VOGONS


First post, by quackgyver

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie

Hi,

I've built a 233 MHz MMX PC with a Sound Blaster AWE 32 sound card. The intention is to use software and run games on MS-DOS 6.22, Windows 3.11, Windows 95 and Windows 98 SE.

However, I've found multiple problems with the sound card:

  • Appropriate drivers are often hard to find.
  • Some games straight-up aren't compatible with the AWE 32 card.
  • Lots of audio glitches and sound hanging.
  • Related audio software is hard to configure.

For this reason, I'm looking to downgrade to a slightly older Sound Blaster card that has the following criterias:

  • Works with MS-DOS, Windows 3.11, Windows 95 and Windows 98.
  • Is plug and play to as great of an extent as possible.
  • Is a Sound Blaster card.
  • Is as high-end as possible given the above mentioned points.

In addition to fixing the sound card, I've also been trying to get a network card installed. However, I can't seem to find one that will work with MS-DOS, Windows 3.11, Windows 95 and Windows 98.

For this reason, I'm looking for a network card that can do the following:

  • Works with MS-DOS, Windows 3.11, Windows 95 and Windows 98.
  • Is plug and play to as great of an extent as possible, or at the very least has good drivers available.
  • Has as high of a connection speed as possible given the above mentioned points.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you very much. :-)

Game design studio: http://astrojone.com
Personal site: http://quackgyver.com

Reply 1 of 16, by davidrg

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

A ViBRA 16 would be a Plug&Play Sound Blaster that works on DOS and up but I don't know its a high-end solution. There is a handy spreadsheet ranking Creative sound cards which is probably worth a look. Sound cards based on the ESS1868 supposedly emulate a SoundBlaster quite effectively too.

As for network cards, for PCI systems my preference would be something with a DEC "Tulip" DECchip 21040 (10Mbps) or 21140 (100MBps) ethernet controller just because they're fast, have good driver support and I have a bunch of them. AMD, 3Com and Intel would all be good choices too. If I cant find any DEC or 3Com cards I'll often grab a Realtek - I doubt they're particularly fast but they work and drivers are easy to find on the realtek website. PCI gigabit cards exist which you could use but I wouldn't think it worth the effort. A requirement for DOS support may narrow your choices a little depending on what network software you're planning to run.

Reply 2 of 16, by quackgyver

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
davidrg wrote on 2022-03-25, 03:18:

A ViBRA 16 would be a Plug&Play Sound Blaster that works on DOS and up but I don't know its a high-end solution. There is a handy spreadsheet ranking Creative sound cards which is probably worth a look. Sound cards based on the ESS1868 supposedly emulate a SoundBlaster quite effectively too.

Thanks for the suggestion. Sounds like a SB16 CT2890 or CT2900 would be the way to go then.

davidrg wrote on 2022-03-25, 03:18:

As for network cards, for PCI systems my preference would be something with a DEC "Tulip" DECchip 21040 (10Mbps) or 21140 (100MBps) ethernet controller just because they're fast, have good driver support and I have a bunch of them. AMD, 3Com and Intel would all be good choices too. If I cant find any DEC or 3Com cards I'll often grab a Realtek - I doubt they're particularly fast but they work and drivers are easy to find on the realtek website. PCI gigabit cards exist which you could use but I wouldn't think it worth the effort. A requirement for DOS support may narrow your choices a little depending on what network software you're planning to run.

I'd actually prefer more specific suggestions if possible, because I bought an Intel Pro 1000 specifically because it has been recommended in other VOGONS threads (as well as Intel being recommended in general), and I haven't been able to get it to work. Windows 98SE wouldn't detect it correctly by default, and I couldn't find any drivers that seemed to work either.

I think when it comes to networking, I'd prefer a suggestion for a specific card that is know to be plug-and-play, has good drivers available, works in primarily Windows 95 and Windows 98 but preferably also Windows 3.11 and if possible also MS-DOS.

Thanks for the helpful suggestions so far!

Game design studio: http://astrojone.com
Personal site: http://quackgyver.com

Reply 3 of 16, by keropi

User metadata
Rank l33t++
Rank
l33t++

What about the good old CT2230? If you pair it with a nice midi daughterboard it will be great, I've been using such a combo for years in my 233mmx system and never had any issues

🎵 🎧 PCMIDI MPU , Orpheus , Action Rewind , Megacard and MK8330 soundcard website

Reply 4 of 16, by maxtherabbit

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t

The AWE32 is literally a SB16 with a extra EMU chip grafted on to it. If you can't get the AWE32 working on your system, you won't be able to get the SB16 working either (unless your card is somehow damaged)

Reply 5 of 16, by davidrg

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
quackgyver wrote on 2022-03-25, 17:45:

I'd actually prefer more specific suggestions if possible, because I bought an Intel Pro 1000 specifically because it has been recommended in other VOGONS threads (as well as Intel being recommended in general), and I haven't been able to get it to work. Windows 98SE wouldn't detect it correctly by default, and I couldn't find any drivers that seemed to work either.

I think when it comes to networking, I'd prefer a suggestion for a specific card that is know to be plug-and-play, has good drivers available, works in primarily Windows 95 and Windows 98 but preferably also Windows 3.11 and if possible also MS-DOS.

Thanks for the helpful suggestions so far!

Yeah, gigabit probably not worth the effort. Gigabit cards were pretty rare and expensive in the late 90s - not really something you would have seen on a Windows 98 PC let alone 95 or 3.1 so drivers are always going to be more tricky. I suspect finding intel drivers for older platforms will also be a bit more difficult these days as IIRC intel cleaned out their driver site a while back and got rid of anything "old".

Any card based on the RTL8139 chipset is plug and play and you can grab the drivers straight from Realtek here. These cards won't necessarily be fast but they should be pretty trouble free. The cards with this chipset I have don't have any brand names - I expect they were relatively budget cards.

The standard DECchip 21140 implementation would be Digitals own Fast EtherWORKS 10/100 adapter (aka DE500). There is an info sheet with specs and a picture. It was a relatively popular ethernet controller and lots of other cards used it (or a clone) too like the Asante Fast, CNET PowerPNIC CN935E, D-Link DE530CT, Kingston KNE100TX, SMC 8432 and a bunch of others. This archive is the latest driver disk and supports WFW, 95, netware, lanman and has a packet driver too. I think Windows 98 has the driver on the CD - if not the Windows 95 driver will probably do.

I can't name any cards with an AMD PCnet ethernet controller (I have none) but its commonly emulated by virtualisation software so I have used the PCnet drivers on a variety of operating systems. To make life easier for myself I built a collection of PCnet drivers.

3Com made a lot of cards and all of them should be old enough to support the platforms you're after - you should be able to find drivers for most of them in here. IIRC the 3C509-TX is good but its been several years since I used a 3Com PCI NIC.

Reply 6 of 16, by Cuttoon

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
maxtherabbit wrote on 2022-03-25, 18:33:

The AWE32 is literally a SB16 with a extra EMU chip grafted on to it. If you can't get the AWE32 working on your system, you won't be able to get the SB16 working either (unless your card is somehow damaged)

This.
No offense, but if you skip on any Soundblaster Pro/16/32/64/AWE for compatibility reasons, you're doing it wrong. That's like quitting the catholic church for a lack of child abuse.

Network, if you're living in an apartment building, it's fairly easy. Go downstairs and knock over a dumpster, you're bound to find a 3com NIC in there.

I like jumpers.

Reply 7 of 16, by waterbeesje

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie

Too me it sounds like the 3com etherlink series would be great for you.

Also, for trouble free sound blaster support ehm... Don't look at sound blaster. The mentioned ess1868 is actually more sound blaster compatible than a genuine sound blaster. SB original, 1.5, 2.0, pro, 16... It just lacks awe / 32 / 64 it I recall right. Some later c-media ISA card may also be your friend here.

Stuck at 10MHz...

Reply 8 of 16, by Joseph_Joestar

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
waterbeesje wrote on 2022-03-25, 20:18:

The mentioned ess1868 is actually more sound blaster compatible than a genuine sound blaster. SB original, 1.5, 2.0, pro, 16... It just lacks awe / 32 / 64 it I recall right.

ESS cards are not SB16 compatible.

The only way they can deliver 16-bit sound under DOS is if a game supports their proprietary AudioDrive mode. They are excellent sound cards otherwise.

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 9 of 16, by quackgyver

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
keropi wrote on 2022-03-25, 18:01:

What about the good old CT2230? If you pair it with a nice midi daughterboard it will be great, I've been using such a combo for years in my 233mmx system and never had any issues

Well, the CT2230 isn't plug-and-play, and dealing with additional hardware and dependencies is a little bit beyond what I was looking for in terms of simplicity. I might consider it in the future though, so thanks for the suggestion!

maxtherabbit wrote on 2022-03-25, 18:33:

The AWE32 is literally a SB16 with a extra EMU chip grafted on to it. If you can't get the AWE32 working on your system, you won't be able to get the SB16 working either (unless your card is somehow damaged)

Some software will give an error when AWE32's SET BLASTER parameters are specified in MS-DOS.

In addition, I've had a multitude of audio glitches and system errors when attempting to install both Sound Blaster 16 and AWE32-related drivers and software.

Downgrading to the closest thing to AWE32 without actually using AWE32 feels like a logical next step in trying to determine which card that I can use that is both plug-and-play and as high-end as possible without compromising compatibility with most software and games.

davidrg wrote on 2022-03-25, 19:07:

Yeah, gigabit probably not worth the effort. Gigabit cards were pretty rare and expensive in the late 90s - not really something you would have seen on a Windows 98 PC let alone 95 or 3.1 so drivers are always going to be more tricky. I suspect finding intel drivers for older platforms will also be a bit more difficult these days as IIRC intel cleaned out their driver site a while back and got rid of anything "old".

Any card based on the RTL8139 chipset is plug and play and you can grab the drivers straight from Realtek here. These cards won't necessarily be fast but they should be pretty trouble free. The cards with this chipset I have don't have any brand names - I expect they were relatively budget cards.

Based on a quick Google search it doesn't seem that RTL8139 has the greatest MS-DOS-compatibility, though it at least seems to work with most Windows versions.

Do you know whether it's suitable for MS-DOS use?

davidrg wrote on 2022-03-25, 19:07:

The standard DECchip 21140 implementation would be Digitals own Fast EtherWORKS 10/100 adapter (aka DE500). There is an info sheet with specs and a picture. It was a relatively popular ethernet controller and lots of other cards used it (or a clone) too like the Asante Fast, CNET PowerPNIC CN935E, D-Link DE530CT, Kingston KNE100TX, SMC 8432 and a bunch of others. This archive is the latest driver disk and supports WFW, 95, netware, lanman and has a packet driver too. I think Windows 98 has the driver on the CD - if not the Windows 95 driver will probably do.

After some googling it seems that DEC 21140 cards are MS-DOS-compatible, but the availability doesn't seem to be that high right now. I'll keep my eyes open though.

davidrg wrote on 2022-03-25, 19:07:

I can't name any cards with an AMD PCnet ethernet controller (I have none) but its commonly emulated by virtualisation software so I have used the PCnet drivers on a variety of operating systems. To make life easier for myself I built a collection of PCnet drivers.

3Com made a lot of cards and all of them should be old enough to support the platforms you're after - you should be able to find drivers for most of them in here. IIRC the 3C509-TX is good but its been several years since I used a 3Com PCI NIC.

I'd love to know more about whether there are any 3Com cards that are both plug and play and will also work with MS-DOS.

Thanks for the help so far!

waterbeesje wrote on 2022-03-25, 20:18:

Too me it sounds like the 3com etherlink series would be great for you.

Do you know of any specific 3Com card that is both plug-and-play and will work in MS-DOS?

Game design studio: http://astrojone.com
Personal site: http://quackgyver.com

Reply 10 of 16, by bloodem

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
quackgyver wrote on 2022-03-25, 02:29:
However, I've found multiple problems with the sound card: […]
Show full quote

However, I've found multiple problems with the sound card:

  • Appropriate drivers are often hard to find.
  • Some games straight-up aren't compatible with the AWE 32 card.
  • Lots of audio glitches and sound hanging.
  • Related audio software is hard to configure.

What specific AWE32 model do you have? I've never encountered issues with any game when using an AWE32 card (I have a CT3900 and a CT3980).

These cards are extremely compatible (they are Creative cards, after all) and have excellent sound quality.

They do have some issues, like the well known MIDI bugs, or the fact that they do not support stereo digital sounds in SB Pro mode (which is not really an issue, IMO), however, what you are describing is not specific to AWE32 cards (or any other well known Creative cards, for that matter), so you are either doing something wrong, or you have a deeper problem related to your platform.

quackgyver wrote on 2022-03-25, 20:44:

Well, the CT2230 isn't plug-and-play[...]

You're saying that like it's a bad thing. 😁
One of my favorite setups is pairing a SB Live 5.1 (for Windows 95/98) with a non-PNP card for DOS/Win 3.1. I've never had issues with such a combo: it. just. works.

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 11 of 16, by quackgyver

User metadata
Rank Newbie
Rank
Newbie
bloodem wrote on 2022-03-25, 21:02:

What specific AWE32 model do you have? I've never encountered issues with any game when using a AWE32 card (I have a CT3900 and a CT3980).

I have a CT2760.

bloodem wrote on 2022-03-25, 21:02:

These cards are extremely compatible (they are Creative cards, after all) and have excellent sound quality.
They do have some issues, like the well known MIDI bugs, or the fact that they do not support stereo digital sounds in SB Pro mode (which is not really an issue, IMO), however, what you are describing is not specific to AWE32 cards (or any other well known Creative cards, for that matter), so you are either doing something wrong, or you have a deeper problem related to your platform.

Well, the SET BLASTER issue is a confirmed problem. For instance, Hocus Pocus will not work if AWE32-specific SET BLASTER parameter are added in addition to the default SET BLASTER parameters.

Game design studio: http://astrojone.com
Personal site: http://quackgyver.com

Reply 12 of 16, by bloodem

User metadata
Rank Oldbie
Rank
Oldbie
quackgyver wrote on 2022-03-25, 21:09:

I have a CT2760.

Don't have any experience with that card, but I don't imagine it's much different from the others.
Either way, it's a non-PNP card. 😀

quackgyver wrote on 2022-03-25, 21:09:

Well, the SET BLASTER issue is a confirmed problem. For instance, Hocus Pocus will not work if AWE32-specific SET BLASTER parameter are added in addition to the default SET BLASTER parameters.

Fair enough. Don't know that game, never played it in my life, but if it's important to you I can understand that it's annoying (although this type of problem has many easy workarounds). I also have three such games that are extremely important for me: Prehistorik, Titus the Fox, and Prince - if these don't work on a certain platform, my brain explodes. 😁

What I do know is that I tested more than 50 DOS games with many Creative cards, and not once did I encounter issues like "lots of audio glitches and sound hanging". Something else must be going on...

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 13 of 16, by davidrg

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member
quackgyver wrote on 2022-03-25, 20:44:
waterbeesje wrote on 2022-03-25, 20:18:

Too me it sounds like the 3com etherlink series would be great for you.

Do you know of any specific 3Com card that is both plug-and-play and will work in MS-DOS?

I don't think I've ever seen a non-Plug&Play PCI card - AFAIK its a requirement for PCI and so any PCI NIC will be Plug&Play. Some of the ISA ones will be too but they'll only be 10Mbps and it will probably be written on the card if it is.

"Work in MS-DOS" however is a more tricky question. MS-DOS has no native network functionality and so there is no standard type of DOS network driver. There were a whole bunch of competing solutions that required their own types of drivers. So whether a given card will work very much depends on the network software you're planning to run.

The Novell NetWare client and its IPX protocol which most DOS multiplayer games use is easy - NetWare was by far the most popular way of networking DOS and so all network cards from that era (and many even from the early 2000s) will include a suitable 16bit or 32bit ODI driver. Microsofts network client for DOS as well as Banyan VINES (starting from v5.5) want an NDIS driver and most older cards will probably probably have this but as these products weren't so popular newer cards are probably less likely to have one. FTP Software came up with the Packet Driver specification and used it for their PC/TCP product - these are the types of drivers a lot of newer DOS tools like mTCP use as well.

On top of all this if your card doesn't have a particular driver type you can usually use a shim to convert between ODI/NDIS/Packet Driver. This adds complexity and uses more conventional memory so really its only something to bother with if you to run multiple client stacks at once - for example if you wanted IPX support and also to run the mTCP utilities.

Reply 14 of 16, by maxtherabbit

User metadata
Rank l33t
Rank
l33t
quackgyver wrote on 2022-03-25, 21:09:

Well, the SET BLASTER issue is a confirmed problem. For instance, Hocus Pocus will not work if AWE32-specific SET BLASTER parameter are added in addition to the default SET BLASTER parameters.

IIRC Hocus Pocus does the same thing with a SB16 "BLASTER" string (it objects to the 'P' parameter) - that game is just a piece of shit

not to say it's not fun to play, but whoever coded that check for "invalid" BLASTER parameter should have their face stomped in

Reply 15 of 16, by Boohyaka

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

Aww man, an AWE32 is perfect for a Pentium MMX build. As all Creative cards they have their quirks and issues (mainly MIDI in the case of the AWE32), but apart from that it's the ideal, arguably best card of that era. I have a CT3900 myself in a P233 MMX build and don't have the issues you're talking about, doing both DOS and Windows 98. Drivers are fine and overall compatibility too (it's a Creative SB after all).

As mentioned earlier, if you have that many problems there's probably something else going on, and you'd probably better try to fix it instead of switching to another sound card?

Granted I wasn't aware of the Hocus Pocus specific issue. Have you seen this? Hocus Pocus and the AWE32 PnP doesn't work.

This is a very specific issue for that game, as explained by maxtherabbit, someone had the very shitty idea to parse BLASTER for unknown parameters. So you could just use a batch file to SET BLASTER the way the game expects it.
As said earlier too, a SB16 would have the very same problem with that game. That's not a soundcard issue, but a poor coding issue in a specific game.

Give your AWE32 a chance, it deserves your love 😀
If you were to look into another sound card, a good idea could be to get a SB Pro compatible secondary card if you can spare the extra ISA slot (such as an ESS1868, very good cards that can be found for pretty cheap) and initialize one or the other based on what you want to play. You get the best of both worlds this way.

Reply 16 of 16, by God Of Gaming

User metadata
Rank Member
Rank
Member

my p233mmx build works great with a pair of awe64 value ct4520 and aureal vortex au8820, for networking I use 3com 3c905, no issues with either of those so far

1999 Dream PC project | 2001 Dream PC project | 2003 Dream PC project