My New Retro PC

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English Invader
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My New Retro PC

Post by English Invader » Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:08 pm

I recently acquired an old hand-me-down PC tin with an AMD single core processor (1.6 GHz), 256MB RAM, 40GB hard drive and an Nvidia GeForce MX-440 graphics card. I've installed Windows 98 on it and my aim is to make it an absolutely universal system for retro PC games. I want it to be able to run pretty much anything from 1981 to Windows 98 era whether through Windows, the native MS-DOS environment or through DOSBox (version 0.72 ran perfectly once I installed the Nvidia graphics driver).

The best part is that this baby can still go online and get any files or information it needs thanks to Puppy Linux and the onboard ethernet port (this very post is coming from the system right now). It's also got a CD/RW drive, a DVD-ROM drive, internal 3.5" floppy and a card reader.

The only thing it hasn't got at the moment is sound but I'm working on that and some games like Doom, Digger and Ghostbusters II are able to utilise the PC speaker which gives it a very retro feel. I'm also looking for a Windows 98 era file unzipper so the system can be completely self-sufficient.

Feel free to share any retro PC stories you have and any favourite games.

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outdated_gamer
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by outdated_gamer » Wed Mar 15, 2017 1:35 pm

Cool, I also still have a 32-bit AMD Athlon PC and it's useful for retro gaming and server hosting. I also have a P3 PC but that would need a bit more work to bring up to a good condition (I'm eyeing for a 3dfx Voodoo 5 5000 PCI or V2 SLI - I could get a 9250 or 6200 but I want a 3dfx card instead). It's quite easy to get a good, cheap retro PC that can also run some modern applications or games, something like a 2nd hand Core2Duo paired with a GF8800 or it's AMD/ATi equivalent can be had under 50 bucks and the older P4 and Athlon builds are even cheaper. It's a bit harder to come across fully functional and well preserved Pentium MMX and the even older 486/386/286/8088 PCs, although those are the best for "proper" retro PC gaming without any emulation or tweaks. But to be fair, DOSBox does the job in 99% of cases and if it doesn't there's still ways to run things (I just recently tried out Eurofighter 2000 with a special program written just for it).

It's funny to think that the PC as we know it today evolved from a almost strictly business machine (the original IBM XT was ment for business purposes rather than entertainment or artistic creations) into the multi-tasking monster that can run anything written for it, including the vast libary of all emulated systems.

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Carrot007
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by Carrot007 » Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:08 pm

You know it's pretty crappy that the voodoo card has not been fully emulated for the early DX games (3,5).

I know there has been some progress and a lot of hacks. But nothing great yet.

English Invader
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by English Invader » Wed Mar 15, 2017 8:14 pm

Fixed the sound problem with a VIA audio driver. Just been playing Need for Speed 2: SE in its full glory (a game most contemporary PCs can't run because it gets confused by multi-core CPUs).

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Katzkatz
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by Katzkatz » Thu Mar 30, 2017 4:02 pm

Here's an idea for a retro PC - how about building one with a 3DO Blaster inside it? That would be cool. I like to see that happen.

English Invader
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by English Invader » Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:29 pm

I've just got a Soundblaster Live CT4760 sound card for my system. My main reason for getting one is that they have the 15-pin controller port and I have some 15-pin gamepads lying around that I'm itching to use. It should also come in handy for MS-DOS games that rely on old sound standards.

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Katzkatz
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by Katzkatz » Fri Mar 31, 2017 3:47 pm

Do you guys watch the "Lazy Game Reviews"? He covers a lot of old DOS stuff and including soundcards. His recent one is on the Roland MT-32 - which back in the day, you needed a mortgage to buy it! :lol:

English Invader
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by English Invader » Fri Mar 31, 2017 5:47 pm

Katzkatz wrote:Do you guys watch the "Lazy Game Reviews"? He covers a lot of old DOS stuff and including soundcards. His recent one is on the Roland MT-32 - which back in the day, you needed a mortgage to buy it! :lol:
Yes, I love his videos. I'm always learning something new from him.

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outdated_gamer
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by outdated_gamer » Fri Mar 31, 2017 8:52 pm

Katzkatz wrote:Do you guys watch the "Lazy Game Reviews"? He covers a lot of old DOS stuff and including soundcards. His recent one is on the Roland MT-32 - which back in the day, you needed a mortgage to buy it! :lol:
Phil's Computer Lab is worth checking out too, he always builds nice retro rigs with a touch of modern.

About the "3DO Blaster" - outside of it's novel value (full console on a PC expansion board), it actually runs most cross-platform games worse than a high-powered PC of the time would. The only example I can think of that is really better on 3DO would be StarFighter. I think this expansion board made sense only if you had a too weak or ageing PC that couldn't keep up with the latest 3D games anymore (for example a 386SX). And the Doom port on 3DO was trully abysmal and ran even worse than the Saturn port.

Nvidia's first graphics card was a little similar in that it could run special versions of Saturn ports and came with a gamepad too:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jChtlWNIAL4

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Katzkatz
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by Katzkatz » Mon Apr 03, 2017 8:18 am

I think the Amstrad Mega PC would make a novel retro PC. Just for the fact it is so unique. What the hell were Amstrad and Sega thinking? :lol: :D

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Matt_B
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by Matt_B » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:00 am

Katzkatz wrote:I think the Amstrad Mega PC would make a novel retro PC. Just for the fact it is so unique. What the hell were Amstrad and Sega thinking? :lol: :D
I think it's an interesting bit of kit, but it's probably not so good for most games past around 1993 or so. It was practically obsolescent as a PC when it launched and not very upgradable; you're stuck with the CPU and GPU both being built into the motherboard. It also uses the Megadrive board somewhat ingeniously as an AdLib compatible sound card, but that standard was pretty much dying a death at that time too.

English Invader
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by English Invader » Mon Apr 03, 2017 9:53 am

Matt_B wrote:I think it's an interesting bit of kit, but it's probably not so good for most games past around 1993 or so. It was practically obsolescent as a PC when it launched and not very upgradable; you're stuck with the CPU and GPU both being built into the motherboard. It also uses the Megadrive board somewhat ingeniously as an AdLib compatible sound card, but that standard was pretty much dying a death at that time too.
I think it's a system that could have been great if it had been done properly instead of on the cheap. Upgrade the system to 486 and make it possible for the console and computer to interface with each other. Could have been a very useful development tool.

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RodimusPrime
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by RodimusPrime » Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:08 pm

English Invader wrote:
Matt_B wrote:I think it's an interesting bit of kit, but it's probably not so good for most games past around 1993 or so. It was practically obsolescent as a PC when it launched and not very upgradable; you're stuck with the CPU and GPU both being built into the motherboard. It also uses the Megadrive board somewhat ingeniously as an AdLib compatible sound card, but that standard was pretty much dying a death at that time too.
I think it's a system that could have been great if it had been done properly instead of on the cheap. Upgrade the system to 486 and make it possible for the console and computer to interface with each other. Could have been a very useful development tool.

I always liked the idea. If it came with a beefier PC side of things it would have been interesting.

Always wondered how hard it would have been to upgrade the system to run 32x and Mega-CD games.

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outdated_gamer
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by outdated_gamer » Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:15 pm

Matt_B wrote:
Katzkatz wrote:I think the Amstrad Mega PC would make a novel retro PC. Just for the fact it is so unique. What the hell were Amstrad and Sega thinking? :lol: :D
I think it's an interesting bit of kit, but it's probably not so good for most games past around 1993 or so. It was practically obsolescent as a PC when it launched and not very upgradable; you're stuck with the CPU and GPU both being built into the motherboard. It also uses the Megadrive board somewhat ingeniously as an AdLib compatible sound card, but that standard was pretty much dying a death at that time too.
Tbh, PC hardware became obsolete really fast in those times. One day you bought a brand new processor just to find out the next day that it already can't run the newest games well or at all. The rise of "3D accelerators" helped soften this issue a bit but not quite like today when even a 10 year old quad core CPU can still run the latest games pretty well when paired with a modern graphics card. On the other hand, the fact that the majority of PC users are still on quad or even dual cores means that processor progress has really slowed down in the last few years, with only marginal improvements from generation to generation (i.e. new instruction sets, higher clock speeds, smaller production process, etc - ironically it's AMD who are challenging Intel's status quo and pushing for higher core/thread count adoptation and support in the consumer desktop computing market).

Prior the release of Windows 10, there were rumours that the OS will come with a in-built software-based Xbox 360 emulator which later evolved into the Xbox section of MS Store, with ports from Xbox One, so that sort of idea kind of lives on, but in a purely software related way.

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quantum
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Re: My New Retro PC

Post by quantum » Wed Apr 12, 2017 11:46 am

English Invader wrote:I'm also looking for a Windows 98 era file unzipper so the system can be completely self-sufficient.
Think I probably used WinZip back then? Thanks to downloading a key gen EXE for it... :oops:
Image

How about a game screenshot quiz? Amiga, DOS, Megadrive and Commodore 64.

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