I work with RE-PC to build a new (old) Dell Dimension XPS R400
Pentium II 400mhz, Voodoo3 3000 video card, Soundblaster 16 soundcard, 384MB ram, IBM P96 monitor and more!
– Hey guys, Metal Jesus here. Now you guys know that I love my big box PC games, but you may be surprised to learn that up until recently, I did not own a 90’s MS-DOS gaming PC. Until now. I’ve actually recently worked with a local Seattle company to help me build the ultimate 90’s gaming PC. And in this video we’re gonna talk about the hardware that we chose, we’re gonna talk about some of the software that we put on it, and of course we’ve gotta play some games. Let’s take a look. Now I know some of you are thinking wait a second. I mean, how could you not have a 90’s gaming PC? Didn’t you work at Sierra? Yes, in the 90’s I had several gaming PCs. I had a 286, a 386, actually I had an 8088 at one point. At Sierra I bought my first Pentium 100. And so on. But I didn’t keep them for some reason. And so for the longest time, this was actually my oldest Windows gaming PC. Obviously I have Commodores and Ataris and things like that. But for the longest time, this was my oldest Windows PC. This is an Athlon 2100. It runs at, I think, 1.7 gigahertz. It has an ATI Radeon 8500. And it runs Windows XP, which is great if you want to play games from the 2000s to maybe 2005, 2006. But I was looking for something even older. My adventure started when I went down and visited a store called RE-PC. They’re local to Seattle here. And, basically, it’s this massive warehouse of used PC components from pretty much the dawn of the PC era, all the way up to stuff that’s current. And it’s amazing to go through this if you are on old school gamer like me. By the way, full disclosure, this may feel like a sponsored video, but it’s not actually. At the end of this video I’m going to tell you exactly how much I paid to have this computer built. But when you walk in here you are faced with just bins full of old video cards, sound cards, drives, mice, keyboards, everything you could possibly want to build your own computer. And so it was after strolling around in here for a while, I was like, wait, why don’t I work with these guys to help me build the ultimate gaming gaming PC from 1998 or 1999? So we ultimately landed on this. We started with a Dell Dimension XPS R400. And that’s because it has a case the size that I need so I can put everything in there, including two optical drives, as well as a 3 1/2 inch floppy drive, and I didn’t know if I wanted a 3 1/2 inch or a 5 1/4, so I ended up actually getting both. And I can swap them out if I need to. This Dell also comes with a Pentium II, running at 400 megahertz, which is a good speed for that era. This was actually a fairly high-end Dell at the time, and so it has the good base that I wanted. The RAM in this machine is capped out at 384 megabytes of RAM, which, again, is plenty for the time. As you guys know, when it comes to gaming, the video card is very important, and so for this machine I went with the Voodoo 3 3000. That’s a really nice, powerful card for the time. It has S-video out as well as VGA. It supports MS-DOS and Windows really well. However, it is known to run a little on the hot side, so for this computer an extra fan was put in, which does add to the overall sound of the computer. It’s a little bit more noisy than, say, I would like. But it’s very important to make sure that these things don’t fail. And then when it comes to audio, well, there is nothing better than the Soundblaster 16 by Creative Labs. This was important for me because, again, I wanted 100% compatibility both in Windows and also in DOS, and this card does that. For my monitor, I’m using the one I’ve had for years and years, and that is a great one here. This is the IBM P96. It’s a 19-inch monitor, and has worked flawlessly for years. As for my keyboard and mouse, these are taken from spare parts I just had lying around. Nothing really special here. I do really like the Microsoft natural keyboard. It’s very comfortable and I’m used to it. And then the mouse is a bit of a newer one. It’s an optical mouse that I’ve just had lying around, but I like it. And then one of the benefits of buying a computer from a store like this, is that they give you all the software. So in this Ziploc bag, there are copies of MS-DOS, which is pretty cool to have, as well as your official Windows 98 CD. They even gave me a copy of, I guess the manual. I mean, look at this, it’s talking about Internet Explorer 5, but better than that, yes, they gave me a copy of Windows 98 for Dummies. That is brilliant. Of course I need a joystick. But it’s important to know that these old joysticks are not USB. They actually plug into the game port built into your sound card. We’re all set up. Let’s play some games. Let’s start with Quake Two, running on Windows 98. Now the first thing I notice is that this doesn’t look quite right. That’s because initially it boots up in software rendering mode, so that’s what you’re seeing here. Although I have to admit I actually don’t mind the software rendering look of Quake 2. It looks pretty cool. But you go into Options, Video, and you change it over to the 3Dfx OpenGL, crank it up to 800 by 600 resolution, and this is how it’s supposed to look. This is much better. You can immediately tell that the polygons look smoothed out, there’s no rough edges, as well as the realtime lighting is way better than the software version. Now I did play around with running the game in higher resolutions, but the results were kind of less than optimal. It kept crashing back to Windows if I went higher than 800 by 600. Now, I have a theory, I don’t know if it’s true, but my copy of this game is the retail release version of it, so I just opened up my box and put the disk in and installed that, so it’s very possible that there’s a patch out there both for the Voodoo 3 as well as the game itself. But you can see here, I’m playing the game just fine. The next game I wanted to check out is one of my favorite Need for Speed games, and that is Porsche Unleashed. The PC version is so much better than all the console versions. And it’s cool to go back and play this game. I loved the history of Porsche that you can play through in this game. It’s kind of funny though, when you play this game for the first time, it’s actually really difficult in the beginning, because the original models of Porsche were so hard to drive. They’re so squirrely, you spin out all the time, but again, an absolute joy to be back playing this game. I absolutely love it. All right, let’s check out some Sierra classics. This is the King’s Quest collection, so this is the first six King’s Quest games, but they’ve been modified to run in Windows 95/98, and this is the sixth game here. This was definitely a transitional time for gaming, because it seems like almost every game that came out at the time would support both running in DOS and also running in Windows, but a game like this, yes it would run in Windows, but if you had any problems with it whatsoever, basically the manual would say, hey, play it in DOS, because usually it ran better there. Although as you can see here, this game works fine in Windows 98, so that’s where I played it. Here’s another one of my all time favorites, that is System Shock Two. This is a great first-person shooter, but it’s so much more than that. It’s also a horror game. It’s also a full-blown RPG. Just absolutely fantastic. And as you can see, it runs great with the Voodoo 3. It’s funny, because this is one of those games where you remember it looking better than it actually does. So going back and playing this, I haven’t played this in probably 20 years, and so going back and playing it now, I’m like huh, a little rough around the edges. Although to be fair, actually the gameplay still holds up. This is still a really cool game, despite its kind of dated graphics. But yeah, just an absolute joy to play this game. The next game is a bit of a challenge to get working. And that is because it was a challenge to get Ultima Seven working back in the day. This game… First of all, this is a MS-DOS game only. You might be able to play it in Windows, but I’ve never tried. The other thing is that it is very strict on how much RAM that you have. Specifically conventional memory. And so this is one of those games where you absolutely had to use a boot disk, so I had to create one for this to even run on my computer. The other challenge is, you’ll notice it right here. It’s running really, really, really fast. And that’s because on a Pentium Two, it doesn’t know what that is. And so, in order to work this properly, you have to use a program called SlowMo. Since we’re already in DOS, let’s try another classic. This is Duke Nukem 3D. And as you can see here, it runs perfectly. This is such a great game. An absolute classic. I don’t need to tell you guys this. But it’s cool to be playing this game on the original hardware. We’ve all played this game a million times, and it’s cool to go back and sit on a proper Windows machine with an old school CRT, and just play Duke Nukem 3D. It was really cool to do, so I’m very happy this runs flawlessly.
– Damn, I’m looking good.
– All right, let’s hop back into Windows and try Star Wars Episode One Racer. This is the pod racing game that was converted over from the arcade. And I am happy to report that the PC version works absolutely great. Now one thing I’m going to notice here, some of you may notice that you might see some screen tearing on some of the video capture. That is not noticeable in the games themselves. It’s probably because of the way that I’m having to capture this footage. I might actually do a dedicated video, showing you guys just how to capture old school MS-DOS and Windows games, because it is quite challenging. You have to use very specific hardware to do it. Thankfully, as you can see, it works really well, but occasionally you do get those screen tears. Now let’s go back a bit. I used to absolutely love the game Stunts. This is a stunt racing game for MS-DOS that’s pretty old. You’re going to see here that the graphics are pretty ancient, but this was a really cool game at the time. I believe it was made by the same people who also made the original Test Drive games. And I know I just have very fond memories of this. Actually it’s not that difficult to get running, although this game has copy protection, and the way it handles it is that it makes you look up to a certain page, certain line, certain word in the manual, and you have to type it in in order to launch the game. And so I had completely forgotten about that. But that’s a really important thing to know when you’re playing these old school DOS games, is that a lot of them, the copy protection is not something on the disk, it is actually a word that you’ll have to look up in the printed manual. Thankfully, of course, I have the game. It’s the full version of it, so it wasn’t a big deal. But this game is fun to play. I mean, despite having very rudimentary graphics, it actually has a pretty decent physics engine. It’s actually tougher than it looks, and yeah, if you’re looking for something kind of fun to play on your MS-DOS machine, give Stunts a try. It’s pretty cool. Another thing I was looking forward to checking out is my collection of PC Gamer demo discs. This are demo discs that game with PC gamer magazine, of course, but they were legendary at the time, because you got to play some of the best games every single month, and it also had a really cool bonus feature. If you had a subscription like me and you played these every month, well, you of course remember Coconut Monkey. That was basically the mascot for the magazine. He would provide commentary on the demo discs as well as there were mods to put him into different games. He was just kind of like this unofficial, official mascot that fans of this magazine know and love, and so it’s cool to have him back on my computer. So how much did the whole computer cost? Well, 200 dollars, plus tax. That seems like a good deal to me. Needless to say, it is long overdue that I finally added a proper 90’s gaming PC to my game room. I couldn’t be happier. I do want to give a huge shout-out to RE-PC. They’re a great company here in the Seattle area, and specifically Gene. He’s the guy, he’s the employee, who helped me come up with the list of requirements that we wanted. Also he did all of the durability testing for this machine, because originally, when it got assembled, many of the parts failed. They wouldn’t last throughout a weekend running continuously. So it’s something to keep in mind if you are looking to build your own, especially if you are going to be buying components on eBay, sometimes on eBay you’ll see like sound cards and video cards listed, and they’ll be like, “Oh, well, it worked “last time we turned it on.” Well keep in mind that might have been 20 years ago, and these things may have been sitting in a moldy basement, or they may just fail over time. So something to keep in mind. It’s nice to have a company like RE-PC here that can do all that testing and swap out parts as needed, so it was a total pleasure to work with those guys. I’d love to know what you guys think about my new old gaming PC. As you can see I’m very excited about it. All right, guys. Thanks for watching. A side benefit of me doing this video, as I mentioned earlier, is that I now have the ability to capture gameplay footage, both in MS-DOS as well as Windows, and that’s huge because I want to be able to cover more of that stuff on my channel, and up until now it’s been pretty tough to do. But I have a solution that works really well. So hopefully in the future I’ll be able to do more Let’s Plays and maybe hidden gems of PC games back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I think that’d be pretty cool. Love to know what you guys think. If you guys like this video, please subscribe to my channel, because I release two videos every single week. All right, guys. Thanks for watching.