VOGONS


First post, by multiwirth

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Hi everyone,
i´m planning to get/build an Pentium III retro system.
It should run windows 98 games classics aswell as some DOS games, programs.
So i wonder if i actually need a ISA bus for sound blaster or if PCI versions are fine aswell and not super rare.
Have seen a few options for old systems and mainboard bundles, but they don´t have an ISA bus.
I´m also fine with sound blaster compatible cards if anyone knows a few that are avaiable for cheap.
Something like ESS audio drive etc.

Thanks 😀

Reply 1 of 20, by BitWrangler

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There's a large chunk of 92ish up stuff that runs fine in the Win98 DOS prompt or DOS mode, wherein PCI soundcards with SB emulation will work.

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 2 of 20, by SScorpio

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It depends on the games you want to play. ISA is desired for sound cards in real DOS mode.

But if you are looking to play late gen DOS games that run fine through Windows, a PCI sound card might work just fine for you.

P3s have more limited options for controlling speed for older speed-sensitive games. So a non-ISA sound card might not be the limiting factor for problematic games.

Reply 3 of 20, by pc-sound-legacy

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In case of DOS gaming, try to get a board with ISA-bus. You will save time as well as your nerves. PCI cards often make trouble especially with older DOS games and they need TSR drivers to route the signals. ESS Audiodrive always is a good (and affordable) choice, ES1868f ISA PnP card as an example. If PCI, ESS Solo-1 is a good choice in case of costs and compatibility. Soundblaster PCI are fine for Windows and newer DOS Games with GM support but they don't have true FM sound and the emulation is inferior. Not every PCI card has legacy support or at least not with the latest wdm drivers, so Setup can be challenging as well.

Reply 4 of 20, by dionb

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It's mainly about sound. With ISA you have a lot more options. If you're used to Windows, the difference between sound cards are minimal, at most how noise-free they are (SNR), how much CPU they use and whether they have fancy positional audio features (A3D, EAX), and hardware support for the latter also went out the door with Vista. In DOS cards really sound different, so a single PCI card pretending to be a Sound Blaster won't necessarily sound like what you may remember or want.

Agree that compatibility is not likely to be your biggest problem- pretty much everything will at least make AdLib or SoundBlaster sound, even if it's not perfect, and the games that have trouble with the TSR programs needed to emulate an ISA sound card on PCI (or the conventional memory they eat if you aren't allowed to use EMM386 or even HIMEM) will definitely fail due to CPU speed as well.

Bottom line: what are "some DOS games"?

If it's late DOS mid to late 1990s games, any PCI card with DOS support is good enough to be playable if not perfect. If it's older than that, you want a slower system anyway.

Reply 5 of 20, by foil_fresh

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i would say yes. there's going to be "that one dos game" you want to play with sb sound effects which won't work in windows with a PCI sound card but will work in DOS with an ISA card.

also many dos games run poorly in windows, from slow framerates to choppy audio.

the more basic later dos games had windows in mind, so they ran fine (albeit slower) in w9x. if you're just playing Doom/Quake/Build engine games then you can get away with PCI and running them under Windows.

Reply 6 of 20, by cyclone3d

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If you don't have ISA and still want full DOS compatibility and genuine OPL3, then get a motherboard with a PC-PCI connector and a Yamaha YMF 7x4 based soundcard with a PC-PCI connector.

With that setup you will also have hardware assisted wavetable in Windows.

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 7 of 20, by multiwirth

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Hi guys,
thank you all for the replies!
I will try getting a mainbaord with ISA then.

However the kind of DOS games i'm interedted in are mainly from the 90s era.
Earth Worm Jim 1&2 for example
I have here an Pentium MMX laptop with an ESS 1878 integrated sound card. (Compaq Armada 7770dmt)
It's running fine in windows 98 out of the box (no driver needed) aswell as unofficial MS-DOS 7.1 which comes with some drivers and tools preloaded.
It detects it as ESS 1788 actually but otherwise works in all games i tried so far.

I don't need 100% perfect and accurate sound in DOS but at least music and sound effects should work.
So in terms of compatibility, the mentioned ESS audio drive is enough for my needs if there's a desktop version of this card or something similar.
But dunno if its PCI or ISA internally.

So my goal is to get a system that's on the same level of compatibility but also has an option for 3d accelerated graphics in windows and a little extra cpu headroom to play with.

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Reply 8 of 20, by SScorpio

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According to the Data Sheet, the ES1878 connects via ISA.

Do you plan on still using the laptop, or will this new machine replace it? That CPU and the sound chip should allow you to play most things a P3 with a PCI sound card would have issues with.

Reply 9 of 20, by multiwirth

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SScorpio wrote on 2021-11-25, 01:29:

According to the Data Sheet, the ES1878 connects via ISA.

Do you plan on still using the laptop, or will this new machine replace it? That CPU and the sound chip should allow you to play most things a P3 with a PCI sound card would have issues with.

Thanks for the info.

I will definitely keep this laptop but otherwise i´d like to have one desktop machine for everything that has both DOS support aswell as 3d acceleration for general old games, that wouldn´t run on windows 10 properly.
The Compaq laptop only supports 2D graphics.
But in this case i´ll better look for an board with ISA bus alongside PCI.

Reply 10 of 20, by Pierre32

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pc-sound-legacy wrote on 2021-11-24, 23:55:

ESS Solo-1 is a good choice in case of costs and compatibility.

cyclone3d wrote on 2021-11-25, 00:55:

If you don't have ISA and still want full DOS compatibility and genuine OPL3, then get a motherboard with a PC-PCI connector and a Yamaha YMF 7x4 based soundcard with a PC-PCI connector.

With that setup you will also have hardware assisted wavetable in Windows.

Just wanted to link OP to some quick info on these cards.

https://www.philscomputerlab.com/ess-es1938s-solo-1.html

https://www.philscomputerlab.com/yamaha-ymf74 … sound-card.html

If you're absolutely stuck with PCI, these are the best options. But ISA is better of course!

Reply 11 of 20, by BitWrangler

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So if you don't settle for a PCI card, there's always the option of having a minimum 4 different ISA systems to get what everyone thinks are the best ISA sound cards installed in three at a time, since it's not like a "one card to rule them all" deal with ISA either.

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 12 of 20, by enaiel

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Just wanted to provide a cheaper alternative: a S370 motherboard with a VIA VT82C686/A/B chipset. The onboard SBPro2 is pretty compatible and can be initialized using the VIASBCFG utility.

DOS PC: MSI MS-6368 / VIA C3 Ezra-T 1.0 GHz / Voodoo2 + ViRGE GX / SBPro2+ YMF744 + AWE64 + SC-7
Best DOS Games: CGW 150, PC Gamer 50, Worthwhile 100

Reply 13 of 20, by dionb

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cyclone3d wrote on 2021-11-25, 00:55:

If you don't have ISA and still want full DOS compatibility and genuine OPL3, then get a motherboard with a PC-PCI connector and a Yamaha YMF 7x4 based soundcard with a PC-PCI connector.

With that setup you will also have hardware assisted wavetable in Windows.

Yep, that's great. Only issue is that pretty much every board with PC-PCI also has ISA slots (unsurprisingly, as PC-PCI requires ISA support in the first place), so this hardly increases the options.

I'd say the Via 686 southbridge suggestion is a more practical one. Just don't combine that with an SBLive in Windows 😉

BitWrangler wrote on 2021-11-25, 04:10:

So if you don't settle for a PCI card, there's always the option of having a minimum 4 different ISA systems to get what everyone thinks are the best ISA sound cards installed in three at a time, since it's not like a "one card to rule them all" deal with ISA either.

You can go as deep down the rabbit hole as you want with ISA. But the main thing is being able to get compatible sound (AdLib, SoundBlaster Pro 2.0) without needing TSRs. You can do that with any number of ISA cards, and certainly don't need more than one.

Reply 14 of 20, by multiwirth

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Hey there everyone!

I´ve managed to get a complete Pentium III machine including gpu and sound card.
It has lots of PCI ports aswell as 3x ISA and ofc. AGP and all that for a expensive but reasonable price.

However i´m struggling to get any audio to work at all.
The sound card is a "Crystal PNP audio" and gets autodetect by windows 98.
I connected two small powered speakers to "line out" on the back, unfortunately there´s no audio at all.
The card doesn´t have a second output so i wonder if either the sound card needs further configuration or drivers or if it´s simply dead?
After installing windows Xp, the sound card gets detected aswell but still no audio.

The following screenshot shows some more details in glory 1080p 😀
Maybe someone knows what this card is about?
I´ll still get an ESS isa card instead but for now it would be great if this one would work since there´s no onboard audio.

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Reply 15 of 20, by dionb

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Your"windows 98" looks suspiciously like Windows XP... although that shouldn't matter for whether sound works.

It's possible the card is dead, but more likely that Windows is sending sound to the wrong output (I don't see an HDMI audio device, but "1080p" sounds like something modern) or has something muted. Or that a jumper is incorrectly set or missing on the card. Could you clarify exactly which card it is? It clearly has a later Crystal ISA chip, but that doesn't say what jumpers are present or other considerations there may be.

Reply 16 of 20, by multiwirth

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dionb wrote on 2021-12-01, 07:03:

Your"windows 98" looks suspiciously like Windows XP... although that shouldn't matter for whether sound works.

It's possible the card is dead, but more likely that Windows is sending sound to the wrong output (I don't see an HDMI audio device, but "1080p" sounds like something modern) or has something muted. Or that a jumper is incorrectly set or missing on the card. Could you clarify exactly which card it is? It clearly has a later Crystal ISA chip, but that doesn't say what jumpers are present or other considerations there may be.

Hi,
as i mentioned, i also installed windows xp to get the hardware ID´s.
I have connected my modern monitor via VGA and it seems like the geforce 2 mx can handle this resolution just fine.
Unfortunately i have almost no experience with sound cards from this era.
I´ll unplug the card and make some pictures later if this helps.
The sound card has 3 3,5mm sockets:
Labeled as "line in" "mic" "line out" so i guess line out is the only output avaiable here.

Reply 17 of 20, by fxgogo

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I am wondering if the card is set to mute by default. I remember this happening a lot when I messed around with some Linux distro’s on my systems. If you go to device manager and look at the list of components, check to see if the card is enabled or disabled and then see if the output is muted.

Reply 18 of 20, by multiwirth

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Here are some pictures.
On the chip is labeled as CX4235-X03

Oh and there´s nothing muted or disabled in windows 😒

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Reply 19 of 20, by Joseph_Joestar

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multiwirth wrote on 2021-12-01, 07:56:

Here are some pictures.
On the chip is labeled as CX4235-X03

If that's the same card that Phil reviewed in this video you may want to avoid it.

Its FM synthesis implementation is broken.

PC#1: Pentium MMX 166 / Soyo SY-5BT / S3 Trio64V+ / Voodoo1 / OPTi 82C930 / AWE64
PC#2: Celeron 466 / Abit ZM6 / Voodoo3 / AWE64 Gold / YMF744 / SC-155
PC#3: AthlonXP 1700+ / Abit KT7A / GeForce4 / SBLive / ALS100
PC#4: Athlon64 3700+ / DFI LanParty / 9600GT / X-Fi Titanium