What retro activity did you get up to today?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby OldCat » 2019-5-15 @ 07:30

keenmaster486 wrote:I didn't really buy this computer specifically for playing DOS games. I have more compatible systems for that.


I apologise for hijacking the thread, but could you please elaborate more on what systems you use for playing DOS games? Especially laptops? That's a bit of my fetish - DOS games on old laptops.
User avatar
OldCat
Member
 
Posts: 343
Joined: 2017-9-19 @ 09:37

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby henryVK » 2019-5-15 @ 07:48

OldCat wrote:
keenmaster486 wrote:I didn't really buy this computer specifically for playing DOS games. I have more compatible systems for that.


I apologise for hijacking the thread, but could you please elaborate more on what systems you use for playing DOS games? Especially laptops? That's a bit of my fetish - DOS games on old laptops.


Image
User avatar
henryVK
Member
 
Posts: 295
Joined: 2017-12-29 @ 20:26
Location: Europe

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby liqmat » 2019-5-15 @ 15:49

relevant-to-my-interests-and-skeletor.jpg

much better
User avatar
liqmat
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1697
Joined: 2015-7-07 @ 21:59

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby keenmaster486 » 2019-5-15 @ 15:56

OldCat wrote:I apologise for hijacking the thread, but could you please elaborate more on what systems you use for playing DOS games? Especially laptops? That's a bit of my fetish - DOS games on old laptops.

Yeah!

As far as laptops go, anything from the mid 90's (1994-1997 era) is likely to be a good candidate. It has to have:
  • Compatible video card (VGA - many laptops had a Chips & Tech 65554 or similar, which is very good - check this list: https://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/)
  • TFT (active matrix) screen - the passive matrix (DSTN, etc.) screens have terrible ghosting
  • Sound Blaster Pro compatible sound chip (some had Yamaha OPL3SAx, some ESS chip, or early Crystal chips - these are the best. Later laptops had AC97 (not compatible) or later Crystal chips (terrible OPL3 emulation), which are not great)
  • Screen scaling that works (some laptops, for example some of the later Thinkpads, had screen scaling that goofs up in games or looks bad)

Some things to stay away from:
  • Laptops with NeoMagic MagicGraph (more like "MagicCrap") video chips - these work fine in Windows but have not-so-good DOS compatibility
  • Later Crystal sound chips with terrible FM sound
  • AC97 sound chips (which have no DOS compatibility whatsoever)
  • Passive matrix screens (you can tell if it has one of these because there will be a slider for contrast in addition to brightness)

And of course depending on what games you want to play you have your usual CPU considerations. A lot of Pentium or MMX laptops from the era will fit these criteria.

The "holy grail" is a laptop that has ALL of the above, and also a MIDI/joystick port. I haven't yet seen one that has a full-size gameport on it, but my Thinkpad 365CD gets pretty close by meeting all the above requirements and also having a little mini port. I just have to find the adapter.

Honestly the Thinkpad 365CD is probably my best DOS gaming laptop, although the IBM 5x86 CPU does struggle a little in later games, and there are a couple of games that do not like it very much, but it gets pretty darn close.

I also have a Toshiba Satellite Pro 460CDT. The mid-90's Toshibas are very popular choices for DOS gaming, and are very compatible due to their use (typically) of the CT65545 chip and a Yamaha SBPro-compatible sound chip often with real OPL3. But I am not a big fan of them due to their use of lighter plastics that have often yellowed, and the not-awesome keyboards. I like Thinkpads for the form factor, keyboards, and TrackPoint... they are just awesome, classic machines, and built like tanks. The Thinkpad 365/755 line is a good place to look. The 380/385/760/765 line is also common but uses NeoMagic video chips.

As for desktops, right now I have a very standard DOS machine (Socket 7, PMMX/200, 64MB RAM, S3 Trio64, SB16) which works splendidly for all the games I have, and a 286 machine I'm tinkering with that has been working fine so far for earlier games.
I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

http://classictechnology.herokuapp.com
http://keenmaster486.github.io
IBM Thinkpad 600E, 560X, 365CD
User avatar
keenmaster486
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1816
Joined: 2016-2-16 @ 02:04
Location: Atroxus

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby brostenen » 2019-5-15 @ 22:08

Testing my new Amiga500 Revision 6a board....
Using my very yellowed spare keyboard and a modded floppy drive.

All test have gone through: Systest, Sysspeed, a couple of Demo's and a lot of games.

Amiga500test.jpg
Don't eat stuff off a 15 year old never cleaned cpu cooler.
Those cakes make you sick....

My blog: http://to9xct.blogspot.dk

001100 010010 011110 100001 101101 110011

Jah ich will trynen... Die Leute wie macht scheisse in dem Grünen.
User avatar
brostenen
l33t++
 
Posts: 5367
Joined: 2014-5-07 @ 21:13
Location: Northern Jutland, Denmark.

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby Gered » 2019-5-15 @ 22:33

Since I've been playing around with DOS laptops recently figured I'd add my thoughts. I'd generally agree with what keenmaster486 has said.

I think one of the big problems people will run into with DOS laptops is getting one that fits into either of these categories:

  • 640x480 TFT display and Sound Blaster compatible audio
  • Higher-res TFT display with GOOD screen scaling and Sound Blaster compatible audio
Screen scaling is really hit or miss. Some people don't get too bothered by it, some do. Sometimes it looks OK depending on the game (e.g. 3D games) and for others (mainly 2D games I find) it can ruin the experience. These older laptops will typically do nearest-neighbor scaling which means occasionally doubling a horizontal/vertical line or so. I don't think many/any laptops did any aliasing when scaling up low resolutions until 2000/2001 or so (and that bothers people as well, heh). "Good screen scaling" is pretty subjective basically, and there is no perfect option for this, just more of a "what can you live with" type of thing. I'm of the opinion that having a key-combo or something else to easily switch it on/off is important (Thinkpads are nice in this regard).

I have a Toshiba 430CDT that I quite like, but it has a 800x600 TFT display and the screen scaling support (only available on it via a third-party program) makes me sad when playing 2D games, but I don't mind it for stuff like Doom. The Yamaha OPL3 audio is awesome on it.

I also have several Thinkpads each with their own pros/cons:

  • 760ED - Originally had the infamously bad MWave audio, as well as a 1024x768 TFT which had, IMHO, atrocious screen scaling for DOS games. I actually bought the hardware necessary to downgrade it's display to an 800x600 display (required mobo + video card + TFT replacement) as I knew the 800x600 displays had (subjectively) better looking screen scaling (at least on par with my Toshiba laptop). Also took the opportunity to swap in an ESS sound card. Now it's a pretty decent machine which I prefer to my Toshiba 430CDT because 1) the keyboard is better, and 2) Fn+F8 can be used to toggle screen scaling on/off at any time.
  • T20 - 1024x768 display with kinda poor-ish screen scaling. The screen scaling support seems to be more aware of lower DOS screen modes like 320x200 than other laptops (which normally would treat 320x200 as 640x400) and seems to treat them specially, so you don't get that much distortion really, but the result is still a smaller image with black borders. Crystal audio compatibility is OK'ish but definitely sounds a little unique which may bother some people. Controlling the volume for digital audio and FM music is annoying too. FM music always sounds too quiet to me. The S3 Savage4 graphics are good compatibility-wise.
  • 600X - 1024x768 display with screen scaling support that actually surprised me quite a bit. It's not perfect, but this is probably the best one I've seen yet in a laptop that doesn't resort to aliasing/blurring. Like the T20, it seems to be aware of lower DOS screen modes like 320x200 and treats them somewhat specially. There's still a bit of vertical distortion, but in many games you don't tend to notice it I find (at least I don't ... text heavy games and any kind of dithering pattern highlights it pretty well though). Again, Crystal audio and all it's quirks. NeoMagic graphics are not great for compatibility, but even still, I found for me that it works great with the vast majority of DOS games I play.
Anyway, I suppose what I'd learned from all of this is that DOS gaming laptops are about compromises. For me, decent Sound Blaster compatibility and good screen scaling support was the most important concerns. I didn't care about MPU-401 or Gameport connectivity and I don't really play many DOS games that have compatibility problems with many laptop graphics cards so that opened up my choice of laptop much more. Build quality is also important and also availability of replacement parts. For these reasons, I do tend to prefer Thinkpads.

Anyway, I dunno if that helps anyone, haha. Just my $0.02! :)
User avatar
Gered
Member
 
Posts: 204
Joined: 2017-6-23 @ 22:31
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby PC Hoarder Patrol » 2019-5-16 @ 04:43

Bit of a mixed bag; updated the bios on a couple of HP Vectra VEi8 Slot 1 motherboards for P3 coppermine support.

Cut a few IO brackets from blanks for graphics cards without any - mainly S3 and Matrox.

Bid farewell to a couple of retro items (1995 and 2000) I'd hoped to include in a test setup for the Vectra boards; a Goldstar GCD-R542B CD-ROM drive and a Seagate U4 (6.4GB) hdd. Both had been put away as working a couple of years ago, but now both are stone cold dead :dead: :depressed: :angry: when power is applied. Stripped the CD-ROM down completely but couldn't isolate the problem - PCB is spotless and undamaged and connectors are all secure, but whilst power is getting to the board neither tray nor head motor is responding and no lights show. If its component failure I can't find it. As for the hdd, tried thermal stressing it and giving it the requisite good dunt (sticktion) but again no motor / head noise at all. So its off to the parts bin / scrap for these two :exclamation:
User avatar
PC Hoarder Patrol
Member
 
Posts: 372
Joined: 2018-3-04 @ 19:59

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby OldCat » 2019-5-16 @ 07:30

First of all, thank you very much for your input keenmaster486 and Gered!

I have been dabbling in DOS laptops for last couple years, the main reason being lack of physical storage space and push-back from my wife when it comes to beige boxes from the nighties. Along the way I've discovered and fallen in love with plasma screen luggables - but that is another topic.

I am generally trying to stick to 640x480 TFT display and Sound Blaster compatible audio, as you mentioned. Processor can be Pentium or 486, doesn't make that much of a difference in general (Build engine games will stutter anyways). I have a couple, so far:
  • Panasonic CF-41 (Pentium, CD-ROM)
  • Siemens-Nixdorf PCD-4ND (486, FDD)
Both have 640x480 TFT screens, SB-compatible sound cards, HDDs replaced with CompactFlash for speed and convenience. Siemens is smaller and virtually noise-free (passive cooling), Panasonic is bulkier, but faster and allows for CD music (Quake etc.). Unfortunately it also gets noisy when it gets warmer, which is usually after 15-30 minutes - I find it quite annoying.

In the past, I had a couple of Toshibas with 800x600 TFT screens (500CDT and others), but have given up on them, because they had weirdly sounding SB emulation and badly stretched VGA resolutions.

I also have two small and cute ultra-portables with 800x600 TFT screens:
Didn't have time to work on them yet, I am actually wondering which one would be better for DOS gaming (don't care that much for early Windows stuff). Any opinions on these?

I would love to get a Thinkpad for DOS gaming, but sadly, these are prohibitively expensive these days.

EDIT: Corrected links, apparently support.toshiba.com changed to support.dynabook.com when I was not watching.
Last edited by OldCat on 2019-5-16 @ 07:57, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
OldCat
Member
 
Posts: 343
Joined: 2017-9-19 @ 09:37

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby bjwil1991 » 2019-5-16 @ 07:47

The links are broken. Planning on getting a Toshiba Satellite Pro 420CDT for portable DOS gaming, yet my IBM ThinkPad 380D has a Crystal chipset and DOS games do work, but, the screen is a DSTN (ghosting images).
Discord: https://discord.gg/U5dJw7x
Systems from C64 to FX-6300.
User avatar
bjwil1991
l33t
 
Posts: 2587
Joined: 2013-8-14 @ 03:10
Location: SE, MI USA

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby jaZz_KCS » 2019-5-16 @ 08:39

Can confirm and recommend both - the 760 series (with ESS instead of MWave) and the Satellite (Pro) 400 series, as these come with all prerequisites that make for nice DOS gaming (especially in the sound department)

I too have a Thinkpad 760 hybrid, that is made out of the best parts of ED and ELD machines.
The Satellite Pro 460/470CDT are also highly recommended due to their ability turn off scaling and the integrated graphics and sound will suit all your DOS needs.
User avatar
jaZz_KCS
Member
 
Posts: 494
Joined: 2017-8-10 @ 11:43

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby henryVK » 2019-5-16 @ 10:47

Compaq Armada series are somewhat overlooked for DOS gaming but offer good TFT screens and the ones I've seen let you activate (nearest neighbour) screen scaling via function key. The 11xx are Pentium 1s without sound chip, but the 15xx, 17xx and 7xxxs should have SB-Pro compatibility and hardware volume control, which imho is an underrated feature for pure DOS. I see that some sound drivers allow you to route volume control to hotkeys as a workaround.

Anyway, I'm glad that Vogons have aggregated so much valuable info on DOS laptops by now. It really helps!

A propos, here's a picture of the Compaq Armada 7800. It looks kinda dope. I don't know why, but the whole "trust me, you don't need a wrist rest" approach gets me for some strange reason!

Image
User avatar
henryVK
Member
 
Posts: 295
Joined: 2017-12-29 @ 20:26
Location: Europe

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby bjwil1991 » 2019-5-16 @ 11:05

Almost got my hands on a Satellite Pro 400CDT with the floppy drive and the laptop itself, however, someone bought it when I was out camping with the family last weekend.

I've always been fond of DOS anything and I have a lot of DOS games on pretty much on every DOS/Windows 9x machine in my collection (physical copies or digital downloads from Steam (Raptor: Call of the Shadows), GOG, Kickstarter campaigns, or beta testing from other people).
Discord: https://discord.gg/U5dJw7x
Systems from C64 to FX-6300.
User avatar
bjwil1991
l33t
 
Posts: 2587
Joined: 2013-8-14 @ 03:10
Location: SE, MI USA

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby LunarG » 2019-5-16 @ 15:32

Today, I've rearranged my retro PC collection. I've moved the 486 tower to the floor, to make space for my Commodore 1084S-D2 monitor and my Amiga 1200.
I've always wanted an A1200, but the prices have gone up so much that I'd basically given up on getting one. Well, yesterday, a client of mine (I provide PC support for him) found out that I wanted an A1200, and as it turns out, he had one sitting in the attic, complete with a nice accelerator, a monitor, Competition Pro joystick and tons of floppies. So now, after some TLC, it is working just fine. Can't wait to install new kickstart roms and install Workbench 3.1.4 on it.
Although I do have a massive amount of love for 90's PCs, I've always regretted having to sell my A500 back in 94 in order to buy a PC, but now, that doesn't matter anymore :D


Still need to do some work reorganizing my desk to fit it on there. I want to make a shelf to put the monitors on, and my KVM, VGA splitter and DVI-upscaler underneath.
Will also make a keyboard/mouse drawer underneath the desk for my PC keyboard and mouse.
Image
WinXP : PIII 1.4GHz, 512MB RAM, 73GB SCSI HDD, Matrox Parhelia, SB Audigy 2.
Win98se : K6-3+ 500MHz, 256MB RAM, 80GB HDD, Matrox Millennium G400 MAX, Voodoo 2, Waveforce 192XG.
DOS6.22 : Intel DX4, 64MB RAM, 1.6GB HDD, ELSA Winner 1000PRO, GUS 1MB, SB16.
User avatar
LunarG
Oldbie
 
Posts: 624
Joined: 2013-6-26 @ 20:37
Location: Norway

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby Caluser2000 » 2019-5-17 @ 06:56

Doing some ircing on my 286/12 Zenith system.
There's a glitch in the matrix.
User avatar
Caluser2000
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1265
Joined: 2014-10-21 @ 05:34

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby WildW » 2019-5-17 @ 08:53

Found an old Shuttle computer (Athlon XP) under my desk that I'd forgotten about. Unfortunately it shuts off (instantly) after a couple of minutes so I suspect the power supply has died. A modern PSU will be no good for the 5V-heavy Athlon, so I guess that machine is basically junk now :(
User avatar
WildW
Member
 
Posts: 103
Joined: 2017-1-24 @ 08:57

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby appiah4 » 2019-5-17 @ 09:16

WildW wrote:Found an old Shuttle computer (Athlon XP) under my desk that I'd forgotten about. Unfortunately it shuts off (instantly) after a couple of minutes so I suspect the power supply has died. A modern PSU will be no good for the 5V-heavy Athlon, so I guess that machine is basically junk now :(


Check it for parts, if it has a universal AGP KT333 motherboard like the MSI KT3 Ultra or a good GPU like the Radeon 8500, you are still in luck. I still need these two parts for my collection :)
A500:Rev6|+512K|ACA500+|C1084S
i386:Am386SX25|4M|GD5402|ES688
i486:U5S33|8M|GD5428|YMF719|DB-S2
i586:P133|32M|T64+/MX2|V1|CT3980/32M
i686:K6-2/400|128M|Rage|V2|CT4520/32M
S370:P3-1200|384M|GF4-4200|MX300
S754:A3700+|2G|X1950PRO|SB0350
User avatar
appiah4
l33t
 
Posts: 4058
Joined: 2017-2-19 @ 07:36

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby WildW » 2019-5-17 @ 10:03

appiah4 wrote:
WildW wrote:Found an old Shuttle computer (Athlon XP) under my desk that I'd forgotten about. Unfortunately it shuts off (instantly) after a couple of minutes so I suspect the power supply has died. A modern PSU will be no good for the 5V-heavy Athlon, so I guess that machine is basically junk now :(


Check it for parts, if it has a universal AGP KT333 motherboard like the MSI KT3 Ultra or a good GPU like the Radeon 8500, you are still in luck. I still need these two parts for my collection :)


Nope, it's some nVidia NForce chipset with integrated Geforce 4 MX. It wasn't even good :P
User avatar
WildW
Member
 
Posts: 103
Joined: 2017-1-24 @ 08:57

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby Munx » 2019-5-17 @ 10:20

WildW wrote:Found an old Shuttle computer (Athlon XP) under my desk that I'd forgotten about. Unfortunately it shuts off (instantly) after a couple of minutes so I suspect the power supply has died. A modern PSU will be no good for the 5V-heavy Athlon, so I guess that machine is basically junk now :(

There are still modern PSUs out there can can run Athlons - here is my nforce1 board running a 1GHz Athlon and 5V reading is looking great. Used it to run a bunch of game timedemos and the system was rock-solid. PSU is FSP400-60GHN with decent 23A on the 5V rail.
P_20190320_095232.jpg
My builds!
The FireStarter 2.0 - The wooden K5
The Underdog - The budget K6
The Voodoo powerhouse - The power-hungry K7
The troll PC - The Socket 423 Pentium 4
User avatar
Munx
Oldbie
 
Posts: 508
Joined: 2015-3-21 @ 19:36
Location: Kaunas, Lithuania

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby brostenen » 2019-5-17 @ 10:39

LunarG wrote:Today, I've rearranged my retro PC collection. I've moved the 486 tower to the floor, to make space for my Commodore 1084S-D2 monitor and my Amiga 1200.
I've always wanted an A1200, but the prices have gone up so much that I'd basically given up on getting one. Well, yesterday, a client of mine (I provide PC support for him) found out that I wanted an A1200, and as it turns out, he had one sitting in the attic, complete with a nice accelerator, a monitor, Competition Pro joystick and tons of floppies. So now, after some TLC, it is working just fine. Can't wait to install new kickstart roms and install Workbench 3.1.4 on it.
Although I do have a massive amount of love for 90's PCs, I've always regretted having to sell my A500 back in 94 in order to buy a PC, but now, that doesn't matter anymore :D


Still need to do some work reorganizing my desk to fit it on there. I want to make a shelf to put the monitors on, and my KVM, VGA splitter and DVI-upscaler underneath.
Will also make a keyboard/mouse drawer underneath the desk for my PC keyboard and mouse.
Image


Holy smoking fuck!!!! Congrats on that machine. Sure I want one too, I just do not have the money to buy one that are in mint condition.
Sure if I sold all 3 of my 486 class systems. Then I would have money enough for such a machine with accelerator and scandoubler.

Again.... Congrats. (Slet ikke misundelig, nej nej da. Du er en heldig kartoffel som vi normalt siger her.)
Don't eat stuff off a 15 year old never cleaned cpu cooler.
Those cakes make you sick....

My blog: http://to9xct.blogspot.dk

001100 010010 011110 100001 101101 110011

Jah ich will trynen... Die Leute wie macht scheisse in dem Grünen.
User avatar
brostenen
l33t++
 
Posts: 5367
Joined: 2014-5-07 @ 21:13
Location: Northern Jutland, Denmark.

Re: What retro activity did you get up to today?

Postby Cyrix200+ » 2019-5-17 @ 22:02

Flashing my Goteks to FlashFloppy firmware:
Image

I had to solder in the headers for the jumper and the flash input.

And putting in OLED displays:
Image
User avatar
Cyrix200+
Oldbie
 
Posts: 962
Joined: 2015-5-11 @ 15:52
Location: The Netherlands

PreviousNext

Return to General Old Hardware

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Dropcik, MSN [Bot] and 14 guests