Best DOS video card?

Getting old DOS games working.

Best DOS video card?

Postby valnar » 2007-1-21 @ 14:03

I'm beefing up an old PII machine to be a killer DOS gaming box. And thanks to the wonder of eBay, I believe any card made is in my grasp - either now or eventually. Right now I have a Matrox G400. It's no slouch, but I'm sure there is something better. I do have an old S3 Virge available, but I'd prefer the Matrox over that.

It's an ASUS P2B motherboard - BX chipset with an AGP slot. I would be looking for an AGP card. Other than the Voodoo Banshee, which is at the top of my list, is there another nVidia or ATI card that would be better for a majority of DOS games? A "driverless" card would be best. ie. Something that has VBE 2.0 or 3.0 built-in. Compatibilty and drivers for Windows 3.1 and 98 is also a must.

Thanks,
Robert
valnar
Oldbie
 
Posts: 611
Joined: 2002-7-17 @ 13:50

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Locutus » 2007-1-21 @ 14:50

Hello!

I have built an old DOS computer to play classic games on and found out that there are many differences between video cards (Yes, even between 2D cards). Some of them tend to have problems when it comes to scrolling (best noticable with horizontal scrolling).

The Matrox cards (including Mystique, G400 etc.) seem to have big problems with Commander Keen (episodes IV through VI). I never got that game working correct with a Matrox card. Same goes for cards based on Tseng ET6000 chipset (I tested with Hercules Dynamite 128), although that could be fixed with the game's option "Fix jerky motion", I believe.

With Jazz Jackrabbit, horizontal scrolling is not very smooth (jaggy) when using a Matrox Mystique for example. I am almost sure, that the G400 series will show same results. With an ET6000-based Dynamite 128, Jazz Jackrabbit is not playable at all. (total screen mess when starting a level).

What really works well for 2D games seems to be the chipsets from S3 graphics (ViRGE chipset or TrioV64). Until now, I didn't have any graphics issues with 2D games using this card.

Another important thing when it comes to DOS games is VESA 2.0 compatibility and good support tools (e.g. refresh rate setter utilities for VESA modes under DOS). You won't like 640x480 at 60 Hz, it's just not healthy. ;-)

I am quite happy with my S3 ViRGE DX under DOS, although I don't like the Windows 3.11 driver. It seems to have problems with changing between mouse cursors (pointer disappears for a sec when changing between cursors (text cursor, window resize etc.), but there maybe a solution to that problem I don't know of, yet.

ViRGE- or Trio-based cards should be fairly easy to purchase on eBay. Here in germany, they are quite common. Maybe that's because of their good compatibility.

If that is not enough for you, you can always combine it with a 3Dfx add-on card (e.g. Voodoo, Voodoo2).

Best regards,
locutus
Last edited by Locutus on 2007-1-21 @ 15:06, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Locutus
Newbie
 
Posts: 65
Joined: 2007-1-08 @ 14:02
Location: Germany

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby StickByDos » 2007-1-21 @ 15:06

Hello

I use a Voodoo4 for dos games but for some games like Days of the Tentacle, I have swap with a S3 Virge/DX since with V4, it crash during intro with display constly shaking.
Recent S3 cards from 1998 with 4MB have vesa 2.0 bios but they don't work with 83MHz fsb.
Type win to loose the power of your computer !
StickByDos
Member
 
Posts: 122
Joined: 2006-9-08 @ 22:35
Location: France

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman » 2007-1-23 @ 01:51

I just wonder: have anyone tried Tseng Labs ET6000 for DOS games? Haven't tried those either, but I remember reading a November 1996 issue of Computer Gaming World (the article was about early 3D cards like Matrox Mystique and S3 Virge) that the ET6000 was still the fastest DOS VGA card around.


valnar wrote:I'm beefing up an old PII machine to be a killer DOS gaming box. And thanks to the wonder of eBay, I believe any card made is in my grasp - either now or eventually.


By the way, since you're already using PII, I guess the speed of VGA card doesn't really matter compared to VESA compatibility. See, DOS 3D games like Privateer 2 or Jane's ATF (games that don't use 3D API) relies more on CPU speed instead of video cards.
User avatar
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1679
Joined: 2006-11-15 @ 06:44
Location: Indonesia

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby swaaye » 2007-1-23 @ 21:29

One thing I want to say about Matrox cards is that not only do they have fast DOS support with good VESA, but Matrox released BIOS updates for basically all of them over the years. These updates fix various DOS issues I believe.

ET4000 and the S3 chipsets were the standard back in early/mid '90s DOS days though and are probably best bets for compatibility. However, few of these cards have VESA 2.0. You need TSRs to get that support.
User avatar
swaaye
Moderator
 
Posts: 5236
Joined: 2002-7-22 @ 21:24
Location: WI, USA

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Zup » 2007-1-23 @ 22:09

What about a Voodoo Banshee or Voodoo 3? These cards had very good VESA compatibility, but sadly they had no Windows 3.x drivers.
I have traveled across the universe and through the years to find Her.
Sometimes going all the way is just a start...

I'm selling some stuff!
User avatar
Zup
Oldbie
 
Posts: 602
Joined: 2003-10-04 @ 12:16

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby valnar » 2007-1-23 @ 23:34

This topic may live on, but I want to let everyone know that it appears I will stick with my Matrox G400 AGP card. It universally has good support for DOS, Win31 and Win9x, so it makes a great "legacy" gaming machine card. You can't beat the 2D quality as well. If I come across any Glide games in my collection that are worth playing again, I'll pick up a 3DFX PCI add-on card on eBay.

If anything is old enough to need an S3 or Tseng ET4000 over my Matrox, I probably will have the horsepower on my main P4 PC to run it under DOSBox.

Robert
valnar
Oldbie
 
Posts: 611
Joined: 2002-7-17 @ 13:50

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman » 2007-1-24 @ 07:31

Zup wrote:What about a Voodoo Banshee or Voodoo 3? These cards had very good VESA compatibility, but sadly they had no Windows 3.x drivers.


IIRC the Voodoos support VESA 3.0 instead of 2.0. How backward compatible VESA 3.0 is, I don't know, because I've never used the Voodoos (I have Voodoo5) to play DOS games.
User avatar
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1679
Joined: 2006-11-15 @ 06:44
Location: Indonesia

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby leileilol » 2007-1-26 @ 19:57

The Voodoo Banshee is actually great for DOS games (faster than the s3 in so many ways as well as it's got a very very solid 2D core), dunno about the Voodoo3 though.
On the virge of being a rendition of a raged voodoo savage with a bundle of TNT leading a revolution into an apocalypse. At speed warp 5, mindnumbed from the geforce
User avatar
leileilol
l33t++
 
Posts: 5194
Joined: 2006-12-16 @ 18:03

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Locutus » 2007-1-27 @ 01:57

@leileilol:

Interesting idea. Do you know if it supports Glide under DOS, just like a Voodoo or Voodoo²?

Regards,
locutus
User avatar
Locutus
Newbie
 
Posts: 65
Joined: 2007-1-08 @ 14:02
Location: Germany

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby valnar » 2007-1-27 @ 03:12

Now that I think about it, I may want to switch out my matrox G400 for a Voodoo Banshee or Voodoo 3000. I do want an AGP card.

I just tried a couple old DOS games of mine and the Matrox did not work. Does anyone else have any experience using the Matrox boards in old DOS games? It would be my preferred board of choice because it has excellent 2D quality and drivers for Windows 3.1 and 98, but not at the expense of quality. I suppose I could live without Windows 3.1 on my legacy box. I don't really need it.

Robert
valnar
Oldbie
 
Posts: 611
Joined: 2002-7-17 @ 13:50

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman » 2007-1-27 @ 12:40

Locutus wrote:Interesting idea. Do you know if it supports Glide under DOS, just like a Voodoo or Voodoo²?


I think every model of Voodoo should support DOS GLide, as long as the card can be set through Environment Variables (SST_..., etc).

However, many early GLide games (which also happen to be DOS GLide games) only work on Voodoo1 card --they only work with newer Voodoos through Environment Variable settings.

For example, Mechwarrior 2 (GLide version) doesn't work with Voodoo2, unless you set the necessary environment variables to make the Voodoo2 resembles Voodoo1.

IIRC, most patches to run "Voodoo1-only games" on Voodoo2 are nothing more but batch files.


valnar wrote:I just tried a couple old DOS games of mine and the Matrox did not work. Does anyone else have any experience using the Matrox boards in old DOS games?


What DOS games don't run on your Matrox? Do they required special resolution mode or such?

I have a Matrox Mystique on an old rig, and every DOS game I have run perfectly except Dawn Patrol, whose resolution is 640x400.
User avatar
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1679
Joined: 2006-11-15 @ 06:44
Location: Indonesia

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby valnar » 2007-1-27 @ 13:38

Commander Keen
Strip Poker 3 (Artworx)
valnar
Oldbie
 
Posts: 611
Joined: 2002-7-17 @ 13:50

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby 5u3 » 2007-1-27 @ 14:49

Just a short note (don't have the time right now for a longer one) -
- Tested a couple of Matrox cards (Millennium, G100, G200), they have known problems with games (flaky CGA/EGA emulation, VGA ModeX bug). BIOS upgrades will not help, as this is an hardware issue.
- All Voodoo 2D/3D combi cards (Banshee, V3, V4, V5, with the exception of Voodoo1 Rush) have nearly identical 2D cores. They're very fast and compatible with old games. VESA support is good, but missing the 15bpp modes (which shouldn't be a big problem, as rarely any games use these modes or support 16bpp as alternative).
- Don't know about the later S3 AGP chipsets, but any 2D core derived from the their 64bit PCI chipsets (Trio*, Virge*) is generally very compatible and reasonably fast.

BTW, there are lots of detailed information about these cards on this forum, just enter the model names in the search function.

P.S.: what about a Riva TNT/Geforce (2/MX) or a ATI Rage? They're also quite good with DOS games.
User avatar
5u3
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1422
Joined: 2005-9-06 @ 12:23
Location: Vienna, Austria

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby valnar » 2007-1-27 @ 16:08

I had Riva128 back in the day and was totally turned off by it's very obvious blurry 2D. It really was the worst 2D quality (not speed, that was great) that I had ever seen. In fact, that card turned me off to nVidia based cards all the way until I finally got a 6600GT for my current rig. I suppose nVidia and I have bad blood between us. :evil:

I did have a Banshee back then too. Perhaps I'll swap it out and buy a 3000 or 3500 off eBay. I only lose Windows 3.1 support. Matrox has it all, but for a legacy gaming machine, I can't let my prejudices take over. This is for old games and Windows 98...

Robert
valnar
Oldbie
 
Posts: 611
Joined: 2002-7-17 @ 13:50

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman » 2007-1-28 @ 14:33

valnar wrote:Commander Keen
Strip Poker 3 (Artworx)


Both games work perfectly on my Matrox Mystique. Besides, both of them only support low-res VGA, don't they? (Well I'm sure Commander Keen has nothing beyond 320x200, unlike Duke Nukem 3D)

I've never have problems using my Mystique on 320x200 resolution. Exotic reslutions (like 640x400), yes, but only with certain games.
User avatar
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1679
Joined: 2006-11-15 @ 06:44
Location: Indonesia

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Cloudschatze » 2007-1-28 @ 22:16

Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman wrote:
valnar wrote:Commander Keen


...work(s) perfectly on my Matrox Mystique.


Oh? So, I guess you don't mind the jerky scrolling? ;)
User avatar
Cloudschatze
Member
 
Posts: 498
Joined: 2005-6-16 @ 14:32

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Locutus » 2007-1-29 @ 00:32

Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman wrote:
valnar wrote:Commander Keen
Strip Poker 3 (Artworx)


Both games work perfectly on my Matrox Mystique.


Episodes I through III DO work perfectly, however I won't believe you, if you say your Matrox card works with Episodes IV to VI. ;-)

Regards,
locutus
User avatar
Locutus
Newbie
 
Posts: 65
Joined: 2007-1-08 @ 14:02
Location: Germany

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman » 2007-1-29 @ 01:33

Locutus wrote:Episodes I through III DO work perfectly, however I won't believe you, if you say your Matrox card works with Episodes IV to VI. ;-)


Well I did not finish the game, though. I stopped playing when reaching Episode II. :happyhappy:

What happens on Episode IV and above that makes the game unplayable, by the way? I mean, does the resolution mode change in such way that makes the game unplayable?
User avatar
Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman
Oldbie
 
Posts: 1679
Joined: 2006-11-15 @ 06:44
Location: Indonesia

Re: Best DOS video card?

Postby Locutus » 2007-1-29 @ 09:37

Kreshna Aryaguna Nurzaman wrote:What happens on Episode IV and above that makes the game unplayable, by the way? I mean, does the resolution mode change in such way that makes the game unplayable?


Well, some kind of tearing takes place when walking left or right (horizontal scrolling). The whole screen flickers and it's not smooth at all.

Why don't you just give it a try and see for yourself? There's a Cmdr. Keen IV Demo on 3DRealms' site, I believe. Or you might want to get the fullversion of Cmdr. Keen VI at abandonia.com.

Regards,
locutus
User avatar
Locutus
Newbie
 
Posts: 65
Joined: 2007-1-08 @ 14:02
Location: Germany

Next

Return to DOS

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest