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Building a Windows 98 PC

Discussion in 'General Hardware' started by almoststew1990, Feb 17, 2017.

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  1. almoststew1990

    Mobster

    Joined: May 12, 2011

    Posts: 3,568

    Location: Southampton

    I've been thinking about building a Windows 98 PC for playing old big box PC games. A couple of questions:

    1) I currently have an S775 / 2GB RAM / ATI 4850 PC running Windows XP. I'm wondering if I should just stick with this for simplicity and convenience. Windows XP can connect to WiFi and automatically runs drivers for keyboards / mice / usb sticks. I'm pretty sure backwards compatibility for Windows 95/98 games on XP is pretty good. So this option would be the most convenient. But then building a Windows 98 PC and getting the thing to work properly would be half the fun for me!

    2) If I do build a W98 era PC, what spec would you recommend? From my googling, I was thinking along the lines of a Slot 1 Pentium 2 system with a TNT2, with IDE drives. Computer tech evolved a lot at this time, would I be limiting my game play ability with the above? Also, is it a pain in the ass to build a PC of this era? (were motherboards and cases using ATX? Power supply standards different back then?)
     
  2. breadturbo

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 27, 2005

    Posts: 2,216

    I've got two old ones i use for games, the one in my sig is very annoying, takes a lot of messing with the good old 640kb memory to get things running.
    I also have an old dell xps t700r which is a p3 700mhz, 256mb ram, an old 40gb ide. 5.1 creative sound and voodoo 5500 connected to a 19" 1280x1024 samsung lcd, it's the nuts for things like Janes longbow, f19 etc.
    This system uses an atx psu, the 1+2 used the old slot type psu connector I forget the name.

    The only thing with win98 is you have to manually set irq/dma etc and getting sound to work properly with some old games is trial and error(no problem if you're an old fart like me that grew up with that)
    Also win98 supports upto 64gb hdd's, 98se upto 137gb.
     
  3. varkanoid

    Soldato

    Joined: Dec 31, 2007

    Posts: 7,098

    Location: The TARDIS, Wakefield, UK

    Can you just use something like Virtualbox and a Win98 or XP VM or is it too fast ?
     
  4. varkanoid

    Soldato

    Joined: Dec 31, 2007

    Posts: 7,098

    Location: The TARDIS, Wakefield, UK

    ignore new forum did a double post
     
  5. breadturbo

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 27, 2005

    Posts: 2,216

    Old games work fine on my current pc on dosbox but sound COMPLETELY different, the old machine just sounds very minimoog'y (not a word but meh)
    The speed issue does affect some games.
     
  6. almoststew1990

    Mobster

    Joined: May 12, 2011

    Posts: 3,568

    Location: Southampton

    I would be going 98SE anyway, as SE includes some plug and play support I think? So it sounds like it would be worth building one (Which would be part of the fun!) over using my existing PC XP 'retro' PC. To play games like Need for Speed 3-5, No-One Lives Forever, Sim Copter what sort of hardware would I be looking at? This would be at 1024*768 or perhaps 1280*1024 on a Dell VGA LCD 5:4 display.
     
  7. thenoseknows

    Gangster

    Joined: Jun 22, 2015

    Posts: 126

    Modern components tend to handle old games just fine. In case they don't, there are options such as DosBOX, ScummVM and Oracle Virtualbox. The only old hardware you actually need is a CRT display.

    CRTs are ideal for playing games whose developers neglected to take into account high resolutions and 16:9 aspect ratios. CRT image quality is consistent across all supported resolutions, unlike LCDs which have a native resolution and require upscaling which blurs the picture. A 1280*1024 LCD monitor can still display low resolutions, so a CRT is not "required" in that sense, but will have to upscale any resolutions lower than 1280*1024, which causes blurriness (never mind the fact that a good CRT would have a superior image quality period when compared to an old 5:4 LCD).
     
  8. breadturbo

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 27, 2005

    Posts: 2,216

    NFS3 HP wants........... p1 200mhz, 32mb ram, 12mb vram. 4th and 5th ones are 200-300mhz each
    No one live wants....... p3 500mhz, 128mb, 16mb vram.
    Simcopter wants....... p1 75mhz, 16mb ram, 512kb vram - locked at 640x480x32

    above are recommended not minimums.

    This site helps for any requirements/new patches
    http://pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/Need_for_Speed_III:_Hot_Pursuit#Video_settings

    All of them should work fine on a 500mhz p3 or thereabouts, Simcopter may need some tweaking/ a boot floppy to free up more conventional memory.

    98se does have usb and pnp yes, but you will still have to set the dma/irq etc for the sound in the config program, (usually 220-5-1 for creative)
     
  9. Habakkuk

    Gangster

    Joined: Feb 7, 2017

    Posts: 259

    Old video games used to be clocked to run as fast as the CPU could manage.

    On modern machines quick-time-events run lighting fast >.<

    Virtualbox does sound easier to setup, but I wonder how small you could make a window98 box now and forward the display output.

    I agree about the sound, I've considered getting an old soundcard & using a PCI-e->PCI adapter for it.
     
  10. almoststew1990

    Mobster

    Joined: May 12, 2011

    Posts: 3,568

    Location: Southampton

    Right I decided to go the pain-in-the-bum authentic route and build a W98 machine! I've got my hands on an ASUS P2B (Slot 1 / Pentium 2) on ebay for £20, which I'm pretty pleased about. Couple of questions:

    Recommend me a GPU? I'd be hoping to go combined 2d/3d accelerator card. What were the main chipsets o this era except for the Voodoo 3 and TNT?
    Will any old (or more to the point, 'new') 80GB IDE HDD work?
    I take it SDRAM is different to DDR1 SDRAM (I recall DDR is dual data rate or something?)
     
  11. breadturbo

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 27, 2005

    Posts: 2,216

    Theres quite a variation, S3 virge, riva, the voodoo and tnt, even diamond and creative made cards, just ensure whatever you get is the correct agp slot. (personally I'd just go for the cheapest a tnt2 or something similar)
    As long as you use 98se then an 80gb will be fine.
    you will want sdr sdram, it will be 66/100/133mhz, with 10 pins on its own at the end (a quick google image search will show you how it appears)
    Bear in mind, the board wont have onboard sound like todays do, so you will want an awe32(epic)/soundblaster/adlib or similar.

    I've got a spare 256mb stick of 100mhz crucial cas2 gathering dust if you want it :) (hope it's okay to put that? Im not asking anything for it)
     
  12. almoststew1990

    Mobster

    Joined: May 12, 2011

    Posts: 3,568

    Location: Southampton

    I've now discovered AGP was forwards compatible as well as backwards compatible and I can use any AGP card that can do 3.3v and 1.5v (i.e. two keys in the teeth). I might put in a 4 series MX as they're very common and cheap on ebay and despite being very underwhelming at the time are no doubt better than a TNT2 or GeForce 256.

    Thanks for the RAM offer but the sticks I need seem to be under £2 on eBay anyway!

    Yeah I'll need a soundcard- I thought I had a Soundblaster Live of somekind lying around, but I think I binned it. Again these are cheap enough on eBay! I'll probably go for something highly compatible / easy to set up...
     
  13. breadturbo

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Oct 27, 2005

    Posts: 2,216

    Better add. Those are probably 33mhz pci slots so be sure the card supports it.
     
  14. JasonM

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jun 19, 2009

    Posts: 1,735

    3dfx Voodoo 2 card, AWE32 card, Gravis Ultrasound if you have the cash (not easy to setup but ******* amazing, google the card)

    Riva 128 was one of the AGP cards to have.
     
  15. ubersonic

    Capodecina

    Joined: May 26, 2009

    Posts: 16,413

    I have a dedicated Windows 98SE system I use for old games, thought I would add a couple of notes you may find helpful.

    1: Windows 98 hasn't been able to access Windows update in years, Google the Win98 power pack, it includes all the important updates plus extra things like the USB PNP bits from ME and some DirectX stuff.
    2: Even ignoring the security issues of internet access, no modern browser will run, the best your going to get is an old version of Seamonkey but to be honest you're better doing any downloading on another machine and transferring via a USB stick.
    3: Don't bother with a HDD, get a cheap compactflash card and a CF-IDE adaptor, then laugh as your ancient Win98 system can boot and load a game quicker than a brand new HP/Dell with a HDD :p
    4: CRT screens are quite expensive these days due to rarity and the demand by retro gamers, finding a good one won't be easy and most sellers won't post.
     
  16. hornetstinger

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Sep 6, 2016

    Posts: 2,129

    What about getting the legendary Roland LAPC-1? That is something I never had playing those games.
     
  17. Jono

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

    Posts: 13,071

    Location: Northallerton/Harrogate

    Roland SC-88 is where it's at :D
    [youtube]MPL1U3IzYM8[/youtube]
     


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