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Old 07-02-2008, 06:44 PM   #1
madcrow
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Default Your dream DOS box...

If you could have any classic PC model for DOS gaming use, what would it be?

Mine would have to be the IBM PS/2 Model 95 with the "Type 4" CPU complex (the Socket 7 version)...
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Old 07-02-2008, 07:03 PM   #2
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This is an area I know little about, as I didn't get my first PC until May of 2001 with Windows ME. The money simply was never there until then. Most of my friends didn't own an IBM either, as their systems were C64s, C128s, Amigas and Tandy's... few of which I ever actually got to play anything on. My first PC-ish thing was my Atari XE, which I still have (and play games on). I know it had an early version of DOS made for it, but I never got it, so I did most of my tinkering in Atari Basic.

Anyway, there's my short story. Since ME didn't have a true DOS environment, I didn't use that aspect of it too much. As a result, DOSBox was my first real taste of DOS a few years ago. So really, I've no clue what a dream DOS box would be :amused:

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Old 07-02-2008, 07:20 PM   #3
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Any 486 with at least 4 ISA slots. I have a Compaq Pentium 90 that works pretty well. It only has two ISA slots, though.
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Old 07-02-2008, 07:57 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JMB View Post
Any 486 with at least 4 ISA slots. I have a Compaq Pentium 90 that works pretty well. It only has two ISA slots, though.
Why so many ISA slots? PCI (and even AGP) graphics cards seem to work great in DOS. It's just sound cards that are a pain in the ass...
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Old 07-02-2008, 08:41 PM   #5
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My 486 had sound, video, network and modem. PCI wasn't out yet when the 486 was introduced. Some of the later 486 machines could have had PCI I guess. Not sure. When I say ISA I should probably be saying ISA/EISA.

AGP was later. There was a bus named VLB, I believe, that was a high speed alternative to ISA.
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:31 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by JMB View Post
My 486 had sound, video, network and modem. PCI wasn't out yet when the 486 was introduced. Some of the later 486 machines could have had PCI I guess. Not sure. When I say ISA I should probably be saying ISA/EISA.

AGP was later. There was a bus named VLB, I believe, that was a high speed alternative to ISA.
I knew that. I was talking about why you would need 4 ISA slots on the P90? VLB was basially to ISA what AGP was to PCI: a high-speed modification designed for video cards...
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I knew that. I was talking about why you would need 4 ISA slots on the P90? VLB was basially to ISA what AGP was to PCI: a high-speed modification designed for video cards...
I don't use that one anymore. The problem wasn't what type of slot it was the number of slots. It is one of those desktop models that sat under the monitor (not a tower) and only had two slots. Unfortunately not everything was built onto the motherboard like it is today. I had video on the motherboard and network in one slot and a combination modem/sound card in the other. The combo card was crap. Kept locking the system with interrupt conflicts.

I much prefer the 486 for DOS gaming.
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Old 08-02-2008, 12:53 PM   #8
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I think I'd go with an AMD 486 DX4/100, perhaps slightly overclocked, on a Shuttle HOT-433 motherboard. (Incidentally, this happens to be the very setup of my first PC, but the mobo broke in 2004). Though, I'd try and find replacement cache modules to expand the motherboard's cache size from 256 Kb to full 1 MB.
50 ns EDO modules for RAM memory, 16 MB total.
For soundcard, I'd probably go with something for ISA slot and compatibile with Sound Blaster PRO 2. Two CD-Audio connectors would be welcome.
VGA can be about any PCI graphics card with at least 1 MB of memory, altough I'd prefer a 4 MB one if possible.
Everything in a midi-size Tower case. The mini-size ones are horribly cramped.

Beyond that, I'd go for an A4 Tech 4d++ mouse (combo-type COM/PS2 one) rather than a regular one (it's much more ergonomic).
A PCI USB controller may not be a bad idea, since there are USB drivers for DOS and it would help a lot with transferring stuff to and from the computer, and a CD-R/RW drive is another option worth considering.

I'd probably take two identical Western Digital drives from their Caviar line (exact size is not specifically important, I'd say about 1 GB each will be sufficient), both set to Master and attached to separate IDE channels in drive racks so they can be swapped - it's essentially a hardware-based method of dual-booting.
Though, I'm tempted to experiment with ramdrives and SSD modules, the latter being a particularly tempting idea. Considering they offer read and write speeds much beyond what the old HDDs were capable of, that would be a major speed boost for the entire system.

After that, I'd go for the following modifications:
Replacing the regular ATA, COM and LPT cables with slightly modified ones (re-shaped to take up less space inside the case)
Placing noise reduction mats into the case (doable, done that before in fact, but requires some extra work cutting everything to fit)
Installing a PC-Speaker-to-CD-Audio adapter (done that before)
Replacing the PSU fan with a ball-bearing one to reduce the noise.
Replacing entire CPU heat sink with a passive one to further reduce the noise (perhaps a modded sink taken out of an old PII).

I think that would essentially be it.
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Old 08-02-2008, 01:06 PM   #9
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Wow... Sounds like you're taking the same approach to building a retro computer that you would take on a modern machine...

With that said, why an SB Pro rather than an AWE32 or even a GUS?
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Old 08-02-2008, 01:33 PM   #10
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Horseman, tell me more about the DOS USB drivers. That could really make life easier in an IRQ cramped machine.

I never worried about overclocking etc because more often than not I was having to slow my cpu down with moslo or something similar. The biggest challenge for me is finding the hardware drivers as small as possible so that I could manage the memory and leave enough for the early games that didn't use expanded or extended memory.

Discussions like this make me appreciate the makers of DOSBox all the more. Those guys deserve a nobel prize.
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