VOGONS


First post, by sofakng

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I was born in 1980 and instead of playing on Nintendo I always played on my dad's computers. I think I started on a 386 and then later moved to a 486 (dx2?).

My first (and still favorite) was Police Quest 1 (EGA) and I also played Lucas Arts games (ie. Monkey Island!) and later Doom, Doom 2, Duke Nukem 3D, etc.

If I wanted to re-live my DOS gaming childhood and build a machine, what hardware would I be looking at for the games I mentioned above? I'm thinking of a 486DX2-66 but I want to make sure it's too too fast (?) for the early Sierra games and other games of that era.

Summary:

Games I want to play:

  • Sierra games (early generation; Police Quest 1 EGA, etc)
  • Monkey Island (1 and 2 definitely)
  • Maniac Mansion
  • Doom, Doom 2
  • Duke Nukem 3D
  • Quake (if possible?)

Display:

  • LCD (and a DVI port if possible); I know that CRTs are more authentic but they are harder to find, take up more space, and I'm not sure I have the nostalgia for that part of my early gaming childhood.

Graphics:

  • I remember getting a graphics card for Quake 2 (3dfx?) and it blowing my mind so that might be neat to see again.

Audio:

  • I had a Sound Blaster 16 but I'd also like to be able to use a Roland MT-32 if I ever find one at a reasonable price. 😀

Thanks for any recommendations!

EDIT: Maybe I'm just better off with DosBox and Munt? Hmmm...

Reply 1 of 17, by Deksor

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A Pentium should do the trick, but make sure to disable L1 or even L2 cache for older games in order to slow it down. A 486DX2-66 would be too slow for Quake and not really good for Duke 3D. Plus 486s aren't really good for 3dfx card. Not that they don't work with them, just that they're too slow to really get any benefit from them.

You're not going to have a DVI output on a 486 either, and PCI gpus with DVI are really really late. On the other hand, finding a 4:3 ratio aspect LCD with VGA isn't that hard. Or just use an adapter from VGA to HDMI. Since HDMI is electrically compatible with DVI, just use a passthrough adapter from HDMI to DVI.

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Reply 2 of 17, by dionb

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DosBox and Munt is going to be cheaper, easier to set up, more reliable etc...

...but will it give you the satisfaction you seek? 😉

Just be careful, if you want the real stuff, that way lies madness. After no old computer stuff for the better part of a decade I wanted to build a PC with my son 5 months ago. I just needed to get together a few suitable parts. Now I've gotten a room full of PCBs, cases and monitors, three systems at various stages of construction, a rather large pile of sound hardware - including an MT-32 - oh, and I built the PC with my son. He used it all of two times :')

Reply 3 of 17, by BeginnerGuy

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I also vote starting with a pentium ~133-200mhz (socket 7).. It's not difficult to find a ready to go system on ebay or local sale, slap in an ISA sound card and service/replace the power supply and hard drive and you're good to go with Windows 9x or just straight DOS. From there you can look into slower systems, or faster "all in one" systems to target speed sensitive game, or 3d cards for Quake.

If you cut out Quake you can drop down to a 486 (I suggest a DX4 for the ultimate doom experience, but a DX2 66 is 95% of the way there).

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Reply 4 of 17, by harddrivespin

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I'd go with a Pentium or 5k86/K5 for those games, with a PCI video card as well- like an S3 Trio64. 32mb of mem would do- and i would also recommend using Windows 95 as that'll broaden horizons on terms of games you can play if you ever want to play games other than the ones you listed.

Also, CRTs are a lot more common in my experience- almost no one wants them save retro gamers and super budget surveillance system people. And also, there's no chance of being able to use DVI- you'll be stuck with VGA or composite.

Reply 6 of 17, by gdjacobs

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For the same money, I'd try to find a Pentium MMX CPU. It has a bit more top end performance and I've found it to have some advantageous characteristics when manipulating cache and branch prediction units to slow it down.

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Reply 7 of 17, by 33oldnew

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My preferences, in brief:
motherboard with: AGP 4x, can be 2x; 2-3 PCI for the network, additional sound with better quality, others; 2 ISA especially for sound (second for MIDI, sometimes one slot has a collision with PCI), good BIOS
Intel Pentium III processor 450-500 MHz or similar - for old games, disable the processor cache in BIOS
Integrated or PCI network card - connect to the router/switch, home network, simple file transfer, eg. Realtek (with 3Com sometimes problems)
ATI Radeon 8500 AGP graphics card - one of the best cards for such equipment, AGP 2x 4x, high price, but you can get cheaper, look
http://www.gpureview.com/Radeon-8500-LE-card-23.html
do not forget about OpenGL 1.3 min. and drivers for Windows 98SE
https://support.amd.com/en-us/download
Quake will work without problems (3dfx is much slower, for collectors, any special (to work on slow PC without PCI for any reason, etc.)
Sound card for ISA, only on your preferences - for example, AWE32 with SIMM, AWE64 (gold or value) with SimmConn, good SB16 with additional Wavetable on or on ISA or external MIDI hardware, etc.

Windows 98 SE, the best software for this era, with DOS installation

Reply 8 of 17, by Kamerat

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sofakng wrote:

Display:

  • LCD (and a DVI port if possible); I know that CRTs are more authentic but they are harder to find, take up more space, and I'm not sure I have the nostalgia for that part of my early gaming childhood.

Some DOS games got issues when using a DVI connection so I wouldn't recommend using it.

sofakng wrote:

EDIT: Maybe I'm just better off with DosBox and Munt? Hmmm...

It would save you time, money and space (and headaces?).

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Reply 9 of 17, by .legaCy

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PhilsComputerLab 4-in-1 build is the ultimate dos machine for me.
Versatile, really compatible and powerful.
The setmul and cache tricks are awesome, and voodoo 3 agp will bring dos games that support glide to the next level.

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Reply 10 of 17, by gdjacobs

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33oldnew wrote:
My preferences, in brief: motherboard with: AGP 4x, can be 2x; 2-3 PCI for the network, additional sound with better quality […]
Show full quote

My preferences, in brief:
motherboard with: AGP 4x, can be 2x; 2-3 PCI for the network, additional sound with better quality, others; 2 ISA especially for sound (second for MIDI, sometimes one slot has a collision with PCI), good BIOS
Intel Pentium III processor 450-500 MHz or similar - for old games, disable the processor cache in BIOS
Integrated or PCI network card - connect to the router/switch, home network, simple file transfer, eg. Realtek (with 3Com sometimes problems)
ATI Radeon 8500 AGP graphics card - one of the best cards for such equipment, AGP 2x 4x, high price, but you can get cheaper, look
http://www.gpureview.com/Radeon-8500-LE-card-23.html
do not forget about OpenGL 1.3 min. and drivers for Windows 98SE
https://support.amd.com/en-us/download
Quake will work without problems (3dfx is much slower, for collectors, any special (to work on slow PC without PCI for any reason, etc.)
Sound card for ISA, only on your preferences - for example, AWE32 with SIMM, AWE64 (gold or value) with SimmConn, good SB16 with additional Wavetable on or on ISA or external MIDI hardware, etc.

Windows 98 SE, the best software for this era, with DOS installation

P3 cpus are fine, but they're far too fast for many DOS games and too slow for maxing out the most demanding/inefficient DOS games. A mid range P3 will also have a hard time making best use of an R200 based card. Last of all, cache manipulation tends to have an extreme effect on P3 CPUs. With caches disabled, they're extremely slow leaving no intermediate settings for running at 386DX/486 equivalent performance.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 11 of 17, by jheronimus

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sofakng wrote:

EDIT: Maybe I'm just better off with DosBox and Munt? Hmmm...

YES! RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN.

It goes like this:

1) Oh, I want to play some DOS games. Looks like I need a Pentium machine!
2) Well, it runs 95% of all DOS games ever made. But maybe I want some Win9x games, too. Guess, I need something faster. Pentium III, maybe? Athlon?
3) Oh, and older systems look really fun because they are so weird. I want a 386. An XT. A 486. Because speed issues, of course! And it doesn't matter that in the beginning you didn't even want to play Wing Commander or Ultima 7, but now you know they need specific hardware to run properly. That means YOU need that hardware.
4) Now I want the perfect sound. OPL3. SoundBlaster Pro compatibility. No hanging note bugs. Authentic MIDI from Roland and Yamaha. MT-32, of course. And Gravis. Doesn't matter that there are like 5 games that benefit from Gravis, but I want it.
5) Now I need to stick a Voodoo in each one of my builds.
6) Did I tell you these are the authentic builds? Yeah, everyone had five sound cards in their dual Pentium Pro-based rig just to play Doom.
7) Hey! Those benchmarks don't look right! 3DMARK 99 becomes your go-to game at this point.
😎 Hmm, wait. I forgot I can't actually use all these builds simultaneously. Guess I need some machine that can slow down. Super Socket 7, anyone?
9) I just have to get a great CRT screen that weighs 50 kg.
10) And I need the authentic peripherals. A joystick. A steering wheel. A set of great speakers. A mechanical keyboard.
11) Guys, I'm telling you, quad Slot 2 WinNT builds with Rambus RAM are the shit! What games?

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Reply 14 of 17, by bjwil1991

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harddrivespin wrote:

Ah yes, but DOSBox has some problems? with certain games and just doesn't have the... experience.

That, and some of the games, like Frederik Pohl's Gateway, doesn't have every song playing (3 hrs worth of debugging in Microsoft Visual C++ later, reversed or removed a specific code and got the game to work without issues) when using either Munt or the real MT-32.

harddrivespin wrote:

Working with old hardware is damn fun

I agree. I have a 486 that has every (minus GUS) sound card for every game I have stored on my CF card. From the IBM PC Speaker to General MIDI/EXtended General MIDI; MS-DOS to Windows.

Sound cards installed:
IBM PC Speaker
Lo-Tech Tandy 3-Voice Compatible Sound Card (yes, you read this right)
Sound Blaster 16 CT2740 with a Yamaha DB50XG Wavetable Daughterboard (GM/XG games and files)
Music Quest MPU-401 Intelligent v010 clone card by keropi for the Roland MT-32 (love this card)

Also, my Windows 98SE machine running on an Athlon 64 3000+ CPU/Motherboard combo has the Sound Blaster Live! 5.1 Platinum that has the Roland MT-32 emulation support for MS-DOS (almost sounds like the real thing) games, as well as GM for the rest of the games I have as well.

Last edited by bjwil1991 on 2018-05-31, 21:57. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 15 of 17, by cyclone3d

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jheronimus wrote:
YES! RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. […]
Show full quote
sofakng wrote:

EDIT: Maybe I'm just better off with DosBox and Munt? Hmmm...

YES! RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN.

It goes like this:

1) Oh, I want to play some DOS games. Looks like I need a Pentium machine!
2) Well, it runs 95% of all DOS games ever made. But maybe I want some Win9x games, too. Guess, I need something faster. Pentium III, maybe? Athlon?
3) Oh, and older systems look really fun because they are so weird. I want a 386. An XT. A 486. Because speed issues, of course! And it doesn't matter that in the beginning you didn't even want to play Wing Commander or Ultima 7, but now you know they need specific hardware to run properly. That means YOU need that hardware.
4) Now I want the perfect sound. OPL3. SoundBlaster Pro compatibility. No hanging note bugs. Authentic MIDI from Roland and Yamaha. MT-32, of course. And Gravis. Doesn't matter that there are like 5 games that benefit from Gravis, but I want it.
5) Now I need to stick a Voodoo in each one of my builds.
6) Did I tell you these are the authentic builds? Yeah, everyone had five sound cards in their dual Pentium Pro-based rig just to play Doom.
7) Hey! Those benchmarks don't look right! 3DMARK 99 becomes your go-to game at this point.
😎 Hmm, wait. I forgot I can't actually use all these builds simultaneously. Guess I need some machine that can slow down. Super Socket 7, anyone?
9) I just have to get a great CRT screen that weighs 50 kg.
10) And I need the authentic peripherals. A joystick. A steering wheel. A set of great speakers. A mechanical keyboard.
11) Guys, I'm telling you, quad Slot 2 WinNT builds with Rambus RAM are the shit! What games?

So true. 🤣
Lowest I am going is a 386 though since that is where I started at back in the good 'ol days. Now GET OFF MY LAWN!
You reminded me that I need a gameport steering wheel and pedals. 😠 Already have a full Thrustmaster HOTAS setup 😀

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Reply 16 of 17, by .legaCy

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jheronimus wrote:
YES! RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN. […]
Show full quote
sofakng wrote:

EDIT: Maybe I'm just better off with DosBox and Munt? Hmmm...

YES! RUN! RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN.

It goes like this:

1) Oh, I want to play some DOS games. Looks like I need a Pentium machine!
2) Well, it runs 95% of all DOS games ever made. But maybe I want some Win9x games, too. Guess, I need something faster. Pentium III, maybe? Athlon?
3) Oh, and older systems look really fun because they are so weird. I want a 386. An XT. A 486. Because speed issues, of course! And it doesn't matter that in the beginning you didn't even want to play Wing Commander or Ultima 7, but now you know they need specific hardware to run properly. That means YOU need that hardware.
4) Now I want the perfect sound. OPL3. SoundBlaster Pro compatibility. No hanging note bugs. Authentic MIDI from Roland and Yamaha. MT-32, of course. And Gravis. Doesn't matter that there are like 5 games that benefit from Gravis, but I want it.
5) Now I need to stick a Voodoo in each one of my builds.
6) Did I tell you these are the authentic builds? Yeah, everyone had five sound cards in their dual Pentium Pro-based rig just to play Doom.
7) Hey! Those benchmarks don't look right! 3DMARK 99 becomes your go-to game at this point.
😎 Hmm, wait. I forgot I can't actually use all these builds simultaneously. Guess I need some machine that can slow down. Super Socket 7, anyone?
9) I just have to get a great CRT screen that weighs 50 kg.
10) And I need the authentic peripherals. A joystick. A steering wheel. A set of great speakers. A mechanical keyboard.
11) Guys, I'm telling you, quad Slot 2 WinNT builds with Rambus RAM are the shit! What games?

True story.
To be honest i'm into the step 5 right now.

Useful links
[ How to Multiboot any OS | Rebuilding GOG Installer for Win9x | 486DX-4 Build | S7 Time machine Build |
twitch stream (in portuguese)

Reply 17 of 17, by 33oldnew

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OK, DosBox is an option, but if you want to have real equipment.
The list of games comes from 10 years of the fastest development of computers, Police Quist since 1987 - start processor 386, Monkey Island 1990 (can be played on 286)
Quake since 1996, Quake 2 since 1997 - Pentium 200 MMX or Pentium II, minimum, Quake 3 from 1999, then Pentium Pentium III, minimum
1996-1998 era 3dfx, but then Nvidia Riva TNT wins 3dfx 1-2, NVidia GeForce 2 wins Voodoo up to 5500, Radeon 8500 wins Voodoo 6000
ATI Radeon 8500 power consumption is around 25W, a 250Wat power supply can be used
On Pentium III is only a problem with very old games depending on the processor speed, eg Cisco Heat, but a positive solution can be obtained using programs like dmaslo or moslo