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Best video cards with DOS / Win 3.x / Win 9x support

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First post, by e-man

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At the moment I have a nice retro pc with an easy to remove CF card as harddisk. This allows me quickly add files with my regular pc or change the operating system.

My current card, a S3 Virge Stealth 3d 3000 (PCI) works great in Dos, has good drivers for Windows 3.11 (1280x1024!) but in Windows 98 the best I get is 1024x768 at 16 bit color depth.

What I'm searching for is something like this but with higher resolution in Windows 98 (1280x1024) at preferably 24 bit color depth. (It still needs to run virtually every dos game and needs to have drivers for Win 3.11)

I did some research myself and came to the conclusion was a Riva 128 PCI can be an option. What do you think about this or maybe a better suggestion?

Reply 3 of 177, by jaqie

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You could always go for a radeon 7000 pci, since you only have pci slots - I have one here I keep to test things with, it has DVI and VGA out and is PCI is why it works so well for a tester card.

They can be had dirt cheap all day long on ebay.

http://compare.ebay.com/like/310385591118?var … &_lwgsi=y&cbt=y

I have absolutely no clue if it is 3.x compatible, though.

Reply 4 of 177, by keropi

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get an nVidia Riva128 ... I can highly recommend it for DOS and in 98SE I can use 1280*1024 just fine (haven't tried higher res since that's the native res of the monitor I use it with)
I don't have a clue about 3.1 though.

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Reply 5 of 177, by AdamP

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Are you sure your monitor supports that high a resolution?

My Matrox Mystique 220 has good DOS, Win 3.1, and Win98 support, though I can't tell you if it supports 1280x1024 as I don't think my monitor supports it.

My ATI 3D Rage Pro AGP 2x also worked in Win 3.1. I assume the PCI version will also work.

I can also confirm that the ATI Rage 128 does not work in Win 3.1 (unless you count only VGA support). I couldn't find any drivers and the SVGA driver didn't work properly (yes I patched it 😀).

Reply 6 of 177, by e-man

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@keropi thanks for confirming that card actually supports 1280x1024 (which is the native resolution of my LCD)

As far as win 3.11 support, drivers do exist (first one):
http://www.nvidia.com/object/riva_drivers

Now the only question remains, Dos games (vesa support) and the quality of the Win 3.11 drivers. Looks like I just have to find that card and test it. Will post results (if any).

Reply 7 of 177, by CapnCrunch53

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Looks like you already found a solution, but I figured I'd add what I know about 2 of the other cards mentioned in this thread.

The Radeon 7000 PCI does not have Windows 3.1 drivers. I managed to get it to work with higher resolutions and color depths using a generic SVGA driver, but like I said it's just a generic driver, so IDK how suitable that would be.

The Matrox Mystique 220 does in fact support 1280x1024. At that res I can only go up to 24bit color, but at a slightly lower one (1100-something by 900-something; it was a really weird res) I can use 32-bit, and I can for every lower res.

Last edited by CapnCrunch53 on 2012-03-13, 00:03. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 8 of 177, by keropi

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Don't worry about DOS support with a riva128... it is almost excellent! there are no scrolling bugs, modex works fine and the BIOS is VBE3.0 so there is no need to load any tsr at all, svga stuff just work 😀
I rank it the same as a S3 card for DOS in terms of compatibility (way faster though)

I can make some benchmarks/tests if you like on software that interests you, I just installed a PCI one on my 5x86/133mhz machine with a SIS chipset... not a speed king mobo but it's OK 😀

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Reply 9 of 177, by SquallStrife

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Tseng ET6000 seems like it would fit the bill too?

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Reply 10 of 177, by keropi

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I've always wanted to ask... is it plagues with scrolling bugs like the ET4000?
IIRC I had a couple of ET4000's and they were horrible in games like Keen4 🤣 or messed up gfx in Jazz Jackrabbit, are these fixed? (or am I completely wrong and thinking of another card? it could be the case since I no longer have older vgas other than s3, cirus and rivas...)

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Reply 11 of 177, by DonutKing

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My ET4000W32/p works in Jazz Jackrabbit without problems, and works in Keen 4 with the SVGA compatibility option set. I seem to remember something about a 'latch palette' command line option, or am I thinking about another game?

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Reply 13 of 177, by SquallStrife

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I knew about the Keen4+ issues with ET4000, but Jazz Jackrabbit issues are news to me...

Interesting...

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Reply 15 of 177, by kool kitty89

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CapnCrunch53 wrote:

Looks like you already found a solution, but I figured I'd add what I know about 2 of the other cards mentioned in this thread.

The Radeon 7000 PCI does not have Windows 3.1 drivers. I managed to get it to work with higher resolutions and color depths using a generic SVGA driver, but like I said it's just a generic driver, so IDK how suitable that would be.

The Matrox Mystique 220 does in fact support 1280x1024. At that res I can only go up to 24bit color, but at a slightly lower one (1100-something by 900-something; it was a really weird res) I can use 32-bit, and I can for every lower res.

For old DOS and Win3.1 games, the hardware acceleration support shouldn't matter (aside from a handful of accelerated 3D DOS games -which would tend to be card/GPU-specific anyway -most often VooDoo), so as long as the generic SVGA driver is fast and bug-free, that should be fine. (while still offering fast acceleration for later win9x games)

Granted, without acceleration, windows will be slower (more so depending on the CPU and resolution/color depth), but that would only be a problem for win3.1.

Reply 16 of 177, by leileilol

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When I used a Radeon 7500 in DOS before, I couldn't exceed resolutions over 800x600 in BUILD games.

It's also kind of terrible for Windows 98 as well when you consider it doesn't even do table fog. Games that use that will be fogged to opaqueness.

Last edited by leileilol on 2012-03-13, 13:57. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 17 of 177, by Malik

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The keyword here is Windows 3.1x.

Any card that works in Win9x and above will work nicely in DOS.

But the problem comes when it comes to Win3.1x with native driver support.

I would spread out the cards accessible or available, that has native Win 3.1x support, and then choose a card from this pool. That would fit just fine and will fulfill the criteria.

If anyone can compile a list of graphics cards that work flawlessly with the SVGA driver (for higher resolutions and colours) provided with Windows 3.1x itself will be helpful.

VogonsDrivers contains some graphic cards' drivers for Windows 3.1x.

If you're looking for speed, the fastest card I can think of is Riva TNT2 Ultra which will work with Windows 3.1x with the native TNT drivers. Good DOS support and Windows 9x support too.

For compatibility with old DOS games, a S3 Virge or 64V+ .

For high spec card in systems without AGP slot - a TNT2 M64 PCI or Matrox Millenium II G200 PCI.

ET4000 VLB or PCI is equally good.

Other options include Riva128 and TNT for AGP solution.

Edit : I'm not familiar with ATIs in this regard, and I'll leave that to others who are more knowledgable.

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Reply 18 of 177, by Totempole

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TNT2 Ultra and TNT2 M64 are no good when it comes to dos games which require UniVBE Drivers. TNT1 or TNT2 Standard are far better choices.

Reply 19 of 177, by sliderider

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Totempole wrote:

TNT2 Ultra and TNT2 M64 are no good when it comes to dos games which require UniVBE Drivers. TNT1 or TNT2 Standard are far better choices.

How different is TNT2 M64 from TNT2? I thought M64 was the same chip hobbled with a 64-bit memory interface.