VOGONS


First post, by BetaC

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So I recently made a thread about a build I was wanting to do, and through sheer luck, and a little bit of 'oh that looks like it will work' I've been able to actually pull through with it. Now, my build is mostly finalized hardware wise, with me only missing a properly wired Gameport-MIDI cable for my SC-55. Software wise, and case wise, I still have a little way to go. I'll be in the market for case badges for the plethora of hardware that is technically in this system, and in the market for some dumb star wars stickers as well, but that's besides the point.

The Purpose
As per my thread asking for advice, I was looking to make this computer as a sort of catch-all for the various Star Wars DOS and early Windows games, with the cutoff being around 1999. After all, stuff past that point is a lot less likely to have problems on modern-ish operating systems and hardware. Plus, I already have an XP Mahcine that has a 7900GTX to handle that stuff. I am also going to be using this system to play things from the Windows 98/Late DOS era, including things like Lego Island, and various shooters as well.

The Hardware
This build was initially started by me going to a local computer shop to see what they had. While there, I managed to find myself a Pentium II 350 that, at the time, was just something interesting to grab. From there, I started thinking about what I could use it for, which led to the previously mentioned thread. Everything snowballed from there, sorta, and because of that, I will be posting the parts in the order they were received, at least within the separated categories.

The CPU(s)
IMG_20190808_155001.jpg
Unknown to me at the time, I had found a somewhat rare Pentium 2. While it is a Deschutes 350, it actually has an unlocked multiplier. Sure, it's on the lower end of the Deschutes line, so it can't be stepped down too far, but it's still rather nice to be able to mess with the clocks. When it's running later DOS games, I have it set to stock speeds, which can be seen in the link below:
3r9i6w-6.png
And for the sake of showing the feature, and in part for fun, I have it set to 66MHz FSB/3.0 Multipler when running older DOS games, which can be seen in the link below:
na4xs4-6.png

IMG_20190905_203949.jpg
A few weeks later, I managed to come across a free floating Pentium 3 550 that looked to be in great condition. Luckily for me, the look was correct, and the processor was effectively new-old stock. It wasn't in the original packaging, as it was probably a replacement for an OEM. After seeing some framerate issues in Jedi Knight, I decided to pop it in to my Motherboard for my windows games. This, and the plethora of Sound Cards, actually led to me having multiple "Hard Drives" in my system.

The Motherboard
IMG_20190907_003941.jpg
I don't have a picture of the motherboard from before it was put in to the case, so a picture of the box will suffice. As the box doesn't really tell you what the board is, It's a new stock Gigabyte GA-6BXC, which uses the SE440BX AGPset. I had initially purchased an Asus P2-99 REV 1.12, which came with 384MB of Ram, and a slotket P3, but it ended up getting damaged in shipment.

The seller wrapped it up in multiple layers of bubble wrap, but decided to leave the slotket in the socket while they shipped it. This led to the socket getting internally messed up, which led to the system not posting. Luckily, I was able to salvage the RAM, and the cooler for the slotket's heatsink. Needless to say, the Gigabyte board worked. The only downside is that single sided RAM seems to only be counted as half their capacity. This led to me using only my double-sided 256MB stick.

The GPU
file.jpg
This is the purchase that made everything snowball, and for good reason. I bought the card on Ebay, and, despite the fact that the seller didn't offer local pickup officially, I was able to pick it up after I got through with work on the same day. It's a rather normal Voodoo 3 3000, with only VGA. While it would have been interesting to have a video out that I could hook up to my RetroTINK, I'm not going to cry about it. After all, my Lenovo ThinkVision monitor has zero issues with most resolutions.

The Storage
IMG_20190907_002355.jpg
Despite the fact that I legitimately love the sound of older hard drives loudly seeking, I am also a fan of SSDs. In fact, I don't have a single spinning drive in my VR/Modern desktop. So, I chose to go with an SD Card solution to the problem, which, in turn also allowed me to have multiple installations for whatever different hardware I wanted to have. I was five when Windows 98 came out, so I am not the kind of person who has enough knowledge of DOS to make multiple sound cards not be a headache. For my Windows games, I am using the pictured 64GB card, and for both of my DOS game installs, I am using two 16GB cards.

The Case/Power Supply
IMG_20190907_020416.jpg
(Yes, that's a bunch of Star Wars console games, and no less than 14 books stacked up. What you can't see is a separate stack of 22 books, which is the entire Yuuzhan Vong War, and Swarm War. I have a problem, if you couldn't tell.)

The case is a modern Corsair Carbide, and the power supply is a new Corsair CX-650M Semi-modular power supply. As much as I wanted to be period-correct with some of my hardware, this is a place where modernity just makes things easier. My power supply has a warranty, and my case has cable management room and screwless mounting for optical drives. What's not to love? Plus, I can technically call it a reverse-sleeper, or a Ricer. In there you can also see the CD Drive I am using, a Creative CD5230E. It works, and has the CD-Audio connector in the back, so it works.

This is where the hardware splits off in to three categories, and where I will split this off in to a separate post.

Last edited by BetaC on 2019-09-08, 08:47. Edited 3 times in total.

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Reply 1 of 13, by BetaC

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This is the continuation of the post above.

The Sound Hardware
So this is the part in which my setup gets a little interesting. As I previously said, I am not the kind of person who's good at DOS configuration. I also have the luxury of multiple "SSDs" thanks to my IDE to SD adapter. So, to solve potential issues, I made a separate Windows 98SE install for each sound card. That way I don't have to worry about my Yamaha card and Vortex card both trying to act as the DOS sound blaster, and can keep the somewhat odd setup to make my AWE work right in 98-DOS separate from the Yamaha setup.

The Yamaha OPL3-SAx
IMG_20190908_013906.jpg

As per a few posts in different threads, this card was a somewhat accidental find. I picked it up because of the Yamaha chip, then posted here about it because it wasn't the easiest thing to google. It was also made harder to look up because of the card saying "Girl" on the back. Now that I have installed it, though, I'm pleased to say that it's just a normal OPL3 card.

IMG_20190906_200824.jpg

Generally speaking, I use it for games that only have Sound Blaster options for their music. I have indeed seen the light following attempting to play Wolfenstein 3D on my AWE64. the OPL emulation on that card just didn't sound right at all. This is how the inside of the computer looks when it is in this mode.

The AWE64 (Value)
IMG_20190819_201112__01.jpg

This was an odd pickup, as it was sitting in a random closet in the engineering room for the TV station that I work at. The engineer, who isn't an IT guy, thought it was a graphics card when I pointed it out. I got it for the price of free, and I honestly can't complain about it. There's a small problem that seems to crop up when running setup applications, though. The card seems to have a runaway loudness issue if I test the various music modes. A quick reset fixes the issue.

IMG_20190906_185703.jpg
I use this card for the later DOS games, and, once I've got actually working MIDI Cables in, I won't need to be worried about the lackluster General MIDI sound that comes from the AWE.

The Turtle Beach Montego II
This was originally going to be a Vortex 1 version of the card, but as of quite literally the Friday before this was posted, it was upgraded to an A3D 2.0 card. The story for this isn't really all that interesting, outside of it being hidden in a pile of cards.

IMG_20190906_184741.jpg

This card is used in my Windows exclusive machine, and is paired with my Pentium III. I am very much looking forward to playing Jedi Knight with proper positional audio.

If you guys have any questions, I will gladly answer them, and, in time, will update this thread if and when I eventually make small upgrades to the build. Everything has managed to work, and in the event of something going wrong, I even have a rather useful disk image for Windows 98 with my Voodoo Drivers, and nothing else, installed already. It also means that I only had to type in my legitimate key once.

Last edited by BetaC on 2019-09-08, 09:16. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 2 of 13, by kolderman

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You're not swapping out sound cards to play different games I hope? Windows should do a good job of assigning IRQs to the devices anyway. And the AWE64 does very good midi out, not sure where this lackluster idea comes from.

Reply 3 of 13, by BetaC

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kolderman wrote:

You're not swapping out sound cards to play different games I hope? Windows should do a good job of assigning IRQs to the devices anyway. And the AWE64 does very good midi out, not sure where this lackluster idea comes from.

I am doing that, and have a separate SD card for each card. And I am currently only able to do MIDI through the sound don’t that is built in to the card for now, not through my SC-55, so it does sound a bit odd at times.

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Reply 4 of 13, by kolderman

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The vortex should not conflict with the ISA card if you don't install DOS drivers for it. I would give it a try at least. And the AWE doesn't really give you anything over the yamaha IMO...most games with AWE support likely have GM support as well. Unless you are really keen on loading special soundfonts....but you need a ram adapter for that anyway (expensive). Not having to switch cards and OSs is probably a good thing as you risk damaging something each time.

Reply 5 of 13, by pshipkov

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Great system. Especially given the low cost of acquiring the components. Thanks for sharing.

I see quite a few SW games there. Which one will be the first to go inside the optical drive ?

I too never fully explored stacking multiple sound cards in the same PC.
Wonder if there is a compiled list of rules somewhere out there that will save me searching online and piecing it all together ?

retro bits and bytes

Reply 6 of 13, by BetaC

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pshipkov wrote:
Great system. Especially given the low cost of acquiring the components. Thanks for sharing. […]
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Great system. Especially given the low cost of acquiring the components. Thanks for sharing.

I see quite a few SW games there. Which one will be the first to go inside the optical drive ?

I too never fully explored stacking multiple sound cards in the same PC.
Wonder if there is a compiled list of rules somewhere out there that will save me searching online and piecing it all together ?

None of them, actually. That stack of games is 100% console, and, as much as I do want to mess around with the old emulators for 98 era hardware, I can’t pretend that using the actual consoles and my Retrotink aren’t a better solution. That said, I did use my big box copies of Jedi Knight and Dark Forces when installing both.

As for the expense, the entire system cost around $400, and most of that was in the Voodoo card, and the brand new case and power supply, both of which are useful for more than just this build.

kolderman wrote:

The vortex should not conflict with the ISA card if you don't install DOS drivers for it. I would give it a try at least. And the AWE doesn't really give you anything over the yamaha IMO...most games with AWE support likely have GM support as well. Unless you are really keen on loading special soundfonts....but you need a ram adapter for that anyway (expensive). Not having to switch cards and OSs is probably a good thing as you risk damaging something each time.

Thanks for the advice, and I have been told the same before. In this case, it’s just me wanting to experiment with more hardware. After all, switching OSes is as simple as opening my case and popping in a new SD card.

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Reply 7 of 13, by Windows9566

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BetaC wrote:
So I recently made a thread about a build I was wanting to do, and through sheer luck, and a little bit of 'oh that looks like i […]
Show full quote

So I recently made a thread about a build I was wanting to do, and through sheer luck, and a little bit of 'oh that looks like it will work' I've been able to actually pull through with it. Now, my build is mostly finalized hardware wise, with me only missing a properly wired Gameport-MIDI cable for my SC-55. Software wise, and case wise, I still have a little way to go. I'll be in the market for case badges for the plethora of hardware that is technically in this system, and in the market for some dumb star wars stickers as well, but that's besides the point.

The Purpose
As per my thread asking for advice, I was looking to make this computer as a sort of catch-all for the various Star Wars DOS and early Windows games, with the cutoff being around 1999. After all, stuff past that point is a lot less likely to have problems on modern-ish operating systems and hardware. Plus, I already have an XP Mahcine that has a 7900GTX to handle that stuff. I am also going to be using this system to play things from the Windows 98/Late DOS era, including things like Lego Island, and various shooters as well.

The Hardware
This build was initially started by me going to a local computer shop to see what they had. While there, I managed to find myself a Pentium II 350 that, at the time, was just something interesting to grab. From there, I started thinking about what I could use it for, which led to the previously mentioned thread. Everything snowballed from there, sorta, and because of that, I will be posting the parts in the order they were received, at least within the separated categories.

The CPU(s)
IMG_20190808_155001.jpg
Unknown to me at the time, I had found a somewhat rare Pentium 2. While it is a Deschutes 350, it actually has an unlocked multiplier. Sure, it's on the lower end of the Deschutes line, so it can't be stepped down too far, but it's still rather nice to be able to mess with the clocks. When it's running later DOS games, I have it set to stock speeds, which can be seen in the link below:
3r9i6w-6.png
And for the sake of showing the feature, and in part for fun, I have it set to 66MHz FSB/3.0 Multipler when running older DOS games, which can be seen in the link below:
na4xs4-6.png

IMG_20190905_203949.jpg
A few weeks later, I managed to come across a free floating Pentium 3 550 that looked to be in great condition. Luckily for me, the look was correct, and the processor was effectively new-old stock. It wasn't in the original packaging, as it was probably a replacement for an OEM. After seeing some framerate issues in Jedi Knight, I decided to pop it in to my Motherboard for my windows games. This, and the plethora of Sound Cards, actually led to me having multiple "Hard Drives" in my system.

The Motherboard
IMG_20190907_003941.jpg
I don't have a picture of the motherboard from before it was put in to the case, so a picture of the box will suffice. As the box doesn't really tell you what the board is, It's a new stock Gigabyte GA-6BXC, which uses the SE440BX AGPset. I had initially purchased an Asus P2-99 REV 1.12, which came with 384MB of Ram, and a slotket P3, but it ended up getting damaged in shipment.

The seller wrapped it up in multiple layers of bubble wrap, but decided to leave the slotket in the socket while they shipped it. This led to the socket getting internally messed up, which led to the system not posting. Luckily, I was able to salvage the RAM, and the cooler for the slotket's heatsink. Needless to say, the Gigabyte board worked. The only downside is that single sided RAM seems to only be counted as half their capacity. This led to me using only my double-sided 256MB stick.

The GPU
file.jpg
This is the purchase that made everything snowball, and for good reason. I bought the card on Ebay, and, despite the fact that the seller didn't offer local pickup officially, I was able to pick it up after I got through with work on the same day. It's a rather normal Voodoo 3 3000, with only VGA. While it would have been interesting to have a video out that I could hook up to my RetroTINK, I'm not going to cry about it. After all, my Lenovo ThinkVision monitor has zero issues with most resolutions.

The Storage
IMG_20190907_002355.jpg
Despite the fact that I legitimately love the sound of older hard drives loudly seeking, I am also a fan of SSDs. In fact, I don't have a single spinning drive in my VR/Modern desktop. So, I chose to go with an SD Card solution to the problem, which, in turn also allowed me to have multiple installations for whatever different hardware I wanted to have. I was five when Windows 98 came out, so I am not the kind of person who has enough knowledge of DOS to make multiple sound cards not be a headache. For my Windows games, I am using the pictured 64GB card, and for both of my DOS game installs, I am using two 16GB cards.

The Case/Power Supply
IMG_20190907_020416.jpg
(Yes, that's a bunch of Star Wars console games, and no less than 14 books stacked up. What you can't see is a separate stack of 22 books, which is the entire Yuuzhan Vong War, and Swarm War. I have a problem, if you couldn't tell.)

The case is a modern Corsair Carbide, and the power supply is a new Corsair CX-650M Semi-modular power supply. As much as I wanted to be period-correct with some of my hardware, this is a place where modernity just makes things easier. My power supply has a warranty, and my case has cable management room and screwless mounting for optical drives. What's not to love? Plus, I can technically call it a reverse-sleeper, or a Ricer. In there you can also see the CD Drive I am using, a Creative CD5230E. It works, and has the CD-Audio connector in the back, so it works.

This is where the hardware splits off in to three categories, and where I will split this off in to a separate post.

I have that same case that has a Windows XP machine in it.

Reply 9 of 13, by chinny22

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Another bonus of the modern case is those fanless OEM heat sinks are much nicer the the standard Intel ones but they do need good airflow and that case is going to be way better then even the original OEM system the CPU came from. Not to mention you can look at all your old hardware thought the window 😀

I agree with the above, the multiple SD cards keeps things nice and tidy software wise, but you probably don't need to keep swapping the cards out, Just disable them in Windows device manager and dos wont even know about them if you don't load drivers.
You can SD adapters that mount in a slot like this then you wouldn't even have to open the case.
http://www.lunashops.com/goods.php?id=2130

Also if it was me I'd have a 2nd hard drive of some type to install your games that you wouldn't swap out. That way you wouldn't have to keep reinstalling the game for each different sound card.
But these are all just suggestions, I think its a really nice PC you've built .

Reply 10 of 13, by BetaC

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chinny22 wrote:
Another bonus of the modern case is those fanless OEM heat sinks are much nicer the the standard Intel ones but they do need goo […]
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Another bonus of the modern case is those fanless OEM heat sinks are much nicer the the standard Intel ones but they do need good airflow and that case is going to be way better then even the original OEM system the CPU came from. Not to mention you can look at all your old hardware thought the window 😀

I agree with the above, the multiple SD cards keeps things nice and tidy software wise, but you probably don't need to keep swapping the cards out, Just disable them in Windows device manager and dos wont even know about them if you don't load drivers.
You can SD adapters that mount in a slot like this then you wouldn't even have to open the case.
http://www.lunashops.com/goods.php?id=2130

Also if it was me I'd have a 2nd hard drive of some type to install your games that you wouldn't swap out. That way you wouldn't have to keep reinstalling the game for each different sound card.
But these are all just suggestions, I think its a really nice PC you've built .

In this case, I've gone the extra mile and have only installed things that benefit from each card. Stuff Like Wolfenstein is on the SD card for the Yamaha, and Dark Forces is on the AWE, etc.

I am having a problem with Dark Froces, and doom to a lesser extent. The Latter runs at a terrible framerate if it is in DOS, but is good in windows, while the former seems to not want to run, giving me an error 2002 in DOSG4W. when I use MIDI OUT

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Reply 11 of 13, by bandicoot67

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My search recommends placing this X-Wing CD info in this thread if it helps someone at some point. Im hoping you approve of this post of mine BetaC!

So far i have only been able to get X-Wing CD to run on 486, 586, win98 and win98SE installs.
No luck what-so-ever in getting X-Wing CD to run on XP with two different patches but to be fair, I have yet to test them on an XP sp3 system yet.
Maybe this is why it's not working?
Screenies chasing the XP fix for reference purposes.
The link in the first pic apparently due to someone like me who can't get X-Wing CD working on XP and supposed to be interesting, lead me to disneys about star wars X-wing! 🙁
No mention of this info here.
"autoexec.nt" file needed can be found in the Windows\Repair folder, and to, copy it to your Windows\system32 folder...but that's just for install issues?
I got X-Wing CD to install on XP, just can't get the darn thing running yet. I highly suspect to expect it's something im doing wrong, eventually i may even prove myself right!

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Reply 12 of 13, by BetaC

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bandicoot67 wrote:

My search recommends placing this X-Wing CD info in this thread if it helps someone at some point. Im hoping you approve of this post of mine BetaC!

I don’t mind.

And I am updating this thread again because I’ve consolidated after learning that there’s just something wrong with the AWE64. Since then, I have decided to just move everything out of my DOS+AWE install, and in to my straight Windows 98 install. Since making that choice, I haven’t had any major issues using my Aureal 3D 2 as a Soundblaster emulator for the DOS games that have MIDI out support. I still use a separate install for OPL benefitting games.

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Have my desktop, which reflects this semi-final state for the build.

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Reply 13 of 13, by BetaC

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Well, it's been over a year since this was last posted about, so I thought I would share some updates with you all. While the base elements of this build are mostly the same, there have been multiple changes.

Optical Drive
Believe me when I say that I didn't change to a black drive for aesthetics. Instead, the reason why I went from a Creative-branded CD Drive to a DVD Drive is because the CD Drive has developed some serious issues. It will intermittently decide to just fail to read a disk, and sometimes that will happen in the middle of doing something like installing a game. It also seems to randomly get stuck trying to initialize if something goes wrong in, specifically, windows 95. But, really, I can't complain too much about being able to read DVDs now, even if nothing this machine does requires one.

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Storage and RAM, since that's technically storage too...
While I haven't really changed the storage device, I have managed to mount it to the front of my system, specifically on top of the GOTEK floppy emulator. It's just a bit more convenient this way, even if it wasn't wholly necessary. I now only have to open up the system to change hardware, instead of to change hardware and or change something on the various SD Cards I'm using.

As for RAM, i've "upgraded" to using 288MB. Why so specific? Because I managed to fill my Powermac G3 out with a full gigabyte. Yeah, it's weird. I have a singe-sided 64MB SDRAM module, which is read by my BIOS to only be 32MB, in the first slot, and it is the only permanent stick. Well, that is at least until I build an even older system. beyond that are two double-sided 128MB Modules to give Windows environments above 3.11 more RAM. I'm yet to encounter any real issues with this setup, so let's hope it stays that way.

Eternal Internals

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As you can see here, a bit has changed since last year. Instead of changing out sound cards when I want to play a game that uses one, I am instead just using all three of the main cards at once. Plus, once I have the older system I mentioned above, I will only have two cards in there. The only things that are switched out, barring the previously mentioned RAM, are the CPU and the Graphics card. Really, though, only the CPU gets changed often.

The CPU hasn't changed too much, outside of me switching to the Coppermine 700E, and taking the loud fan off of the heatsink. After extensive "touch the aluminum" testing, I have found it to not be excessively hot, even with just a modern exhaust fan behind it. I may make some sort of air-guide for it at some point, but it's a very low priority.

Also, before anyone tries to tell me I could manage my cables a bit more, I actually can't. I have tried, and that is as hidden as multiple ribbon cables plus a full girth braided ATX cable can possibly be while working within this case.

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Graphics changes
The only real change here has been me adding a GeForce 2 PRO GTS in to the mix. I was originally going to go with the TNT2 that I picked up at around the same time, but that has some awful horizontal smearing happening. The Geforce 2 is currently only ever installed when I am running Windows 2000, but after recent changes in the hardware configuration, that OS seems to always get stuck on "Verifying DMI Data" when booting from an already done installation, and seemingly can't install on a 32GB SD Card. Some day I will figure it out.

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Sound
The main differences here are in the sound hardware, and how I have managed to get things mostly stable. Above is the only card that has actually been added in to the system, and is, very obviously, an Audigy 2 ZS. Well, it should be obvious. Creative's Drivers can't seem to figure out that it is an Audigy 2ZS, instead considering it to be just an Audigy. This also means I can't use the VXD drivers, but the only games in which the performance difference between the VXD and WDM drivers would be relevant are better run on my XP Machine.

I also still have the Aureal Vortex 2 card in the middle, though it seems to be having a bit of a fit. Specifically, it works fine as an output, but for some reason, it can't be detected by games that use A3D when the Audigy is plugged in. This isn't too terrible, since Half-Life is the only game I would play on here regularly that truly benefits from A3D, so, again, that is something I will eventually figure out.

Otherwise, I have chosen to use my AWE64 Value for DOS games and as my general purpose MIDI output. That card doesn't have any real problems, after things were configured correctly. If you're wondering where the Yamaha card is now, it's sitting with other parts that are going to be repurposed sometime soon. With the exception of Wolfenstein 3D, I wasn't playing anything that was utilizing OPL Synthesis, so I have chosen the ability to play higher res sounds for now.

Miscellaneous additions and Operating Systems

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Above is the only card that isn't explicitly gaming that has been added to this setup. Yes, it's a cute little intel PRO1000 PCI NIC. I will someday find the drivers that make it work in both DOS and Windows 3.1, where it will be used for novelty purposes.

As for Operating Systems, I have ditched the "Windows 98 for everything" approach, and this is mostly thanks to me becoming far more comfortable with DOS configuration. When I have the Pentium II in, the system runs a fully set up DOS 6.22 install, and has recently had Windows 3.11 FWG added on top of it for the sake of having it. It even has EMS set up through MEMMAKER, allowing X-Wing to run without having a fit. The only other addition, beyond having the normal CTMOUSE and VIDECDD loaded, is the Creative MPU-401 Fix. With that, I haven't had issues with the Lucasarts games crashing because they tried to use General MIDI.

When the Pentium III is in, I'm just running a default install of Windows 98SE, albeit with the handful of DOS drivers that could be installed for my sound cards uninstalled. There isn't too much to gloat about in that, beyond it not having any real stability issues.

And that is all for now. I don't expect to make any more updates to this thread in the future, mostly because I want to build new old systems. Hope you've all enjoyed this.

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