PC for older (xp ish) games

Discussion in 'Retro & Arcade' started by HurtTown, Oct 20, 2020.

  1. Myne_h

    Myne_h Member

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    One option is a thin client - which often have half decent graphics and generic long supported pc parts.

    Example:
    https://www.parkytowers.me.uk/thin/hp/t520/
    https://www.parkytowers.me.uk/thin/hp/t630/

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-T630-TH...2-00GHz-8GB-32GBF-R7E-Win10-IOT-/193326866206
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Thin-Cl...904232?hash=item56e89ebb68:g:rhcAAOSwtT5fhJFm

    But check what drivers it does have and what sort of performance you might get before you commit.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2020
  2. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    If the OP isn't familiar with virtualisation, important to point out the two different things going on here.

    One is a virtual video card, where high level API calls are passed through. So inside the guest VM, DirectX and OpenGL calls are passed through at the API level to OpenGL/DirectX calls on the host system.

    The second option is hardware passthrough, where a second dedicated video card is allowed to be used exclusively by the guest virtual machine.

    The first option is far easier to set up (install guest additions in your VM and off you go). Plus you don't need extra hardware. But there's a considerable performance hit, and you still might run into compatibility issues for particularly fussy games. (I won't lie - I've personally had more luck with Linux+WINE than with VirtualBox's virtual graphics cards on WinXP era 3D titles!).

    The second option will give you near raw performance of the GPU, and if there are era-specific games that need very specific card/driver combos, then your compatibility option can be a whole lot higher. But obviously there's extra screwing around that you need to do (setup plus buying the extra card).

    To be pretty blunt, PC gaming is a pain in the arse. You're not going to get away with "turn it on and play with zero effort" no matter what the game and era. Operating systems need updating, drivers need installing, games have minimum hardware specs you need to conform to in order to get performance.

    Console gaming slightly less painful, although that can increase the older a system gets for a bunch of reasons.

    Really depends on how much effort you're willing to put in. As others have mentioned, GoG+Win10 with compatibility mode is honestly pretty good, and getting old-ish games working on modern systems is probably less difficult if you just stay in that modern era on a modern machine. There's always going to be exceptions to that rule, but GoG do a lot more than just bundle up old games - they put a lot of effort in to fixing things up so they're stable on new OSes - whether that's graphics compatibility and bug fixing, removing game-breaking bugs, or removing copy protection.

    If you're interested, NoClip made a great documentary on GoG a while back. Outside of talk of ye olde games, piracy and publishing, they talk about some of the technical stuff GoG do to make old games work on modern systems:

     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2020
  3. OP
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    HurtTown

    HurtTown Member

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    I understand that pc gaming has always been varying degrees of painful as I've been building or playing pc since the early pentiums.

    Maybe modern gaming has made me forget the extent of the troubles we had to go through lol

    I just remember having an xp pc and once everything was working and updated, all the current games would play.

    I'm really comparing having an old pc that is working fine running games of that era to my current pc that in order to run those same games, is asking for a lot of small changes as it is a different time.

    It seems the hardware has exceeded the games and it's harder to play games that don't demand much of anything.

    Will have to give that video a watch tomorrow :)
     
  4. OP
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    HurtTown

    HurtTown Member

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    Loved that video elvis :)

    I am very grateful that there is a company doing this.

    My gog collection is fairly decent already but it has made me want to shift more towards them for future purchases
     
  5. power

    power Member

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    I would also suggest forgetting the existence of many physical PC games you currently own - some of the copy protection of this era (starforce anyone) was truly horrendous and makes playing some of these old titles challenging.

    Once you get a bit of a feel for running old titles on new machines it's not as bad as you might think.

    A time capsule PC isn't the worst idea, i just don't see the point anymore.
     
  6. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I think pre-Pentium was even worse. By the Pentium era things started getting colour coded and keyed so you couldn't stuff up as much. But yeah, it's certainly gotten easier as time went on, which was a good thing, but like you said, easy to forget until you poke at old gear again. :)

    It's definitely one of my favourites from NoClip. Really love how they go across a whole bunch of legal and technical stuff. GoG do great work, and I always try to buy from them first, even if Steam is cheaper.

    Much like anything else in a world of emulators and clone systems I think.

    I've said before that PC's enormous backwards compatibility (not necessarily hardware, before the "ISA XT-BIOS" discussions start again, but the fact that you can run 30 year old code on a CPU released yesterday just fine) and gradual upgrade cycle always made it a platform that was more difficult to point at a defined era of hardware (compare to "Amiga 500" or "Super Nintendo" which were very specific).

    But all the same, we only use this old hardware for the nostalgic fun any more. The argument that it's needed for accuracy is diminishing year on year, especially with PC hardware (I challenge anyone to a blind test to see the difference between a well set up PCem instance and "real hardware", or the same for Redream@480p and a real Dreamcast, etc, etc).

    Psychologically, I find the presence of a "dedicated box" more likely to make me sit down and play a game from start to finish on it. But honestly, that's more a reflection on me than the hardware.
     
  7. power

    power Member

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    i think this isn't just you :)
     
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    HurtTown

    HurtTown Member

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    Definitely not just you lol
     
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2020
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  9. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I definitely see it in my son, and myself when I was younger.

    Me at age 10: 3 games, played one in particular to death, non stop, to expert level (levels that I've tried to get back to, and can't even get in the same post code).

    Me now: tens of thousands of games at my fingertips. Play something for an hour, real life gets in the way, switch over to something else next time.

    My son at age 6: Only allowed to play Skylanders or Mario Galaxy. Played them non stop.

    My son at age 13: Hundreds of games at his fingertips, plus dad's enormous retro collection, constantly flips back and forth between things.
     
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    HurtTown

    HurtTown Member

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    Haha good to see he's playing the retro stuff too.

    You're exactly how I was/am.
     
  11. power

    power Member

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    i've always had the ability to flip back and forth between lots of games, it did mean that i know the first levels of a lot of games from when i was young :) (our first computer came from a family member who helpfully had supplied dozens of titles).

    This is why these days I quarden off my gaming as much as I can and put a lot of emphasis on finishing games. Looking at my shelves of purchases over the past few years and knowing that most of them are completed feels good, but takes some degree of self control.

    I also divide my digital collections as well to avoid distractions and many unfinished games if I can.
     
  12. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    I didn't, because there was a point where I didn't have lots of games. :)

    Video games were REALLY EXPENSIVE in the 80s!
     
  13. power

    power Member

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    yeah that's why getting hundreds of disks full was pretty cool. ;)
     
  14. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    This was me with my Super Nintendo disk copier in the early 90s. And again with my modded PSX and 2x IDE CD burner ($700 retail!!!!) in the late 90s.

    I'm still trying to pay off that guilt by buying every retro-re-release out there today. :lol:
     
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  15. rugger

    rugger Member

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    Yep, so many distractions.

    I tend to be kinda the opposite actually, able to sit down and do most games I start to completion.

    One difference for me when I was young was that I had colecovision/Atari 2600/XT shareware style games. You could get reasonably good at them, but most didn't have any obvious progression and end point, so you would find yourself switching between them almost constantly.

    Things started to change when I started playing games like Final Fantasy 7, I started getting much more into individual games and completing them.

    One day I hope to actually get into fallout new vegas properly and finish that. It is on my list of started 3 times but not finished games.
     
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  16. power

    power Member

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    aw man, New Vegas - what a great game. Recommend finishing that one even though the ending wasn't super satisfying just being in a proper (modern) Fallout game is something i enjoy.

    and officially retro as of this Monday gone too!
     
  17. rugger

    rugger Member

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    Now, to bring things back on topic.

    Definitely get yourself a Retro computer to run XP games if you have to space and motivation to do so.

    Should not be hard, as there is about a 10-15 year range of computers that run XP very well.

    Old Dell workstations with Core 2 Processors are very nice if you can get one. It will take a nice, appropriate graphics card like an Nvidia GTX-260. Or really any Core 2 processor, especially if you have the option in the BIOS to disable multi-core (although, affinity CPU settings are pretty easy to apply)

    Chuck in almost any Sound Blaster Audigy (or even Live) to add fun sound.

    Many games are just a lot easier to get working on Windows XP than Windows 7 and above.
     
  18. jimbogimp

    jimbogimp Member

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    funny comment
    I can confirm that Need for Speed Underground 2 is playable on a thin client.
    AMD bobcat
    Dual Core 1.6ghz
    4gb ram
    256mb shared memory AMD 6320 GPU
    16gb storage (not SSD, the other cheaper one, emmc or whatever, still better than HDD)

    I had to back off the graphics a bit, 1024x768 on "second to low settings" and it ran all right, but you dont get the ultra settings 60fps+ experience.

    So yeah, if you are after the premium mad graphics + quality sound then grab something more powerful like an old core 2 duo with a dedicated GPU.
    If you want something small, silent and you're happy stuffing around tweaking graphics settings to get games running smoothly then a thin client could be the go. I got mine for like $40 from ebay. Just note there can be some extra effort required sorting bios out and installing windows/drivers. But thats half the fun of it.

    Anyway, I'm getting distracted, I should be putting more laps into LFS for the retro drive club!
     
  19. OP
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    HurtTown

    HurtTown Member

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    Might have to go the core2 route as not being able to run an old game might hurt me lol
    Pretty cool that it's running though :)
     
  20. OP
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    HurtTown

    HurtTown Member

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    This will be the go :) the smallest amount of effort for what it is.
     

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