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First post, by AngryByDefault

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Hi there,
I'm new to this forums and my searches didn't bring any relevant posts for this question, so I hope this is the right section for this.

I am considering commissioning my former PC (Core i3 3rd. Gen, 8 GB RAM) to some gaming but unsure of which windows version would be best.

As an example, I'd like to run the "Wing Commander" and "Quake" series, and maybe something more retro like C-64 or Mame games.

But what I wonder is whether I should go with XP 32bits, w8.1 32bits or w8.1 64bits...
Which OS can I expect to be the less problematic for that kind of games?

In the past -and much to my surprise- I have seen systems with Athlons II 255 perform much better with w8.1 x64 than their previous XP-32b but I dont' know how games will behave there...

I barely have any spare time, so I would prioritize an "easier" road over a "more accurate but diffcult" one.

Edit: FWIW I will that the system has a modest nVidia card and I might add a sound card to gain a joystic port.

Thanks in advance.
ABD

Reply 1 of 15, by BardBun

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XP should be the most compatible with late 90's games, other than that you can also further downgrade to Windows 2000 or Windows 98, as long as you have all drivers available for those OS versions.

Though, most games should still sort-of work on Windows 10.
Especially with the "Integer Scaling" mode nVidia and AMD graphics cards offer, you can play low resolution games perfectly sharp on modern resolutions.

Reply 2 of 15, by mothergoose729

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I would use dosbox and windows xp. The mainline version is pretty no fuss and works on windows XP just fine. PC gaming is still PC gaming, but you won't have to do as much patching on XP as you will on later versions of windows. With that said, the quake games generally run fine on modern windows or with source ports. Can't say I have tried the later wing commander games for windows, but dosbox is pretty easy to set up for WC 1-4.

Reply 3 of 15, by keenmaster486

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Windows 98, but you might have trouble with that system. If you cap out at late 90's games then you really should have a Pentium III system.

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.

Reply 4 of 15, by Jorpho

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AngryByDefault wrote on 2021-04-12, 00:13:

As an example, I'd like to run the "Wing Commander" and "Quake" series, and maybe something more retro like C-64 or Mame games.

Thank you for starting out with clear examples in mind.

There are a million Quake source ports out there suitable for practically every system. And likewise, there are C64 emulators and MAME emulators for practically every system too.

The only dicey question there is Wing Commander - but if you want something that Just Works, then you can use DOSBox (and get an experience practically indistinguishable from what you would get with "period correct" hardware). And DOSBox will also run on practically every system.

But the tricky thing is that you want a joystick port. If you have an old-fashioned 15-pin joystick, then you will have to go for XP or earlier, because Vista and later operating systems don't really support those at all, or at least not officially. You could try using a 15-pin-to-USB adapter instead of using a sound card, but I'm not sure what the state of those is either. If you have a really fancy old joystick you will probably need to install its official drivers in order for it to work properly, and then you're stuck with whatever OS the drivers officially supported.

Reply 5 of 15, by xcomcmdr

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Windows xp needs to be activated.
Windows 9x does not.
I'd prefer 9x. It's also a little more compatible than XP with late 90s and up to early 2000s games.

Last edited by xcomcmdr on 2021-04-12, 07:25. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 6 of 15, by auron

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not sure what all the win98 suggestions here are about for an ivy bridge system when XP would be the oldest OS to still have chipset drivers...

XP was overall ok for win9x era games from my recollection, perhaps not perfect compatibility but much better than everything that came after.

Reply 9 of 15, by gerry

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BardBun wrote on 2021-04-12, 07:52:

Let's assume he has an XP version that he can activate, it'll be the best option for like over 95% of older games.

one rather unpredictable marvel of XP was the compatibility mode where you set the application to run as win 98

sometimes nothing would change and sometime an application that completely messed up in native XP would miraculously work once compatibility was set

but then i think vista, 7, 8, 10 all have reasonably good compatibility modes too

Reply 10 of 15, by AngryByDefault

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Hi guys! thank you for your warm and helpful replies!

I do have an XP license and also a disk image of a clean install with the OS activated back in the day, that should be no problem.
I also just started to get acquainted with DOSBox very recently so I could easily combine those two I believe.

Jorpho wrote on 2021-04-12, 05:30:

But the tricky thing is that you want a joystick port. If you have an old-fashioned 15-pin joystick, then you will have to go for XP or earlier, because Vista and later operating systems don't really support those at all, or at least not officially. You could try using a 15-pin-to-USB adapter instead of using a sound card, but I'm not sure what the state of those is either. If you have a really fancy old joystick you will probably need to install its official drivers in order for it to work properly, and then you're stuck with whatever OS the drivers officially supported.

For what you've said I guess this is the defining point.

Yes, it has an old 15 pins port, and I 've checked out and down here USB adapters are non-existent and a new USB joystick (actually a "flightstick" I think it is called?) is ridiculously overpriced, so I really like to make use of what I have.

XP it will be then.

Now, do windows 7/8.1 x64 versions cause much more trouble than their 32bits versions? Just out of curiosity!

Regadrs.

Reply 11 of 15, by Jorpho

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AngryByDefault wrote on 2021-04-12, 13:44:

down here USB adapters are non-existent

You can order that sort of thing very cheaply on eBay from a worldwide shipper.

Now, do windows 7/8.1 x64 versions cause much more trouble than their 32bits versions? Just out of curiosity!

You pretty much need a 64-bit OS if you want to use more than 3 GB of RAM. The main advantages of 32-bit Windows are that you can still run 16-bit Windows programs without having to use any workarounds, and that you can still use 32-bit drivers for old devices that never got newer drivers. (If you look hard enough, you might be able to find subtle differences in that 32-bit video card drivers support compared to 64-bit drivers, but I don't think anyone has ever really documented that sort of thing extensively.)

Reply 13 of 15, by keenmaster486

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mothergoose729 wrote on 2021-04-12, 15:56:

If you want a no fuss setup don't install windows 98. Seriously, it's the masochists' OS if there ever was one. It makes linux fans seem like they love themselves.

If you try to install it on such a modern system, yeah.

Install it on a nice period 440BX system and it'll be a piece of cake, done it hundreds of times

I flermmed the plootash just like you asked.