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First post, by Goran

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I'm still in school, and am currently taking a computer tech course. As a result, I'm spending all day in a room full of old computer parts and such, and I'd like to build myself an old computer for playing a wide variety of older games. The kinds of games I'd like to run would be along the lines of warcraft 2, xcom ufo defense as well as some of the newer sequels, tie fighter and xwing games, I dunno what else. Maybe some older rpgs like bards tale or ultima underworld. Basically not the really old games, but the late dos, earlier windows games. So, my question is, what kind of parts should I be looking for? I think we have some pentiums and pentium 2's around here somewhere, as well as a lot of old sound cards and video cards, even some old network cards. It'd be nice to have win98 run on it, but thats not a necessity. So yeah, any advice is appreciated.

Asus K8V Deluxe | Athlon 64 3200+ | 1 gig of ram | ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256mb | Soundblaster Live 5.1 | Windows 2000 Pro

Reply 1 of 13, by HunterZ

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I would go for something around a Pentium 100MHz (give or take 33) with 32MB of RAM.

For video cards, just make sure it's PCI and has at least a couple megabytes of onboard RAM.

For the sound card, I'd go with a 16-bit ISA card with wavetable MIDI, like the SB AWE64/32 or Gravis Ultrasound. Failing that, an SB16 (preferably ISA) should work (especially if you have a good MIDI card or synth to go with it).

You'll of course want a mouse (PS/2 instead of serial if possible), keyboard, monitor, floppy drive, and speakers/headphones. CD-ROM drive may be useful (I'd go for at least 8x) - you'll want to hook up the internal audio connection between the CD-ROM and sound card if you intend to play CD-ROM games that use audio tracks for music. Hard drive of at least a couple of gigabytes would also be good.

If you want a Windows OS, go for Win98SE.

Those specs should run most newer DOS games that don't require a 3dfx Glide-compatable card, as well as most Windows games that don't require a 3D accelerator. If you want to play those games, I'd recommend 64MB of RAM, 266MHz (or so) processor and a 3dfx card.

Reply 2 of 13, by eL_PuSHeR

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- any pentium and above would do.
- 32MB+ RAM would do.
- a PCI videocard with 4MB+ would do.
- a SB16 or compatible would do.
- All the rest.

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Reply 3 of 13, by FingerSoup

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Make sure you get a real SB16 - So called "Soundblaster Compatibles" are not the same hardware. People who want more sound quality but a few more hassles will get a Gravis UltraSound. SB AWE32/AWE64 are also excellent gaming cards of the era, but can cause some hassles with Soundfonts.

If you've got the cash, grabbing yourself an MT-32 off EBay will make your computer have the best music of the late 80's, and early 90's. Make sure you have a true MPU-401 card, or a card with pervect MPU401 compatibility to send the music out to it. It'll make Sierra and Lucasarts games sound fantstic.

A Pentium 90 is enough, but if you have anything faster (Pentium 200MMX) get the program "MoSlo" for playing the really old games. Games such as Space Quest 4 tend to dislike fast systems as well. Moslo is a really good slowdown utility for anything Pentium 2 and below.

If you get a Voodoo, Voodoo2, or Voodoo3(Not 100% sure about this card), you should be able to play most of your old games. Banshee and Rush have multitexture units removed, so don't get those... However TNT2's can still be found cheap, and they're the "voodoo killer"... Just no GLIDE support.... You'll be playing with GLIDE wrappers if you want GLIDE games...

Reply 4 of 13, by Goran

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Alright, if you guys could clear this up it'd be nice. Whats the difference between Midi and Adlib and their respective cards? And thanks for the replies, it'll give me enough to start digging through this junk.

Asus K8V Deluxe | Athlon 64 3200+ | 1 gig of ram | ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256mb | Soundblaster Live 5.1 | Windows 2000 Pro

Reply 5 of 13, by FingerSoup

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Adlib is a sound card (Brrand name) which uses FM synthesys in order to create Music. MIDI is Musical Instrument Digital Interface. MIDI can be played back on an AdLib, with the right software. Adlib does not necessarily need MIDI to output sound though...

Adlib was a standardized interface to create music before General MIDI caught on. It used cheap FM Synthesis to create sounds. As a result it wasn't very realistic, but it was better than a PC Speaker, or Tandy 4 voice synthesis. Soundblaster incorporated Adlib support, because Adlib was a pretty cheap option that had a "standard interface" widely used by game developers. Cheap is of course in comparison to getting an MT-32 MIDI module and installing the accompanying MPU-401 card. When the Adlib cost $90, the Roland MT32 cost around $300...

A MIDI Card could be something like an MPU-401, which is basically a MIDI-to-PC interface. It could also mean a Sound card that has MIDI standards built into it's patch(Sound) bank.

A true technical description depends on the context you are using it in. If you want a MIDI Card to connect an MT-32 unit to, then that's the MIDI-to-PC Interface. If you are talking about a Soundcard with MIDI Playback capabilities, then you refer to the latter, which would be something like a Roland SCC1, which can play back MIDI Music, but cannot play back WAV files, etc... As a side note, many people used their General MIDI SCC1's built in MPU-401 in order to connect to an MT32, which gave them general MIDI capability, as well as MT-32 sound (Which was built before General MIDI was standardized)

In theory, most sound cards with MIDI attachments can be used as either kind of MIDI card. Soundblasters can usually output MIDI through the game port, provided you have the MIDI Box to attach to it.

Reply 6 of 13, by Goran

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Alright, heres what I've found so far.

Pentium chip, haven't booted yet so I don't know exactly what speedblack

ISA Creative Awe sound card, don't know exact specs but one of the chips on the card says Awe Creative so....

ISA Input card with a com port and a parallel? port

AT motherboard, its got 4 of those little white memory slots, and 2 of the longer black ones

Dlink ISA network card

I still need to find a video card. I dunno if we have any PCI video cards around here. Would it be a problem going up to a pentium 2 so I can use agp? Or should I swap out the network card for an ISA video card?

Asus K8V Deluxe | Athlon 64 3200+ | 1 gig of ram | ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256mb | Soundblaster Live 5.1 | Windows 2000 Pro

Reply 7 of 13, by HunterZ

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If you absolutely can't get your hands on a PCI video card, then it would probably be better to go to the slowest Pentium II you can find. The reason is that ISA cards don't have the bus bandwidth to do well in some VESA games like Warcraft 2 and Tie Fighter in hi-res 640x480 mode.

The downside of going up to a Pentium II is that it will be even harder to run some really old games (e.g. a lot of stuff made for 286 and below) due to speed and hardware compatability issues.

Reply 8 of 13, by Goran

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Well, I was hoping to run more 486 and up games anyways so maybe the Pentium 2 would be the best option. This is going to take some more digging....

Asus K8V Deluxe | Athlon 64 3200+ | 1 gig of ram | ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256mb | Soundblaster Live 5.1 | Windows 2000 Pro

Reply 9 of 13, by Goran

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Well, apparently no digging is required. A person brought in an old Pentium 166 with a burnt out hard drive, and she is now purchasing a new one, so all I need to do is find an old hard drive and I'm set! Its got a Trident pci video card. Creative sound card of some sort. It doesn't say Awe on the card though, should I put in the Awe card or keep the one I have in there already? Its got 32 mb of RAM, AT keyboard hookup (need to find a keyboard yet), and a com, game, and parallel ports, and a CD and floppy drive. All in all, seems like a sweet deal. Any thoughts?

Asus K8V Deluxe | Athlon 64 3200+ | 1 gig of ram | ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256mb | Soundblaster Live 5.1 | Windows 2000 Pro

Reply 10 of 13, by HunterZ

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Try to find out the model of video card and how much RAM it has. Also try to find out the model of sound card; the AWE is probably better, but it's good to be informed first.

Reply 11 of 13, by Goran

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Well, after much searching for the trident model, I think its a 2mb card, but there is very little documentation so I'm not 100% sure on that. The sound card is a Soundblaster 16, so whether thats better than the AWE or not I don't know.

Asus K8V Deluxe | Athlon 64 3200+ | 1 gig of ram | ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256mb | Soundblaster Live 5.1 | Windows 2000 Pro

Reply 13 of 13, by Goran

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Yeah, it's ISA. Just waiting for a keyboard, and then I'll be loading Dos.

Asus K8V Deluxe | Athlon 64 3200+ | 1 gig of ram | ATI Radeon X800 Pro 256mb | Soundblaster Live 5.1 | Windows 2000 Pro