Slow DOS 3D game performance

Getting old software/games running on older hardware.

Slow DOS 3D game performance

Postby Justin1091 » 2019-6-09 @ 11:33

Hi,

I noticed yesterday while playing Lands of Lore 2 that it's running quite slow in DOS mode. Windows 95 version runs at least three times faster with no hiccups. It looks like a CPU limitation but I'm not sure. Saw the same with Carmageddon 1: very slow under DOS, fast under 98. Lands of Lore 2 allows you to enable and disable hardware acceleration, disabling it makes the game slower. In Windows 98, I can select the Matrox card or the Voodoo2. No difference in performance.
Dos version = 3dfx glide. Windows = D3D

Maybe it's normal for dos versions to be much more demanding, but I don't remember it being so slow when I played it on the same PC ~5 years ago. I don't want to play the Windows version because cutscenes stutter and you can't hear more than 1 sound at the same time.

I tried enabling vga bios shadow in the PC's BIOS, putting NOEMS @ emm386, disabling EMM386 and other device drivers. Didn't work. I also tried the DOS version in WIndows: same low performance although it looks like it runs a little bit faster.
Any ideas? If it's normal, fine. Just curious if I'm missing something here and why DOS is so much more demanding.

P2 233mhz
256 mb ram
Matrox G400 agp (don't remember the exact type, not at the pc right now)
2x 3d blaster voodoo2 in sli mode
Soundblaster Pro 2
10 gb Quantum ide disk
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Re: Slow DOS 3D game performance

Postby PARUS » 2019-6-11 @ 15:04

First: Matrox is not very good choice for DOS games. Remove it and try with S3 Trio64/Virge/3D or Riva 128/TNT/2, PCI or AGP - it doesn't matter.

Second: I know some DOS games which require very fast machines. Maybe your game is one of them. Try it on any P2/P3 or K7 or top K6 machine.

Third: you have written "agp". Do you really have Super Socket 7 system? If yes why do you use common Pentium MMX? Why not K6-2, K6-3? Pentium is a bottleneck for such system.
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Re: Slow DOS 3D game performance

Postby Justin1091 » 2019-6-11 @ 16:05

PARUS wrote:First: Matrox is not very good choice for DOS games. Remove it and try with S3 Trio64/Virge/3D or Riva 128/TNT/2, PCI or AGP - it doesn't matter.

Second: I know some DOS games which require very fast machines. Maybe your game is one of them. Try it on any P2/P3 or K7 or top K6 machine.

Third: you have written "agp". Do you really have Super Socket 7 system? If yes why do you use common Pentium MMX? Why not K6-2, K6-3? Pentium is a bottleneck for such system.


Thanks for your response. I will try a GF3 and see what happens. Didn't know a Matrox isn't really good for DOS games. I use it because it has nice Windows 3.1 drivers.

The motherboard has an Intel 440LX chipset with AGP support, I can't upgrade it with the processors you listed. I agree the processor bottlenecks it, but with my faster p3 pc I couldn't play DOS games with the voodoo2 (processor too fast). So settled with this pc for old DOS games.
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Re: Slow DOS 3D game performance

Postby PARUS » 2019-6-11 @ 16:10

Aah, it's Pentium 2! You said just "Pentium 233". It isn't ss7, it's slot-1 system. OK, in this case the CPU can't be bottleneck even for most hard DOS games, it's fast enough! Try S3 or nVidia.
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Re: Slow DOS 3D game performance

Postby Justin1091 » 2019-6-17 @ 17:57

Found it! Tried a different videocard (gf3), didn't work.
Turning off 'Back buffer into video memory' fixed it, it's a game option which all Westwood games have up to red alert 2 I believe.

Never expected it to work, my Windows 10 pc also needs that option turned off for red alert to fix fps issues.

No idea why that option makes everything so incredibly slow, both on old systems (dos) and newer (win10)
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Re: Slow DOS 3D game performance

Postby Rawit » 2019-6-17 @ 19:31

The Matrox G400 isn't the most compatible card for DOS, but it is fast. Faster then the mentioned S3 cards. Card should not be the issue. You should try fastvid or mtrrlfbe: https://www.philscomputerlab.com/dos-gr ... boost.html
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Re: Slow DOS 3D game performance

Postby Justin1091 » 2019-6-18 @ 20:29

Rawit wrote:The Matrox G400 isn't the most compatible card for DOS, but it is fast. Faster then the mentioned S3 cards. Card should not be the issue. You should try fastvid or mtrrlfbe: https://www.philscomputerlab.com/dos-gr ... boost.html

I actually came across those two programs and tried them.
I didn't notice anything with fastvid on or off, mtrrlfbe crashed when enabling WC. Will try them with carmageddon 1 sometime later though, that game still runs a bit slow but I think that's due to the CPU.

Also good to know that the G400 is fast in DOS, I like it's driver support in 3.1 and 98. About the compatibility though, the only thing I've read about it being not good for DOS game is scrolling issues in old games like Commander Keen. There are probably more compatibility issues with it, do you know more? I've had graphical corruption with the microscope puzzle in 7th guest, but the same occurs with a GF3, GF2 and V5. Still curious about that bug, even low 320x200 resolution has the issue.
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Re: Slow DOS 3D game performance

Postby Rawit » 2019-6-18 @ 21:12

This is a great source of information https://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/

Ran a Matrox G200 myself under DOS. Very fast under DOS, I think a bit faster than the Savage4 I currently use. I like playing with demos and titles with direct Gravis UltraSound support and it happens to be that those aren't the G200's strong suit. But for other games it seems to work well. The G400 like the G200 has accelerated VGA and the AGP versions have SGRAM. On VGA Museum there are some benchmarks: http://www.vgamuseum.info/

Some tips for DOS: check if you have the latest BIOS for the card, Matrox released quite a few updates. Also try the Gx00 VBE tool. It adds VESA modes which can be very handy for games and demos.
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