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.
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!
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…
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!
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.
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.
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:
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…
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!
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…?
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…
Some days ago I was sitting in my office, as usual for a working man in his 30s. On my desk i see two 24″ high definition displays, a smartphone capable of doing better graphics than my beloved Playstation 2 and a Macbook, so tiny and neat but also so powerful… and I used all this technology to google for games like Deus Ex, Age of Empires II and Half Life 2.
From time to time i feel a bit nostalgic when thinking about my time as a teenager, always looking for the next best PC game to play with my friends or alone. Certainly, not a single one of the real top notch games would have been working on my PC then, but i was kind of addicted to the idea of playing all those fancy games when reading the latest PC Gaming Magazine. (As I am German i didn’t have something like GamePro or PC Gamer, but Gamestar and PC Games instead)
So what did i do with all my nostalgic feelings? I went to the basement, rifled through IKEA Cartons, old christmas decorations and a massive amount of moving boxes to find some of my old games. I’ve never been a collector or anything like that, but i kept a few of my games or at least the discs. I decided to go for Deus Ex which was not in a good shape at all and didn’t seem to be running on my Windows 10 PC. After googling something about how to get it going on a modern PC i discovered an article in the steam community, describing all the necessary steps to get it working on a modern PC. (Deus Ex Setup Guide for modern systems)
Really? So much needed for just having fun with some older game? Thanks to Windows 10, yes. Almost every game from the 90s and early 2000s does not function on a Windows 10 PC and if it does, it feels weird to see those old and charming graphics on a modern Full-HD LCD Display, it simply does not feel authentic.
So I decided to have the authentic feeling again…and that’s were my journey begins.