VOGONS


First post, by Joseph_Joestar

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System specs

  • Intel Core i5 3550P (Ivy Bridge)
  • MSI Z77A-G43 (MS-7758)
  • 16GB Kingston HyperX DDR3 PC3-12800
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 650Ti
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Pro PCIe (SB0880)
  • Crucial 240GB SSD (WindowsXP + SP3)
  • Samsung 500GB SSD (Windows7 + SP1)
  • Samsung 500GB SSD (Debian Linux 11)
  • Western Digital 4TB HDD (storage)
  • Lite-On SH-16A7S DVD-RW
  • Seasonic S12 III 650W PSU
  • Blueberry BC-G52 case
  • Sharkoon USB 3.0 front panel
  • LG Flatron L1753HR 17" LCD monitor (1280x1024 native resolution)
  • Logitech X-530 Surround Sound Speakers (5.1 system)

Introduction

I bought this PC back in 2013 and mainly used it for work. Hence the 16GB RAM and only a GTX 650Ti. It served as my main rig running Win7 all the way until early 2020 when the extended support period ended. Honestly, I didn't even realize that this system had WinXP drivers until a year ago, which is when I decided to turn it into a retro rig. The main purpose of this build is to play 2002-2009 WinXP games at the 1280x1024 resolution using the best video and audio settings.

CPU

This Core i5 3550P 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.

Motherboard

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.

Graphics card

This Gigabyte GTX 650Ti fits my needs well enough, since I game at the 1280x1024 resolution 99% of the time. I appreciate that its DVI output paired with 320.18 drivers allows me to select the scaling options under WinXP and set them to my liking. This is useful for those few, edge case games which only run at a single, fixed resolution like 1024x768. BTW, I would have gone with something more powerful like a 960Ti, if GPU prices from that era were a bit more reasonable.

Sound Card

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.

Operating Systems

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.

Conclusion

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. There's still some room for upgrading this rig, provided that I manage to find the relevant hardware for a reasonable price.

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Last edited by Joseph_Joestar on 2022-05-23, 10:08. Edited 1 time in total.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 1 of 10, by Joseph_Joestar

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A couple of benchmarks:

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For the 3DMark tests, the default benchmarks were used. For the game benchmarks, the following versions were used:

  • FarCry v1.4 benchmarked using the "HardwareOC FarCry Benchmark" at the "Ultra Detail" preset
  • Doom 3 v1.31 benchmarked at the "Ultra Quality" preset using the built-in "timedemo demo1 usecache" console command
  • Splinter Cell Chaos Theory v1.05 benchmarked using the stock "Timedemo.bat" file. VSync and Anti Aliasing are turned off, all other settings have been fully maxed out
  • Crysis (GOG version) benchmarked using the stock "Benchmark_GPU.bat" file at the "High" graphical settings

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 2 of 10, by Sombrero

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Nice rig!

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-05-23, 09:57:

CPU

This Core i5 3550P 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.

Forcing the cpu affinity is just one of those things, even though using something like imagecfg to force troublesome games to use only one core is very reliable and easy it still felt somehow... wrong. Hopefully you find it less bothering than I did 😀

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-05-23, 09:57:

Motherboard

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.

Nice, that's the first Ivy Bridge motherboard I've seen that straight up offers XP drivers right from the manufacturers site, I knew there had to be some out there! I gave up finding one myself when I built my first "retro" WinXP PC and just went with Sandy Bridge.

Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-05-23, 09:57:

Graphics card

This Gigabyte GTX 650Ti fits my needs well enough, since I game at the 1280x1024 resolution 99% of the time. I appreciate that its DVI output paired with 320.18 drivers allows me to select the scaling options under WinXP and set them to my liking. This is useful for those few, edge case games which only run at a single, fixed resolution like 1024x768. BTW, I would have gone with something more powerful like a 960Ti, if GPU prices from that era were a bit more reasonable.

Should be just fine for 1280x1024, I used to have a GTX 660 and remember only Deus Ex: Human Revolution being a bit sluggish at times @1920x1080 maxed out and that came out 2011. But do me a favor, let me know if you ever run into any driver issues with early XP games with it, I'd be interested to hear how well compatibility holds up.

DOS/Win98SE: Pentium III 650MHz / Voodoo 3 3000 / Sound Blaster Audigy 2 / Orpheus
WinXP: Pentium 4 HT 651 3.4GHz (65W) / 9800 GTX+ / Sound Blaster X-Fi
Win7/10: Xeon E3-1230 v3 / GTX 1660 Ti / Sound Blaster Z

Reply 3 of 10, by Joseph_Joestar

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Sombrero wrote on 2022-05-23, 11:40:

Forcing the cpu affinity is just one of those things, even though using something like imagecfg to force troublesome games to use only one core is very reliable and easy it still felt somehow... wrong. Hopefully you find it less bothering than I did 😀

I'm curious, how frequently did you need to set affinity for pre-2005 WinXP games? I usually look up whatever I'm going to play on the PC gaming wiki to see if I need to make any compatibility adjustments. It surprised me that Max Payne 2 apparently has issues with multi-core CPUs, since I wanted to replay that on this rig.

Nice, that's the first Ivy Bridge motherboard I've seen that straight up offers XP drivers right from the manufacturers site, I knew there had to be some out there! I gave up finding one myself when I built my first "retro" WinXP PC and just went with Sandy Bridge.

Heh, it was totally unexpected for me as well. About a year ago, I was looking at the MSI website to check if there were any BIOS updates for this board, when I noticed that WinXP drivers were officially supported. I immediately grabbed everything from there, fearing that it might disappear at some point.

But do me a favor, let me know if you ever run into any driver issues with early XP games with it, I'd be interested to hear how well compatibility holds up.

Cheers, will do! If that happens, I have an Athlon64 system with a GeForce4 Ti4200 which I can use for comparison purposes. From prior experience, I know that Gothic has some problems and that the original Splinter Cell doesn't look right on newer GPUs.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 4 of 10, by Sombrero

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-05-23, 13:35:

I'm curious, how frequently did you need to set affinity for pre-2005 WinXP games? I usually look up whatever I'm going to play on the PC gaming wiki to see if I need to make any compatibility adjustments. It surprised me that Max Payne 2 apparently has issues with multi-core CPUs, since I wanted to replay that on this rig.

With the Sandy Bridge rig I built I just disabled the second core and hyper threading to make it single core to maximize compatibility so I didn't need to even think about it. To me there isn't really "late XP games", games that benefit/need dual cores are already in Win7 territory in my mind. But with the Q9500 I had back in the day I don't remember having to do it often at all, Knights of the Old Republic and Neverwinter Nights were two that did need it but I can't think any other from top of my head right now. I'm sure there were others but surprisingly few in the end.

From what I remember I think I was more bothered by the always looming possibility of issues than by the real actual issues that did crop up 😁

DOS/Win98SE: Pentium III 650MHz / Voodoo 3 3000 / Sound Blaster Audigy 2 / Orpheus
WinXP: Pentium 4 HT 651 3.4GHz (65W) / 9800 GTX+ / Sound Blaster X-Fi
Win7/10: Xeon E3-1230 v3 / GTX 1660 Ti / Sound Blaster Z

Reply 5 of 10, by DosFreak

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Settings affinity was extremely rare and barely anything to worry about. For those that do you can either manually do it through task manager or setup a batch file for the game to do it.

As for dual-core I noticed the benefit greatly on 2000 and above on a dual P3 on everything since the OS was multi-threaded and for the few games ath the time that were as well it was a nice bonus.
Also all it takes is one process to max your cpu whereas with 2x you have a lot more wiggle room.

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Reply 6 of 10, by Joseph_Joestar

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DosFreak wrote on 2022-05-23, 15:26:

Settings affinity was extremely rare and barely anything to worry about. For those that do you can either manually do it through task manager or setup a batch file for the game to do it.

Is the batch file method possible on Windows XP? I got the impression that it doesn't support he AFFINITY command.

OTOH, the task manager method works fine I just have to remember to do it every time I start a problematic game. 😁

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 7 of 10, by Joseph_Joestar

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And since I got asked about older games on this machine, here's a screenshot of the Gothic 1 issue that I mentioned before. This is how the inventory looks like on my GTX 650Ti:

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And here's how it's supposed to look, as displayed by my GeForce4 Ti4200:

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There doesn't seem to be a simple fix for this issue, other than using mods. But I prefer to play my games stock, which is why I now have four retro rigs. 😀

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 8 of 10, by DosFreak

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2022-05-23, 16:10:
DosFreak wrote on 2022-05-23, 15:26:

Settings affinity was extremely rare and barely anything to worry about. For those that do you can either manually do it through task manager or setup a batch file for the game to do it.

Is the batch file method possible on Windows XP? I got the impression that it doesn't support he AFFINITY command.

OTOH, the task manager method works fine I just have to remember to do it every time I start a problematic game. 😁

There are different tools to do so.
Start /Affinity works (XP 64bit but not XP 32bit, mabye the 2003 32bit one does and can be used?) but I prefer psexec since I never use start for anything whereas I use psexec alot.
There is also imagecfg for permanent affinity but I never do so since I usually test for compatibility.

Also
Utility to automate Single Core CPU usage for games - RunFirst

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Reply 9 of 10, by Joseph_Joestar

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DosFreak wrote on 2022-05-23, 16:38:

Cheers!

RunFirst seems to be the simplest solution for my use case. Just tested it with Thief 2 and it worked like a charm.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64 Gold / SC-155
PC#2: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / Voodoo3 / SBLive / Vortex2
PC#3: Athlon64 3000+ / Asus K8V-MX / GeForce4 / Audigy1
PC#4: i5-3550P / MSI Z77A-G43 / GTX 650Ti / X-Fi

Reply 10 of 10, by GeorgeMan

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Sombrero wrote on 2022-05-23, 11:40:

Nice, that's the first Ivy Bridge motherboard I've seen that straight up offers XP drivers right from the manufacturers site, I knew there had to be some out there! I gave up finding one myself when I built my first "retro" WinXP PC and just went with Sandy Bridge.

Nah, I have two and they both do.
ASUS Maximus V Gene (Z77) https://www.asus.com/SupportOnly/MAXIMUS_V_GE … pDesk_Download/
MSI Z77 GD65 https://www.msi.com/Motherboard/Z77AGD65/support#driver

Retro1: Athlon XP 3200+ @Arctic cooler | ASUS A7V600 | Radeon 9800XXL 128MB | SB Audigy 2 ZS | 160GB IDE HDD | Win98SE & XP
Retro2: under construction with a PIII 933 or a Tualatin Celeron 1200 and a GF2 GTS 32MB