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Custom hardware advice needed

By galahad04 ·
Hi, I was hoping I could please get some advice on a PC hardware-related issue. As a fan of older (mid-90s) PC games, I still use my '98 HP Vectra VE 6 PC to play these older games. This is largely because a lot of these games will not work with newer PCs, not just because of OS-related issues, but also because they are relying on older hardware. For example, one of my favorite games can only seem to generate sound when using the ISA-based Sound Blaster Pro sound card in my PC -- PCI sound cards will not work.

I anticipate playing these older games for some time to come. The thing is, eventually my PC will inevitably start to age. If the PC capable of running these games breaks down due to old age, will it realistically be repairable, or would you recommend trying to find and purchase an identical "back-up" system if anything happens to it? (The problem with trying to find another identical system is, it is really tough to find an exact match, and the last time I tried, the seller had removed the original ISA sound card and installed a new PCI one, so I had to return it.) Or if the PC did break down, would it be possible to remove the ISA sound card and install it in another newer PC and still expect it to work the same way it did in the old PC?

Any advice you could provide would be deeply appreciated. Also, if you have any practical tips on how to ensure the PC enjoys the maximum life span possible, these would be welcome as well. Thanks!

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by galahad04 In reply to Custom hardware advice ne ...

Also one reason I am so fixated on this particular PC is, it's not just the ISA sound card alone that enables sound on the older games -- the PC's designated audio drivers are equally as important. Theoretically, I could end up with another PC with the same hardware configuration but incomptible drivers, so this is significant as well.

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by ccollins In reply to Custom hardware advice ne ...

Availability of motherboards with ISA slots shouldn't be a problem - we still have a load of old Dells in the cupboard with the two ISA configuration. I imagine Ebay will have that sort of thing, next to Michael Jackson's toenail clippings. If the architecture is the same then the only issue will be drivers - make a back up.
Getting life out of machines is down to keeping them cool and avoiding power spikes. Keep it clear of dust and *** ash and avoid turning it on or off a lot.

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by galahad04 In reply to
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by willcomp In reply to Custom hardware advice ne ...

As for sound drivers: Odds are that you are using Win 98 built-in drivers for SB Pro.

Many PCI sound cards provide DOS mode SB emulation or you can try a 128 bit SB PCI card.

If you want to hedge your bets, try to pick up and save a super socket 7 mobo with ISA slots, an AMD K6-2/500 and a stick of PC100 SDRAM. Then when your old box bites the dust, you can build a new "old" system.

Remember that any direct replacement parts will probably be as old as the ones you are replacing and may have a short life span.


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by willcomp In reply to

I am not aware of any currently available mobos with ISA slots.

Your best bet is either a super socket 7 or sockey 370 mobo. Some early socket A boards had ISA slots as well.

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by galahad04 In reply to

Poster rated this answer.

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by rindi1 In reply to Custom hardware advice ne ...

First, I'm sure you'll still be able to custom build a PC today that would meet those standards.

Secondly, there may be another, unexpected option. Use a linux System. For linux you get a lot of emulation software, with which you can run a DOS or Atari or Commodore within the Linux System. When you run such an emulator you can run the original games just as if it was an old DOS PC or an atari or Amiga. Often it is like the original. Since linux is free it shouldn't be a problem financialy for you to get a system up and running and test some of those games.

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by galahad04 In reply to

Please see latest comment added on 11/12/04. Thanks for trying to help though.

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by galahad04 In reply to Custom hardware advice ne ...

I have tried using at least 3 sound blaster emulation software packages on newer computers for some of my old games. The emulation software did work OK for a few games, but the sound quality was pretty bad for my favorite game (released 1993 - 1994, pre-Windows 95 although on my games PC, it works fine using up to Windows ME OS). Therefore, I think SB emulators won't quite fit the bill by themselves.

Interestingly, my games PC needs to have the HP model-specific audio drivers installed for 100% SB Pro compatibility -- the default audio drivers that ship with Windows ME are not fully compatible. (Not sure if this is a significant issue?)

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by mikex In reply to Custom hardware advice ne ...

Try to buy older PC's (P1 to P200) u can have them for like 2 for 50, so it couldnt be a problem for u

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