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TeamRocketReviews
April 28th, 2012, 05:03 AM
I'm wondering what would be an inexpensive classic XT/AT computer for DOS gaming. What would be the base price for an XT class machine and a CGA/EGA monitor?

Stone
April 28th, 2012, 05:27 AM
I've got a Forefront MTS-9600 multisync that you can have for $125. It does CGA, EGA and VGA just like it's NEC counterpart only a little better.


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cobracon
April 28th, 2012, 07:31 AM
You can get a IBM 5155 portable. It has the monitor built in.

DOS lives on!!
April 28th, 2012, 07:38 AM
I'd suggest starting off with an AT clone.

commodorejohn
April 28th, 2012, 09:12 AM
I've got a Packard-Bell AT clone (10MHz 286) you could have, with EGA and IBM monitor, for $200 + S/H.

Maverick1978
April 28th, 2012, 08:34 PM
No one's asked the obvious question: what type of games are you looking to play? Games leading up to about 1987? Doom? Quake?

The types of games that you want to play will determine what is your "best" system.

Personally, a 486sx25 or 33 is a great choice. Beef it up with a nice graphics card and 4mb of RAM, and you can handle Doom nicely. Turn the Turbo Switch to low (if available), go into the BIOS and disable the cache, and maybe use one of the old DOS slowdown utilities, and you're at a fair approximation of 286/AT speed levels, normally good enough for most mono/CGA-era games that don't typically play nice on faster machines.

TeamRocketReviews
May 12th, 2012, 02:22 PM
Commodorejohn, can you post a picture? When is it from? I'm looking for something from 1987-1990, to play stuff like King's Quest, Space Quest, Maniac Mansion, SimCity, Test Drive, Commander Keen, etc.

Unknown_K
May 12th, 2012, 02:41 PM
Tandy 1000 series machines are cheap.

commodorejohn
May 12th, 2012, 04:13 PM
Commodorejohn, can you post a picture? When is it from? I'm looking for something from 1987-1990, to play stuff like King's Quest, Space Quest, Maniac Mansion, SimCity, Test Drive, Commander Keen, etc.
There's a sticker on the back that says it was manufactured in 1988. It's a 10-12MHz machine (10, I think) with a 2MB EMS/XMS card in addition to 640KB onboard and a 32MB hard drive. (It doesn't have a sound card at present but I might be able to get back the one I had in it from a coworker.) I'm not an expert on requirements, but it should handle SCI0 Sierra games just fine, and it runs Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion without any trouble, if that tells you anything.

As for a picture, you'll have to excuse the abysmal quality of my phone camera, but here you go:
http://img193.imageshack.us/img193/5103/80286.jpg

k2x4b524[
May 12th, 2012, 04:24 PM
486sx for doom? Runs really slowly, i had a 486slc2/50 in an AT clone that wouldn't handle doom at all. even with a 25mhz co proc, you need a DX-33 at least to run it comfortable, or a 386-40 cache mb. Man i want a 386 board again..

Mark2000
May 12th, 2012, 05:02 PM
I'd say get a 486. Not pentium level of cost and sophistication yet, but still a 32 bit machine so that if you need the extra oomph you can have it. Its nice to be able to run anything from DOS 3 to Win 98.

Agent Orange
May 12th, 2012, 05:06 PM
I second the 486.

Mad-Mike
May 13th, 2012, 12:16 PM
I'll also cast the vote on the 486, particularly a DX/2 66 or DX4-100 with 16-32MB of RAM. I'll chime in with some of my experiences/thoughts here.....

I heard someone here mention DOOM, that's 486 territory, the best experience given what I've done with vintage hardware over the last 10 years would be something with a VLB or PCI bus, a 1+ MB SVGA Card for either of those busses, a DX2 or DX4 Processor at least, and Windows 95 OSR2 or 98SE installed with some of the extra garbage peeled out of it for performance. With this setup I found I could run anything anywhere between 1984 and 1997 on it, this includes some "Pentium Only" titles like Diablo (1995), and Postal (1997), and the early GTA titles.

In my case, being a hardware-a-holic myself, I own multiple machines - 2 8088's (a PC class with an XT board, and a Tandy 1000), a 286, and a 486 DX4, between those three, I"ve got everything from 1981 to 1999 covered, the rest is all handled by my Dual Core box and a Touch Screen laptop. The 8088's can stretch pretty far, but once you get to games like Monkey Island or Ultima VI, it's like Guybrush and the Avatar are geriactrics with bad pacemaker batteries.

The 286 is the closest to the 486, and the Turbo Switch takes me all the way back to 1981 as needed, and I've found some early-mid 90's titles (mostly shareware and 93 on back era commercial games) that run on it. I'm also running under 6MB of RAM on that thing with a little RAM alchemy to make the machine happy to oblodige on the WWW. It won't run DOOM, but it WILL run Wolfenstein 3D if you want an FPS that'll run on a 286. It actually runs rather well on mine.

SpidersWeb
May 13th, 2012, 01:37 PM
486DX or DX2 model would be my pick as well (preferably 50Mhz or higher). Covers you for most of the CGA/EGA titles right up to VGA titles like Doom and Doom II, plus it gives you the modern luxuries we are accustomed to - such as IDE and a BIOS with features like Auto Detect. Preferably one with a turbo switch fitted, incase you need to slow the bad boy down.

(Edit: not saying a 286/386 can't have IDE and a good BIOS, just if you go 486 the chances of it having some issue to overcome are lower)

Chuck(G)
May 13th, 2012, 02:12 PM
What do folks have against P1, K6, etc.? Just curious.

Mad-Mike
May 13th, 2012, 02:28 PM
What do folks have against P1, K6, etc.? Just curious.

For me, the Pentium is not as easily downgradeable to get good performance for older un-throttled titles, nor is the K6. The Pentium marked the end of the era when we had items like Turbo Switches, and also was a great performance increase over the 486 in a lot of ways - these improvements are what had me against it for a first. My first pentium Box meant a lot of tinkering around with settings. Also, some of those, while capable of running the newer engines created for older games, it tends to change the experience.

On a more personal level, Pentium onward is when computers became fairly close to what they are today to me. A 486 can do a LOT of the things a modern computer can do on it's naitive O/S, but some Pentium Systems can nearly touch 100% modern capability, and due to the lack of certain features like Turbo Switches, and the updating of others (such as 3-D AGP video in the K6 machines and such), plus higher clock speeds, a lot of older stuff is unable to be run without a slowdown utility, special new-age engine, and when running it through forms of emulation, it's not always accurate to what you remember.

commodorejohn
May 13th, 2012, 02:51 PM
What do folks have against P1, K6, etc.? Just curious.
Nothing much, it just feels like once you hit the Pentium era you might as well just boost it up as far as you can go. You can get at least Pentium III-era machines capable of serving as DOS/Win9x systems, with more and faster RAM and better video cards, so why bother with the lesser stuff? That's obviously an issue of viewpoint, but it's just how it feels to me.

marcoguy
May 13th, 2012, 02:56 PM
Yep. The first time I ran DOS/win31 was on as p3 system. Kinda funny!

SpidersWeb
May 13th, 2012, 03:01 PM
Because as soon as I get a Pentium, I can't help myself but put Windows 98 on it, and it's just not the same damn it.
Plus too fast can crash some programs, and Pentium and higher you lose the TURBO feature.

TeamRocketReviews
May 13th, 2012, 03:24 PM
I honestly like the idea of a fast 8-10 Mhz 8088, or a 286 of similar speed.

Chuck(G)
May 13th, 2012, 03:25 PM
Interesting. I run Win95 on a 20MHz 386; OS/2 2.1 on a 486, OS/2 Warp, DOS, Win9x on a P1.

One thing that P1s still have that is very difficult to find on a P3 or P2 is real functioning ISA slots. It seems that after 440BX, there's always something quirky about them if they really exist. I have a lot of PCI cards and 486 PCI, when you can find it, is often strange.

For me, the best "all around" system for running vintage software is a P1. But then, I'm not a gamer. By far, the least useful (read: I don't even bother to put the motherboard in a case) systems are 286s--they can't run 32-bit software and 286 PM stuff isn't terribly useful much of the time. You might as well run a fast 8088.

twolazy
May 13th, 2012, 04:07 PM
I'd say an early pentium, cheapest to put together, and not too hard to slow down by disabling cache and using utilities like mo slo. Plus using a newer board would eliminate problems with drives, making it really user friendly to upgrade, plus you get ISA slots...

SpidersWeb
May 13th, 2012, 04:37 PM
Big advantage of 286 over 8088 is the 16 bit slots, so there are lots more cheap expansion cards available (VGA, SoundBlaster, IO, Network etc).
Although a perfectly working 8088 Turbo clone with CGA or EGA would be a nice setup too.

Unknown_K
May 13th, 2012, 04:40 PM
If you want to play CGA or TGA games a Tandy 1000 with dual 5.25" is the cheapest way to go especially if you intend to play games using original disks.

A 386DX/40 is next in line for newer games that started using VGA and ran into memory issues (needing full 640K and/os EMS/XMS so you need a 386 memory manager).

The 486/66 is perfect for games that actually need a fast video card (VLB) and still lets you use the turbo switch to slow the system if needed.

The last gasp of DOS games (3d) are perfect on a Pentium 1, no speed issues and boards have plenty of ISA slots if you need a AWE32 and a special game port card for flight sims etc.

The people who specificy one machine to play the whole range of DOS games have no clue what they are talking about. CGA games on VGA look like hell. Fiddling with the system every time you want to play something new is a pain in the rear, plus you miss out having the correct sound card for the games. If you just dabble in old DOS games just use DOSBox on new system and get used to messing with the configs and having crappy audio and video.

twolazy
May 13th, 2012, 05:30 PM
ugh somehow i dbl posted, see below or delete this...

twolazy
May 13th, 2012, 05:31 PM
The people who specificy one machine to play the whole range of DOS games have no clue what they are talking about. CGA games on VGA look like hell. .

Hate to burst your bubble but that is soooo not always true and bad misinformation. There were a handful of VGA cards that produced CGA & EGA palletes perfectly. One notable example be the Cirrus Logic Eagle II VGA (known for its 100% CGA emulation!). Another is my Wyse WY-7500. Most the cards with this feature will be upper end cards meant for cad/engineering/desktop publishing, not consumer level, nonetheless they do exist! :D

You can indeed run nearly all dos games on a pentium machine, including CGA titles like alley cat or sierra games, in the palletes intended. It requires the right hardware and software. Just because your hardware can't doesnt mean its not possible. Only exceptions are games that check which cpu you have. I can't think of any right now, but I know there were a handful. Out of the 5000 or so dos games I have, only a few wont work on this setup. (less then 10) ;)

So again, I suggest a super socket 7 pentium, with a board containing a few isa slots. FIC or Micronics would be my choice of brand. Team that with an Eagle II and maybe a PAS16/GUS16 and 3dfx Voodoo accelerator, and even a hercules MDA adapter for one helluva all in one dos gaming rig. :thumbsup: (BTW mine is built off a packard bell SS7, think i430TX ;) )

And as far as having to mess with drivers ROFL, just setup multiple boot profiles. 4 options are all you need. 8088 mode / 286 mode / 386 mode / Pentium. You could even get snazzier and setup a few 486 profiles too, but I never seen a need. I just set my 386 mode to be around a DX40 speed. Setup each profile to boot into a gui, like magic menu or some sort of menu system. Only software you really need is mo-slo and/or throttle. Throttle can disable the L1 cache outside of bios, as well as not use HLT commands to slow down the processor if the chipset is new enough. ;)


Throttle is avail here - http://www.oldskool.org/pc/throttle/DOS

Sorry if I seem so harsh, it really isnt my intention, but this isnt the first time I dealt with this subject, more like 100th time. I wish people did more research. If I only had a dollar each time.. LOL! You really can build an all-in-one dos gaming rig, just have to choose the right hardware.

Ahh the debates I had (and won! ;) ) on vogons! Since it is the weekend no homework. Class dismissed. xD

Unknown_K
May 13th, 2012, 06:48 PM
Yup, you have no clue what your talking about.

twolazy
May 13th, 2012, 06:57 PM
Yup, you have no clue what your talking about.

Obviously you are a rude moron or just think you know it all. I just schooled you in and yet you still don't see it, spending over an hour of my life explaining it!

CL-GD510 + 520 - ISA SVGA "Eagle II" chipset, known for 100% CGA emulation. (1988 )

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirrus_Logic

But guess thats not proof enough for you huh? Dont waste my time, troll someone else...

marcoguy
May 13th, 2012, 07:01 PM
I gotta say, P1s are great, but I am a big fan of 486s. I guess if you get a P1, there's no reason not to just get a P3. It's similar tech, except ISA slots, and you get way better performance. I suggest an i486DX2 based PC. 'Bout 100 MHz at the max and still pretty close to vintage.

Chuck(G)
May 13th, 2012, 07:17 PM
I gotta say, P1s are great, but I am a big fan of 486s. I guess if you get a P1, there's no reason not to just get a P3. It's similar tech, except ISA slots, and you get way better performance. I suggest an i486DX2 based PC. 'Bout 100 MHz at the max and still pretty close to vintage.

As I mentioned, it's those ISA slots and often very quirky way of P3's handling them (usually done with a PCI-to-ISA bridge, using subtractive decoding). Unless you can find a P2-P3 "border" variety with the right chipset, you'll end up cursing the ISA implementation. P1s are very straightforward in regards to ISA slots--and that includes SS7 varieties which can really tease a P3 in terms of speed.

twolazy
May 13th, 2012, 07:29 PM
I think I still have an Intel made i440TX board floating around here somewhere, wonder if that be the less qirky variety . Problem is 66mhz FSB tops, so dont think a PIII work, but I have used it with a slotket and pga celeron.

marcoguy
May 13th, 2012, 07:29 PM
Yep, I was really just generalizing to get my point across. I haven't ever even tried to use ISA with a post-486 system. I still think i486DX2 is the way to go.
A PC with something like this mobo (http://www.ebay.com/itm/221023461948?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649#ht_500wt_1413) and a fast 486 would be what you need.

Chuck(G)
May 13th, 2012, 07:39 PM
Where do I put the PCI SCSI adapter and network cards? I like the P1s and their "combo slots".

For that matter, why P3? P2 is a nice compromise and the chipsets are a bit better behaved.

Agent Orange
May 13th, 2012, 07:44 PM
I believe that the 486 ISA, VLB, PCI, and/or any combination thereof is the ultimate DOS gaming platform, fairly reasonable and plentiful. On those few occasions that you absolutley must have CGA, then get a GCA card and monitor or spring for a multisync or a CGA to VGA adaptor.

twolazy
May 13th, 2012, 08:39 PM
486s are great machines (my fav era cpu btw!) but you'll miss out on some great dos games. Like Carmageddon for example, think it needs a P166? The dos voodoo version is by far the best. Another game, Screamer. Need at least a decent 5x86 to play it decently. Then there's Quake yadda yadda yadda alot of good titles needing more umph then a 486 can give. :(

Caluser2000
May 13th, 2012, 11:02 PM
Seems like the OP is keen on a lower spec machine. Nothing wrong with that at all. It really all comes down to personal choice. There really isn't any "right" answer.

Personally I'm in the SS7 camp if you want a wider hw/cpu choice. Nothing wrong with 486s either. I was lucky to get one with pci, ISA, a vesa slot and LBA support. Warp runs quite happily on on a 486dx2/66.

Agent Orange
May 14th, 2012, 05:28 AM
486s are great machines (my fav era cpu btw!) but you'll miss out on some great dos games. Like Carmageddon for example, think it needs a P166? The dos voodoo version is by far the best. Another game, Screamer. Need at least a decent 5x86 to play it decently. Then there's Quake yadda yadda yadda alot of good titles needing more umph then a 486 can give. :(

I've yet to run across a DOS game that I couldn't run on either my POD83 or Am5x86-P75 (which is considered a 486). It's all in the video

Agent Orange
May 14th, 2012, 05:33 AM
Please remove - Sorry - must be a glitch on my end.