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Thread: Video Cards for classic gaming

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    Bell (Level 8)
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    Default Video Cards for classic gaming

    I just picked up a old Dell machine from Savers for $2 and I nearly crapped right there in the store. I have been wanting to pick up a retro PC for a while now but not wanting to pay too much for one. This one has a Pentium 3 500 and 768mb of ram. It also has a TNT 2 M64 in it which is the cheaper version of the one I had when I was younger and it struggles pretty hard on some simple 3d games from the time.

    I need one that is compatible with Windows 98 as that is going to be the primary OS for it. I am looking at a Geforce 3 or 4. I remember ATI drivers were buggy from that era. So that keeps them out of the running unless someone has some experience recently with them.
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    Cherry (Level 1) Flojomojo's Avatar
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    In my personal opinion, you overpaid for that old POS, because old PCs run a lot hotter and burn a lot more power for work accomplished than something modern. Digital distribution and DOSbox is easier and cleaner. But that's just my opinion, man.

    If you really want the old-time experience, why not get a card from the old days to match it? I'm not sure when Nvidia took off, but GeForce feels like a modern brand to me and might be too recent to plug into the board you got. You don't say the kind of slot you have, which is going to be a driving factor. AGP? PCI?

    3DFX Voodoo cards were highly compatible with games from that era. You'll probably pay more than two bucks for one but I'll bet they're kicking around on Craigslist if you ask nicely.

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    Cherry (Level 1) Flojomojo's Avatar
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    Heh heh, I'm wrong about the GeForce 2 and 3, they're older than I thought and seem to be concurrent with the Pentium 3, from around the year 2000. I seem to recall that many games from that era used an older API that wasn't supported as well by "modern" cards. Obsolete Nvidia cards are cheap and plentiful though, so it should be too expensive to experiment if you have more time than money.

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    Bell (Level 8)
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    Well yea dosbox is easier than an old machine but the same could be said for home consoles as well but people shit their pants to have those. Besides $2 is such a small investment that when I am done with it I will just redonate it. I am thinking I will just go with a Geforce 3 and try it out. The parts are so cheap that it doesn't hurt to try. The machine will be treated like a console anyways. It will only be on when I am playing.
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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    You know it is what it is and any old PC that fully works without being laid out with viruses for that price any sane person with some use for it should have an accident.

    I know when I had a PC around that level (466mhz) with a little less ram I found using a Matrox Mystique card I had (2MB on it I think) ran the old original PC release of Final Fantasy 7 with that nice yamaha sound synth at max quality with no slow down problems at all. I recall around that having a diamond card before or after it along with a geforce 2 which I ended up hating big time because it wouldn't in the day let you disable some 2D filters which made emulated or just in general 2D games in windows look like blurry shit. Diamond and Matrox I had the best luck with, avoided nvidia forever after that crap, and I'm fairly certain I never had a voodoo card either because I do recall in the later 90s when UltraHLE came out using a glide wrapper which worked out great getting Mario64 and Wave Race to work.

    Perhaps seek a matrox card as it never failed me and I don't recall ever having the drivers give me crap, if not that a Diamond card as they used to be awesome until they got gobbled up by ATI.

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    ServBot (Level 11) Niku-Sama's Avatar
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    I had a GeForce GTS/Pro after my VooDoo3 3000 and it never failed me.
    avoid GeForce 3 stuff though, it isn't really a new card, just overclocked version of the 2 series, 4 was a huge jump but I was able to overclock my 2 to outperform 4s

    I was the first one in our computer group to break 1 Ghz using the GeForce 2 and a Duron 800, managed to get the duron up to 1100Mhz, and man it took a lot of juice

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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    You know maybe I did, I'm starting to think I have a Voodoo 3 3000, seeing you mention that makes me think I did. I know I had some games that needed it and I could swear I wasn't always using a glide wrapper. Did Shogo use the voodoo? I played the hell out of that one and it was stunning in its day. I recall kind of how I progressed from a 386sx16 with the first cd drive from magnavox(philips) headstart pc as a gift for christmas, to a 486dx33, then a P100, a P233 I think, then it was like a 466 after that (celeron I overclocked to 525) and after that I got into the Ghz stuff but I don't recall what that was, and beyond that it went into a quad core which is up in a closet here currently but works fine.

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kai123 View Post
    I just picked up a old Dell machine from Savers for $2 and I nearly crapped right there in the store. I have been wanting to pick up a retro PC for a while now but not wanting to pay too much for one. This one has a Pentium 3 500 and 768mb of ram. It also has a TNT 2 M64 in it which is the cheaper version of the one I had when I was younger and it struggles pretty hard on some simple 3d games from the time.

    I need one that is compatible with Windows 98 as that is going to be the primary OS for it. I am looking at a Geforce 3 or 4. I remember ATI drivers were buggy from that era. So that keeps them out of the running unless someone has some experience recently with them.
    Whatever you do, do not get a Geforce 4 MX. It is essentially just a GeForce 2 and many games at the time explicitly excluded it in its system requirements. The GeForce 4 TI is a good choice, though. And the Voodoo 3 is popular for anything that uses Glide.

    You may want to examine some of the older guides at Tom's Hardware, namely http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...-ii,579-2.html and http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/...s-iii,730.html . Generally the last AGP card that can be persuaded to work with Windows 98 is the GeForce 6800, but that probably won't work with a P3 500 motherboard.

    In the end more than anything else the question comes down to, what do you want to play? Look at the system requirements for what you want to play and then buy appropriately. If you can't think of anything you want to play that badly then for $deity's sake save yourself the time and money and just stick with DOSBox and suchlike when you want to run and old game.

    By the way, Windows 98 generally does not support more than 512 MB of RAM. There are a wide variety of solutions to circumvent the problem, but most of them ultimately limit Windows to using 512 MB.
    Last edited by Jorpho; 04-29-2015 at 11:33 PM.
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    Bell (Level 8)
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    I will check out that list. I will probably just end up with a few cards to swap out and test. It won't be as bad as you guys are making it out to be to find a card. You guys act like these games never ran on this old hardware. Besides it is all so cheap that it almost doesn't matter if it does work. Some of it is as much as a shitty meal at McDonald's. Haha

    Does anyone know of a forum for classic PC gaming that doesn't mention dosbox any time someone asks a hardware question? No offense but it is kind of annoying. If I want to emulate the games I know how to do it and have been doing it before gog prepackaged them with dosbox.

    Thanks for the help though.
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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    I agree with you, which is why I never said dosbox. I get it, you want the real experience, not a patchwork of a pile of sometimes very pissy .conf files with an emulator that may or may not like the game you want to run completely. I don't like messing with it much, but if GoG sells a game and they have it tweaked right for me, I'm good. And I'll look ahead of time it is, or if not if someone supplied a fix I'll save with it.

    Given the room, the will, and the time (money wouldn't be much clearly) I'd probably set something up too but I got more than enough junk around and not the time to use it even after all the selling off of things. I do miss that era of the first half of the 90s for PC, so little was halfassed. PC may have started the deadly train wreck of release shit, then patch, which now console makers do so much more often it makes PC look squeaky clean, but there was a time they did stuff right.

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    Cherry (Level 1) Guntz's Avatar
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    A P3 and 768MB RAM is okay if your aim is 98 - 2002 3D Windows games. For DOS, that is way too powerful. Hell, even a Pentium 2 or AMD K6-II is overpowered for DOS. You'd want a 486 or P1 instead.

    I find it very sad when people berate running vintage DOS/Windows setups amidst the big "retro" fad going on with home consoles and 8-bit computers to a lesser extent. How is MS-DOS any worse than maintaining decrepit old cartridge systems? Just becauuse DOSBox works fine doesn't mean older PC hardware for fun is obsolete. I know, many oldtimers think MS-DOS was nothing but torture, but we have modern conveniences to make MS-DOS easier (like Windows 95/98, ATX and USB!).

    Here is my personal Windows 98SE machine. It is reasonably good at playing MS-DOS games as well as late 90s 3D games.

    Micro-ATX Socket 7 motherboard (has USB, three PCI slots, one ISA slot and even onboard sound)
    AMD K6-II 400MHz
    128MB RAM
    CD and FDD
    40GB HDD
    ATi Rage II+DVD Graphics (primary 2D card)
    Voodoo 1 card (primary 3D card, yes I pass the Rage II through it)
    Soundblaster-16 CT1740
    Roland MT-32 (connected to the SB16)

    Be honest, you'd love to have a PC like that for old games.

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    Alex (Level 15) Custom rank graphic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Guntz View Post
    How is MS-DOS any worse than maintaining decrepit old cartridge systems?
    I have a few old PCs from the 90's and it is a bit more difficult than cartridge systems. For one, having a full PC setup takes up a lot more space than any console would. Second, it can be a bit of a pain dealing with software bugs and compatibility issues with various games and hardware variants. There isn't just one type of setup hardware wise, and as games can be released from various companies there can be plenty more technical issues. On one PC I have playing a specific game causes the video card to glitch out on exit forcing a restart to fix it, the problem doesn't happen on other PCs with the same OS. Maybe I'll look into driver updates at some point, it's just more difficult to find updates for such old hardware online and just transferring them to old media to install them on old PCs is also a headache. Plus installing and uninstalling games can leave clutter behind which needs to be cleaned up later. Plus there's upkeep needed like replacing old CMOS batteries. One PC had this message the last time I tried using it, the thing wouldn't let me boot past it either like most other PCs would. I haven't bothered trying to fix it yet, as I would have to unhook the thing first besides buying a new battery.

    I still would go with older PCs for playing older games whenever possible, but I can understand why so many people would want to avoid it now.


    As for the PC mentioned above, I personally would avoid Dell computers because I find the built quality to be poor and prone to failure. I remember my high school getting a whole bunch of new Dell computers with Windows 98 and Windows XP to replace the old Windows 3.1 PCs in the various computer labs. Many of the new Dells would freeze during shut down, and have various other issues. Most people just hated to use them, they actually had more glitches than the old Windows 3.1 computers they replaced, though the old computers weren't powerful enough to be useful in the school anymore from a practical point.

    I used to find old PCs for free in the garbage. It still might be another option if you're lucky enough.

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    Cherry (Level 1) Guntz's Avatar
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    Yes you have a point, old MS-DOS hardware is more difficult in some respects, but to say old consoles are easy is just wrong. The most common complaint with old consoles is modern TVs don't play nice with them. CRTs are a massive pain to most people (not me) and issues with horrible picture quality and sluggish latency are always a constant problem with modern HDTVs. Not to mention that old cartridge systems and games are always getting more expensive. MS-DOS and early Windows gaming is not much harder to deal with and significantly cheaper.

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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    It's a give and take thing, but if you want to do it right, you do it with the right stuff.

    With DOS as I recall, I found that the P100 I had and I'm sure it had like 8 or 16MB of RAM, nothing nuts considering the era but good ran anything and everything with the best or damn near the best settings when you factor in Win95 games too. It started to show age under the refined Win98SE environment but still most things were cool on it. It was like right at this nice tipping point where older games from around 1990 still ran 100% right without having to use stupid speed throttling programs like MOSLO.EXE so things weren't running on speed balls (Wing Commander was notoriously not speed checked by the designer.)

    If you're looking just to run the earliest of the Windows stuff from 1995 in 3D from things like FF7 to Sega Rally(and other 3D or 2d platformers/shooters/racers/fighters), junk like Quake 1, Earthworm Jim 95, and so on, that'll be a solid way to go. It's best to try and use old data through google, find out when the P100 or near that reigned supreme and find the best video card and ram situation around that for the 1995~ dollar and throw it together now. Odds are I wouldn't be surprised if half of what you blew on it would be shipping charges. Personally I can't go back, nowhere to store it, but damn if I wouldn't be tempted if I had it. I was at one point an #oldwarez demon in the efnet, op in the channel no less for a time and had a crap ton of stuff and played more than I'd probably like to admit and that stuff alone just from the 1990-1996~ era stuff could supply anyone with more games than they'll ever need to enjoy for a lifetime.

    If virtual machines weren't such a bitch to set up a nice compromise would be to make a nice DOS 6.22 partition with win 3.11 or a dual boot partition with that + Win98SE(least buggy/infuriating of the 9x series) just to tool around in. I tolerate the few things I have over DOSBox because GoG sets it up.

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    Bell (Level 8)
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    Sorry if I came off a little harsh in my other post I was just aggravated reading about dosbox over and over as if it has just come out. I have bought around 20 games on GOG and have had fun with some of them that have come out.

    I just got this cheap and have been wanting something with similar specs for a long time now and just to read about emulating it over and over again it just got to me. One of the games I want to play is Dark Forces 2 Jedi Knight. I love that game and I have it on steam and while it works it gives you zero 3d options just software and it just doesn't work right under Windows 8.1. Same with Motocross Madness 2. I would have to limit the amount of ram in my PC from 16 gig everytime I want to play it.

    Any ways I am more than ready for the ordeal of dealing with problem games. I had to deal with it back then too and I couldn't google a fix either. I have been a PC gamer since I was about 5. My dad taught me pretty much everything about dos at the time and I ate it up. PC gaming has been a part of my life longer than console gaming. I had a PC before I had a NES. I still have most of my games. The floppies unfortunately got lost a few moves ago but I have the majority of my CD games.


    I also second that it is easier to hook up these systems to HDTVs. All of mine have VGA so it is no problem there.

    Thanks for the advice guys.
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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kai123 View Post
    Does anyone know of a forum for classic PC gaming that doesn't mention dosbox any time someone asks a hardware question? No offense but it is kind of annoying.
    VOGONS is fine generally you might not think so considering the official DOSBox forums are there, but there is plenty of non-DOSBox related discussion. But nonetheless, the fact remains that if you don't have a compelling reason not to use DOSBox, it is far, far less trouble than the alternatives. In a sense, it comes down to: do you want to play games, or do you want to have hours of frustration mucking with hardware that you could otherwise be spending playing games?

    So you want to play Dark Forces 2 Jedi Knight. Are you sure that will work that much better on an older machine? Do you know something with 3d options other than software will have an improved appearance? I'm kind of surprised such a popular game doesn't have suitable patches of one kind or another provided by the community. I'll shut up now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanooki View Post
    I do miss that era of the first half of the 90s for PC, so little was halfassed. PC may have started the deadly train wreck of release shit, then patch, which now console makers do so much more often it makes PC look squeaky clean, but there was a time they did stuff right.
    Really now, the world was hardly better off when wrestling with drivers in config.sys and autoexec.bat was the order of the day. And people didn't even have the Internet back then there were people writing into print magazines on a regular basis hoping that their letters would be published next month with a solution to their intractable woes.
    Last edited by Jorpho; 04-30-2015 at 11:41 PM.
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    Bell (Level 8)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jorpho View Post
    So you want to play Dark Forces 2 Jedi Knight. Are you sure that will work that much better on an older machine? Do you know something with 3d options other than software will have an improved appearance? I'm kind of surprised such a popular game doesn't have suitable patches of one kind or another provided by the community. I'll shut up now.
    Ah yes I see a 3d fix was released in february of this year...so yea that was much easier than just having a machine that already played it. It isn't like I have had the discs this whole time with no way of playing them or buying the steam version thinking it was fixed and didn't rely on community fixes to get it running.


    We get it emulation is easier. Go talk about emulators in every other thread that mentions hardware even consoles It really gets your point across. You are derailing my thread with things like this. I was asking about hardware not software please start another thread if you want to stroke on about Dosbox. We all know about it and we are not saying it is harder we are just talking about something else.

    BTW DOSBOX HUR DUR.
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    Kirby (Level 13) Tanooki's Avatar
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    Didn't take much brain power to work on the old autoexec.bat and config.sys. They're really not even fair to compare there. You may have to tweak one of them to get a little added XMS/EMS going for certain games pushing or just over 600KB (out of 640KB DOS allocated) but that was really about it. Then you have the modern stuff where it's a pile of bug ridden crap for around the last 15 years or so where it's patch after patch, having to screw around far more often with video and audio drivers and the sort (not that it didn't happen in win9x, but it was less.) It has gotten worse trying to run stuff and run it right and definitely more complicated. Complaining there's no google to answer how to handle a couple editable boot files in DOS kind of paints a picture.

    This is derailing though, this topic is not about nor has it ever been about dos box, so drop it. He got an old PC, wants to do stuff period 'right' so accept it and help or move along.

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    Red (Level 21) Jorpho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tanooki View Post
    Didn't take much brain power to work on the old autoexec.bat and config.sys. They're really not even fair to compare there. You may have to tweak one of them to get a little added XMS/EMS going for certain games pushing or just over 600KB (out of 640KB DOS allocated) but that was really about it. Then you have the modern stuff where it's a pile of bug ridden crap for around the last 15 years or so where it's patch after patch, having to screw around far more often with video and audio drivers and the sort (not that it didn't happen in win9x, but it was less.) It has gotten worse trying to run stuff and run it right and definitely more complicated. Complaining there's no google to answer how to handle a couple editable boot files in DOS kind of paints a picture.
    At best, it was crappy in different ways, but you've clearly made your mind up.

    This is derailing though, this topic is not about nor has it ever been about dos box, so drop it. He got an old PC, wants to do stuff period 'right' so accept it and help or move along.
    Dark Forces 2 isn't even a DOS game! My point isn't really that DOSBox is superior; my point is that there's very little point in doing something like this without a definite goal in mind. What does it mean to do "stuff period 'right'" ? Why bother going to great lengths to, say, get only components made before 1995 if there were parts from a year or two later that are just as compatible and work much, much better? There's always something that one system might be able to do better than another system, but is it worth having ten different boxes sitting around if one isn't actually interested in doing all those things? If the goal is only to randomly mess around with old hardware, then does it even matter if it runs anything well in the end?
    Last edited by Jorpho; 05-01-2015 at 08:53 AM.
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    so I think I have an old 5 series Geforce card around here some where

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