Jump to content
Treble

Treble's Retro Gaming PC challenge!

Recommended Posts

I just got an old CRT (don't ask... my house is starting to look like Steptoe & Son's) and the shipping weight was 19 kilos. THE HULK wasn't as heavy as that, no! So maybe 15? It's fuuuuuucking heavy :D

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So, some kit arrived and with it, my first hiccup. And yes, my own dumb ass is responsible. 

 

So I ordered a graphics card and some RAM. The card was less than three quid so, as you can imagine, its a powerhouse alright! Before that, though, the RAM... all is well, 512MB x 2 is gone, 1GB x 2 is in :)

 

DSC_0181_1548691612583.thumb.jpg.2c07cc11cd62949c70cbb90e1af08b4a.jpg

DSC_0187_1548698578192.thumb.jpg.be642772dc480bca40feea7cb2c6697e.jpg

 

But ah, I cocked up with the card. I'd hurriedly checked if the board supported PCIe and it does...! But not 16x just 1x. Yeesh. 

 

So, schoolboy error and it means I now need a converter. Which eats into the budget. Ah well, at least one exists, meaning the £2.89 I flashed on the card wasn't totally pissed up the wall ;)

 

This is the adapter, which costs almost twice the cost of the card, lol. 

 

Screenshot_20190128-180840_1548698952270.thumb.jpg.6d8ae0ea753e43f006a13987e63df420.jpg

 

So that's an object lesson - pay  attention when you are sourcing stuff for old computers. 

 

Oh, I also opened the gigantic heatsink to replace the thermal paste. Not essential and not going on the cost list, but worth mentioning how filthy the fan was, and I'm sooo glad now I saw it. Another blast of compressed air and its back to near perfection. But ugly is more interesting, so here it is! 

 

DSC_0185_1548691741787.jpg.e0bef6e087de32488692690d0efb7f7b.jpg

 

PC = £15

Win7 key = £4.71

NVS 300 Gfx = £2.89

2GB RAM = £2.99

Consumable storage = £1.50

PCIE adapter = £4.80

 

Remaining = £3.11

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like you were a little unlucky with the card there - IIRC the base NVS 300 was a PCIE 1x device in the first place; hopefully the variant you've got won't suffer for being hooked up through a lower bandwidth connection than it's expecting.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have no-one to blame but myself! The biggest pain is having to wait for delivery. Shipping from China is understandably slow at regular times, but Chinese New Year could set it back weeks... 

 

I'm still carrying on with the project though. Next up will be some MAME tests and installing Lakka :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Treble said:

.

 

Oh, I also opened the gigantic heatsink to replace the thermal paste. Not essential and not going on the cost list, but worth mentioning how filthy the fan was, and I'm sooo glad now I saw it. Another blast of compressed air and its back to near perfection. But ugly is more interesting, so here it is! 

 

DSC_0185_1548691741787.jpg.e0bef6e087de32488692690d0efb7f7b.jpg

 

 

Phwoar! Filth! Got an after pic?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not much to report, other than the bloody thing is pissing me off. It tells me DX11 is installed, amazingly, but as I don't trust the drivers are correct for Win7 it's a little moot. 

 

I can't get anything to run, so really need to get this PCIe adapter and use a proper graphics card. I stuck Lakka on a USB stick and it gets caught in a boot loop. Fuck my (computer) life! 

 

On the positive side, here's a picture of my latest setup. It has my cheapo upstairs gaming PC on the panel, and cheapo-i-er-even-than-that THE HULK connected to the CRT. Sadly getting caught in an infinite loop, but luckily Ikaruga wasn't :)

 

DSC_0191_1548859430553_1548871249585.jpg.dd2d9559d95c7ba9073ed2f951a7fd67.jpg

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really enjoying this thread. You've given yourself a tight budget to work with but even so you've already done a lot! Can't wait to see what is finally achievable.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ahh, three classic games! And Aliens. Glad to see the machine is gradually coming together!

 

Somewhat related: when I was at home for Christmas, prior to the forum Secret Santa getting me two new and exciting games that happened to run on it, my main source of entertainment was playing the original Doom on my laptop. I was pleased to discover I have just as much fun with it now as I did as a teenager, testament to the fact that, technologically astounding though it was, that was only ever half of the story of its success; it still holds up as a masterclass of game and level design, in a way that so many games from that era - never mind ones from so nascent a genre - absolutely don't.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreed! 

 

Konami's Aliens is total gack, aye. It was just a game beginning with 'A' with a small file size I threw on first for test purposes :)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Konami’s Aliens is a fantastic run ‘n’ gunner, you mad bastards! You wash your whore memories out! Blah blah blah liberties with the license - we’ll if they hadn’t it’d be boring as fuck, wouldn’t it? How can you not love the final battle where you’re fighting the alien queen with the loader? Cretins.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Running into quite a few problems at the moment, and I think they are all being caused by the BIOS. More accurately, that Dell made an OEM machine that pretty much just worked with that one spec (Windows XP) and 'strongly dislikes' Windows 7.

 

It's throwing a strop and crashing with APPCRASH errors with loads of none-standard apps like emulators.

 

Here's the full details, spoilered for boring:
 

Spoiler

 

Looking into it, APPCRASH seems to be caused by DEP.  You should be able to switch this off but when I try to add exes to a whitelist I'm told 'this program requires DEP to run'. When I try and run the bcdedit with the right switches, it says 'Access Denied' even with elevated privileges.

 

Right away, I ran a copy of Easy Recovery Pro, which I know as Easeus from ancient days gone by. It actually helped with a lot of the drivers and speeding up the system, so that's good.

 

Following that, more research suggested that with UEFI systems, going into the BIOS and switching off Secure Boot would allow the DEP tweaks. But no, there's no admin options in my BIOS, no doubt because it's a locked-down Dell OEM machine. So that's where we are. There are only three possibilities I can see:

 

1) Code execution for some intensive programs is overloading the CPU, because (theoretically) the PSU is too low-wattage and has damaged/is damaging the CPU's operation. I think this is pretty bloomin unlikely, even though the PSU is a 230w POS. To rule it out, i've started a Prime95 test and will leave it for 24 hours. After 8 hours or so, though, no failed tests at all. If it turned out to be this, it'd definitely need a new PSU, probably also a new CPU. That'd be about £30 or so, all told.

 

2) If not #1, I could replace the motherboard and that would cut this particular Gordian knot, no doubt. A more modern, non-OEM board like an ASUS would be about £15.

 

3) Keep it as-is and just run what will run, and ignore anything else. That's pretty limiting, but as the machine's so old, cheap and ready for retirement it's not a massive deal and I'd just donate it to charity.

 

 

It's annoying, and it looks as though artificial restrictions set by the stupid Dell lockdowns are stopping me getting the most out of what's already a great-grandad of a machine.

 

The greatest likelihood is that nothing else I can throw at it will work but, if it passes the Prime95 tests, then next is testing it with the graphics card and a properly-updated set of display drivers.

 

So yeah, there may be a hiatus for a bit but fear not, this is not a @RickyDVT situation ( :) ) and I will keep things updated. For sure i'll be weighing the beast and sharing the pictures soon, at the very least, and also try and get some other stuff running whilst waiting for the gfx card converter to arrive!

 

 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So I ordered a set of scales, ostensibly for the house but yeah, basically just for this. 

 

So monitor first! And a lot of the weight is in the base but, still, it's a hefty bastard at 5.1kg

 

DSC_0194_1549124864157.jpg.49ccf6f2b006aacc13207cd0a33eb443.jpg

 

And The Hulk itself? Well my last guess was 15kg which was a bit over the actual weight of... 12kg exactly. 

 

DSC_0196_1549124913641.jpg.63068496a6f061447181de5cb5c7ed54.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I also have that Dell chassis on an old PC at home - what's the model number on yours? I can also confirm it's an absolute beast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 02/02/2019 at 17:56, Benny said:

I also have that Dell chassis on an old PC at home - what's the model number on yours? I can also confirm it's an absolute beast.

 

 

C70Y02J

 

 

 

5 hours ago, Lorfarius said:

 

 

 

This is the same process as Lakka which (at the moment at least) The Hulk is choosing to SMASH :(

 

Something to do with code execution again, no doubt. You do the install onto USB, it attempts to boot, gets into a boot loop with no error messaging, then when you check the USB in windows it's been wiped!

 

Will be doing more checking, bu it may be an unresolvable mobo/BIOS control situation...

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I quickly checked Batocera out and... It's alive! 

 

267917206_giphy(3).gif.065b242c9f76e2861179e6fb54cb9f3f.gif

 

DSC_0201_1549385948371.thumb.jpg.3cf942b63147a40af1f972db67da20a4.jpg

 

This is as far as I've got for now, as I had a very important appointment* but will have a proper go later, and report back :)

 

* I went to the chippy

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fucks sake, don't leave us in suspense, what did you get? 

 

I'm going with the classic fish, chips and mushy peas.  Peas in a separate pot.  Salt and vinegar put on in the shop.

 

Edit - no scratch that, you seem like a battered sausage kinda guy.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, ScouserInExile said:

How did this affect your budget?

 

Well, I guess it has to count against the budget... I did have a HARD DRIVE making me want to eat it, and I RAMmed it down my throat...

 

...I'm not thinking of any more, it's too painful even for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Fair play! As a quick update, I'm having a devil of a time getting the BIOS sorted out for Batocera.

 

I've plonked down all the golden oldies, been serving me well since each one became available on t'int'webs, and a goodly lot don't work. 

 

I've downloaded two lots of Retrocade/Batocera recommended sets... not as definitive as you'd hope! DC and PS2 still struggling - they either say 'missing' or 'invalid' or both. Such a pain in the arse. If anyone's cracked this, let me know. 

 

On the positive side, I've played some non-BIOS-ey games. I loaded up Super Mario World and Castlevania IV, and they're OK. I don't say 'great' as A) there don't seem to be any obvious options for internal upscaling so they are a bit blurry and B) the PC is so crud without the gfx card that even turning on scanlines sends the frame rate plummeting to about 5fps :D

 

Still, we're making incremental progress! 

 

DSC_0206_1549482035857.thumb.jpg.80dad869718b6291e8d709c7b2b79cbe.jpg

 

DSC_0205_1549481995233.thumb.jpg.a9eb49a6718b444b1cc33c52691c6471.jpg

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Treble said:

 

On the positive side, I've played some non-BIOS-ey games. I loaded up Super Mario World and Castlevania IV, and they're OK. I don't say 'great' as A) there don't seem to be any obvious options for internal upscaling so they are a bit blurry and B) the PC is so crud without the gfx card that even turning on scanlines sends the frame rate plummeting to about 5fps :D

 

 

I may* be missing something here but why would you want to add artificial scanlines if you're outputting to a CRT anyway?

 

 

 

* I mean I almost certainly am. I've never been a fan of scanline filters at the best of times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A very good question! As I understand it, It's because the CRT is displaying a progressive scan image, and the thick scanlines we associate with retro games are produced by interlaced displays. 

 

So yeah, there will be a lower pixel density on SVGA monitors and you'll see some lines, but nothing like what we saw back in the day. I'll take a couple of comparison pix to show you my results :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not easy trying to sync the DSLR with the CRT, but I did my best.

 

Ignore the thick line through Mario's eyes (that's a wire holding the screen in place...it's a Trinitron thing), and check out the lines... particularly the check pattern on the right. Worth mentioning, a CRT is a far better option for emulators if you aren't able to upscale the image. That's because 640 x 480 still looks brilliant on the old cathode ray.

 

No scanlines:

Mario_NoScan_med.jpg.40040c6fbb70b8fa448a2f2588294336.jpg

 

Scanlines:

Mario_Scan_med.jpg.77ff61d1f71bfcb8eb4d46eb7c954a89.jpg

  • Upvote 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. Use of this website is subject to our Privacy Policy, Terms of Use, and Guidelines.