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Treble

Treble's Retro Gaming PC challenge!

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Shine get! Well, crappy old PC get, really, but I'm still excited. Check this shit out:

 

Screenshot_20190122-202905_1548189043159.thumb.jpg.61b6ca2845bf94de334c0b0d2eb25523.jpg

 

I got lucky finding one nearby, and ducking a large shipping fee. It's a complete dog by the look of it :D

 

I'm looking forward to wringing every last bit of performance out if it cos by 'eck, it's gonna need it. On the plus side, it's got a monitor mouse and keyboard with it! From the cretaceous period but hey, that still counts! 

 

Spent:

£15

Remaining:

£20

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Is that one of those rotating Dell monitors? I tried my best to borrow one them when my old place of work shut down for some Tate action

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I used to have one at work (I think it's the same model) and no, it can't tate. On the plus side, they do a decent image and are built like tanks! 

 

I've messaged the bloke to find out when I can collect, not heard back yet. Is it weird that I'm excited?! 

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Working with such a low amount of cash, the idea was to get as good a spec as poss for the lowest amount of cash, then spend the rest on upgrades. Granted, they are gonna be 'upgrades' in the loosest terms imaginable!

 

I'm going to see what will be the best bang for buck, but as retro gaming is more cpu than gpu intensive as a rule, I'm hoping I can drop in a better P4 than stock. That'll be under a fiver probably. 

 

After that, I'll have to do some tests and see whether upping the RAM or buying a cruddy gfx card will deliver a better performance benefit. That'll also depend on whether I can stick with XP or whether that's a dead end for some of the main emulators, necessitating paying for a cheap Win7 key. We'll see...

 

Looks like I'm collecting tomorrow. Excitement intensifies! 

 

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19 minutes ago, Treble said:

That'll also depend on whether I can stick with XP or whether that's a dead end for some of the main emulators, necessitating paying for a cheap Win7 key.

 

Despite being someone who avoids *nix systems wherever possible, given the wide support given by mainstream emulators to Linux, would that not be a cheaper (i.e. free) alternative? Or would that not play nicely with the hardware?

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What a find :D - if the specs are legit and the graphics hardware is okay, that should certainly handle 8 and 16-bits, retro handhelds and maybe PSX and N64! I think graphics processing might affect things when you get into your plugins and software rendering vs. hardware...but cross that bridge when you get there.

 

With regards to WinXP emulators, I'm sure a few of us can recall older applications you could use for various systems, then it's just a matter of finding the correct versions online. :)  

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32 minutes ago, Wiper said:

 

Despite being someone who avoids *nix systems wherever possible, given the wide support given by mainstream emulators to Linux, would that not be a cheaper (i.e. free) alternative? Or would that not play nicely with the hardware?

 

I'm not sure there'd be much added benefit over XP to be honest, although I'm more than willing to create a partition and stick a Linux build on at some point (In case it wasn't clear from the auction header, XP comes installed on it :) )

 

@Qazimod, man I'm gonna rip this machine a new one. Its going to be over clocked up the wazoo, if I can possibly get away with it on the mobo. 

 

For 15 rips I'm not worried about frying the thing to buggery :D

 

Yeah, I think PSX and N64 will be fine. It'll help I'll never be rendering higher than 1280 x 1024 on that old monitor, too! 

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3 hours ago, bwi said:

Is that one of those rotating Dell monitors? I tried my best to borrow one them when my old place of work shut down for some Tate action

 

I got a nice 22" rotatable monitor off a local Facebook group for £20. I'm using an hdmi to vga converter so the picture isn't as crisp as it might be but it's been perfectly adequate (awesome) for Switch vertical shooters at the dining table. 

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2 hours ago, Treble said:

 

I'm not sure there'd be much added benefit over XP to be honest, although I'm more than willing to create a partition and stick a Linux build on at some point (In case it wasn't clear from the auction header, XP comes installed on it :) )

 

Retroarch is the main thing I can see benefitting - nearly all of its cores work in Linux, the opposite is true for XP (see e.g. this discussion, skipping the initial complaint).

 

This may well be less the case for standalone emulators, and doesn't really matter of you're only interested in popular consoles from the 32-bit and before, of course!

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One minor issue I see here is you're going to need some of that money for some sort of controller, as soon as things go analogue you can't muddle through on a keyboard anymore.

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That's a good point. For my exercise I won't be including a controller in the £35 cost. Mainly cos if I start going into associated costs, it could go on forever :)

 

Hopefully anyone following roughly in these footsteps would have a suitable controller, or source one easily/cheaply. 

 

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5 hours ago, Treble said:

That's a good point. For my exercise I won't be including a controller in the £35 cost. Mainly cos if I start going into associated costs, it could go on forever :)

 

Hopefully anyone following roughly in these footsteps would have a suitable controller, or source one easily/cheaply. 

 

 

Which actually means you're pretty much using the budget that would otherwise buy you a Rasp pi with a 16gb card.  So you've got a direct competitor.

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I reckon you'd be hard pressed to get a Pi 3, case, SD card, HDMI lead and appropriate PSU for under £35 second hand, let alone the £15 I'm getting a PC with all cables and monitor for. Still, feel free to have a dig around on ebay though. I bet there are some bargains 

 

Secondly, and far more importantly though, this:

 

Quote

cost, expandability and software variety (emulators, sure, plus being able to run Steam and other content platforms).

 

That's a key criteria why the PC is so good for this. You can play a far wider range of stuff that's retro from the PS2/XB and even PS3/360 era on Steam, provided it got a PC release, as you're not using an emulator overhead and therefore need fewer resources. 

 

I use the @strider-ometer for classing games as retro: anything over 10 years old. I'm going to give Portal a run-out amongst other stuff :)

 

Don't get me wrong, a Pi is great (I own one) but you're taking a huge swath of games off the table as you're not on x86/x64 architecture (Dolphin, for a start) so they can't legit compare. 

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2 hours ago, parrapatheslapper said:

We have a load of these at work - any good for retro? - might be getting rid of them soon :-

 

image.png.948fe0c7ad42ea37d7e683f0f66662bf.png

 

They come with keyboard and mouse and the same Dell monitor pictured up the page. 

 

Depends! Any idea of the spec?  Looks like an optiplex, but would need model number. 

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5 hours ago, Treble said:

I reckon you'd be hard pressed to get a Pi 3, case, SD card, HDMI lead and appropriate PSU for under £35 second hand, let alone the £15 I'm getting a PC with all cables and monitor for. Still, feel free to have a dig around on ebay though. I bet there are some bargains 

 

Secondly, and far more importantly though, this:

 

 

That's a key criteria why the PC is so good for this. You can play a far wider range of stuff that's retro from the PS2/XB and even PS3/360 era on Steam, provided it got a PC release, as you're not using an emulator overhead and therefore need fewer resources. 

 

I use the @strider-ometer for classing games as retro: anything over 10 years old. I'm going to give Portal a run-out amongst other stuff :)

 

Don't get me wrong, a Pi is great (I own one) but you're taking a huge swath of games off the table as you're not on x86/x64 architecture (Dolphin, for a start) so they can't legit compare. 

 

Does it have to be a Pi3?  The original Pi works just fine with 16Bit and even a bit beyond.

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Take your pick, none of them will deal with anything designed for x86, can't do Steam etc. It's fine if that's what you want, but you're probably best off checking the relevant Pi emulation thread in that case, Lorf. 

 

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Loving this topic.  

 

Although in fairness, you should include the cost of a controller (second hand is fine) in the calculations. If you were comparing, say a Wii to a Pi, the Wii would require you to pick up a Classic Controller, which would add about £8 onto the cost of your £10-15 console. 

 

Also whatever you end up with should be replicatable by anyone who reads the thread.  Its great that you got that whole PC for £15, but if that PC would typically cost you £50, then it should be considered in the calculations.  If you got really lucky on eBay and got a state of the art gaming laptop for a tenner, you wouldn't do a comparison thread like this, so it's  important that your end result PC and costings are typical of what anyone reading the thread will get if they try to replicate it.  Bit otherwise, I will follow this topic with great interest.

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That's an impossible task though, @dumpster. Yes i got a bargain, and you may or may not be able to do better or worse. But there are just so many variables! I would say that you wouldnt expect to pay more than 15 quid for that model of PC, usually without monitor though.

 

I'm more than happy to leave a breadcrumb trail of how to do this yourself, so that it isn't just esoteric, pointless bollocks from me :D

 

As for buying a pad, I'm not sure I agree. No-one who's desperate to convince us a Pi is the ultimate retro machine has gone anywhere near adding that cost in. 

I'm happy to add a 'ghost' pad in for a fiver, but we then add that to whatever other system we're comparing to. Also, doesn't every gamer have, like, a billion suitable pads?!

 

Still, whatever, fine ;)

 

Loads of updates to come tomorrow - I've basically spent the budget on some astonishingly cheap kit, already - but now to bed. 

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Loving this topic too.

 

Having been hovering on buying a Pi this thread inspired me to have a dig around in the loft and I found my wife's old laptop - a Compaq CQ61 running Windows 7 which should be well up to the job. 

Installed Retroarch, not used it before. It was easy enough to download and run but not the most user friendly interface...no problem getting a few console emulators up and running. MAME is turning into quite mess though - can't get anything NeoGeo running despite having the BiOS in the ROMs folder, some stuff works, some doesn't. I've linked the laptop to a separate 22" monitor but can't get the laptop to fill the screen despite some basic fiddling with the screen settings in Windows...and rotating games in MAME / Retroarch doesn't seem possible, I had to rotate the display in Windows 7. Impressed that I can plug in a PS4 controller which seems to work most of the time.

 

It's reminded me what a faff it all is - and then I had a lovely session on Dodonpachi, Parodius and Snow Bros and went to bed generally happy. I know this stuff shouldn't necessarily easy but you do come away feeling you've earned your gametime. I suspect I need to download a new version of MAME and compatible ROMset but I've got working versions on some other laptops so will have to spend some time seeing what I want to play and what's missing and do a bit of a ROM audit (ie play them and see if they work). Seems like a slog.

 

 

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I tend to use FBA for Neo Geo, which I find really simple to setup and go. YMMV, but it's worth a look.

 

Also worth looking at Lakka as suggested by @Ninja Doctor. I'll be putting that on and showing the results in due course!

 

Right, update time...

 

So I went and collected the PC last night. The bloke's house was in the poshest area of the city and absolutely massive. He looked and sounded like the guy Mark cuckolds in Peep Show. Weirdly, that guy plays the captain of the Hammerhead that rams the Star Destroyer in Rogue One.  I may have gotton off-track...

 

The transaction was only a few moments, but lugging the thing to the car felt a lot longer. Jesus, it's a beast! By far the heaviest desktop i've ever lifted, and that includes old, beige 486s back in the day. At a rough estimate, I'd say it was about 25 kilos... maybe more.

 

The cats surrounded it like it was the monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Or maybe it was just generating its own gravity well by this point, sucking them in.

 

DSC_0158_1548322621781.jpg.3286997a65eadd23c90a0ee48624e052.jpg

 

Due to the vast bulk, I have dubbed this beast... HULK!

 

Opening it up is achieved by pulling a slider at the back, whcih pops the side panel off - no screws. If it hadn't added to the weight so much, I'd have been impressed with the mechanism.

That wasn't as big a surprise as the state of things inside. This thing had not been cleaned in the 13 years or so it's been in service!

 

DSC_0159_1548322686596.jpg.9a79b1791d56aab60f5fc93849a9c9d0.jpg

 

Luckily I own a cleaner (basically a minturised leaf blower :D ) and got 95% of this out:

 

DSC_0161_1548322737179.jpg.d843d61e76fae8fbbd98554ff10d6cfc.jpg

 

Check out the size of that heat exchanger. The heatsink in this thing is vast!

 

Now the weight and the dirt may seem trivial issues, but it's worth thinking about this. Not just in terms of transportation but also if you are differently-abled in any way, and deadlifting the weight of an eight year old kid would be a struggle. If you decide to go down the collection route, it may be worth asking have heavy and large the case is.

 

Cleaning would have been a very, very long job if I didn't have a dedicated tool, as well. You could easily waste an hour making sure the filth was removed - tedious and difficult.

 

Back to my setup: I connected everything up to the machine up and there's a bonus in that it has a wifi card fitted, which will push 56Mbps max. Not amazing, but not to be sniffed at.

 

Using XP,  it was immediately obvious that wouldn't fly. Nothing works with it properly anymore, and Steam doesn't support it full stop. So I ordered an OEM key from a German reseller on eBay, which was delivered immediately, for £4.71. EDIT: oops, was less: £4.67

 

win7_key.jpg.cbe4a262c549d73b939ccccd508bdf58.jpg

 

I have more updates, but let's leave it there for now. Next up: running Windows 7 on this old crate :)

 

Spent:

£15

+

£4.67

=

£19.67

 

Remaining:

£15.33

 

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1 hour ago, Treble said:

Or maybe it was just generating its own gravity well by this point

 

 

 

Wait, wait...you might say it's generating its own...pfffttt....GRAVITY DELL!  

 

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAhhahhuuurrgrgrhrhrhhhh.

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It's worth pointing out using that OEM key that way is basically piracy. So if you're keen to have your emulation box full of dumps of copyrighted games stay 100% legal then... no hang on.

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It's actually not illegal to go OEM, just bending the intended rules so that you're your own tech support ;)

 

So yesterday I had a lot of faff. The Windows install was a doddle, though: the key I got had a link to a Dropbox with a Windows 7 ISO on there. That's basically an image of a disk that you can then stick onto the relevant media (either a disk, obvs, or a USB drive with the requisite free software) and hence install.

 

As the HULK has a DVD re-writer, and I hoard stuff, I had a disk spindle full of blank DVDs and used one to burn the image onto using Imgburn (free).

 

hulk_burn.thumb.jpg.6aaf95bb6de512cacf4458f02a686885.jpg

 

(The keen-eyed amongst you will spot that Win7 is already on in this image. I was messing about with a copy of Ultimate I had first, for test purposes).

 

You could source some decent discs OR a crappy USB drive for around £1.50, so I'll add that into the budget even though I didn't actually have to use that outlay.

 

So this is where the fun began. Running XP on this thing was absolutely fine; running Win7 is naaaaasssssty. As you might expect, that OS is not exactly happy with 1GB of RAM. And worse, I'm struggling to get any compatible Intel chipset drivers - in my experience, using the onboard VGA adapter really hurts performance, and you need the Intel graphics to share the load

 

XBej4.gif

 

...something you never have to even thing about with modern CPUs. 

 

At the moment, I'm trawling through old drivers to see if I can find a magical generic one that will solve all my problems!

 

In reality, both more RAM and a graphics card (with proper drivers) are a priority. I have these coming, but will save their spec and cost until after they arrive :)

 

Spent:

PC = £15

+

Windows 7 key = £4.67

+

Consumable storage media = £1.50

=

£21.17

 

Remaining:

£13.83

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