A good Windows 98/DOS gaming computer.

Any body recommended a good Windows 98/DOS computer that's great for gaming. I'm not really sure what to chose, I'm not much of a old hardware geek like some of you are.



  • edited March 2018

    It depends on what software you want to use.

    But my recommendation would be similar to what makes a good in-between or "tweener" system:

    -Have any Pentium, K6, or Athlon era CPU

    -Have a generic AT or ATX case

    -Have BIOS support for two real, internal floppy drives.

    -Have Ethernet Networking (easy to add)

    -Have Windows 95 OSR2 or 98SE as the primary OS for easy DOS access (ME/2000/XP are more difficult)

    -Have USB ports for flash drives.

    -Have at least one ISA slot and plenty of additional slots (AGP/PCI)

    -Ideally the FDC should support FM encoding, but that is rather uncommon and hard to tell just by looking.

    -The motherboard should use a coin cell CMOS battery instead of a Dallas or Odin integrated clock/battery chip. [/quote]

    However, in addition the motherboard should not have integrated sound or video and you should choose a good sound or video card. For DOS games, you would need an ISA Sound Blaster compatible card for full application compatibly. For best DOS video support you would want a card with VESA 2.0 BIOS support. If your applications need 3d rendering support make sure you get an appropriately matched card.

  • @SomeGuy

    Thanks for the help, but I'm still kind of lost. What is the problem with Dallas and Odin CMOS chips? Also is their a point into dualbooting MS-DOS and Windows 95/98?

  • There is lots of information on the VCFED forum about that. The Dallas and Odin integrated clock/batteries must be replaced every so many years just like normal CMOS batteries. But they are expensive and getting harder to find. (New ones made today have batteries that don't last as long). Many boards won't even boot if the integrated battery is dead. If a motherboard has one soldered on, then it is as good as scrap unless you have some seriously elite soldering skills and high-end equipment.

    I don't see any point to booting earlier MS-DOS and 95/98. The only reason people ever did that was if they also wanted to run Windows 3.1. The 3.1 VMM does not like DOS 7.x. But every other DOS program out there works fine.

  • @SomeGuy

    All right then! Thanks for the heads up!

  • Hi there .o/

    About the Dallas and similar chips that have their own battery embedded, I agree that you probably should avoid motherboards that use them if possible, and go for something else.

    However it should be kept in mind that even if the battery inside is dead, they probably can be hacked to use external batteries, which fixes the problem, as explained here: https://www.classic-computers.org.nz/blog/2009-10-10-renovating-a-dallas-battery-chip.htm

  • DOS : 8088~Pentium (I/MMX)
    Windows 98 : Pentium III~Pentium IV

  • @ibmpc5150 said:
    DOS : 8088~Pentium (I/MMX)
    Windows 98 : Pentium III~Pentium IV

    I wouldn't say Pentium IV for Windows 98. I'd say Pentium II-III range instead.

  • That's right jamie1130, in fact Wndows 95 likes the Pentiums (First, Pro and II), and DOS likes the 486 and before, Windows 98 gets with Pentiums II and III, but it doesn't plays very well with Pentium 4, it could accept a P4 Willamete (With difficult), but no more.

  • edited April 2018

    If I had the space then I would also get a full sized system because it is easier to get parts for. Currently my favourite DOS gaming machine is my Toshiba 460CDT laptop. These are the reasons why and they're mostly still relevant to full sized systems too:

    • The sound card is a Yamaha SoundBlaster with an OPL3 chip which is compatible with plenty of DOS games. Depending on the game, I sometimes have to run it in safe mode to get sound.
    • It has a 3.5 inch floppy drive which means I can install Windows 98 easily.
    • The processor is 166 megahertz. This is fast enough for some early Windows games but it is still below 200 megahertz so it correctly runs buggy DOS games without generating the runtime error 200. The original Tyrian is the only example I've knowingly seen so far.
    • The USB port makes file transfers easy.
    • It accepts 20 gigabyte hard drives which are still easy to find and inexpensive to buy.
    • It starts and runs correctly even with all batteries removed.
    • There is a physical volume control slider. This helps if you are using a system with built-in speakers because some DOS games don't allow you to adjust the volume.
    • The built-in screen is active matrix (TFT). This is not as relevant to you because you'll be using a separate monitor. The 800 x 600 resolution isn't perfect but I'm not going to get a USB port without a PC card on a laptop with a perfect 640 x 480 screen and 800 x 600 is still better than 1024 x 768.

    When it comes to ports, I would like it to have a way of connecting more than one PS/2 device but that's not a disaster. I can replace the built-in keyboard if I wear it out. The 9 pin serial port allows me to connect it to another old computer for multiplayer gaming.

    I have posted more details about this laptop here. I recommend reading this to see the solutions to the problems that I had when setting up an old computer.

    Another good piece of kit to have is a USB to hard drive adaptor (most likely an IDE hard drive but it could be either size). This allows you to plug the old hard drive into a modern computer and it behaves the same as a regular USB storage device. I use this to clone the old hard drive so that I don't need to go through the whole Windows installation if I mess it up.

    If you are purely interested in the games and not the hardware then an option that works well is emaultion software like DosBox. I do agree that there is something really satisfying about running the old hardware though.

    Hope this helps.

  • edited July 2018

    When it comes to space saving, I would like second the recommendation for a Toshiba laptop. Mine is a Satellite 320CDT from around 1997. Seems to be very similar to the aforementioned 460CDT, just a bit faster with its Pentium MMX 233MHz.

    Laptops that contain both an CD-ROM and a floppy drive seem to be quite rare, and this one is really well-built with quality components. Hard drive is super accessible. Only downside is the EDO-RAM slot in unusual SO-DIMM format (normally used by SD-RAM), but even those 32MB of on-board memory work well.

    I recommend using a CF Card together with a PCMCIA adapter on the laptop side and a CF reader with USB 3.0 on the modern side for file transfers that work much better and quicker than through this unholy USB 1.1 connector. :wink: USB 1.1 was meant for input devices, not mass storage. On desktop computers you can fit a CF adapter to a free IDE cable and use that for transfer – just don't try hot-plugging …

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