dos/win95/98 gaming rig advice.... :-)

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dos/win95/98 gaming rig advice.... :-)

Post by jrtolson »

up to now i use both dosbox and virtual pc (win95) to play old dos games and windows 95 games...

for years i have thought (even tho both dos box and virtual pc run certain games very well) some games don't work as they should and are a bit klunky...

so i have decided to build myself a dedicated dos gaming rig..

now rather than getting my hands on an old 486 i would like the same machine to play later win95/98 games aswell (system shock 2, starfleet command, etc etc) as be a part of my home network.. i have 4 old spare machine to play with an i would like help choosing the optimum machine..

1) Rm nimbus pentium 200mmx, 32mb ram, creative vibra 16 isa, and a cirrus logic 5446 pci video card... (win98)

i actually bought this machine for this task off ebay, however as i have an abundant array of agp card, this machine has no agp slot so i cannot upgrade the crappy cirrus logic video card, so this will only allow me to play dos games only as no directx acceleration.. pci video cards seem hard to come by.. not look for an isa one tho?

2) duron 750, 256mb ram, tnt2 agp, soundblaster 16 pci.. this system im ruling out as i doubt i can underclock it much and is overkill for my needs..

3) celeron 633, tnt2agp, sb16 pci, 64mb ram, again nice platform and would allow me to play both worlds if i use software to slow the cpu dow for dos games, how ever im not too sure.. its bios will not underclock below 400mhz...

4) ga5ax rev5.2 mobo (k62500mhz).. 32 - 128mb ram, sb16, tnt2 agp.. this board i like and like the celeron i could play both worlds of games.. im not sure wich would be faster tho the celeron 633 or the k62 500, i think the amd has faster memory bus by default..

so this is my dilemma? another option im toying with is using the ga5ax mobo and swapping out the k62 and putting in the 200mmx, this would let me use the agp slot on the board for the tnt 2 cards...

im planning on either using windows 95 or 98 as the OS on the machine tho i cannot decide which one is better suited to Dos Games i suppose 98 would be the logical choice to minimize driver woes.. i not want to use DOS 6.22 as i want to use a large hd (fat32) to store all my dos games, i have 4 x 8gig dl dvd's full of all my favorites zipped..

all the boards have isa slots so i dunno whether to use the soundblaster Vibra 16 isa, or soundblaster 16 or even maybe chuck in a live... im leaning towards the sb16 as i hear people suffer IRQ woes with isa cards..

to summarize: i would like maximum out of the box compatibility, to favourably run most games from within 95/98 dos prompt and only booting to dos when i absolutely have to, my target dos game range is very late 80's to mid 90's and win 95/98 game range from 1995 to early 2000's (whichever no longer works on xp/vista/win7) and yes which ever system i use ill have to slow down for games like xcomm etc...

any suggestions please reply, thanyou.. :-)
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Post by dosraider »

........ hmmmm, seems I'm getting a bit too old and certainly a bit bored of such things, so:

Let me redirect you to

However, some strictly personal opinions:
- Soundcard should be ISA if you want max dosgaming compability.
- As for speed issues, disabling the CPU cache in the BIOS can achieve wonders.
- Will sound a bit weird maybe but: W98(pref SE) has better doscompabilty than W95. (And W98 has full ISA support).

...And here it ends, back to real life problems. :)
wardrich wrote:The contrasts in personalities will deliver some SERIOUS lulz. I can't wait.
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Post by Narcotics » ... &mode=view
I've hoarded this baby for 20 years, seems to not turn on anymore.

Anyway my point is I've been urging for real dos for 10 years.
So yesterday I bought a PC off eBay for $1 no one wanted.
Ended up being a:
piii 700mhz 100fsb , 128mb ram , 16mb Gfx card , 30GB seagate , sony cd-rw , 2x usb 1.1 running windows 98.
It runs GTA III & "Shut down & Restart in DOS Mode" is an option for shutting down ;)
I still like 6.22 or whatever better but hey its it well rounded.

My only advice is Intel only for the early MMX cpu's
I can remember back in the day having a Cyrix 233MMX & getting the message,
"You must have at less a 133MMX in order to play this game"
it ticks you right off
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Post by RegalSin »

If it can't detect anything, then anything should be playable. This means the hardware is giving off a signature, the program is looking for. I really hate that.
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Post by Quadko »

Yes, drivers are your #1 issue. The only way I know to make that go smoothly is to purchase the most common hardware - real soundblaster brand ISA cards, real ISA bus, "common" graphics cards, etc.

Win98 should do OK with hardware dos understands, or maybe you want two different boxes aimed at two different levels so you can pick hardware for the best driver support? Win98 games shouldn't care about "too fast processor" or specific hardware as long as you have the drivers, but some dos software will. Depends what you want to play.

Dos doesn't understand large hard drives, so be careful when you plan - you want FAT16 formatted partitions for your Dos stuff. I forget if Dos is happy up to the 2GB partition limit, or has a much smaller max size. For a while I had dual-boot with FAT16 for Dos and other formats (FAT32, NTFS, linux formats) for other OSs, and Dos ignored the other partitions just fine. It might also matter which dos you run - I usually use 3.3 IIRC, so that might be limiting me. I forget the details, but it was something about how much memory Dos uses verses how much it leaves for games.

Mostly the only dos games that care about speed are pre- and early- VGA games that need 8 MHZ, 12 MHZ up to about 33 MHZ. After that games stopped using cpu cycles and started using real timers, so none of those mother boards are better or worse. Of course, as mentioned by others, odd CPUs or other problems like the Turbo Pascal divide-by-zero problem can arise, but you shouldn't have trouble with "real intel" cpus (or the K6, I think) and there should be patches for most games if they fail on vanilla intel chips. It will all depend on the games you want to play. Also, Dosbox is good enough that the oldest games most in need of slowing down might be far better to play via emulation if you don't want to buy the appropriate old hardware: XT, 286, 386. Over time and as I had cash, I ended up picking up a Pentium 233 and an XT to cover my needs, but then Dosbox got good enough I usually just use it instead.

Heh, I just realized the OP was a year old. :D Hopefully this helps someone.
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