VOGONS


First post, by ShovelKnight

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I've been trying to find a good, compatible and fast PCI video card for a while (for some of my builds, and also because it's a nice thing to have lying around) and so far I've not been successful.

I'm mostly interested in later cards that have at least some 3D acceleration capabilities. Here's what I tried:

- NVIDIA Riva TNT2 M64 PCI. This is a good card... when it works. Very fast in DOS and fast enough for early Windows 3D games. It seems to be very picky about the motherboards! It POSTs in my GA-5AX (Aladdin V) and GA-6BXC (440BX), but not in my VIA EPIA (VIA PLE133) or Shuttle HOT-591P or HOT-597 (VIA MVP3).

- GeForce 2 MX/MX400 PCI. Same limitations as the TNT2 M64 PCI except this one POSTs in my MVP3 motherboards.

- S3 Savage 4 PCI. This one is the most frustrating one. I have three of them: one Creative and two Diamonds (S530 and S540). They all POST in all of my motherboards and work flawlessly in DOS... but NONE of them work in Windows. Once I install the drivers, the Creative card causes Windows 98 to BSOD on boot. Both Diamond cards appear to work: the machine reboots and shows the desktop in high colour... But if I try to open any window or menu (e.g. right clicking on the desktop), the PC freezes immediately. By the way, S530 was NOS, sealed in its antistatic bag and never installed before I got it (no scratches on the edge connector)

The question is: are there any other PCI cards with similar levels of performance and compatibility with DOS games, that are known to be compatible with wide variety of chipsets and motherboards?

Reply 1 of 7, by jaZz_KCS

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If memory serves, the fast and reliable DOS compatibility of NVidia cards lasted until and including the FX series.
So, if you aim for a higher up PCI variety of a NVidia card (example 2MX400, 4MX440, MX4000 or 5200,) they should have you covered with regards to DOS compatibility.

the Savage cards - although nicely featured - do leave a lot to be desired when it comes to drivers (there aren't many, simply put) and the advantages like S3TC are few.

Personally I have had great sucess with both TNT2M64 (basically a TNT1.5) as well as a GF2MX400 (basically a GF1.5). Although the sheer performance is a tad over the TNT1 and GF256 respectively, it is fair to say that the PCI versions, as they always came out slower compared to their AGP counterparts are pretty much spot on with their perf. when compared to the last generation.
There is no reason to go for a legit TNT2 or GF256 (the latter one not even existing in PCI variety) unless you really want to be "period correct" or want to pay more, or are a collector.

When it comes to keeping compatibility in the VBE layer with regards to DOS games, no other cards kept it as long as NVidia.
In order to keep compatibility with late DOS games in machines from the period of 1999 - 2004, my recommendations would be the cards listed above. But there are other possibilities as well, have a look this matrix:

https://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/

Reply 2 of 7, by ShovelKnight

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Yes, as I wrote above, I already have a GF 2 MX400 PCI and it's really as good as its AGP counterpart (which I also have). I'm happy with it when it works however it's picky when it comes to motherboard compatibility. And the TNT2 M64 that I have is even more picky 🙁

So I'm looking for a card that is similar to GF2MX when it comes to its main qualities but has broader compatibility.

Maybe I should look into getting a Voodoo 3 PCI, however they're REALLY expensive.

Reply 4 of 7, by ShovelKnight

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I haven't tried Radeon 9250 PCI, but it seems to have poor compatibility with DOS games according to the aforementioned web page. I know that the Radeon 7000 has graphical glitches at least in Ultima 7 Forge of Virtue (the earthquake doesn't look right).

Reply 5 of 7, by pyrogx

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ShovelKnight wrote on 2020-03-26, 10:58:

- S3 Savage 4 PCI. This one is the most frustrating one. I have three of them: one Creative and two Diamonds (S530 and S540). They all POST in all of my motherboards and work flawlessly in DOS... but NONE of them work in Windows. Once I install the drivers, the Creative card causes Windows 98 to BSOD on boot. Both Diamond cards appear to work: the machine reboots and shows the desktop in high colour... But if I try to open any window or menu (e.g. right clicking on the desktop), the PC freezes immediately. By the way, S530 was NOS, sealed in its antistatic bag and never installed before I got it (no scratches on the edge connector)

Most likely due to crappy or wrong drivers. I have a Creative Savage4 PCI card myself and I can only get it to work properly if I use the original 3DBlaster Savage4 drivers. Generic S3 ones, even the latest versions, just crash the system sooner or later.

Reply 7 of 7, by Geon106

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ShovelKnight wrote on 2020-03-26, 10:58:
I've been trying to find a good, compatible and fast PCI video card for a while (for some of my builds, and also because it's a […]
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I've been trying to find a good, compatible and fast PCI video card for a while (for some of my builds, and also because it's a nice thing to have lying around) and so far I've not been successful.

I'm mostly interested in later cards that have at least some 3D acceleration capabilities. Here's what I tried:

- NVIDIA Riva TNT2 M64 PCI. This is a good card... when it works. Very fast in DOS and fast enough for early Windows 3D games. It seems to be very picky about the motherboards! It POSTs in my GA-5AX (Aladdin V) and GA-6BXC (440BX), but not in my VIA EPIA (VIA PLE133) or Shuttle HOT-591P or HOT-597 (VIA MVP3).

- GeForce 2 MX/MX400 PCI. Same limitations as the TNT2 M64 PCI except this one POSTs in my MVP3 motherboards.

- S3 Savage 4 PCI. This one is the most frustrating one. I have three of them: one Creative and two Diamonds (S530 and S540). They all POST in all of my motherboards and work flawlessly in DOS... but NONE of them work in Windows. Once I install the drivers, the Creative card causes Windows 98 to BSOD on boot. Both Diamond cards appear to work: the machine reboots and shows the desktop in high colour... But if I try to open any window or menu (e.g. right clicking on the desktop), the PC freezes immediately. By the way, S530 was NOS, sealed in its antistatic bag and never installed before I got it (no scratches on the edge connector)

The question is: are there any other PCI cards with similar levels of performance and compatibility with DOS games, that are known to be compatible with wide variety of chipsets and motherboards?

I have used in my Apricot the ATI AIW Rage 128 PCI and Radeon 7000 PCI. The Rage isnt too bad but some issues in DOS such as in Commander Keen. The Radeon 7000 on the other hand seems to be very compatible running DOS games without any major issues that I have come across though I've not tried loads and loads of titles

1993:A500
1995:A1200
1997:Apricot MS540|P/166|16M|Rage3D 2M
2000:PB 9533|P3/533|128M|Voodoo3 2000 16M
'04:Custom|P4/3G|1GB|NVIDIA 5700 256M
'07:Custom|AMDX2/3.2Ghz|4GB|8800 GTX
'11:Custom|i5 2500k|16G|AMD 7950
'16:Custom|i5 6600k|16G|NVIDIA 1080|SB AE-5