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Build the Utimate Retro Gaming PC for £60 - 3DFX Voodoo 2 SLI Win98 Gaming Rig

By Gandalf42, 08/10/2018
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In an effort to keep this retro PC build video short, I've not gone into too many specifics so I've listed a lot below. Most of the parts were sourced from eBay due to the age and availability but some of the best scores came from private sales from a few guys in the retro building community and personal friends.

This PC build is centred around a 450mhz PII MMX Slot 1 CPU and half a gig of RAM, which is insane for 1998. Games from 2000 were only asking for 128mb so it's a huge amount. In fact Windows 98 can only recognise 1gb in total - take that, 32-bit ceiling!

The Soyo motherboard was shortlisted along with three others, one being a Chainfire board that I just could not track down. The choice was made due to PII support, a wide range of RAM compatibility and the large number of PCI slots, as well as an AGP slot for the GPU. Also, I had to have a beige case!

The graphics are provided by an old Riva card that I pulled out of an old build but that's propped up by two 12mb Voodoo 2s running in SLI. These things are absolute BEAST MODE. I'll make a benchmark video but suffice to say I'm running Half Life in full HD at 60fps+ and it's the same for Q3A.

Media drives are pennies, I just grabbed what I had lying around. I'm considering adding a Zip drive but I'm not sure I have any IRQ left - that's something I forgot to mention - IRQs! The HDD is a Seagate Barracuda and it has tons of space - the OS is a few hundred mb so there's space left for probably a thousand games.

The SoundBlaster Live! sound card rules. One thing that I noticed after installing and playing for a while is that the SB16 emulation under windows is great - if your DOS game will run in the DOS virtual environment then everything will work perfectly, unfortunately if your games have to run in pure DOS then the card doesn't perform as well (LucasArts adventure games I'm looking at you!) so I had to install a second sound card for DOS - I went for an old SB AWE64 Gold which is the best ISA sound card of its type (IMO). Luckily my Soyo mobo had an ISA slot so that was a fairly painless - if heartbreaking - process.

I chose Windows 98 Second Edition for my OS. SE was chosen for the full-featured compatibility with the hardware but crucially because it was the last true DOS-based OS, meaning reverse compatibility for DOS games would be as good as I could get on a Windows machine. The theory paid off, everything worked exactly as expected! Hardware compatibility was a runaway success, no driver issues and no conflicts (which is actually BETTER than my memories of the 90s) and software compatibility has been almost perfect too, although I still can't get Evolva running (remember that game?)

All in all it was a blast building this retro PC. I've wanted a retro gaming rig for a while as a lot of my retro PC games don't work on new iterations of Windows so it was worth building a Retro Rig to play them on. I'll follow this up if it's well received and if you have any questions drop them in the comments. Many thanks to the guys over at www.vogons.org/ for pointers and for being an ace community I'm proud to be a member of.

3DFX Voodoo 2 SLI, Riva TNT, 450mhz Pentium II MMX, SoundBlaster Live! 512mb DDR RAM

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