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PC hardware for DOS Games

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 2:34 pm
by Mantas
I am in the process of setting up an old Compaq P3 for DOS and Windows 95 games. The W95 bit I'm not concerned about but its the hardware for DOS thats my main concern. I've read that it can be tricky to get PCI cards to work and my other issue is that it came with a AGP GFX card. The motherboard has 3 PCI slots and 2 ISA slots. Does anyone have any tips to pass on? OR, shall I skip the whole DOS thing and just use W95. I think even back in the day there were games that failed run on W95. Thanks

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:18 pm
by Sega2006
If it was using an AGP card then that usually means thats to only type of card it uses. If I were you I would look at the Hardware requirements of the games you wish to play and base your choices around that.

Re: PC hardware for DOS Games

Posted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:54 pm
by Nitters
Mantas wrote:I am in the process of setting up an old Compaq P3 for DOS and Windows 95 games. The W95 bit I'm not concerned about but its the hardware for DOS thats my main concern. I've read that it can be tricky to get PCI cards to work and my other issue is that it came with a AGP GFX card. The motherboard has 3 PCI slots and 2 ISA slots. Does anyone have any tips to pass on? OR, shall I skip the whole DOS thing and just use W95. I think even back in the day there were games that failed run on W95. Thanks
Why bother? Get Virtual PC (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/produc ... fault.mspx) or the virtualization technology of your choice, load in the O/S and you'll have multiple retro machine running on your brand spanking new quad core (or whatever).

Re: PC hardware for DOS Games

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 2:37 am
by woody.cool
Nitters wrote:
Mantas wrote:I am in the process of setting up an old Compaq P3 for DOS and Windows 95 games. The W95 bit I'm not concerned about but its the hardware for DOS thats my main concern. I've read that it can be tricky to get PCI cards to work and my other issue is that it came with a AGP GFX card. The motherboard has 3 PCI slots and 2 ISA slots. Does anyone have any tips to pass on? OR, shall I skip the whole DOS thing and just use W95. I think even back in the day there were games that failed run on W95. Thanks
Why bother? Get Virtual PC (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/produc ... fault.mspx) or the virtualization technology of your choice, load in the O/S and you'll have multiple retro machine running on your brand spanking new quad core (or whatever).
I use VMWare nowadays - but admitidly, Virtual PC is every bit as good (as long as you can get DOS drivers for the emulated sound card) - otherwise it's DOSbox all the way.

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 3:33 am
by Opa-Opa
I find putting Windows 98SE on my older PC games machines works much much better than that old toss that is windows 95 and can still play pretty much everything you throw at it (DOS wise)...

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 5:20 am
by woody.cool
I'm sure they improved DOS game compatibility with Win98SE - I always have more success with Win98SE than Win95 or Win98FE

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:20 am
by Mantas
Opa-Opa wrote:I find putting Windows 98SE on my older PC games machines works much much better than that old toss that is windows 95 and can still play pretty much everything you throw at it (DOS wise)...
Oops, I meant Windows 98. I did in fact install W98 last night and ran Dune 2 without any problems. Well apart from not having sound. Weird thing is that although I didn't have the drivers for the gfx card for W98, it ran in more than 16 colours in DOS. I will stick with 98 for now and see if most things run on it.

About DOSBox, I have indeed used it many times but sometimes it can be a bit fiddly. It is a great piece of software but much like the discussion we've had on these boards about emulation vs the real thing, I'd like to have games running on the real platform.

Re: PC hardware for DOS Games

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 6:33 am
by GarryG
Remember Windows 95 and 98 still run under (some people say over) DOS!
True they can do more with the memory and drivers, but you still basicaly have DOS as your core system. So can still run games (or any other non windows program) directly from DOS.

Personaly I would recomend going the whole-hog and getting the best video and sound cards that were designed to run under dos.
This way your dos games will have the required drivers, the DOS games will have options to pick them up natively and the older windows should have little to no problem recognizing the hardware.
You don't need, or even necessarily want, sparky new graphics and sound cards to run a machine built to take older stuff!

And yes it is better and more stable than using DOS emulators.
Nitters wrote:Why bother? Get Virtual PC (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/produc ... fault.mspx) or the virtualization technology of your choice, load in the O/S and you'll have multiple retro machine running on your brand spanking new quad core (or whatever).
Alternatively, Why bother? Getting a 'brand spanking new quad core (or whatever)' to run retro games that were made to run on an XT, 286, 386 486 or P1 etc !?!?

Re: PC hardware for DOS Games

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:02 am
by bigfreakypossum
GarryG wrote:Remember Windows 95 and 98 still run under (some people say over) DOS!
True they can do more with the memory and drivers, but you still basicaly have DOS as your core system. So can still run games (or any other non windows program) directly from DOS.
Yes, but unfortunately Windows (event these old ones) have their own video, sound, midi, mouse, and game controller drivers that will definitely cause compatibility problems. If you're doing it this way, I suggest booting to the command line directly -- you can either hit F5 when the computer is starting or hit F8 and select command line only. Or you can put the command "pause" at the end of your autoexec.bat and hit control break whenever it says 'Press any key to continue".
GarryG wrote: Alternatively, Why bother? Getting a 'brand spanking new quad core (or whatever)' to run retro games that were made to run on an XT, 286, 386 486 or P1 etc !?!?
Telling someone here to use software to run classic games on a modern PC isn't unreasonable and shouldn't imply that they have to buy anything. Quite the opposite, I suspect if they want a classic PC they will have to track down and possibly purchase classic PC parts. Or maybe I'm wrong, and you are all posting from 486DX-66's or Pentium I 75's?

I don't know about this Virtual PC thing but I would recommend DOSbox to anyone. I've never had a problem with it; and I've rarely had to change my settings (far less often that I had to change my autoexec and config on a real DOS PC).

This "DOSbox is quirky and hard to use" nonsense is just that, nonsense.

Re: PC hardware for DOS Games

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:07 am
by bigfreakypossum
bigfreakypossum wrote:
GarryG wrote:Remember Windows 95 and 98 still run under (some people say over) DOS!
True they can do more with the memory and drivers, but you still basicaly have DOS as your core system. So can still run games (or any other non windows program) directly from DOS.
Yes, but unfortunately Windows (event these old ones) have their own video, sound, midi, mouse, and game controller drivers that will definitely cause compatibility problems. If you're doing it this way, I suggest booting to the command line directly -- you can either hit F5 when the computer is starting or hit F8 and select command line only. Or you can put the command "pause" at the end of your autoexec.bat and hit control break whenever it says 'Press any key to continue".
GarryG wrote: Alternatively, Why bother? Getting a 'brand spanking new quad core (or whatever)' to run retro games that were made to run on an XT, 286, 386 486 or P1 etc !?!?
Telling someone here to use software to run classic games on a modern PC isn't unreasonable and shouldn't imply that they have to buy anything. Quite the opposite, I suspect if they want a classic PC they will have to track down and possibly purchase classic PC parts. Or maybe I'm wrong, and you are all posting from 486DX-66's or Pentium I 75's?

I don't know about this Virtual PC thing but I would recommend DOSbox to anyone. It doesn't "feel like emulation" because of the inherent similarities between old PC's and new PC's. The only thing that seems not real about it is that it is a more stripped-down version of DOS with less commands, it can usually make up its own mind about whether it's running in real mode or virtual x86 mode and all that memory manager crap, and it always magically has a full 640k of base memory free.

I've never had a problem with it; and I've rarely had to change my settings (far less often that I had to change my autoexec and config on a real DOS PC).

This "DOSbox is quirky and hard to use" nonsense is just that, nonsense.

Re: PC hardware for DOS Games

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 8:35 am
by GarryG
bigfreakypossum wrote:Yes, but unfortunately Windows (event these old ones) have their own video, sound, midi, mouse, and game controller drivers that will definitely cause compatibility problems.
I think you may have slightly misunderstood me here. I was saying they should run the DOS studd directly from DOS, not from inside the windows.
Windows 95 and 98 run on-to-of real DOS, so you can quite out to windows to 'proper' DOS.
Yes your DOS would have to be set-up with the most memory possible available, to allow most games to run, and yes some games need you to tweak things.
( you can have multiple boot configurations under 98 )

bigfreakypossum wrote:Telling someone here to use software to run classic games on a modern PC isn't unreasonable
Not, unreasonable no. But is it inherently 'better'?
bigfreakypossum wrote:I don't know about this Virtual PC thing but I would recommend DOSbox to anyone. ...
This "DOSbox is quirky and hard to use" nonsense is just that, nonsense.
I'm assuming that was aimed at someone else, as I've never said that ;)

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 10:39 am
by Technomancer
Using DOSBox is much more painless.

While on the subject of Windows, did you know you can install Windows 3.1 in DOSBox and using DOSBox like a real retro computer?

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 12:02 pm
by GarryG
Technomancer wrote:did you know you can install Windows 3.1 in DOSBox and using DOSBox like a real retro computer?
I tought this didn't work, as DOSBOX isn't a full DOS implementation?

Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2008 1:50 pm
by Technomancer
GarryG wrote:
Technomancer wrote:did you know you can install Windows 3.1 in DOSBox and using DOSBox like a real retro computer?
I tought this didn't work, as DOSBOX isn't a full DOS implementation?
It seems to work for me. Actually, DOSBox is emulating a 486 computer, complete with a VGA graphics adapter, soundblaster and everything.

Although it has its own DOS instead of MS DOS or PC DOS, you can actually use Windows 3.1 on it as if it was its own computer. I was quite impressed myself.

Posted: Sat Feb 23, 2008 4:53 am
by Opa-Opa
I have a P4 1.8 with a GB of ram to run my Emu's on and DOSbox runs like a turd.
The sound is jerky, the games suffer from slow down and in most cases are completey unplayable. Windows 98SE and a good set of dos drivers win it for me every time.