VOGONS


First post, by guardianali

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UPDATE:
Thank you ever one. So I read everyone's posts and after some digging and bargaining, I think I have my build. I just ordered all the parts.

Case: Gateway GP7-600
CPU: P3 1.4ghz Tualatin
CPU cooler: Thermaltake Volcano 7+
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-6VTXE
Ram: 768MB that was thrown in with MB (win98 patched)
HD: 1TB SSD with SATA to IDE adapter. 128gig Win98 partition, the rest XP
HD2: Compack Flash IDE adapter front loading. Set up Boot order in bios to look for this first. Have a CF card for DOS 6.22. If its in, DOS boots. If its out, I get the Win98SE/XP bootload menu.
Sound card 1: Audigy 1 with the 5.25 Front header
Sound card 2: ESS AudioDrive ES1868F ISA
GFX: Geforce 4600 TI
Extras: Zip 250 internal drive, Gotek Floppy USB, CDRW Drive

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ORIGINAL POST:

Hi all,
New to the site and just found it. Such a great place!!!

I have an interest in making a retro gaming PC. Ive done some research but depending on where I look, I get differing suggestions.
I have seen the recommendations of P3 over early p4s. I know about if the CPU is too fast, DOS and Win98 games may not work proper. Read about ISA sounds cards are best for DOS for that authentic sound...but Creative labs is great for win 98 and XP. How Nvidia is generally a better bet for driver stability.. etc..etc..etc...

I also know there is generally 4 eras of gaming. The DOS era, Win95/98, WinXp and Modern.
I am looking to build the best SINGLE all rounder PC that can support the From DOS to early WInXP. So 2.5 eras of gaming.

I seen people building multiple builds for each era...but my limitation is space..not money. I want ONE computer.
Having said that, and with money not a concern (i dont mind spending extra for the 'best'), what are the best parts to make a SINGLE machine to meet that?

CPU:
The 3 main contenders I have found are the Athlons, the P3s and P4s (long as its a later model as the earlier ones sucked).
I found a good deal for a P3 1.4 ghz Tualatin. P4s are fairly available. Dont know much about what Athlons are better.
So what CPU, despite cost, would be the best "All rounder"?

Graphics card:
Ive seen alot of diffent suggestions. From the Geforce 4600 to the higher 6000 series...to avoid 5000 series. That nvidia is the best no fuss or muss option to avoid driver issues.
Again, price aside, what would be the best all round option for 2.5 eras of gaming?

OS:
Win 98? Win ME? WinXp? Dual boot 98 with XP (98 for 98 and DOS games and xp for xp)?

Sound card:
Stick with something like an Audigy or Sound Blaster Live! or go with an ISA card? Can you have both in a machine without conflict?

Motherboard:
Any particular chipset to get or avoid (based on CPU above)?

I know this is probably a beating a dead horse thread topic. But the ones i have found are a bit out dated or singular in purpose (win 98...or xp..or just DOS..etc..). I appreciate everyone's time in reading and recommending.

Last edited by guardianali on 2020-04-04, 03:13. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 1 of 21, by Boohyaka

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As I've been in the same boat as you and recently got back to vintage hardware, here are my 2 cents...I will happily get corrected if I'm talking rubbish as usual, this board has a huge amount of compiled knowledge and I love being corrected as it usually allows me to learn new stuff! In any case it seems like you did your due diligence and already know quite a fair bit on the topic.

There is no "ultimate" computer that will do everything. It really depends what you're really after. I've been into PC's and gaming since 1987, and I've had to ask myself those very questions: what am I expecting to do, what do I enjoy, what do I want to play? In the end I decided to go for 2 configs myself. A 486DX-33 for early DOS era, as it was how it all began for me, to cover very early CPU-sensitive stuff (PC-booter and early DOS games). 2nd one, a modified Tualatin P3 (once I get it from South Korea, currently delayed because of that bloody virus >< so right now it's a Coppermine P3-600), to cover late DOS and early Win98, basically the early-mid 90's to early 2000's. I have very limited interest after that, and that limited interest can easily be covered by my modern PC. You'll also probably notice, like I did, and like several others have told me along the way: as you're getting older and getting back to the stuff, you realize you spend more time and get a bigger kick out of trying stuff out and messing with the hardware than actually playing games 😁 I won't derail the discussion further, but this is to say, the answer is fully dependent on what you really expect to do in the end, and you may very well spend your time in a different way that you initially thought.

Back on topic. So I'll tell you my opinion based on what I personally want to do. I did my own research, chats on this very board and early tests, if I had to pick one computer to cover most stuff, I would recommend what I'm building for the second config - not saying that's what YOU need to get, just sharing what I ended up going for:

- ASUS P3B-F v1.04, great motherboard, Slot1/440BX chipset. This is a great generation for driver compatibility, availability, and is the latest generation to widely feature an ISA slot. You will want an ISA slot for your sound card if you want to run DOS games. If you stick to Windows95+, a PCI could be enough, but as you said you wanted a wide spectrum computer this would probably be the best way to go. There are Socket370 motherboards with ISA slots, but they're rare and therefore expensive as far as I know.
- P3 Tualatin 1.4GHz socket370 modified CPU. Those are beasts that will definitely fight and beat early P4's. Easy to find on eBay, seller is from South Korea.
- You will need a slotket. I easily found a MSI MS-6905 Master slotket on eBay for pretty cheap.
- GeForce4 AGP video card. I settled for a Ti4200. Good DOS compatibility and a good card overall.
- Dual Voodoo2 SLI 12MB for all Glide games.
- SoundBlaster AWE32 CT3900 ISA for reasons said before.
- 512MB PC-133 RAM.

This is basically it. This should cover 90's-00's easily with a little margin on both ends. A very interesting era of videogaming for sure.
I won't go in details about the Tualatin and slotket, voltage, and overclocked AGP bus - you probably read about that already. Just sharing this website as it proved to be extremely useful and interesting to me:
https://web.archive.org/web/20171211162534/ht … pgrade_faq.html

This config I'm already toying with, using a Coppermine P3-600 instead of the Tualatin I'm still waiting for to finish the build...and enjoying it very much.

About OS and some advice:

- Get a Gotek USB floppy emulator, they're cheap and amazing
- Get an IDE-SATA adapters, a 3.5 or 5.25 SATA hot swap SSD tray, and a few SanDisk 2.5 120GB SSD's. I paid about 20 euros on eBay recently per SSD, it's a steal. You definitely want to run Win98SE to cover DOS+WIn95/98, then you can multiboot with XP, or dedicate a SSD for XP, which I'm going to do.

Again, that's only my personal take on it based on research and exchanges on here and other places. Not saying it will be the best way to go for you as there is no single answer to your question, but what you said resonated with me as I just recently got back into it and it feels like we share similar goals, so hopefully this is useful.

Reply 2 of 21, by guardianali

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@Boohyaka
Man, I really have to express my gratitude and appreciation for the time you took to reply. Alot of great info and is def similar to what I am looking to do. You

You have also helped me make up my mind on a number of items based on your very through post and great reason/explanation for each point. I am really looking forward to being a part of this great forum.

Based on your info and experience and some research i have done...I think below is what I am thinking of going with so far. And I agree. If I need to play XP era games, my modern computer can run those easy enough. This can primarily be a DOS/98 era gaming.

CPU: - P3 Tualatin 1.4GHz. Regular if I can find a great Mobo like the 370 one you suggested but supports it natively. Or modify it and use a slocket.
Mobo: -Native Tualatin 133fsb if possible else ASUS P3B-F v1.04. Seems like a great board and plent of expansion slots!
GFX: -Geforce 4600 Ti AGP and dual Voodoo2 SLI for great DOS and Glide support
Sound: -SoundBlaster AWE32 CT3900 ISA, coupled with an EAX PCI card. I have an audigy Platnium EX with the front 5.25 header control. Can both be used??
Extra: -Gotek USB Floppy, IDE-SATA adapter, 5.25 floppy drive

Already have: Gateway GP7-600 Case, CD-Rom drive, CDRW Drive, Zip 250 internal, 3.5 internal, Audigy 1 Platnium EX with front audio header 5.25 inch addon

Couple questions:
-is modifying the P3 T to work on 370 fairly easy? While they arent super expensive, rather not go through a bunch 🤣
-can i run an ISA and PCI sound card same time (to get both authentic DOS and EAX)?
-what size PS would be recommended?

Reply 3 of 21, by keenmaster486

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Here's the deal.

If you want any sort of acceptable DOS compatibility, you need a system with a fully working ISA slot for your sound card. Period. End of story. There is just no getting around that.

So that basically limits you to i440BX systems, and the best PIII you can stuff in it, maybe with an adapter so you can put a Tualatin in it (not sure if anyone has successfully done this before).

You want an i440BX with the fastest CPU you can muster, the most RAM you can muster (probably 1, maybe 1.5 or 2 GB), a real ISA sound card, the fastest video card you can get that's still fully DOS compatible (see https://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/ ) and triple booting DOS/Win31, Windows 98SE, and Windows XP -- Win98 will have to be patched to handle the extra RAM but that's doable.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

Reply 4 of 21, by cyclone3d

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Something like that might be ok for DOS and WIN9X, but XP era games would be pointless.

A high end Geforce FX is going to probably be best if you want to play any games that used paletted textures.
Table Fog & 8-bit Paletted Textures

How old of DOS games are you wanting to play? A lot of older DOS games are speed sensitive. Not sure if you are going to be able to properly slow a Tualatin down enough to run those games properly.

Such things as Wing Commander run too fast on anything faster than a 386 33Mhz system. Even at 40Mhz the game runs too fast.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header
Epstein didn't kill himself

Reply 5 of 21, by cyclone3d

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keenmaster486 wrote on 2020-04-03, 01:31:
Here's the deal. […]
Show full quote

Here's the deal.

If you want any sort of acceptable DOS compatibility, you need a system with a fully working ISA slot for your sound card. Period. End of story. There is just no getting around that.

So that basically limits you to i440BX systems, and the best PIII you can stuff in it, maybe with an adapter so you can put a Tualatin in it (not sure if anyone has successfully done this before).

You want an i440BX with the fastest CPU you can muster, the most RAM you can muster (probably 1, maybe 1.5 or 2 GB), a real ISA sound card, the fastest video card you can get that's still fully DOS compatible (see https://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/ ) and triple booting DOS/Win31, Windows 98SE, and Windows XP -- Win98 will have to be patched to handle the extra RAM but that's doable.

Why a 440BX system? That is NOT the end-all be-all for DOS.. and certainly not going to be good at all for XP, especially games. And the video card used for DOS and WIN9X is going to not be good at all for XP either.

The fastest you can get with full DOS compatibility most likely including the ability to slow down the CPU to 300Mhz is a VIA KT133A Socket A system with a GEODE NX CPU which can have the multiplier clocked down the 3x with software... no idea is this will actually work on a KT133A setup or not as I haven't tried it yet.

And for the fastest AMD setup with an ISA slot, if you can find a Biostar M7MIA you can use DDR RAM as well.

IF you want to go all out as far as full ISA support, you can go with as high as an industrial LGA775 setup with a proper PCI/ISA bridge chip and run a Core2 CPU... but the slowdown ability will really suck.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header
Epstein didn't kill himself

Reply 6 of 21, by keenmaster486

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cyclone3d wrote on 2020-04-03, 01:42:

Why a 440BX system? That is NOT the end-all be-all for DOS.. and certainly not going to be good at all for XP, especially games. And the video card used for DOS and WIN9X is going to not be good at all for XP either.

Well, herein lies the problem. The OP wanted one system for DOS *and* Win98 *and* XP. I think i440BX is probably as good as that gets without spending exorbitant amounts of money on rare hardware such as the ISA LGA775 boards you mentioned.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

Reply 8 of 21, by cyclone3d

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Yeah, DOS / WIN98 is doable.. but with XP added into the mix it is not going to be good at any of them, especially if you want to play speed sensitive games.

Yamaha YMF modified setupds and drivers
Yamaha XG resource repository - updated November 27, 2018
Yamaha YMF7x4 Guide
AW744L II - YMF744 - AOpen Cobra Sound Card - Install SB-Link Header
Epstein didn't kill himself

Reply 10 of 21, by vetz

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kolderman wrote on 2020-04-03, 05:50:

You're better off building one retro PC for DOS/Win98, and try playing XP games on modern PCs. Spanning all three tends to result in highly compromised builds.

I agree with this statement. I also originally tried to do all in one, but it's just not practical. I'm the kind of gamer/person who cannot live with 800x600 and 20 fps, I need the games to run 1600x1200 with 4x AA,AF at 60FPS. Therefore to max out at Windows XP era you need quite powerful hardware with the GPU being the main problem since that GPU will not be compatible with Windows 98. Also going beyond P4 era in Win98 will just cause too much random issues and quirks. I know this from personal experience. The people here on Vogons will brag about their insane systems with Windows 98 running on it, but I doubt it's very stable and practical in daily use. You could ofc go the route with multiple graphics cards and soundcards in your computer, but that is just a hassle. If you can live with that, then that is fine, but I cannot since its just not practical.

My suggestion is to get a computer that can run Windows 98 games up untill 1999/2000 and do the rest on your modern computer. A SS7 system with a AMD K6-III is a good match there as if you need to downclock/slowdown it can be done through software. Disable some cache and you are good to go on really old DOS games (if that is your interest). If really old games is not your interest (and you'd rather focus on the Windows games) then a 440BX system as suggested earlier is better for you. Also you don't need an ISA soundcard if you are only going to play the newer DOS games (1994/1995+) and have little interest in the older ones as the DOS drivers for a SB Live or Vortex card works fine.

3D Accelerated Games List (Proprietary APIs - No 3DFX/Direct3D)
3D Acceleration Comparison Episodes

Reply 11 of 21, by appiah4

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A KT133A Socket A system with a high end Athlon/Duron (Think Athlon 1000 or Duron 1300) with decent ISA and PCI sound cards, and a Voodoo 3 is probably the best all around PC for covering the greatest range of gaming eras.

I am in the process of putting one together myself. My system specs are:

ATX Mid Tower (Generic)
FSP 300W ATX
Gigabyte GA-7ZX
AMD Duron 1300
512MB (2x256MB SDRAM)
Floppy 3.5" DS-HD
Maxtor 80GB IDE
Pioneer 16x DVD-RW
3dfx Voodoo 3 3000 16MB
Terratec DMX XFire 1024
Terratec Gold 16/96
3Com 3c905 10/100 PCI
Win98SE/Win2K/Puppy4.2

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 12 of 21, by Joseph_Joestar

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guardianali wrote on 2020-04-02, 22:11:

I am looking to build the best SINGLE all rounder PC that can support the From DOS to early WInXP. So 2.5 eras of gaming.

As others have already said, it's best not to throw XP into the mix and just stick with DOS and Win98.

Among other things, Win98 may not work reliably if you have more than 512 MB of RAM. On the other hand, XP gaming with that amount of RAM will definitively give you a subpar experience. Similarly, graphic cards newer than Nvidia's FX series will lack features that are needed for full Win98 compatibility (table fog and palletized textures).

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 13 of 21, by appiah4

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Joseph_Joestar wrote on 2020-04-03, 09:07:
guardianali wrote on 2020-04-02, 22:11:

I am looking to build the best SINGLE all rounder PC that can support the From DOS to early WInXP. So 2.5 eras of gaming.

As others have already said, it's best not to throw XP into the mix and just stick with DOS and Win98.

Among other things, Win98 may not work reliably if you have more than 512 MB of RAM. On the other hand, XP gaming with that amount of RAM will definitively give you a subpar experience. Similarly, graphic cards newer than Nvidia's FX series will lack features that are needed for full Win98 compatibility (table fog and palletized textures).

Morgan Duron 1300 or Tualatin Pentium III 1400 can easily handle Windows 2000 with 512MB RAM and that will run a good deal of Win XP software just fine.

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 14 of 21, by Joseph_Joestar

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appiah4 wrote on 2020-04-03, 10:18:

Morgan Duron 1300 or Tualatin Pentium III 1400 can easily handle Windows 2000 with 512MB RAM and that will run a good deal of Win XP software just fine.

I guess it depends on what OP considers "early XP era" in terms of games. Windows XP came out in late 2001, so if he's thinking about games from 2002-2003 then yes, 512 MB RAM and an FX 5600 should work more or less ok. Anything newer (i.e. FarCry, Doom 3...) will struggle with that hardware.

Using Audigy drivers with a Sound Blaster Live
OPTi 82C930 review

Reply 15 of 21, by guardianali

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UPDATE:
Thank you ever one. So I read everyone's posts and after some digging and bargaining, I think I have my build. I just ordered all the parts.

Case: Gateway GP7-600
CPU: P3 1.4ghz Tualatin
CPU cooler: Thermaltake Volcano 7+
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-6VTXE
Ram: 768MB that was thrown in with MB (win98 patched)
HD: 1TB SSD with SATA to IDE adapter. 128gig Win98 partition, the rest XP
HD2: Compack Flash IDE adapter front loading. Set up Boot order in bios to look for this first. Have a CF card for DOS 6.22. If its in, DOS boots. If its out, I get the Win98SE/XP bootload menu.
Sound card 1: Audigy 1 with the 5.25 Front header
Sound card 2: ESS AudioDrive ES1868F ISA
GFX: Geforce 4600 TI
Extras: Zip 250 internal drive, Gotek Floppy USB, CDRW Drive

Reply 18 of 21, by vitalm

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Boohyaka wrote on 2020-04-02, 23:03:

- ASUS P3B-F v1.04, great motherboard, Slot1/440BX chipset.

The motherboard is not so great - you cannot use throttle.exe or fdapm.com for chipset throttling on it.

Update: DenizOezmen patched fdapm.com for ASUS P3B-F
Re: Modified BIOSes for ASUS P3B-F, P3V4X and CUBX-E/L

Last edited by vitalm on 2020-04-05, 18:40. Edited 1 time in total.

W98SE+NUSB3.3, 7AJA2 (KT133A+686B), Athlon XP-M (3x100-16.5x150 MHz), FX5900, Voodoo1, AWE64 ISA (VXD) connected to Line-In of Vortex2 rev.B0AAAA (VXD 2041) for DOS games CD Audio emulation by Daemon Tools 3.47 (volume can be changed in DT drive settings)

Reply 19 of 21, by Socket3

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In my experience, trying to get a tualatin chip to run in a 440bx board is expensive and not worth the trouble. You need a slotket adapter that supports tualatin core chips, and even then you're stuck at 100mhz for the FSB. 133MHz means overclocking the AGP bus (i440 boards only support 2/3 and 1/1 dividers for the AGP bus, resulting in 133*2/3=88.6MHz agp bus speed) and I personally have not been able to get any AGP video card stable at that frequency. And no overclocking means you're stuck at 1.05GHz, witch kind of negates the point of using a tualatin chip.

Regarding your build requirements - you mentioned early XP era games. XP launched in 2001 - how early are we talking about? Posting a list of games could be helpfull. How far do you want to go? Call of duty 1 (2003)? Doom 3(2004)? If so, a pentium 3 build is not fast enough for a pleasant experience running a game like CoD1 or Doom 3, you'd need at least a fast pentium 4 / athlon XP + Geforce 6800/Radeon X800 for that, witch pretty much rules out early dos games unless you plan on using dosbox. Then again, a pentium 3 is not a good pick for early dos games either.

You're trying to cover a very wide range of games, something that I found nearly impossible to do without specialized hardware and modding. I have had success getting some speed sensitive dos games to run on socket 370 and super socket 7 hardware, but they are too slow to enjoy 2003-2004 games.

My "all purpose" machine is a socket 423 pentium 4 willamette @ 1.7GHz - a dell Optiplex 400, with 384MB of rdram, a radeon 9700 and a creative CT4800. It runs windows 98 and can run anything from late dos games like duke3d, doom, crusader, jazz jackrabbit to 2002-2003 games like Morrowind, Warcraft 3, Call of Duty 1, Homeworld 2, etc.

I suggest you build a socket A athlon XP 2000+ or a 2GHz socket 478 pentium 4 with a Geforce 6600 AGP. That would run late dos games and should run 2002-2003 games just fine. As a bonus, it's a lot cheaper then messing with slotkets and overclocking a 440bx motherboard.