VOGONS


First post, by Uroshnor

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Hi all! I’m thinking about building a retro gaming PC, but there are a few things I’m unclear on, and I’m hoping you can help.

My primary focus with this rig would be compatibility with as many Win95/98/XP games as possible - ideally, I’d like to be able to play any Windows game released between 1995 and 2006.

Some degree of DOS compatibility would be nice as well, but that’s very much a secondary concern (I’m fine with using DOSBox when necessary).

I’d prefer to go with a microATX motherboard (or smaller) if possible, since I live in a fairly small apartment and space is at a premium.

From what I’ve been able to gather, it looks like my best bet might be to go with a socket 775 Pentium 4, and a motherboard with an 865G chipset. Specific motherboards I’ve been looking at include the Asus P5PE-VM, Asus P5P800-VM, Gigabyte GA-8I865GME-775-RH, and AsRock 775i65g.

So, here are my questions:

1. Are there any potential compatibility issues I’d be facing by using a socket 775 CPU rather than socket 478, assuming that the chipset is the same? From what I can tell, it seems like the chipset is the important part for compatibility, rather than the socket, but I’d like to get confirmation on that before I buy anything.

2. If I can get my hands on an 865G chipset motherboard that’s compatible with Core 2 CPUs, is there any reason not to use a Core 2 instead of a Pentium 4? Could that break compatibility with any older games?

3. I’ve been looking at GeForce 6800-series GPUs (preferably Ultra or GT), since I’m told those are the most powerful GPUs with Win98 driver support. Any reason I might want to consider another GPU instead?

4. Would a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS be the ideal sound card for this rig? I see both that and the Aureal Vortex 2 recommended pretty often for non-ISA builds. My understanding, though, is that the Vortex 2 has better DOS compatibility but worse WinXP compatibility. Is that accurate? And are there any other sound cards I should be looking at?

5. I’ve been planning on building this in a modern microATX case. Is there any reason I might need to use a vintage one instead?

Any advice you can give would be most appreciated. Thanks!

Reply 1 of 21, by The Serpent Rider

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No reason not to use Core 2, it can be slowed down even better than P4.

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Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 2 of 21, by Warlord

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the cpu isn't a concern. Main thing for me is can I run AGP. If you can run AGP and Core2 at the same time than do it.

Geforce 6 isn't as compatible with older games and drivers as something like a geforce 3 or even a geforce 4. For 98 and older gaming, or just DX7 and older I prefer a geforce 3 or 2 since I can run detonator 20.xx series drivers or late 10.xx series like 12.xx-14.xx, which are a lot more compatible with DX6 and Direct3D.

Audigy 2 ZS would give you great windows gaming experience, but later dos game compatibility isn't so great. That counts for games that will run in windows 98 dos box happily as well. Id probably go for 2 sound cards in the build something like a Yamaha XG that can use tricks to run dos games and has OPL3 and the Creative Card for windows only or something. (lately I seen a tread that SB LIVE is actually a real contender with hacked Audigy drivers running it, as it allows the use of GS wavetable in dos box. So thats something to consider. something id like to try myself.

I wouldn't go higher than a FX 5900 and I would stay away from Ati.If you run FX series u can probably run a glide wrapper that will increase compatibility for some games. Help close the gap of not being able to run old drivers and give u some voodoo compatibility. But there will be some games that wont work and don't like those new drivers, with glide wrapper being of no help.

Anyways slow down tricks are only relevant in the case that the core2 duo is just so fast that even games that don't really have speed issues might somehow exibit them, but its not going to cure not having real ISA for the games that demand it, thats why I recommend the Yamaha XG and while thats not a perfect solution the ISA problem isn't also as big of a issue as people make it out to be around here, and its mostly for games that I dont want to play nice with Yamaha PCI cards, boards without sb-links and Aureal Vortex 2 card hacks. All at the same time of refusing to run in 98 dos box. Its really not a lot of games. atleast ones worth playing, and they are probably so old they are out of the scope of your build.

Reply 3 of 21, by Uroshnor

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Warlord wrote on 2020-08-16, 10:38:

Geforce 6 isn't as compatible with older games and drivers as something like a geforce 3 or even a geforce 4. For 98 and older gaming, or just DX7 and older I prefer a geforce 3 or 2 since I can run detonator 20.xx series drivers or late 10.xx series like 12.xx-14.xx, which are a lot more compatible with DX6 and Direct3D.
...
I wouldn't go higher than a FX 5900 and I would stay away from Ati.If you run FX series u can probably run a glide wrapper that will increase compatibility for some games. Help close the gap of not being able to run old drivers and give u some voodoo compatibility. But there will be some games that wont work and don't like those new drivers, with glide wrapper being of no help.

Do you think it would make sense to run a GeForce 6800 in the AGP slot for “newer” games and also an older GPU in a PCI slot for older games? Someone on Reddit suggested that as a possibility.

If so, what older GPU would you recommend for that purpose?

Reply 4 of 21, by darry

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Uroshnor wrote on 2020-08-16, 13:58:
Warlord wrote on 2020-08-16, 10:38:

Geforce 6 isn't as compatible with older games and drivers as something like a geforce 3 or even a geforce 4. For 98 and older gaming, or just DX7 and older I prefer a geforce 3 or 2 since I can run detonator 20.xx series drivers or late 10.xx series like 12.xx-14.xx, which are a lot more compatible with DX6 and Direct3D.
...
I wouldn't go higher than a FX 5900 and I would stay away from Ati.If you run FX series u can probably run a glide wrapper that will increase compatibility for some games. Help close the gap of not being able to run old drivers and give u some voodoo compatibility. But there will be some games that wont work and don't like those new drivers, with glide wrapper being of no help.

Do you think it would make sense to run a GeForce 6800 in the AGP slot for “newer” games and also an older GPU in a PCI slot for older games? Someone on Reddit suggested that as a possibility.

If so, what older GPU would you recommend for that purpose?

I do that with an AGP Geforce FX 5900 and a PCI Voodoo 3 . I use an option in the BIOS to choose between booting PCI or AGP as primary .

For your use case, you would have to specify the timeframe you have in mind for the older GPU . If pre-2000 and with Glide support, a PCI Voodoo 3 is a good but expensive option . Otherwise, a PCI Geforce FX or older Geforce might be an option. I have no idea, however, how Nvidia drivers handle having cards from different generation in the same PC . My guess is that everything is OK if both cards use thecsame driver version . If they need different driver revs, I honestly don't know how it would work .

Reply 6 of 21, by Uroshnor

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darry wrote on 2020-08-16, 14:15:

...
I have no idea, however, how Nvidia drivers handle having cards from different generation in the same PC . My guess is that everything is OK if both cards use thecsame driver version . If they need different driver revs, I honestly don't know how it would work .

From what I can tell, it seems like version 81.98 of the Win98 GeForce driver supports everything from 2MX series through 6 series.

Reply 7 of 21, by darry

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Uroshnor wrote on 2020-08-16, 14:46:
darry wrote on 2020-08-16, 14:15:

...
I have no idea, however, how Nvidia drivers handle having cards from different generation in the same PC . My guess is that everything is OK if both cards use thecsame driver version . If they need different driver revs, I honestly don't know how it would work .

From what I can tell, it seems like version 81.98 of the Win98 GeForce driver supports everything from 2MX series through 6 series.

The question is does it support them well ? Older games need older cards, but, in some cases, also older drivers to work properly. Newer is not always better .

Additionally, though Geforge 6 has drivers for Windows 9x , I have never gotten them to work properly in my AGP setup (admittedly an older 815ep setup in my case ) and I am not alone . Nvidia drivers from that era tended to have weird bugs that came and went from version to version, so expect to have to test different versions to see what works best for you .

Reply 8 of 21, by BushLin

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I run such a setup. A 800Mhz FSB (200Mhz QDR) CPU can be taken down to 1.2Ghz; in DOS, you might start seeing freaky things start to happen above 2Ghz on things like Sierra games.
I can't talk for implementions on other boards but the 775i65 support for 1066Mhz FSB is a fudge which performs worse than 800Mhz FSB, with RAM running on a divider at 333Mhz (166Mhz DDR) rather than 400Mhz (200Mhz DDR), the 1:1 ratio for RAM:FSB is optimal for the 865 chipset. The 45nm Pentium Dual core CPUs will run cooler and faster on this board at 3.2Ghz than CPUs which would otherwise flex their muscles on a newer chipsets which can actually operate at a 1066Mhz FSB.

For Windows 98, there's no downside to an Audigy 2 ZS, for DOS you'll be using a hacked SB Live driver and I've not tested that beyond 20 or so titles; it will probably work but if you want to play it safe, the SB Live is still a decent card.

The FX5900 class of GPU (ZT versions run cooler and is all overkill anyway) support the 45.23 driver which is the point before things started going backwards for Win98 support.

In trying to optimise for Windows 98 compatibility, you've got an underwhelming XP machine for anything other than very early 2000’s titles but I wouldn't try to bridge the gap in this build and find any Sandy/Ivy bridge based system and a GTX460/660/750/960 for demanding XP games at lower wattage/heat/noise.

Screw period correct; I wanted a faster system back then. I choose no dropped frames, super fast loading, fully compatible and quiet operation.

Reply 9 of 21, by Uroshnor

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BushLin wrote on 2020-08-16, 15:28:

The FX5900 class of GPU (ZT versions run cooler and is all overkill anyway) support the 45.23 driver which is the point before things started going backwards for Win98 support.

Gotcha. I’ll be on the lookout for an FX5900, then. Thanks!

BushLin wrote on 2020-08-16, 15:28:

In trying to optimise for Windows 98 compatibility, you've got an underwhelming XP machine for anything other than very early 2000’s titles but I wouldn't try to bridge the gap in this build and find any Sandy/Ivy bridge based system and a GTX460/660/750/960 for demanding XP games at lower wattage/heat/noise.

In my experience, any game that needs hardware from after the WinXP era is very likely to run just fine under Win10, and I already have a pretty decent Win10 gaming rig.

I’m trying to optimize for games that are unplayable under Win10. And in my experience, that mostly means Win9x and early XP. I might run into a few edge cases with late XP games where I’d have to settle for playing them on low graphics settings, but that seems like an acceptable compromise to me.

Are there any games that wouldn’t be playable on WinXP with a Core 2 Duo and an FX5900 that also wouldn’t be playable on Win10? I can’t think of any offhand.

Reply 10 of 21, by BushLin

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Uroshnor wrote on 2020-08-16, 16:23:

Are there any games that wouldn’t be playable on WinXP with a Core 2 Duo and an FX5900 that also wouldn’t be playable on Win10? I can’t think of any offhand.

Test Drive Unlimited stumped me on Windows 7, only runs on XP and would suck on an FX5900, if it ran at all, if it did it would be stressed all the time and I want my old systems to last. I don't know about Windows 10 compatibility because it's both spyware and trash.
If your games collection after requiring Win98, runs on Win10, and you're happy with the results then great.

Screw period correct; I wanted a faster system back then. I choose no dropped frames, super fast loading, fully compatible and quiet operation.

Reply 11 of 21, by darry

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It's a great time to build an XP and Windows 7 dual boot machine for everything in between Windows 98 and 10 .

Reliable good quality second-hand hardware is plentiful and cheap (won't stay like that forever). An X58 platform Xeon or even someting a bit newer along with whichever of the compatible AMD/Nvidia GPUs you prefer would make a great setup .

Reply 12 of 21, by Uroshnor

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BushLin wrote on 2020-08-16, 16:39:

Test Drive Unlimited stumped me on Windows 7, only runs on XP and would suck on an FX5900, if it ran at all, if it did it would be stressed all the time and I want my old systems to last.

Gotcha. Well, fortunately, GeForce 7 series AGP cards seem to be going for pretty cheap. I suppose if I ever run into a WinXP game I desperately want to play that won’t work on either machine, I could get one of those and swap it out. Or, hell, I could try dual-booting into XP on my Win10 rig, if even that’s not enough.

As it stands, though, all the games I’m really itching to play on this thing are from 2003 and earlier, so I suspect I’d be ok with an FX series GPU for the time being. Thanks for letting me know, though!

Reply 13 of 21, by Doornkaat

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I always read stuff about GeForce 6xxx not being supported well with Win9x games. I used to run an AGP Win98SE system with ASRock ConRoe 865PE, some Core2 Duo, 512MB RAM and GeForce 6800 GT and I didn't have any issues.
What games did you guys have trouble with?
Did the game not look all that pretty or were there game breaking issues? What driver were you using? Did you try later patches? Did you try switching between D3D/OpenGL? Did you try Glide emulation as a workaround? (never needed this myself btw.)

Reply 14 of 21, by Uroshnor

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Btw, for reference, my Win10 machine has an i5-4690K (Haswell) CPU and a GTX 960 GPU on a Z97 motherboard - mid-high end for 2015, when I built it. I could be wrong (and please correct me if I am), but I suspect it’s at least hardware-compatible with pretty much anything post-WinXP (other than maybe the very latest cutting-edge AAA games), and probably with most late XP games as well.

But I doubt it would do very well with Win98, even if I dual-booted, and early XP games would probably be iffy. If I’m going to build a whole new rig, I want to focus on stuff my current hardware can’t handle.

Reply 15 of 21, by darry

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Doornkaat wrote on 2020-08-16, 17:58:

I always read stuff about GeForce 6xxx not being supported well with Win9x games. I used to run an AGP Win98SE system with ASRock ConRoe 865PE, some Core2 Duo, 512MB RAM and GeForce 6800 GT and I didn't have any issues.
What games did you guys have trouble with?
Did the game not look all that pretty or were there game breaking issues? What driver were you using? Did you try later patches? Did you try switching between D3D/OpenGL? Did you try Glide emulation as a workaround? (never needed this myself btw.)

For Geforce 6 under Windows 98 :
- general stability
- ability to crash system by scroling in a window (100% reproducible with multiple cards on my system)
- over DVI, black screen when starting full screen DOS application . Requires switching to windowed and then back to full screen as workaround .
- probably others I don't remember .

Some of these issues may only manifest themselves on older platforms like 815ep I am using . The fullscreen DOS one is preety universal, though, AFAICR . Maybe it just works well on newer platforms like 865 ?

Reply 16 of 21, by BushLin

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Uroshnor wrote on 2020-08-16, 18:17:

Btw, for reference, my Win10 machine has an i5-4690K (Haswell) CPU and a GTX 960 GPU on a Z97 motherboard - mid-high end for 2015, when I built it. I could be wrong (and please correct me if I am), but I suspect it’s at least hardware-compatible with pretty much anything post-WinXP (other than maybe the very latest cutting-edge AAA games), and probably with most late XP games as well.

That setup could probably run XP but the last chipset with official XP support is the Z77; you might need a PCIe add-on card for USB (NEC controller) with the NEC drivers slipstreamed into your install media and run the BIOS in some kind of SATA compatibility mode. Not something I've attempted personally but USB and SATA support will probably be the main incompatibility... Probably best to make some tests on another boot disk with your current SSD disconnected, perhaps there's a compatibility option in your BIOS for the built in USB ports.

As an aside, the 775i65 runs really nicely with small SATA SSDs with the BIOS set to IDE mode for Win98 use. I'd recommend something like an old Intel 60GB or 120GB disk which probably won't get any cheaper than they are now.
For multi boot, create all partitions as primary, install each OS with the other partitions hidden and use PLOP as a boot manager. This way all operating systems are independent of each other and can be removed/added/re-imaged as you please. Acronis Disk Director is useful for hiding partitions and comes with Hirens Boot CD 10.6 along with Symantec Ghost for OS image backups.
2047MB DOS 6.22 on the first partition (Use the DOS install diskettes to create that partition and a modern OS for the others for 4K alignment).
4094MB NT4 Partition - optional, has the Win95 interface with rock solid stability and performance is great once dmacheck.exe is run to enable DMA (find it on the SP6a CD)
16382MB Win98 boot partition (also enable DMA in device manager)
Use the rest for W2K/XP

Last edited by BushLin on 2020-08-16, 19:05. Edited 2 times in total.

Screw period correct; I wanted a faster system back then. I choose no dropped frames, super fast loading, fully compatible and quiet operation.

Reply 17 of 21, by Doornkaat

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darry wrote on 2020-08-16, 18:55:
For Geforce 6 under Windows 98 : - general stability - ability to crash system by scroling in a window (100% reproducible with m […]
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Doornkaat wrote on 2020-08-16, 17:58:

I always read stuff about GeForce 6xxx not being supported well with Win9x games. I used to run an AGP Win98SE system with ASRock ConRoe 865PE, some Core2 Duo, 512MB RAM and GeForce 6800 GT and I didn't have any issues.
What games did you guys have trouble with?
Did the game not look all that pretty or were there game breaking issues? What driver were you using? Did you try later patches? Did you try switching between D3D/OpenGL? Did you try Glide emulation as a workaround? (never needed this myself btw.)

For Geforce 6 under Windows 98 :
- general stability
- ability to crash system by scroling in a window (100% reproducible with multiple cards on my system)
- over DVI, black screen when starting full screen DOS application . Requires switching to windowed and then back to full screen as workaround .
- probably others I don't remember .

Some of these issues may only manifest themselves on older platforms like 815ep I am using . The fullscreen DOS one is preety universal, though, AFAICR . Maybe it just works well on newer platforms like 865 ?

The DOS issue I couldn't have experienced because the monitor was connected via VGA.
The other issues (especially stability) never happened to me and I was a pretty bad n00b when I was using that system.
Maybe you're right about compatibility problems on with older platforms - I've never tried that combination. Geforce 6800 (GT/Ultra) performance seems wasted on a Pentium III class system though. 😁

Reply 18 of 21, by darry

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Doornkaat wrote on 2020-08-16, 19:03:
The DOS issue I couldn't have experienced because the monitor was connected via VGA. The other issues (especially stability) ne […]
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darry wrote on 2020-08-16, 18:55:
For Geforce 6 under Windows 98 : - general stability - ability to crash system by scroling in a window (100% reproducible with m […]
Show full quote
Doornkaat wrote on 2020-08-16, 17:58:

I always read stuff about GeForce 6xxx not being supported well with Win9x games. I used to run an AGP Win98SE system with ASRock ConRoe 865PE, some Core2 Duo, 512MB RAM and GeForce 6800 GT and I didn't have any issues.
What games did you guys have trouble with?
Did the game not look all that pretty or were there game breaking issues? What driver were you using? Did you try later patches? Did you try switching between D3D/OpenGL? Did you try Glide emulation as a workaround? (never needed this myself btw.)

For Geforce 6 under Windows 98 :
- general stability
- ability to crash system by scroling in a window (100% reproducible with multiple cards on my system)
- over DVI, black screen when starting full screen DOS application . Requires switching to windowed and then back to full screen as workaround .
- probably others I don't remember .

Some of these issues may only manifest themselves on older platforms like 815ep I am using . The fullscreen DOS one is preety universal, though, AFAICR . Maybe it just works well on newer platforms like 865 ?

The DOS issue I couldn't have experienced because the monitor was connected via VGA.
The other issues (especially stability) never happened to me and I was a pretty bad n00b when I was using that system.
Maybe you're right about compatibility problems on with older platforms - I've never tried that combination. Geforce 6800 (GT/Ultra) performance seems wasted on a Pentium III class system though. 😁

I agree about it being overkill (and wasted) on a P3 . A Geforce 6600 and later a 6600GT were what I found when looking for something that would not be a bottleneck . I then found a cheap FX 5900 locally and have not looked back since .

For post 2001-ish stuff I have GTX750TI on a third generation Core I3 running XP . Funnily enough, the last XP drivers for the GPU give a black screen over DVI on my 2018 vintage Acer EB321HQ 1080p monitor . I had to roll back a few versions to get something that worked .

Reply 19 of 21, by BushLin

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darry wrote on 2020-08-16, 19:28:

For post 2001-ish stuff I have GTX750TI on a third generation Core I3 running XP . Funnily enough, the last XP drivers for the GPU give a black screen over DVI on my 2018 vintage Acer EB321HQ 1080p monitor . I had to roll back a few versions to get something that worked .

Did you try the final XP driver release?
There were bugs introduced sometime after 327.23 but fixed by the time they stopped at 368.81... Which is awesome because it made the GTX960 a viable card under XP.

Screw period correct; I wanted a faster system back then. I choose no dropped frames, super fast loading, fully compatible and quiet operation.