First post, by Joseph_Joestar
- Intel Core i5 3570K (Ivy Bridge)
- MSI Z77A-G43 (MS-7758)
- 16GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 PC3-12800
- MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4G
- Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro PCIe (SB0880)
- Intel Pro/1000 GT Network Card
- Crucial 240GB SSD (WindowsXP + SP3)
- Samsung 500GB SSD (Windows7 + SP1)
- Samsung 500GB SSD (Debian Linux 12)
- Western Digital 4TB HDD (storage)
- Lite-On SH-16A7S DVD-RW
- Seasonic Focus GX-850 PSU
- Blueberry BC-G52 case
- Sharkoon USB 3.0 front panel
- Samsung SyncMaster S24B420BW 24" LCD monitor (1920x1200 native resolution)
- Logitech X-530 Surround Sound Speakers (5.1 system)
I bought this PC back in 2013 and mainly used it for work, hence the 16GB RAM. For a long time it served as my main system, and was running Win7 all the way up to 2020 when the extended support period ended. Honestly, I didn't even realize that the motherboard had official WinXP drivers until that time, which is when I decided to turn it into a retro rig. Now, the main purpose of this build is to play 2002-2009 WinXP games at the 1600x1200 resolution using the best possible video and audio settings.
This Core i5 3570K CPU is more than enough for most WinXP games that I intend to play on this rig. The only downside is that I have to force CPU affinity to a single core for a few titles which have problems otherwise. I've replaced the stock cooler with an aftermarket one and also added two case fans. This keeps temperatures below 50C, even under full load.
This MSI board is based on Intel's Z77 chipset and works fine for my needs. Its WinXP drivers are stll hosted on the manufacturer's website and stability has been very good. I also like that it has a few PCI slots, in case I decide to put some older hardware in this rig at some point.
This MSI GeForce GTX 970 Gaming 4G fits my needs well enough, since I game at the 1600x1200 resolution 99% of the time. Anti Aliasing and Anisotropic Filtering can be cranked up as desired, and the GTX 970 handles that with ease. I really like the cooling solution on this card, since it's barely audible until the card enters full load, and that rarely happens while running WinXP era games. On that note, there is an official (not modded) driver which supports GTX 970 cards under WinXP. More info and download links can be found in this thread on MSFN.
I recently got this X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro PCIe. I had the OEM version of that card before, but the Fatal1ty branded one comes with 64MB X-RAM, if that even matters in this day and age. Supposedly, that can improve performance in some games like Unreal Tournament 2004, but I doubt it will make much difference on this system. The main reason I'm using this card is because of its excellent EAX capabilities, since many WinXP games support EAX in some form. On that note, Thief: Deadly Shadows, Doom 3 and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory are true EAX showpieces in my book. For anyone with an X-Fi card, I can highly recommend trying those games and experiencing their masterful sound design.
I keep each of my three operating systems on a separate drive, so that they don't mess with each other. WinXP is used for gaming of course, Win7 for maintenance purposes and Debian for downloading GOG offline game installers from the internet which are then stored on the 4TB mechanical HDD for easy access from WinXP.
I'm fairly satisfied with this system as it plays WinXP games up to (and including) 2009 quite well. I figured, since that's the year when Win7 came out, it should be a good cutoff point for XP gaming. In fact, this system can play some Win7 games from the early 2010s fully maxed out at 1080p, which is a nice bonus.