How I assembled a computer for old games


    Hi, Habr. In this article I want to talk about how I collected (bought) an old computer for myself and for old games. By old I mean the games of the second half of the nineties and some games of the beginning of zero. Although no one forbids to run older games, the benefit of DOS on such a computer is always close by.

    The basis was chosen ... in general, it was chosen that it turned out to be found in my city, without shipments through the floor of Russia and SMS . I started searching for such a computer not so long ago. I don’t have a stationary computer for a long time, and here something nostalgia for youth and some articles on Habré about retro PCs encouraged me to search. There will be no beautiful stories about assembling an authentic 486DX2 with a CRT monitor and a protective screen, everything is more prosaic (but more practical). 

    Selection and searches

    Initially, I didn’t have any special criteria, I just wanted something “about like in my youth” (well, the grass was greener there, you know). My first computer was (in the distant, crisis 98th) Pentium 120 / 8Mb / 210Mb / CD-ROM / SB, I did not hope to find something similar and alive (and did not find it). But I just wanted Intel Pentium, AMD and others did not consider. Those. For the 486th, I would be glad for anyone and AMD and Cyrix, but this is also from the category of fiction (or there is nothing or asking for money as for a new one, I do not complain about the prices, perhaps they are justified for a well-preserved copy, I'm just not ready I had to spend such a sum. Amounts are easy to googling, I will not bring them). I especially wanted an unattainable dream of the late nineties Pentium II in the cartridge case, and the i440BX \ LX chipset reached behind the processor in the Wishlist. Several times I went to advertise the sale of an “old computer”, ran across the first AMD Duron, Atlon, Tselerony in socket 370 ... it was all wrong. Then I immediately began to cut off such options from a photo of the back side of the case, all of them were issued with color LPT / COM ports and the presence of built-in sound (with also colored connectors).

    asus p2b
    Here is a typical example of what I was looking for; old, not yet painted ports.

    Although, running into the front, literally yesterday, I came across a photo of a completely “canonical” motherboard on i440BX and Slot 1 and this motherboard had color connectors on the reverse side, so there were many different options at that time. But back to the hero of my article. Once, once again looking through the latest ads for the sale of computers, I stumbled upon the option that aroused interest. As always, in such cases, the seller could not provide any details about the filling, all that remained was to rely only on the photo of the closed system unit. The back panel said that the pier here, if not the slot-based Pentium II, is very near: two standard PS / 2 ports, two USB, two COM, one LPT and they are all classic black. It turned out that it would be a board with Slot 1 and most likely an i440 chipset. Bingo! Arranged to meet on the same day at lunch and half a day sitting on pins and needles. I was thinking about possible processors (slot Pentium II or one of the first Celeron `s?) About another stuffing: what sound and video cards? The photo showed a PCI modem, and for some reason it suddenly became interesting and important - wasn’t it “soft”? Well, in general, worried like before the date. The situation was aggravated by the abnormal price for such an option: 3000 rubles for a system unit with a 15 "CRT monitor. Usually, people selling such old computers only know about them, they are no longer needed and it would be nice if they took 500 rubles for pickup. Thinking about bo all about it, I arrived at the meeting. The computer was in the garage, and a respectable man came to show it on a solid jeep. Without further ado, I took off the cover (such, remember on four screws and entirely on both sides of the case was shot) ... it! Motherboard ATrend ATC 6220 (ATX, Slot 1, AGP, 4 PCI, 3 ISA, 3 DIMM) The processor is closed by a power supply ... four more screws and ... I see on the big black processor cartridge the desired inscription: Intel Pentium II processor with MMX technology. With difficulty holding back emotions, I began to bargain. I will not discuss this in detail. I got it (after not a comic "battle") for 2,000 rubles.

    Pentium ii
    Long-awaited Pentium II

    First problems

    It's a shame to say, but I didn’t even turn it on when I bought it, I was satisfied with an external inspection (capacitors like intact, there is almost no dust for this age, this is not bad) and the seller’s assurances that the computer is in excellent condition. What regretted immediately after the first start. First, the computer started right away without waiting for the power button to be pressed, and second, instead of the expected short squeak and the Energy Star logo, I saw a black screen and long repetitive beeps of the speaker. The Internet suggested that the BIOS Award thus reports on memory problems. Colleagues, by the way, turned out to be several SDRAM memory dies: two of 128Mb each and one of 256Mb. Thinking about the scale of the 98th year, I was horrified by such huge numbers and put only one at 128MB. Put more just did not raise a hand (well, not the server, by God).

    I did not even wait for the OS to load. He turned it off and gradually (distracting to work), completely disassembled it, blew it, cleaned it, changed (where it could) thermal paste, carefully put all the wires in the case and turned it on only in the evening. In gratitude for my work, Windows 98 met me with her charming starting melody. 

    Little build process

    The problem with self-switching of the computer was solved by itself after a thorough purge of the power supply.

    The complete hard drive was on 6Gb. For those times, it’s probably a luxury, but now I only have pre-prepared images of game discs that I was going to install on it, occupying more than 50 gigabytes. Victoria showed that the hard drive is fully functional, but very slow. On the reading test, the speed was around 5 megabytes per second. I rummaged on a shelf with "unnecessary" hard drives and found an IDE disk without stickers stating that it "died". The 140Gb Maxtor passed the test of Victoria without a hitch and showed an average read speed on the test of about 40-50 megabytes per second (and this is on UDMA-33). But to install this hard drive was not so easy. If you just break it through "Disk Management" on a modern computer, the Windows 98 installer started to curse it, and breaking it with fdisk did not give a BIOS limit on the size of the hard drive in 8Gb. Acronis for DOS running on this computer also rested against this same restriction. Moved with this disk to a more recent computer, fdisk began to see already 25Gb, but it still didn’t break for good, having tried a bunch of options I started Acronis on that computer, he saw the full volume and allowed the disk to be broken normally. As a result, the disk is still defined as 8 GB in BIOS, but this does not seem to affect the performance of windows. he saw the full volume and allowed the disk to be broken normally. As a result, the disk is still defined as 8 GB in BIOS, but this does not seem to affect the performance of windows. he saw the full volume and allowed the disk to be broken normally. As a result, the disk is still defined as 8 GB in BIOS, but this does not seem to affect the performance of windows. 

    The next surprise gave me a video card. Initially, AGP graphics card Intel i740 was installed in my computer (to be honest, I didn’t think that intel tried to join the video accelerators in those years) at the first opportunity I changed it to GeForce 4 MX440. There were still Radeons, about the same years, but they did not run on the outdated AGP x2 even for them. After installing windows, I started installing games, started up a few, but the video card stumbled on the long-awaited (for me) Theme Hospital. Black screen in places where the game switches to 320x240. Long and unsuccessfully understood. It was a shame, like the computer is chosen such to run such games without unnecessary gestures. I decided to check on the Intel i740 and here it all started without any problems at all. She left it as a result.


    What else would you like to mention. Even before replacing the drive, on the old and slow HDD, Word and Excel from Office XP started up faster than on my laptop with i5 2,6Ghz and SSD. And with the new disc everything just “flies”. 

    The configuration at the moment is this: the motherboard on the i440BX / Pentium II 350Mhz / 128Mb RAM / 140Gb HDD / Video AGP 2x Intel i740

    The system was generally very versatile. The power supply of the motherboard is ATX, any modern power supply and case fit (but the case needs a large one, the board is full-sized). Keyboard and mouse PS / 2 or USB (I did not try the USB keyboard, I am sure that the BIOS will not understand it). Games up to 2000 onwards they run very confidently, plus there is always the option to boot into DOS, for games / programs that require it. The library of games of those years that deserve attention is simply awesome. Most of the most interesting games of those years were made in 2D, so I put off searching for a good 3d accelerator indefinitely, but what I really want to change is the body. The plastic has turned yellow and looks very bad. I am looking for the case slowly, the main criterion is white (at that time there was no fashion for black cases). I didn’t write anything about the monitor, but “I almost had no eyes” from it,

    windows starting
    Here is an old man.

    PS I understand that the topic of my article here is already pretty darned, but today is Friday (the more so), so don't be strict with me. And for the earlier apologize for spelling. All with a holiday.

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