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Is a vintage PC worth it these days?


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#51 eightbit ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 1:22 PM

I get what you're saying, but since everything an old PC can do, my new PC can do better.

I know this thread is all about the beige so I'll be quiet now.


It's not all about what it can or cannot do though. The whole experience is much more than just that, or beige ;) Its about the admiration some of us have for the vintage hardware, putting it all together and the satisfaction of firing it up and knowing that the software is running on the real deal..the bare metal.

Yeah, it's not for everyone, but for someone who remembers (and loved) those days its a kind of magic :) When I come home and flip on the switch to my Amiga 2000 and run a Budbrains demo, when I fire up the IIGS and play a round of Arkanoid with stereo sound pumped through some nice Logitech speakers, when I sit down to some Parsec on a TI99/4A connected to a 22 inch Sony Multiscan....yeah...

Emulation can (more or less) allow you to run the software but unfortunately is a long way off from emulating the experience ;)

#52 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 1:35 PM

vintage computers are for fools (slides the atari 400 and 133mhz 486 off his workbench) 

 

nah I love working on them, I find pc compatibles interesting cause like on my 486 which has pci slots, its like huh wow they still sell a network card in 2017 that comes with windows 95 and dos drivers on the disk 


Edited by Osgeld, Thu Aug 3, 2017 1:38 PM.


#53 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 1:40 PM

It's not all about what it can or cannot do though. The whole experience is much more than just that, or beige ;) Its about the admiration some of us have for the vintage hardware, putting it all together and the satisfaction of firing it up and knowing that the software is running on the real deal..the bare metal.

Yeah, it's not for everyone, but for someone who remembers (and loved) those days its a kind of magic :) When I come home and flip on the switch to my Amiga 2000 and run a Budbrains demo, when I fire up the IIGS and play a round of Arkanoid with stereo sound pumped through some nice Logitech speakers, when I sit down to some Parsec on a TI99/4A connected to a 22 inch Sony Multiscan....yeah...

Emulation can (more or less) allow you to run the software but unfortunately is a long way off from emulating the experience ;)

 

 

I remember, but do not look back with the same tint in my glasses. For me, the experience is running the software. I'm basically a brain in a jar. 

 

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#54 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 2:56 PM

The experience of slamming cartridges into consoles is a uniquely 70's experience. Those of us who were there (in the 70's) almost demand that exact same experience. And that is ok.

 

The usefulness of cartridges was even more emphasized if one grew up with dedicated consoles like pong/tennis/hockey. It was a breakthrough! We could extend the useful life of our consoles by changing a module. Imagine that!

 

Floppies holding multiple games per disk soon burst into the consumer space. And then the then-future notion of having ALL my games in one little box exploded in my head. And while I had the idea of a tiny crystal only 1cm3 in size holding all my games and reference material, it was truly the stuff of science fiction. Today we can do that, with room to spare. And we can put all the circuitry for all the consoles in a space not much bigger.



#55 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 3:12 PM

Emulation is pretty good for some games, broken for others. Anything that requires an ISA sound card really needs that original equipment to produce authentic sound.

 

I keep hearing over and over that DosBox ISA SoundBlaster emulation is spot on. Sounds like they figured it out a while ago. I won't argue with that.



#56 boxpressed OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 3:33 PM

 
I keep hearing over and over that DosBox ISA SoundBlaster emulation is spot on. Sounds like they figured it out a while ago. I won't argue with that.


Maybe. I don't use DOSBox, but I'm sure it's just fine in most cases. But MT-32 or GUS would be more of a challenge. But again, getting a reasonable facsimile of the original experience isn't what I'm after personally.

#57 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 3:55 PM

Virtual MT-32 sounds great in DOSBox, even on a potato computer, and even on Android. To think otherwise (especially without trying it) is to grossly overestimate how powerful the old equipment was, and to underestimate how far we've come. Modern CPUs are literally thousands of times faster.

Perhaps that's partially because the old equipment was expensive back in its day?

By way of analogy, note that you can buy NeoGeo games for five bucks and run them on a cell phone, with way more fidelity than a "reasonable facsimile" in my opinion. That was once considered the Cadillac of games, only for the absurdly rich.

#58 remowilliams OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 4:09 PM

DOSBox can handle lots of the DOS stuff exceptionally well - but not all, especially things with unusual requirements.  Overall though nearly enough for me to avoid classic hardware.

 

Getting 95/98 era stuff working with proper acceleration/drivers/audio/input devices is where things really start to fall apart.  Overall experience definitely not enough for me to avoid classic hardware.



#59 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 5:12 PM

There is a symbiotic relationship potential here, I quite enjoy hunting down old hardware and software and putting together a kick ass machine of its class, but I really don't have a desire to keep them (other than my pentium laptop) so I sell them to people who want a retro PC but dont want to be bothered with the stuff I have fun with 

 

win win



#60 eightbit ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 8:47 PM

When it comes to old machines if you are smart with the hardware you choose you won't have any driver issues. I received the Gateway P5-120 today, removed the Trio64 and installed an S3 Virge GX 4MB card as well as removed the PCI cheap SB and installed an ISA Soundblaster Pro V2. Other than making sure the jumpers were correct on the Soundblaster that just works. Works in DOS and works in Windows 98SE. I only needed to burn a Win98SE CD-Rom as it asked for it after detecting the hardware. The same went for the S3 Virge. I had downloaded drivers for both prior, but Win98SE's install CD had them anyway. Now I am pretty much set to play any old DOS game. Pretty darn easy setup as long as you choose hardware that is out of the box supported by Win98SE.



#61 eightbit ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 8:54 PM

As for emulation, there are not many people I know that play with emulation as much as I do ;) Its how I usually "test" software I consider purchasing and have done that for years. Emulation of DOS stuff is pretty much spot on nowadays and that is a good thing as it keeps those old games alive "forever". While I know I can play anything on a modern PC (I was playing POD with a modern GLIDE wrapper last night on my i7) I don't have the same feeling as I do when I play the same game on computer it was designed for with hardware it was truly designed for. It is just a thing that is me I suppose, but apparently others feel the exact same way as the old hardware still commands coin.



#62 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 9:09 PM

POD!!!



#63 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 9:35 PM

S3 virge DX for the WIN for non 3d cards, those things are cheap, I paid like 14 bucks shipped for my 5x86 build and sold the 1mb cirrius logic ISA card that came with it for 30

 

as far as PCI vs ISA sound cards you are fine, and probably right in the 16 bit arena, but a couple things

 

1) dont discount ESS audio drives, those are on par with sound blasters, and that company was founded by the people who did the SID chip's in commies and the technology made its way into amiga, just cause something isnt a sound blaster doesnt mean its instant shit

 

2) be very careful with 32 bit sound cards on a ISA slot, I learned that lesson back in the day with my AWE32, great card, bottlenecked my pentium by 25% in comparision with a live 128 or a Aureal A3d, which is what one should be targeting on a machine that is going to be running later 98 and early XP games. My rule of thumb is if you are needing a TNT2 or a Geforce DDR you want one of those (talking 300+ mhz machines with AGP and possibly DDR ram) though it was a massive speed boost on my non mmx pentium 166 with dual voodoo 2's and a matrox M64


Edited by Osgeld, Thu Aug 3, 2017 9:37 PM.


#64 boxpressed OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 3, 2017 10:43 PM

As for emulation, there are not many people I know that play with emulation as much as I do ;) Its how I usually "test" software I consider purchasing and have done that for years. Emulation of DOS stuff is pretty much spot on nowadays and that is a good thing as it keeps those old games alive "forever". While I know I can play anything on a modern PC (I was playing POD with a modern GLIDE wrapper last night on my i7) I don't have the same feeling as I do when I play the same game on computer it was designed for with hardware it was truly designed for. It is just a thing that is me I suppose, but apparently others feel the exact same way as the old hardware still commands coin.


For me, actually playing the games is low on the list of reasons for building vintage PCs. That's why I could care less about most emulators. I don't have the desire to play games for more than ten minutes at a time anymore. But I will spend way too much time setting up ISA sound card configs to listen to how a game's GM music sounds on six different wavetable cards.

#65 Tanooki OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Aug 4, 2017 10:15 AM

I've used emulation since the 90s at least console and handheld wise before jumping in on buying a game even in the cheap good old days.  It's an excellent tool, and DOSbox has come around so much over the years it's a great tester if you're on the edge about something for pay up on GoG even with all their huge back library.  The old Gameboy and NES stuff was so slick as it developed in the mid back half of the 90s but it never felt as right as going out to the local shop then scooping up said ROM as a cart for $5 and using it on the right things.



#66 Seob OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 6, 2017 7:10 AM

I got a nice collection of vintage computers and hardware collected in the last 1 1/2 year. Worked in the computer business from around 1997 to 2001. For years i did away with all my old hardware until 2 years ago when I regretted it.
Since then I have a nice collection of computers and hardware including a Commodore PC-1 8088 a IBM ps/2 model 30 8086 and 80286. A 386, a 486 and a few pentium models.
Got a 12mb voodoo2 sli setup. Got a awe32, awe64 and Logitech opl4 sound card. One day I hope to add a sb pro2, a Adlib and a s220 verite and a philips p2230 our first pc to my collection. Love playing with it and my home computers more then my consoles.

#67 Tanooki OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 6, 2017 1:02 PM

I had been thinking watching this whole thread it would be entertaining if I could almost rebuild the computer I first made from my own parts back in the day.  My 1st was a 386sx16 that was a gift from family for Christmas in 1990 and it has like this 1/2 speed CDrom with a tray you put discs into for it, had a 640x480 monitor and a VGA card along with a basic SBPro and it was great.  Around 2 years after it got a bit problematic so I went and made this nice 486DX33 machine with like 8MB of RAM on it, a decent few hundred MB hard drive, a nice SVGA card, better CD drive too and a SB16.  That thing was fantastic, stuff like DOOM2 really shined among others on that one.  It wasn't until the next the P100 when it became a problem for some older games that didn't speed throttle (Wing Commander notably) without using moslo which while it worked wasn't perfect.  It would be fun to have like a 486 again, perhaps a 66mhz instead, but I just wouldn't know where to put it all as they along with the screen eat up space.  I know it's probably heresy put could you put a LCD screen to an old machine like that given it had the old VGA jack?



#68 boxpressed OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 6, 2017 1:48 PM

486DX2-66 is a classic. LGR made a video on a low profile model that's the size of a small pizza box.

#69 The Usotsuki OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 6, 2017 9:30 PM

I've run my XT (with a Diamond Speedstar VGA) off an LCD.



#70 Keatah ONLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 6, 2017 11:53 PM

Yeh I get all that. The DX2/50 was cool. I was reading about PC's long before I actually owned one and stuff and to get three whiz-bang features in one chip was astounding.

 

1- On-chip cache.

2- On-chip math coprocessor.

3- Special circuit to make it run 2x bus speed.

 

It was an incredible leap above both the Apple II and the Amiga. And I swore to myself if I got one I would never ever need any other computer ever again! Remarkable things began swirling in my head!



#71 juansolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:31 AM

I had a weird and I suspect unpopular solution to the issue of running all the old PC games I used to love: Macs... Bear with me on this, it's not as stupid as it sounds.

 

With the right combination of hardware, which is surprisingly not that expensive, you can build a 2008 Mac pro that'll run most the useful OS's with graphics hardware support. In my case my main machine is still a 2008 Mac Pro that I picked up quite a few years ago now. For the most part I run Mavericks on it, which allows you to also install Win7, which is useful for DX10 stuff. On a second drive I have Snow Leopard (which also runs a lot of PPC mac software), which allows you to install WinXP. You can get a LOT working under XP quite successfully. It's a bit of a fudge to do it, but it works. The important thing is to grab an ATi Radeon 5870 for it (you can get flashed PC cards so not expensive), as this is the only one that supports all the above OS's. There is a Nvidia option but it doesn't support the lot sadly.

Ok that actually covers a surprising amount of old PC games, but to snag the older stuff I built an OS/9 machine on an old 800Mhz PowerMac G4... Again, madness I hear you say! But a surprising amount came out on OS/9 and with a sensible spec, runs perfectly on it. Costs wise it was buttons too. The computer I got for £10, the monitor is a new/old stock Dell 15" 4x3 1024x768 jobbie for £30. The graphics card was a Radeon 9000pro, again I don't think I paid a tenner for it. Though I am trying to snag a Mac Geforce4 for this one as it's the fastest card available for it, they're just rocking horse poo to get hold of in the UK.

 

So yeah, I suspect I'm the only nutter out there with an OS/9 gaming rig!

 

As for the games supported. The only two games I struggled to get to work were C&C and Red Alert as the Mac versions are even earlier than this. However I've got them running nicely on WinXP. For older pure DOS stuff though you'll still need an old PC... Or an Amiga ;) As most of the really early stuff came out on that also. I have an Amiga.

20627004_10155727999567160_5105505845941


Edited by juansolo, Tue Aug 15, 2017 3:39 AM.


#72 Flojomojo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:34 AM

Bear with me on this, it's not as stupid as it sounds.

Heh

It's super goofy, but for a certain era of game, it makes a lot more sense than futzing around with early Windows hardware. Mac hardware is standard, it's typically solidly built, and forward-leaning enough to have things like fast ethernet built in. 

 

Much of your game folder is available from GOG on modern Windows (and some on Mac/Linux), but yours has that pre-OSX Apple design sense, a little NeXT and a whole lotta old.  ;)

 

I salute your ingenuity!

 

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#73 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:40 AM

I play a lot of dos era games on 68k mac,mac ports naturally but they tens to have better graphics and sound

Edited by Osgeld, Tue Aug 15, 2017 8:40 AM.


#74 boxpressed OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:27 AM

People getting into retro PCs usually want 98SE as the OS, but if you're not going to play any DOS games, XP is the better choice -- even for games made for 95/98. Framerates are a little higher. So your solution is a nice one for those who just want to play the games. If you just want to play 95/98 games, basically the only reason to use 98SE over XP besides nostalgia is the Aureal Vortex 1/2 sound card implementation of the A3D spec (no XP drivers for Vortex).

The GF4 Ti4600 is a classic video card (the FX series and every one else that followed do not render certain effects properly). If I could have only two AGP video cards, it would be this one and a Voodoo 5 -- and both come in Mac versions.

#75 juansolo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 15, 2017 11:14 AM

Heh

It's super goofy, but for a certain era of game, it makes a lot more sense than futzing around with early Windows hardware. Mac hardware is standard, it's typically solidly built, and forward-leaning enough to have things like fast ethernet built in. 

 

Much of your game folder is available from GOG on modern Windows (and some on Mac/Linux), but yours has that pre-OSX Apple design sense, a little NeXT and a whole lotta old.  ;)

 

I salute your ingenuity!

 

 

Yep I've got a tonne of them on GOG also (GOG is all kinds of awesome for old computer games). But it's not quite the same on a big widescreen monitor at too high a resolution... It just looks and feels wrong for some reason. Where as on period kit it all seems as it should be. 






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