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Balancing the New and the Old


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#1 CerebralStasis

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 01:07 AM

Hello! This one has been puzzling me for some time...

I like to record video footage for Let's Plays and recently, I have wanted to do recordings of some games I grew up with, such as Star Wars Droidworks, Star Wars Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight, Star Wars Racer, etc.

Problem is that these old games just don't work right on new computers, even new computers with XP installed (I know, I have tried). They just don't recognize the hardware like they should.

Luckily, I happen to have an old Gateway 300SE desktop which I grabbed and tried Droidworks on. Works. Perfectly. I could not be happier!

Now, how to record? Since it's an old Celeron processor at 1.2Ghz and with 128Mb of 133Mhz SDRAM, it would be tough to record with FRAPs or Camtasia, even if it is running pretty well with XP. I decided that I would purchase a Dazzle capture card (typically used for recording Xbox/Playstation/other footage/audio). Dazzles require RCA input.

Now, I happen to have a 4-port DVI switch from IOGEAR (love it) and I would really like to be able to switch quickly to the Gateway to play a game, then switch quickly back to my main computer to check on the recording and begin the encoding. Problem is that my old Gateway 300SE only has onboard VGA video, and converting from VGA to DVI is no easy matter. Plus, I need it to output RCA as well.

I was hoping that I could purchase a video card for the Gateway 300SE that would output DVI and VGA or S-Video (to be converted to RCA for the Dazzle). Here's the problem:

The Gateway only has 3 PCI ports and 1 PCI Express x4 port (see picture).

Posted Image

Now, I need a video card that's new enough to support DVI output, but old enough that it will be compatible with games like Star Wars Racer, Star Wars Jedi Knight, and Star Wars Droidworks. There is the complication/balancing act.

For reference, these are 32-bit PCI ports, which is a shame. If they were 64-bit, it would be no problem because there are plenty of fantastic 64-bit PCI cards (like the Radeon 7000) which would do everything I need, but alas.

From what I understand, PCI Express x1 cards WILL work in a PCI Express x4 slot. Problem is that almost all PCI Express x1 cards seem like they may be too new for what I want. There's a gap between the PCI 64-bit and the PCI Express cards where AGP ruled, and I don't have any ports for AGP.

Please someone offer me a card that will magically do everything I need! I need it to be old enough for older games to support it without complications, but new enough to have DVI output. A single DVI output is fine, since I can split it and convert with adapters, but an output of DVI and something else like S-Video or VGA would be ideal.

I would prefer to get the card from NewEgg or Amazon, but if I must, elsewhere is fine.

P.S. Can anyone identify what socket the Celeron processor is? I'm thinking in some ways it may be easier to just replace the motherboard with one that supports the same memory, processor, but has the PCI 64-bit architecture that I want. This does not nullify the questions above, but it's a second potential route.

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Edited by CerebralStasis, 22 April 2012 - 01:22 AM.


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#2 CerebralStasis

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 10:42 AM

I'm still curious to hear anyone's suggestions, but I have decided to just spent 200 dollars to build a new old computer.

It may be a bit past the era, but should be good enough:

Intel BOXD850MD 478 Intel 850 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

Rosewill RV350 350W ATX 1.3 Power Supply

Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case

JATON 3DFORCE6200Xe GeForce 6200 512MB 64-bit DDR2 AGP 4X/8X Low Profile Ready Video Card

Intel Pentium 4 2.8 2.8GHz Socket 478 Single-Core Desktop Processor P42800B478

ENCORE ENM232-8VIA 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Surround Sound Card

SAMSUNG 128MB 184-Pin RDRAM (16bit) PC 800 System Memory Model MR16R1624EGO-CM8

I'll get a hard drive and CD drive from an existing old computer.

I went for the oldest stuff I could find on Newegg, and it still puts me around a mid-end 2004-2005 system, but it will have to do.

Edited by CerebralStasis, 22 April 2012 - 10:43 AM.


#3 DavisMcCarn

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 12:51 PM

Wow! You found another problem with new versus old!
I was hoping to give you the environment variables so that an HD Audio would work.
I just searched and the HD Audio spec does not include AC-97 compatability. It; infact, specifically disclaims against it.
But, the AC-97 spec includes SoundBlaster Compatability and almost any motherboard up to an 865 chipset is going to include that as standard.

It's a shame that Gateway didn't have the AGP slot soldered on, too.

FYI, PCI slots come in versions 1, 2, and 2.1 with the 2.1 standard being from so long ago that it is moot. Almost any PCI card will work in that old Gateway. Here's an FX5200 card for $20.00 http://www.ebay.com/itm/GF-FX5200-128MB-PCI-DDR-TV-Out-DVI-64-Bit-/221004929510?pt=PCC_Video_TV_Cards&hash=item3374eb99e6

But; if you want to get away from that horribly expensive RD-Ram, here is an Intel 865 systemboard for $23: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Intel-Desktop-Board-D865GLC-With-AGP-Motherboard-P4-478-VGA-ATX-Tested-/310395035958?pt=Motherboards&hash=item4844fc6136
It can use almost any ddr2 (PC2700 or PC3200) memory,has two SATA ports, and has an AGP slot which opens the door for almost any graphics card.

Also, FYI, the main issue with the Windows 7 is that everybody is buying x64 which won't run any 16bit apps. A brand new system would work; but, you'd have to buy an OEM copy of Windows 7 32 bit (the key on the system will work), disable the onboard audio, and add a Soundblaster card (either PCI or USB) As long as the system had 3GB of ram or less, it would work.
Computer dinosaur, servicing PC's since 1976

#4 CerebralStasis

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 01:37 PM

Ahh, so that sound card I got won't work? Oh, well. it has '97 onboard audio on that board, I believe.

There's a greater problem than just the 64-bit, though. I tend to build a new computer every 2 years or so. The computer I used 4 years ago has a Radeon HD 4800 card, a Core Duo, I think, etc. I knocked it down to 2Gb of RAM so that it wouldn't cause Windows XP to throw a fit, and many older games still do not work or at least do not work well.

For instance, Droidworks is buggy and everything works at 2x speed. There is a clock in the upper right that counts how long you've been playing and it literally counts two seconds for every real second because the computer is too fast for it. Force Commander can't recognize the Radeon HD as a supported card and as a result does not give proper options. Gungan Frontier didn't seem to work at all and Bill Nye: Stop the Rock is severely letterboxed. SimCopter and Streets of Sim City are a buggy, crashing mess to play as well.

I'm thinking that a lot of it has to do with using a video card that's new enough that support for older DirectX is limited. With the PC I just designed, I'll be using a DX 9c card, which should have more support for those older DirectX 5 and 7 games, or so I hope.




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