First post, by bZbZbZ
So over the past year I had a few video cards die (all in separate machines... so it's not like a single bad power supply killed them). My childhood Radeon 9700 started artifacting (I understand this is common). The Radeon 9800 Pro I replaced it with then started crashing/artifacting a few months later. I also had a GeForce 8800 GTS start artifacting (not exactly a treasured item, but annoying nonetheless... and none of these cards were overclocked). I have to admit that this is has made me wary of spending a lot of time running a lot of hours on old hardware, and even had an impact on my enjoyment of the hobby in general. I haven't turned on my Pentium III / Voodoo3 machine in months (I wouldn't pay the current eBay price to buy another Voodoo3).
So what have I been using for retro PC gaming?
I found a $40 full computer (minus hard drive) with a Core i3 840 (LGA 1156), a low profile Radeon 5570 and 4GB of DDR3 memory.
I added a Sound Blaster Audigy 2 PCI and a 160GB Intel SSD (supports manual trim in Windows XP).
Then I connected to a 19" CRT running 1280x1024 85Hz, an IBM Model M keyboard, and an early USB mouse.
I'm running Windows XP SP3, ASUS had all the drivers on their website, and it absolutely flies on this hardware which of course isn't a surprise.
What HAS surprised me:
- Most Windows 9x games either work in XP or have XP patches/workarounds (I know there are some exceptions)
- The dinky Radeon 5570 crushes UT2004 and most similar era games with over 100fps (details maxed out, 1280x1024, 4xAA, 16xAF). I have better cards available but have been too amused by this little card to swap them in.
- Most DOS games (I got into computers in the Win95 era so DOS isn't my prime interest nor my forte) run in DOSbox, which this system handles very well. When I fullscreen a game in DOSbox onto my 19" CRT at the game's native resolution... it's mostly just like the real thing.
I have a Pentium III / 440BX / Voodoo3 system with Windows 98SE and DOS. I have an Athlon 64 X2 / Radeon X850 AGP running XP. I had so much fun restoring these machines and setting them up in my home, and they're not going anywhere. And there are edge cases where there's no substitution. But this damn Core i3 is now what I put most of the gaming hours into.
What are your experiences? How do you balance the enjoyment of the hardware itself (collecting, building, staging, etc) with the enjoyment of actually using the computer (retro gaming for most of us, I presume). Do you worry about wearing out your antique hardware? Do you just stock drawers full of duplicate parts?