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Thread: I want to downgrade!

  1. #1
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    I want to downgrade!

    There's a ton of old games I want to play but frankly getting them to run properly in DOSbox is more trouble than it's worth, so I want to get an old machine. It's been a long, long time since I last used DOS and the like so I could use some advice on what kind of specs I should be looking for. My rough guess is Pentium 1 CPU, 32-64MB RAM, few hundred MB hard disk and a Soundblaster 16 or Pro. Not sure about graphics? I'm planning on running DOS 6.22 and Windows 95 to play games like Syndicate, TFX and TIE Fighter.
    What kind of problems am I going to run into (aside from the joys of Autoexec.bat and extended memory) ? one thing I'm not sure about is the monitor, will an old system like that work through an LCD panel?

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    • philipbain's system
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    I've been toying around with the idea of a retro PC for playing old games myself, I have my 486 still but thats a little too retro for some DOS stuff. Seeing as the later DOS games were around in the mid to late 90s then a system that is contempary of that era should be ideal, so a Penitum II or Pentium III system with 128MB RAM and Windows 98 SE and something like a nVidia Riva TNT or suchlike should be ideal. I have all the bits to do one, it's just a case of building it, mine will be a PIII 500Mhz "Coppermine" core with at least 256MB PC-100 SDRAM (could be more, I have various old DIMMs), a classic QDi "Brilliant" 440BX mobo, a Geforce 256 32MB DDR, 20GB IBM Deskstar 7200rpm HD, 48X CD-ROM, 3.5" floppy and a 230W ATX PSU, all in an authentic 1998 cream coloured ATX case! All for nothing too, just old parts I have.
    "There's nothing nice about Steve Jobs and there's nothing evil about Bill Gates" - Chuck Peddle, father of the 6502 and the Commodore PET

  3. #3
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    • philipbain's system
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    An old system will work through an LCD as long as it's got d-sub analogue connector and not DVI, thouh as an LCD has a native resolution and DOS is unlikely to be able match this you will lose definition (exactly the same as you woul if you ran your panel at a less than ideal resolution in Windows). I suggest Win 98 SE and Win 95 just has too many technical limitations, such as no proper USB support. Also peripherals may be problematic as driver support may be lacking, try to use either stuff of the same vintage or that use the same interfaces (such as PS2 mouse and keyboard) and if you try to use newer components, Win9x driver support may be a problem. Otherwise it shouldnt be too difficult.
    "There's nothing nice about Steve Jobs and there's nothing evil about Bill Gates" - Chuck Peddle, father of the 6502 and the Commodore PET

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    YUKIKAZE arthurleung's Avatar
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    Have you ever tried running VMWare with DOS/Windows 95?
    Workstation 1: Intel i7 950 @ 3.8Ghz / X58 / 12GB DDR3-1600 / HD4870 512MB / Antec P180
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  5. #5
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    • badger's system
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurleung
    Have you ever tried running VMWare with DOS/Windows 95?
    Nope, does that work?

  6. #6
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    • badger's system
      • Motherboard:
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      • Memory:
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      • Storage:
      • 128GB Corsair M4, 1TB Samsung F1, 1TB Hitachi
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus 560GTX
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    Ok, it does work. But sound support is poor and it's a lot of messing about, good way to learn DOS if you're not familiar, though.

    I think a proper old machine is the only way to go.

    I'm looking at a P2 400, GeForce2 GTS and Soundblaster 16. This should be more than enough for DOS games like Syndicate, TFX and the old Apogee and Epic shareware stuff as well as slightly newer titles like Rollcage, Carmageddon and EF 2000. Right? My only worry is that the motherboard will struggle to power the card.

    I suggest Win 98 SE and Win 95 just has too many technical limitations, such as no proper USB support.
    But isn't Win 95 the last Windows OS to support true DOS? I need to be able to boot into DOS 6.22 as well as run Windows.

  7. #7
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    i should think you could run a multiboot with DOS

    if you use anything older than 98SE you'll have to use fat16 formatting which is a pain when you have gigs of emulators and abandonwarez built up

    theres not really any advantage using 95 and plenty of disadvantages

    to get a good DOS environment, make a batch file like hello.bat, make a shortcut to it on the desktop and then change the shortcut properties to "run in DOS mode" and make sure "close on exit" is disabled, then somewhere in there you have a couple of boxes where you can write out the config.sys and autoexec.bat

    interesting link here to get usb drives working in DOS http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=10215

    then you need a sound driver (sb drivers are easy to get), mouse driver (might need a ps2 mouse or usb-ps2 converter)... and then the only problems would be chipset and graphics but they might work as standard

  8. #8
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    • badger's system
      • Motherboard:
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      • Memory:
      • 8GB
      • Storage:
      • 128GB Corsair M4, 1TB Samsung F1, 1TB Hitachi
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus 560GTX
      • PSU:
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      • Case:
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      • Dell 2407WFP
    Mouse and sound isn't a problem, the SB16 is a well-supported and common card and mouse drivers are easily available, there are tons of bootdisks out there. Looking around there seems to be plenty of guides for running DOS, Win 98 and Win XP multiboots.

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    • badger's system
      • Motherboard:
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      • Intel i5 2500K
      • Memory:
      • 8GB
      • Storage:
      • 128GB Corsair M4, 1TB Samsung F1, 1TB Hitachi
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus 560GTX
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX 620W
      • Case:
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      • Dell 2407WFP
    One thing I'm not clear on, do I need display drivers for DOS? Where would I get these from?
    And what's better for old DOS games, Matrox G400 or Nvidia GeForce2 MX400?
    Last edited by badger; 04-09-2006 at 06:18 AM.

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    root Member DanceswithUnix's Avatar
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    The GeForce2 should thrash the Matrox in old Windows games, can't imagine you will see a difference in DOS.

    I use a Geforce2 MX in Windows Me so 95/98 should work fine as well (same driver). Nvidia have a driver archive section.

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    • badger's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI Z68
      • CPU:
      • Intel i5 2500K
      • Memory:
      • 8GB
      • Storage:
      • 128GB Corsair M4, 1TB Samsung F1, 1TB Hitachi
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus 560GTX
      • PSU:
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      • Dell 2407WFP
    Jolly good. I've got myself an old Gigabyte GA-6BXE, so if I couple that with a GF2 MX400 and a P2-400 I should be able to play slightly newer stuff like Carmageddon as well as crusty titles like Syndicate, TFX and - oh yes - Crusader: No Remorse.

    I've been doing some research and it seems all I should need in the way of graphics drivers is a generic VESA driver, if that.

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    The King of Vague Steve B's Avatar
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    what socket do u need? i might have something that i could give u for free

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    • badger's system
      • Motherboard:
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      • Memory:
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    It's Socket 1, the old cartridge style. Why, what have you got?

  14. #14
    The King of Vague Steve B's Avatar
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    its a pentium 2 350

    no idea if it works or not, but it might be worth a shot.

    if you want it just let me know. if you send me two first class stamps, ill send it out for free

  15. #15
    Senior Member manwithnoname's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by badger
    One thing I'm not clear on, do I need display drivers for DOS? Where would I get these from?
    And what's better for old DOS games, Matrox G400 or Nvidia GeForce2 MX400?
    If it's a DOS game it's unlikely you'll need a driver for the video card. If it does use any kind of hardware 3d it was normally programmed for a specific card. My memory is poor I think Creative labs 3D blaster used Rendition's V1000 chip which games would 'detect' and use sure there was a verson of quake for it.

    ** EDIT: memory not so bad Rendition's V1000 **

    Sometimes you need a driver to enable VESA 2.0 - 'big video sizes' eg 640X480 16bit/24bit google VESA 2.0 (or UNIVBE i think)

    I was running a multi boot window 98SE/2000/NT up until this year, 98 could run most of the DOS games I had (not that many).

    Which card? If it a DOS game I don't think it will make much difference as there will be no hardware acceleration. If you are really bothered you should search for some video card benchmark software that DOS based, you are looking for highest video write bandwidth. Sorry I cannot remember what the software was called it would measure main memory bandwidth and video memory bandwidth - if the video was close to the main memory speed you had a good video card (or a really crap pc overall if both were slow..) **EDIT unless you have looks of games that use Rendition's V1000 chip see link above **
    Last edited by manwithnoname; 04-09-2006 at 07:43 PM. Reason: link added

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    • badger's system
      • Motherboard:
      • MSI Z68
      • CPU:
      • Intel i5 2500K
      • Memory:
      • 8GB
      • Storage:
      • 128GB Corsair M4, 1TB Samsung F1, 1TB Hitachi
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Asus 560GTX
      • PSU:
      • Corsair HX 620W
      • Case:
      • Coolermaster Stacker 830 Evolution
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell 2407WFP
    Yeah, there are a couple of Rendition optimised games I'd like to play but not enough to make it worth buying a 3D Blaster. The MX400 should easily handle everything I'll throw at it.

    Sometimes you need a driver to enable VESA 2.0 - 'big video sizes' eg 640X480 16bit/24bit google VESA 2.0 (or UNIVBE i think)
    That's what I'd heard, guess I'll find out soon enough how easy it is

    (I may or may not have spent several hundred pounds today on old games...)

    its a pentium 2 350
    Well that's mighty kind of you, Sir. PM your address and I'll chuck over some stamps (or Paypal the money, whichever you like).

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