Tradeoffs…

Man, it has been quite a while since my last blog post – almost two weeks now. Two busy weeks apparently. Unfortunately my real life does not care a lot about my new-found hobby, nor do my customers do but I will not complain since I had some very succesful two weeks. Working as a Business Development Manager, you are always on the edge of failure, it keeps the pressure high and pressure keeps me running. In some ways I seem to be an old steam machine…

Back to topic, my rather unhappy experience from the last time didn’t get better actually. I was quite disappointed in the first place, since my dream machine had almost been ready. In addition to that, I was really lacking the time of diving into the problem deeper than I did. I switched most of the components to other ones and nothing seemed to be working properly.

On one point I decided to grab my old (almost 10 years old now) private gaming PC with a somewhat newer i5-750 and some Radeon from the late 2000s from the basement and hopefully it would be working but I discovered that it is not the best idea to storage computer hardware in a basement which is only somewhat dry, not entirely. To be honest…i was really happy to not find a dead mouse in it, it was quite disgusting…

It was time for a tradeoff and that is how it looks like now…don’t blame me for finding a convenient solution! 🙂

 

So what did I do? I simply grabbed my old, reliable, Lenovo T500 Notebook with a Core 2 Duo P8400 and a dedicated Radeon HD3650, which is, to be honest, way more actual than I thought i would seek but i have to admit, it works flawlessly and the Lenovo driver support for those old notebooks and Windows XP is also very nice. And it’s fast, it’s really fast…not to mention the 120GB SSD in it.

I know, that’s not retro, that’s not even close to retro but it works flawlessly and it is a treat to play with. So for this, the convenient solution will serve my early 2000s gaming needs.

However…is discovered my next need on my „studies“ of retro gaming channels on YouTube. (#LGR) That would be a late 90s, native DOS based Pentium 1 or 2 Gaming PC with some kind of a Voodoo or Riva TNT Graphics card…

No signal = no fun!

Busy days have gone by the last week. I was on a trade show for my company to promote our business entrance in Germany. So unfortunately i had zero time to visit the two Boxes from Ebay waiting for me in my new room, dedicated to my new hobby.

Yesterday evening I took myself some time to, at least, unbox the goodies I’ve ordered and I have to admit, that I am quite happy about what i got.

The PC:

I have to admit – it’s certainly not the best looking PC I’ve ever seen but it seems to be constructed quite well, if I ignore the slightly hanging Power Supply for a moment. It’s clean, it seems to be working, so I am fine with that. I will certainly change some of the parts in the next weeks, starting with the oddly hanging power supply but for the moment I am happy.

The Graphics Card:

 

Way more beautiful, at least from a weird, nerdy perspective is the graphics card. My own graphics card from that time was a rather old Radeon 9000 Pro and it was not fast at all. I remember myself dreaming of owning one the X800 cards but never had enough money to buy one. Unfortunately I didn’t get the fastest X800 XT but the Pro will suit my needs perfectly. And it looks beautiful…really!

 

The peripherals:

In order to match the retro appearance and the look and feel of my 2003 gaming PC I took the oldest Keyboard (Logitech G105, built in 2012) and the oldest Mouse (Logitech G400 from 2011). Both have seen better days, for sure. The final piece of the puzzle was a display, so i looked around in my area and find somebody who wanted to give away his 17″ CRT for free and i took it. It’s a rather generic 17″ CRT without any branding and, unfortunately, without function…

20180913_012301

Let’s hope it’s not the graphics card…but I don’t think so, i don’t want to think so… The journey goes on!

Hooray! My PC arrived.

Time to celebrate, at least a little bit. My beautiful wife informed me yesterday, that my PC and my Graphics Card have arrived. Unfortunately I am not able to check it because i am on a business trip the whole week and will arrive late tonight at home. Lucky me, I’ve got two free days upcoming, that i can spend with unboxing and setting up the new old PC.

I am excited! And I will post some pictures here once i am on it – at least to have them for myself.

 

Time for some shoutouts

As long as I am still waiting to get my new toys send to me, I will use this moment to write something about how i got the idea of doing what i do right now…

Since quite a good time I am a regular consumer of different Youtubers that dedicated their channel to vintage computer stuff. One of them actually inspired me the most to follow this hobby and build something myself. It’s LGR, Lazy Game Reviews. I encourage you to check out his channel if you have not done it already.  >>>>>  LGR

So my shout out goes out to Clint from LGR for being a million times more obsessed from old PCs and his curious attitude for every ugly beige box (or woodgrain) with buttons on it. Thank’s a lot for your content Clint. I really appreciate it.

Getting close to perfection

Almost done… since it is not yet at my home, i am able to look for one of the major puzzle pieces missing in my 2003/2004 gaming rig – The Graphics Card.

Again I will be guiding myself based on my memories and I am not sure why, but I always didn’t like Nvidia the same way I didn’t like Intel. Maybe they have been too much mainstream for me. I don’t like my company car either, i would have driven something more unique if that would have been an option…

Anyways…no Nvidia, that’s for sure. So I will need an ATI (meanwhile bought by AMD) but this one should be a real ATI. I tried to look up on lists and benchmarks from 2003 and 2004 and almost everybody recommended an ATI X800 + random suffix. The best possible card would have been an ATI Radeon X800 XT but they are pretty hard to find and if you are lucky enough to find them, they are quite expensive. So i decided to go with something a bit smaller:

Retro Grafikkarte

So, released in 2004, the ATI Radeon X800 Pro was the second best graphics card in ATIs portfolio and i was lucky enough to find a cheap one on Ebay again. I am absolutely pumped on to see how it performs with 2003 and 2004 games. Can’t wait to get it working.

Next stop will be peripherals…and i expect nothing more than a pretty rough situation there…

Chasing for a steal

Did I say, that I have enough money to spend for my hobby now? Well, why not chasing for a steal anyway…
So at first, as per my own definition of retro, i need to make sure what i want and I’ve came up with the idea of getting a gaming rig from the era pre-multicores. My first choice would have been something like a Pentium 4 2,8 GHz but i remembered that i always preferred AMD before Intel, maybe because they were cheaper, less power hungry…i don’t even know why.
So, no Intel, but AMD instead and what should i go for? I was a big fan of the AMD performance rating of the Athlon XP models and i also had one of those. (A 2100+, way to slow for almost everything)
Normally i would have loved to go to a flea market anywhere around – or something like thrift shop but i had nothing like that available. Unfortunately we don’t even have something like thrift shops in Germany, as far as i know. Therefore, my choice was Ebay and I don’t know if it’s similar in other countries but in Germany you will get overwhelmed with ugly-looking, all the same IBM Thinkcenters, Dell Precisions and even more ugly Fujitsu PCs. But i was looking for something with a little more character and spirit… so i‘ve chosen this baby – and made a bargain for sure!

Retro PC

Okay, I admit, it‘s not the best looking but it‘s internal components are quite neat. AMD 3000+, 2GB Ram, DVD Burner and a 120GB HDD with Windows XP on it. I am really excited on how it looks like but something very important is missing… Where is the Graphics Card…?

Let‘s get the next steal than!

First steps: Defining „retro“ to me

If you try to look up what retro means you will be confronted with tons of pages describing what retro means, where retro ends and nostalgia begins, about retrofuturism, retrotronics and everything related to retro. I was not able to find one single definition of what retro means – so i decided to find my very own retro definition.

For me, retro means something that touches me in a way that i smile when i think back about it. This could be my very first e-cigarette (Ego-T for those who are interested) which is only six years old apparently, or my very first car (Mercedes W124 200D) which is a bit older but not old enough to be considered an official old-timer.

It’s the same for PC Games, and especially for them because gaming was always something i loved. When i think back to my teenager days i think about spending hours in Black & White, throwing people around, playing Splinter Cell and Thief: The Dark Project for the first time and it brings a smile to my face even if those games are not really considered to be retro as maybe The Oregon Trail from 1971 or Doom from 1993.

So I had to decide what does bring a smile to my face – and i came up with the late 90s and the early 2000s games. Unfortunately i was not able to really enjoy all those games the way you could have enjoyed them due to a severe lack of competent hardware and money to buy it. Now, around 20 years later, i would be able to afford them but almost everything from that time period has become so cheap lately (Because it’s not officially retro i guess), so that this hobby seems to be a rather cheap one.

As stated – Old Hardware from the late 90s and early 2000s is cheap now, so that’s where I started…