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Most stable and compatible win9x configuration

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Reply 21 of 163, by Jorpho

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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 20:32:

Also, if possible, I would like to play games from like monster truck madness, tomb raider, quake, but also max payne, mafia and return to castle wolfenstein.

It is an excellent idea to start with a definite goal in mind!

But the second question you have to ask is: are you sure you can't run all those games already on your current hardware? And if the experience is somehow lacking, then in what way is it lacking?

Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 21:57:

Economics apart, in your opinion is it possible to reach some kind of consensus regarding the most compatible and stable configuration for win9x games, 1996-2001?

If a game developer wrote a game with a single specific hardware configuration in mind, then that developer would have severely limited the available audience. Different developers wrote their games with the expectation that they would run on different hardware, and they didn't always have the same expectations.

Inevitably, you are going to have to use the parts you can find, and even then the parts you can find won't necessarily all be in ideal condition.

Reply 22 of 163, by mothergoose729

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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 21:57:

Economics apart, in your opinion is it possible to reach some kind of consensus regarding the most compatible and stable configuration for win9x games, 1996-2001?

It has more to do with the games and drivers than hardware. If you are have a voodoo card you are doing the best you can do. It's PC gaming afterall, and early windows gaming at that. Some tweaking and patching will be necessary.

As for the CPU/platform side of things after slot 1 onward is pretty good. There are a few CPU sensitive windows games but most of them don't care or even if they do you can just enable vsync. If you know for sure you won't be doing any DOS gaming then I think that intel chipsets are usually the most stable and have the best drivers.

My 865p chipset board has gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0. SATA 1.5, and AGP 8X. All of it works in windows 98. It's really good on the I/O side of things and I can't remember it ever crashing when I used it. A pentium IV 2.4ghz is plenty fast for games of that era and has a very reasonable TDP. A 2.8ghz northwood might be the best balanced. Just don't get prescott.

If you prefer AMD , IMO socket 754 is the way to go. The high end CPUs are more expensive but you don't need anything more than a 3000+ anyway. Ultra IDE with a SATA to IDE adapter can be plenty fast and 100mbit ethernet is pretty standard. It's a lot of VIA chipsets which are also pretty good and quite stable.

Reply 23 of 163, by Scoob

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Jorpho wrote on 2021-07-03, 22:13:
It is an excellent idea to start with a definite goal in mind! […]
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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 20:32:

Also, if possible, I would like to play games from like monster truck madness, tomb raider, quake, but also max payne, mafia and return to castle wolfenstein.

It is an excellent idea to start with a definite goal in mind!

But the second question you have to ask is: are you sure you can't run all those games already on your current hardware? And if the experience is somehow lacking, then in what way is it lacking?

Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 21:57:

Economics apart, in your opinion is it possible to reach some kind of consensus regarding the most compatible and stable configuration for win9x games, 1996-2001?

If a game developer wrote a game with a single specific hardware configuration in mind, then that developer would have severely limited the available audience. Different developers wrote their games with the expectation that they would run on different hardware, and they didn't always have the same expectations.

Inevitably, you are going to have to use the parts you can find, and even then the parts you can find won't necessarily all be in ideal condition.

I like the way you think. The computer I built for this purpose sometimes boot, others not. Sometimes randomly crashes to desktop. I'm convinced it may be because of the matsonic motherboard with via chipset and a duron. So I wanted to get it right this time. Can you spare some suggestions?

Reply 24 of 163, by Scoob

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mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-07-03, 22:20:
It has more to do with the games and drivers than hardware. If you are have a voodoo card you are doing the best you can do. It' […]
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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 21:57:

Economics apart, in your opinion is it possible to reach some kind of consensus regarding the most compatible and stable configuration for win9x games, 1996-2001?

It has more to do with the games and drivers than hardware. If you are have a voodoo card you are doing the best you can do. It's PC gaming afterall, and early windows gaming at that. Some tweaking and patching will be necessary.

As for the CPU/platform side of things after slot 1 onward is pretty good. There are a few CPU sensitive windows games but most of them don't care or even if they do you can just enable vsync. If you know for sure you won't be doing any DOS gaming then I think that intel chipsets are usually the most stable and have the best drivers.

My 865p chipset board has gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0. SATA 1.5, and AGP 8X. All of it works in windows 98. It's really good on the I/O side of things and I can't remember it ever crashing when I used it. A pentium IV 2.4ghz is plenty fast for games of that era and has a very reasonable TDP. A 2.8ghz northwood might be the best balanced. Just don't get prescott.

If you prefer AMD , IMO socket 754 is the way to go. The high end CPUs are more expensive but you don't need anything more than a 3000+ anyway. Ultra IDE with a SATA to IDE adapter can be plenty fast and 100mbit ethernet is pretty standard. It's a lot of VIA chipsets which are also pretty good and quite stable.

What graphics card do you use in your P4?

Reply 25 of 163, by mothergoose729

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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 22:25:
mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-07-03, 22:20:
It has more to do with the games and drivers than hardware. If you are have a voodoo card you are doing the best you can do. It' […]
Show full quote
Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 21:57:

Economics apart, in your opinion is it possible to reach some kind of consensus regarding the most compatible and stable configuration for win9x games, 1996-2001?

It has more to do with the games and drivers than hardware. If you are have a voodoo card you are doing the best you can do. It's PC gaming afterall, and early windows gaming at that. Some tweaking and patching will be necessary.

As for the CPU/platform side of things after slot 1 onward is pretty good. There are a few CPU sensitive windows games but most of them don't care or even if they do you can just enable vsync. If you know for sure you won't be doing any DOS gaming then I think that intel chipsets are usually the most stable and have the best drivers.

My 865p chipset board has gigabit ethernet, USB 2.0. SATA 1.5, and AGP 8X. All of it works in windows 98. It's really good on the I/O side of things and I can't remember it ever crashing when I used it. A pentium IV 2.4ghz is plenty fast for games of that era and has a very reasonable TDP. A 2.8ghz northwood might be the best balanced. Just don't get prescott.

If you prefer AMD , IMO socket 754 is the way to go. The high end CPUs are more expensive but you don't need anything more than a 3000+ anyway. Ultra IDE with a SATA to IDE adapter can be plenty fast and 100mbit ethernet is pretty standard. It's a lot of VIA chipsets which are also pretty good and quite stable.

What graphics card do you use in your P4?

I used a voodoo 3 and a quadro FX card. I would switch between AGP and PCI graphics in the bios. For most 3d games the quadro FX is better but the voodoo 3 is less hassle sometimes to get working.

Reply 26 of 163, by cyclone3d

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AlexZ wrote on 2021-07-03, 21:37:
cyclone3d wrote on 2021-07-03, 17:23:

DOS on SBLive / Audigy / Audigy 2 is a joke as far as compatibility and good quality audio go.

philscomputerlab praises SBLive in terms of DOS compatibility. Acceptable sound quality is very subjective as price pays a role as well. SBLive cards cost nothing nowadays so it makes sense to start with that and upgrade to something more compatible later for a good price instead of buying from profiteering AWE 64 speculators. That's what I would do to get AWE 64 as cheap as possible.

Try some OPL2/OPL3 music and tell me you think it is good. Not holding my breath.

You still don't have real OPL3 with an AWE64 either but it is was better than Ensoniq / Creative PCI cards which all use the same DOS emulation for OPL3.

And to top it off, you don't need an AWE64 gold if you want an AWE64.... And the value ones can be had for fairly cheap if you really must have an AWE64.

For starting out though, there are much better cards that are going to have great compatibility and have real OPL3.

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

Reply 27 of 163, by Horun

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MHO is In general Intel soc 478 with i865pe is probably the best stable Win98SE platform compared to AMD, the i848 is also good but no dual channel DDR. As far as audio: no need for a SB Live if just playing most DOS and Win 9x games. A good AWE32 is just as good for Win 9x as any AWE64 or better and more compatible... just my opinion 😀

Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor.

Reply 28 of 163, by cyclone3d

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Have you seen the prices for AWE32 cards the last couple years?

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

Reply 29 of 163, by Horun

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Yeah but if you have one they do work well and thought it was worth mentioning. I think more of us old timers have AWE32's than AWE64's but could be wrong. Have like 5 plus 3 GoldFinchs for SB16 but only 2 true 64's. Was just an opinion 😀

Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor.

Reply 30 of 163, by Jorpho

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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 22:24:

The computer I built for this purpose sometimes boot, others not. Sometimes randomly crashes to desktop. I'm convinced it may be because of the matsonic motherboard with via chipset and a duron. So I wanted to get it right this time. Can you spare some suggestions?

Are you familiar with capacitor plague? You are inevitably going to encounter it in a lot of motherboards from this period. Often you can just visually check the motherboard for bulging and leaky capacitors, but there's really no way of knowing if any particular brand or model of motherboard is going to be affected. (But PC Chips is usually a very bad bet.)

Some people like to "recap" motherboards by taking off some or all of the old capacitors and soldering new ones in their place. I've never tried that myself – it's not especially easy if you don't solder components regularly.

And it's also possible you have a bad power supply, or an inadequate power supply. Or maybe the thermal paste on your CPU has gotten old, or was not applied properly. It could even be something weird like your motherboard being insufficiently offset from the case. Or it could be something in your Windows setup that you never even thought about. (In cases like that, I suggest booting with a "live" Linux distribution to see if you still experience problems there.) The point is, you can drive yourself nuts researching the best components and hunting them all down and still run into problems you never anticipated.

So when I say, "are you sure you can't run all those games already on your current hardware?", I mean something like whatever computer you're currently running posting your message from, even if it's running Windows 10 or something.

Reply 31 of 163, by Caluser2000

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Horun wrote on 2021-07-04, 02:38:

Yeah but if you have one they do work well and thought it was worth mentioning. I think more of us old timers have AWE32's than AWE64's but could be wrong. Have like 5 plus 3 GoldFinchs for SB16 but only 2 true 64's. Was just an opinion 😀

Some folk just don't like other folks opinion..in my opinion..😉

I have a crap load of various AGP and PCI cards that would probably be fine as well. All freeee..😀

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A founding member of the 286 appreciation society.
Apparently 32-bit is dead and nobody likes P4s.
Of course, as always, I'm open to correction...😉

Reply 32 of 163, by BitWrangler

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I'd say that the capacitor plague is pretty much irrelevant now, anything older than last decade is old enough to have it's caps die from ageing/wearing out. It's hardly early death now when you're discovering the caps are bad 20 years later.

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Reply 33 of 163, by BitWrangler

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Ya know whatty, the Vibra 16x in this comparo seems fairly good, I mean it's closer to the Roland than the kazoo in a bathroom of some of the 16s... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yP7U9WE426o

Edit: Gah, should have listened to the Duke3d ones before I said that, both SBs make a jangly mess of it and I think the ALS100 does better.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 34 of 163, by Jo22

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Just saw an authentic Youtube video called "Why is it so hard to create my dream 1996 gaming PC?"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFPCU40RxO8

It's very interesting and provides a good impression of mid-90s' computer game playing on Windows.
(Ok, to be honest, it was high-end then; at the time, I still had an 80286 running Windows 3.1 and played desktop games, but still..)

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 35 of 163, by BitWrangler

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Also, the question "What's the best gaming PC spec of mid or late 90s?" should be answered with "What month?" also "In this scenario are you a) a reviewer getting stuff direct from manufacturer for review, b) rich with friends in distribution channels, c) Joe Schmoe trying to buy at retail. ?" Which variously defines 1 month ahead, 1 month behind, and 3 months behind official release dates.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 36 of 163, by Joseph_Joestar

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Scoob wrote on 2021-07-03, 21:57:

Economics apart, in your opinion is it possible to reach some kind of consensus regarding the most compatible and stable configuration for win9x games, 1996-2001?

I would limit the system to 2000 instead of 2001, since you avoid dealing with DirectX 8 games that way.

For stability and compatibility, go with a socket478 Pentium 4, GeForce2 GTS + Voodoo2 SLI (for Glide games), SBLive 5.1 + LiveDrive front panel, 512 MB RAM and a 120GB IDE HDD. Stick with DirectX 7.0a and Nvidia drivers below version 8 to avoid compatibility issues.

You may run into some problems with speed sensitive games, but if you plan on using a second system for DOS and early Windows gaming, that shouldn't really matter.

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 37 of 163, by bloodem

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My vote goes to Athlon64 Venice / San Diego on a socket 754/939 VIA K8T800 motherboard:
- it’s a mature chipset - for all intents and purposes, it’s just as stable as the Intel 865
- the CPU is both faster (not that it matters in Win98) and cooler compared to late Northwood CPUs (I’m not even mentioning Prescott)
- you can use many modern, cheap coolers that are just better in every way compared to the ones for socket 478.
- even though you left DOS out of the equation, an added bonus is that the Athlon 64/VIA K8T800 combo is more compatible with DOS sound cards and it’s flexible when it comes to speed (you can achieve 386 / 486 speeds with ease). Due to the way the Netburst architecture works, the Intel P4 can’t be slowed down at all (disabling the L1 cache will have little effect).

My absolute favorite time machine remains Athlon XP/VIA KT600, though… but it’s generally harder to put together (and more expensive in some parts of the world).

2 x PGA132 / 5 x Socket 3 / 9 x Socket 7 / 12 x SS7 / 1 x Socket 8 / 14 x Slot 1 / 5 x Slot A
5 x Socket 370 / 8 x Socket A / 2 x Socket 478 / 2 x Socket 754 / 3 x Socket 939 / 7 x LGA775 / 1 x LGA1155
Current rig: Ryzen 5 3600X
Backup rig: Core i7 7700k

Reply 38 of 163, by Jo22

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@Joseph-Joestar ^Be careful with the Pentium 4, though!
Some of its instructions were somewhat quick that DOS-based versions of Windows struggled.
Edit: Found the the article!
https://www.os2museum.com/wp/those-win9x-cras … -fast-machines/
It's the LOOP instruction that's so develish quick.

And by the way, some of your components were something I didn't
even dare to dream of in my early XP days.
If I hadn't browsed vogons and other forums in the past years,
I wouldn't realize that these components are "retro" or anything worth, at all.

No offense, though. Each to his own.
I slowly start to accept that non-DOS hardware is something worth, too.

Previously, I thought that only DOS hardware is important/worthy,
due to the required low-level compatibility with DOS applications/games that directly access the hardware.

Also, the Rage series, the Voodoo II and the Geforce 2/3/4 GPUs are useful to build nice Power Mac machines that run OS 9.x/Tiger.

My late 90s-early 2000s specs were roughly like this:
- Pentium 75 to Pentium 166 MMX
- 24 MB RAM
- 1,2 to 4GB HDD (SCSI)
- PAS 16 sound card
- S3 Trio 64v/S3 ViRGE/ATI Rage II
- ~15" to 17" CRT monitor

And that wasn't just me, a lot of my friends had second-hand PCs like that.
One of them had a Pentium 120 PC in ~2004 or so (I think) that he wanted me
to upgrade, so he can run XP.
I know, this must looks ridiculous by now!
But some people, PCs weren't that important until the turn of century,
when the www became ubiquitous.

"Time, it seems, doesn't flow. For some it's fast, for some it's slow.
In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

//My video channel//

Reply 39 of 163, by cyclone3d

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Horun wrote on 2021-07-04, 02:38:

Yeah but if you have one they do work well and thought it was worth mentioning. I think more of us old timers have AWE32's than AWE64's but could be wrong. Have like 5 plus 3 GoldFinchs for SB16 but only 2 true 64's. Was just an opinion 😀

I have a full collection of AWE32 (except value) and SB32 and AWE64 cards but I still wouldn't pay current prices. People are even asking over $100 for the CT3600. Absolutely insane.

No real reason to have an AWE32 or AWE64 unless you want to play games that specifically support them for the MIDI.

Much cheaper options out there such as OPTi 930 based cards with on board wavetable.

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