VOGONS


First post, by Smid1980

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I am thinking of building a dedicated PC emulation machine and researching the options before i pull the trigger on the hardware.

Quite interrested in your feedback and ideas.

Target platforms to be emulated:

8088 GCA
286 8 to 12mhz EGA
386SX 33mhz
468DX2 66mhz
Pentium 90 and MMX 166
Maybe Pentium 2 233
Maybe higher with some voodoo stuff

Ideally the computer would automatically start the emulator after boot, and would use a 4:3 display (possibly even a CRT display), so i would add a simple videocard that has a VGA out.

This assumes that emulators like PCem only depend on CPU power, not the GPU so that can be kept simple. (Please confirm?)

The most emersive would be a setup where you boot the PC and you don't even see the underlying operating system, it just starts the emulator and maybe only asks you to select the machine you want to emulate.
I tried an amiga release called Pimiga 4 and it fully hid the Linux OS, booted straight into Amiga OS and it felt perfect.

Does anybody know how this could be archieved for PC emulation?

Reply 1 of 4, by Ovenchips

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I'd definitely be interested to find out what hardware you go with - have been considering something very similar recently, but unsure what route to go down for CPU these days.

Reply 2 of 4, by gerry

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i'd guess as powerful as possible would be start point. having said that any recent-ish PC should manage pcem up to a p2

its actually the set up with the boot options that might be a challenge - i'd be tempted to do something with a home built application or powershell if its possible to do that. with linux similar options exist.

the idea itself is good though, like the idea of a creating a 'mame cabinet' but this time for PC variations (and could add older cp/m z80 machines, atari st, amiga and lots more potentially)

Reply 3 of 4, by Jo22

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Smid1980 wrote on 2024-02-10, 17:42:
I am thinking of building a dedicated PC emulation machine and researching the options before i pull the trigger on the hardware […]
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I am thinking of building a dedicated PC emulation machine and researching the options before i pull the trigger on the hardware.

Quite interrested in your feedback and ideas.

Target platforms to be emulated:

8088 GCA
286 8 to 12mhz EGA
386SX 33mhz
468DX2 66mhz

Pentium 90 and MMX 166
Maybe Pentium 2 233
Maybe higher with some voodoo stuff

Ideally the computer would automatically start the emulator after boot, and would use a 4:3 display (possibly even a CRT display), so i would add a simple videocard that has a VGA out.

This assumes that emulators like PCem only depend on CPU power, not the GPU so that can be kept simple. (Please confirm?)

The most emersive would be a setup where you boot the PC and you don't even see the underlying operating system, it just starts the emulator and maybe only asks you to select the machine you want to emulate.
I tried an amiga release called Pimiga 4 and it fully hid the Linux OS, booted straight into Amiga OS and it felt perfect.

Does anybody know how this could be archieved for PC emulation?

Sounds good. Just please keep in mind that a CRT isn't just a CRT.

The 320X200 256c "VGA" titles may look nicer on an 80s era CRT with a 0.4mm dot pitch.
Playing it on a random VGA monitor doesn't look as good.

MCGA Games (PC/DOS) - LCD vs CRT

No CRT Emulation? Why!?

Then there's EGA, which is a special case.
EGA games, in their time, were running on either consumer TVs with RGB inputs (incl. cheap CGA monitors) - or real EGA monitors, which always were digital and pixel accurate.
(The resulting picture was similar to that of a modern VGA monitor.)

That's important, because an actual EGA screen may indeed have that "scan line" look.
It also has blur-free picture and razor sharp pixels.

In very contrast (pun intended) to the VGA monitor that came after EGA.
VGA/MCGA was all about smooth colours, rather, which had welcomed a soft blur.

Anyway, I don't mean to sound preachy here.
Each to his/her own. I just want to make people aware. 😅

There are very few places on the internet were people have taken photos of early VGA monitors in action.

The emulators do well, but at the moment don't simulate a lo-fi CRT tube correctly.
They're rather offer a simulation of a high quality CAD monitor.
Which is nice for SVGA games (800x600 and up).
But for low-res games, a low-res monitor is rather needed.

Edit: I'm speaking under correction, but think this had been done by the arcade cabinet community.

Aeons ago, back in the late 90s/early 2000s they had a copy of MAME or MESS being run inside an arcade cab.

The PC was having a VGA card with DE15 output and a custom VGA to RGB cable.

https://www.geocities.ws/podernixie/htpc/cabl … .html#vgaarcade

It was being used to connect to the arcade's original CRT monitor (RGB).

A 15KHz TV type of monitor, I believe. Like a barebone SCART TV.
Just like it was being normal for an arcade.
Not a random PC monitor shoe horned into it.

The OS of choice was DOS or Linux, I think..
They could easily being used for all kind of embedded stuff and didn't boot up with their own GUI.

But I also heard of Windows 98 being used at some point.
Corresponding Win9x drivers or utilities that tweak VGA timings do exist, at least.

Anyway, MESS or MAME had their own GUI that was being very customizable.
Or so I heard. I'm a bit of a layman here.

Edit: RetroArch seems to be a thing these days, too.
There's a DOSBox core for it, even.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 4 of 4, by Greywolf1

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I have a dell inspiron m5010 15r laptop.

Processor: AMD Phenom II Triple-Core Mobile N830 2.1GHz (Socket S1g4)
Chipset: AMD RS880M (216-0752001) + AMD SB820M (218-0697020)
Memory: Supports 2 x DDR3 SODIMM modules up to 8GB (4gb installed)
Display: 15.6" 1366x768 LED
Graphics: AMD Mobility Radeon HD 4650 (216-0729042), 1GB VRAM GDDR3 (8 x Samsung K4W1G1646E-HC12)
Hard drive: SATA 2.5"
Optical drive: SATA
Audio: IDT92HD79B1A5
Operating system: Windows 7

I’m using PCem and setup a pentium 90 build with win95 it’s fairly stable with my laptop
Pentium 2 233 win98 isnt as stable video and sound wise it stutters but works for a variety of games
I’ve got dosbox pretty decent but find you need to be pretty proficient to program your setup mounts and creating preload file setups.
Got retroarch with dosbox pure with glide win98 works but again not perfect win95 and below should be fine
Also have batocera on a 128gb usb stick and play ps1,n64,sega,snes,gameboy, and dos games ,etc with no issues
All this with a laptop from 2010 🤣 have been thinking of upgrading to a new laptop but currently working on a p4 desktop