old voodoo2 tucked away. It all started there for me. Pretty much build a clone of the set up victor bart has on his you tube channel.

Reply 5 of 27, by Nexxen

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Personally I think of a cpu and start from there. Only issue is that I have no space to keep things around for long.

I used to have zero knowledge on gpus, now a little more on modern, old it's still YT reviews time 😀

PC#1 Pentium 233 MMX - 98SE
PC#2 PIII-1Ghz - 98SE/W2K

Reply 6 of 27, by Shponglefan

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I figure things out by doing rather than planning. I usually start a build with a rough idea of what I want, but then most of it is figured out via trial-and-error.

Case in point is my 'Ultimate' Windows XP build. Started out as an E8400 system with a Radeon R9 270X and 19 inch CRT. Over time it's morphed into a i7-3770k with a GTX 980 Ti and 24" LCD running @ 1920x1200.

I didn't know what I really wanted when I started, but only figured it out by throwing something together, playing games on it, and then changing things over time.

Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 7 of 27, by AppleSauce

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Usually I have a general idea , then I'll do research and modify things if needed.
Then main trick is to factor in any caveats that might roadblock your build.
The motherboard being the hub is the most important part so you really want to know what features and capabilities it has.
After that ill figure out what expansion options I want and then over time ill order the stuff I need.

Reply 8 of 27, by chinny22

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These days I rarely plan on a build but a cheep or free PC will find its way into my hands so most the dissensions are made for me.
Most PC's usually get their CPU/RAM upgraded. I choose an appropriate OS Graphics and Audio I'll try and pick something different to what I already have in other builds.

When first starting out the OS was my starting point. Slot1 works well for both Win9x and Dos, so build the rest of the PC around that.
Likewise XP runs well with LGA775 which is cheap but I also wanted to play with SLI so looked for a nForce 7 chipset based board.

Reply 9 of 27, by MarkP

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I don' plan them. At the moment I'm putting a system to gether and usind an old huge LCD as the moniter see I can view things from a distance, Mainly for web searching and viewing my new m/c projects service manual in pdf format.

Reply 11 of 27, by Namrok

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My first attempt at a retro PC was trying to recreate a Christmas morning build I got in 1997. When that became increasingly difficult to pull off at a reasonable budget, I began getting whatever seemed like it should work. Then I caught the bug to max out the system, leaving Christmas 1997 behind completely.

Then I wanted to build another PC, this time inspired by the machine I purpose built for Doom 3, with an AGP Geforce 6800 GT. Well, that had the VRAM go bad on me like they do, replacements are expensive, wound up with something else in there.

By this point I was starting to find myself with some number of spare parts that local sellers and ebay alerts had finally bestowed on me for a reasonable price. Sometimes free. So I took another stab at my 1997 Christmas build. But now I had two 1997'ish DOS/Win98 machines. Which meant it was time for a LAN! Built a retro LAN to play games on with a buddy of mine. Of course, now that I had a LAN, I needed another XP machine to go with the Doom 3 one. So I built that out of a bunch of spare parts I had lying around too.

Around this time I saw a $15 Socket 370 board pop up in Ukraine, and a P3 system would fill the gap between Pentium MMX/K6-2 to Athlon 64 quite nicely. So I built that one too.

So yeah, mostly it's a clusterfuck of builds going wrong, using whatever parts are available, and the scope of the project slowly, or quickly, getting away from me. I regret nothing. The LAN has been incredible.

Win95/DOS 7.1 - P233 MMX (@2.5 x 100 FSB), Diamond Viper V330 AGP, SB16 CT2800
Win98 - K6-2+ 500, GF2 MX, SB AWE 64 CT4500, SBLive CT4780
Win98 - Pentium III 1000, GF2 GTS, SBLive CT4760
WinXP - Athlon 64 3200+, GF 7800 GS, Audigy 2 ZS

Reply 12 of 27, by Joseph_Joestar

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kolderman wrote on 2022-11-28, 00:58:

1. Decide what games/era you want to play
2. Decide if you want a build spanning multiple periods or a single build optimized for a certain era
3. Start researching best components for different eras/games. Lots of threads here about that.

This is probably the most reasonable approach. I tend to follow similar guidelines, but I also sometimes try to recreate the systems which I had in my youth.

That said, when I first got back into retro PCs, I was trying to make a single rig which would cover more than a decade's worth of gaming. I sort of succeeded, but had to compromise too much for my liking. Eventually, I ended up with four rigs, which cover a span of roughly 4-6 years each, with some minor overlap.

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 13 of 27, by gerry

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to be honest i don't, its more of what to add to an acquired machine to make it do what i want and sometimes stripping back to motherboard and starting over

and occasionally there are enough components acquired over time to kind of create a new pc, but mostly its just making changes to existing ones

Reply 14 of 27, by X86

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I'm going to add sometimes planned builds dont always work out. Think I'm have issues with my a7n8x nforce board on my 9800 pro project. Back to the needs testing bin 🤣. So I just threw together a quick P4 3.6 presc hott with a 7800gtx out of my spare parts. Getting ready to have a LAN party at my house soon. Just need stuff that works 🤣

Reply 15 of 27, by ratfink

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For my only long-lasting PC-for-old-games .... I had a set of games I wanted to play, together with a view on the hardware necessary to get those games running how I wanted (from previous builds). It then grew from there, adding a few other games and swapping cards around until I got the configuration and comprmises I could live with. So, not a plan as such, but an initial outline idea (in my case: athlon Xp, Voodoo5, MX300, Santa Cruz because Diablo 2, but knowing things like Quake/etc would run and taking it from there). Of course, that then creates a need for other builds, for the games it doesn't support adequately.

Before that, my previous long-lasting PC-for-old-games grew from an old socket 7 system (I had it at work from new, brought it home when it was retired) that got upgraded, replaced, upgraded, thrown away, then rebuilt from scratch fortuitously using a better motherboard (actually just one I happened to have) and then following the above philosophy of (for example) needing decent DOS video, SB16, GUS, MIDI whatever for the handful of games I wanted to play.

Any other builds are usually from the notion of particular games - or wanting to run a particular game using a particular piece of hardware that I can't shoehorn into an existing system without causing an upset.

Rarely, I set up a system because of a hardware fetish - because when I've done that, the system tends not to hang around very long. Cool hardware needs to be functional for me.

Reply 16 of 27, by henk717

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I set myself a challenge after being inspired by philscomputerlab. I wanted a time machine PC that could cover the widest range of games possible.

So I began researching what the most compatible GPU's, motherboards, soundcards, etc were.

A few things I had learnt watching videos about the topic and searches on vogons. Specifically that the YNF744 and ESS Solo-1 were good soundcards for compatibility and that VIA motherboards had the best legacy compatibility for them while other vendors dropped it or in the case of Nvidia didn't design their boards with legacy features in mind.

Up next was graphicscards, searching the forum I found out nvidia had the widest compatibility but also had its issues in the 6000 series that I could overcome with the Voodoo card I planned to add.

I also read that Windows 98 didn't like hyperthreaded cores, but is fine with real dual cores since it will just be blind to the second core. That way I could still have extra performance in XP.

The build was mostly a success but the YMF744 i had bought for the project wasn't as compatible as I had hopes with my board. Luckily the ESS Solo-1 popped up on ebay and I ordered one. This one had decent but finnicky dos compatibility which I could workaround with two seperate drivers. And later found out I could properly fix by also changing the IRQ as well as having those two drivers.

What I didn't expect was that I'd prefer the ESS Solo-1's FM Synth over the OPL in the Yamaha card. So at this point in dos the YMF744 became redundant and I moved it to a different PC instead while ordering a Audigy 1 to compliment the ESS Solo-1's ability in Windows with EAX and soundfont support.

After that I ordered a Voodoo 2 and the project was complete (I still plan to make a proper writeup or video about the system).

The combination of Nvidia 6800GT + Voodoo 2 and ESS Solo-1 and Audigy 1 exceeded my expectations. I am very happy with the build.

The end result is that I can slow the CPU down enough to play speed sensitive dos games as slow as the 8086 era. But its also fast enough to play Crysis 1. Windows 98 has some issues with the 6800GT but these games work fine on the Voodoo 2. On even older operating systems I can fall back to a VBE driver for the 6800GT and let the Voodoo 2 do the heavy lifting. Under DOS the ESS has excellent FM synth and great compatibility, while under Windows the audigy has been doing a great job. I have managed to get the Solo-1 to run on Windows 3.11 by fixing a rare installer from an archive of their website, and likewise the Audigy runs on Windows 7 with a modded driver to.

The whole challenge was to cover a wide range, and that has definately been completed, with one interesting side effect. I never intended to build a period correct system, but it turned out the compatibility turning point of the features I wanted was 2005. So it turned out a mostly period correct 2005 PC.

Reply 17 of 27, by henk717

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Namrok wrote on 2022-11-28, 16:53:

Then I wanted to build another PC, this time inspired by the machine I purpose built for Doom 3, with an AGP Geforce 6800 GT. Well, that had the VRAM go bad on me like they do, replacements are expensive, wound up with something else in there.

Always enjoy your posts about that system since we both had 6800GT's at the same time and they both failed around the same time. I did go with a second 6800Gt since its really the only GPU that fits my builds theme. But happy to report the second 6800GT is still very much alive. I do a summer stop now to prevent the same accident and this new one has a much nicer and also quieter cooler than the gigabyte one I had prior. So I don't know if we both had bad 6800GT's or if my new one is a timebomb. But so far it has been rock solid.

Reply 18 of 27, by Shponglefan

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-11-28, 17:05:

That said, when I first got back into retro PCs, I was trying to make a single rig which would cover more than a decade's worth of gaming. I sort of succeeded, but had to compromise too much for my liking. Eventually, I ended up with four rigs, which cover a span of roughly 4-6 years each, with some minor overlap.

This mirrors my experience. Trying to cover too wide a period and there is always something missing.

Plus, it seems the further back in time, the bigger difference between hardware per year. Trying to build a system to cover 2000 to 2010 seems a lot more doable than a single system to cover 1980 to 1990.

Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build

Reply 19 of 27, by Shponglefan

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henk717 wrote on 2022-11-29, 00:39:

After that I ordered a Voodoo 2 and the project was complete (I still plan to make a proper writeup or video about the system).

The combination of Nvidia 6800GT + Voodoo 2 and ESS Solo-1 and Audigy 1 exceeded my expectations. I am very happy with the build.

That sounds like a really interesting build. A 6800GT and Voodoo2 is a not combination you typically see.

Would love to see a detailed writeup on it.

Tandy 1000 TL build
286 Epson build
Ultimate Windows XP build