Whilst I’ve made a list of all the games that are or used to be freeware on the PC (and a few games on other systems), I should probably be looking at getting patches for those games, as well as the older games I’ve physical copies of. That said, however, the patches need to be the most recent before they ended up going onto platforms like Steam, so they’re able to be played without needing to connect with those services, in case they aren’t going to be available on Windows XP especially. DOS games aren’t really a problem in this regard at least, but I still will probably need to start looking up no-CD patches for those games I opt to run in ‘pure DOS’, although given my WinXP laptops don’t have DOS, Dosbox will be the way I play those games, though thankfully I do still have serial and parallel ports (which was why I bought them).
Additionally, I’ll probably use the XP laptops for playing the “high demand” Win9x games too, seeing as, by that point, DOS will cease to even be an issue, same with the associated sound card drivers. However, I still don’t have a pair of working DOS/Win9x laptops I can use, although if I could get another ‘Pixo Model 98’, that’d be great! Of course I need to fix the screen on that laptop, and also work out what sweet spot the laptop fills, as with it being a Pentium MMX with an S3 Virge 4MB, it might be a pretty capable machine for a lot of DOS games, as well as some mid-early Win9x games (that don’t need a powerful video card), even if I will probably be crossing over certain games over all of the laptops, partly because it’s a good way to test them, but also because it doesn’t make sense to have to get another laptop out if the one in use is currently quite capable of playing the games!
There’s also the fact that I want to make sure that I have a core set of games available on each laptop, as a sort of unifier, plus they’re good as a little diversion if there’s an issue with one of the laptops that takes time to sort! I will eventually write a blog post about the games I’ve chosen as a “bare minimum” for each system, but it is likely that I’ll have to do some slightly different tweaks to get them running on each laptop, depending on if they’re Windows 98 SE or Windows XP, seeing as I’m more than catered for more modern operating systems with my current rig, as well as the same generation one I plan to assemble before the end of the year. I am going to be open to suggestions with regards to what games to install on the laptops, but the caveat will be that the game must both predate Windows Vista’s release, and also fit within the specs of the systems I’ll be using.
As I’ve said before, I have upgrades planned for the hardware to max out the RAM on all the laptops (to make sure that I get the best performance), and I’ll be using some sort of flash solution with them all to replace the mechanical HDDs inside them. Right now, the plan for the most powerful of XP laptops (Dell Inspiron 8600s) is to have them running on a ~240GB SSD split into 2 partitions, with one for the OS, and the rest for the installed software, ISOs/installers, and any other relevant data. If I dual boot them, I may end up looking for a ~500GB drive instead, split into 4-5 partitions, with 2 partitions for each OS, and a 5th partition as a combined ‘data’ partition, but that plan may change, depending on circumstances. I also need to upgrade one of them with a more powerful graphics card, in line with the other at the very least, as the latter laptop has the second most powerful graphics card for the laptop series.
The other 2 XP laptops, which are a Dell Inspiron 8200 and a Latitude C840 (both are essentially the same system core hardware wide) will probably have a ~128GB SSD, but I am aware that they potentially can run Win98 on them, although they wouldn’t be the best for DOS, as far as I’m aware; one also needs a replacement screen, and both need to have a GPU upgrade. The last 2 pairs are 2 each of the Toshiba Portegé 3110CT and the 3440CT, and they’re both earmarked for Win98 SE with KernelEx, just for some additional security with being able to run newer versions of certain software. These laptops would actually be pretty good for DOS, except their soundcards don’t support DOS, so I’d have to run everything via a “DOS box” in Win98, which may mean some extra tweaks. The 3440CTs have S3 Savage/IX 8MB graphics cards in them, which gives them a leg up (in Windows) over the Pico Model 98, whereas I’m not sure of what to do with the 3110CTs, as really, they were part of a bundle with one of the 3440CTs that I bought! They’re not bad systems all things considered, but their graphics card is a 2.5MB one from Trident, a Cyber9525 as far as I’m aware, but that makes it a pretty weak system in many cases, despite them being Pentium IIs, vs the Pico 98’s CPU.
The 3440CTs have Mobile Pentium IIIs, and are capable of running XP, but I don’t really see the point when I have 4 higher-end XP laptops to work with. The Portegés are also lacking in any built-in drives and most input options, except for a single USB port, and 1-2 PC Card/PCMCIA slots which are useful for adding additional ports, a network card, or a wireless network card. I do actually have an old (albeit broken) Toshiba Satellite laptop back in Ireland, and I nabbed the floppy drive from that to bring back, and it works perfectly with the 3110CTs, whereas I have 2 pairs of port replicators for the 3440CTs, 2 of them being multimedia ones, meaning they support an additional PC Card slot, and also another storage drive, or as I have for one of them, an optical drive. The non-multimedia port replicators (as well as the multimedia ones) all have a serial port, a parallel port, an Ethernet port, and a VGA port. They also are pretty bulky and stick out of the laptop to the side, hence why I also have some PC Cards for serial and parallel ports, so I can do stuff without the port replicators if space is at a premium. The two 3440CTs have an Ethernet card (sans dongle) in the 2nd slot (that doesn’t stick out), so I’m able to hook them up to the network at a moment’s notice. I put the serial/parallel (and all other) cards in the top slot, because using the bottom one would otherwise obstruct the first one from being accessed!
In any case, when it comes to Win9x and XP gaming, I’m pretty well covered! The Pico 98 and XP laptops have built-in floppy and optical drives, so they’re by far the easiest to sort things out with, and the XP laptops are new enough that they have WiFi capability too, albeit 802.11b, but I may be able to upgrade that to ‘g’ if I’m lucky! I was inspired to do all of this by ‘The 8-Bit Guy’ and ‘Lazy Game Reviews’, as I saw some DOS laptops being mentioned – especially for retro LAN gaming, although they aren’t cheap, hence why I’m focusing on XP first, till I find an ideal DOS/Win9x laptop (Win9x is mostly for copying files over) which has a pure DOS-supported soundcard, though that said, I could go for one of the Covox clones, or the OPL3LPT, both of which use the parallel port for sound, which means that I probably could convert the Inspiron 8200 cousins to work under Win98 SE and DOS, or I could do that for the Toshibas, not entirely sure as of yet.
Now you might be wondering why I haven’t started doing any filming, etc. yet, as opposed to blogging about it, and the answer to that is that I haven’t yet gotten all the components I need to make things happen, nor do I have the space to show me doing the repairs, etc. to the laptops, so there will be a delay in that regard. The IDE adaptors for the SSDs are especially a sticking point, as I’m not sure if I want to do mSATA or m.2, and the IDE adaptors can take anything up to 2 months to arrive if I’m trying to save money! What might end up happening is that I get a few of each, and then decide what to do drive-wise later. Additionally, having to find suitable graphics cards is a sticking point as well, plus I am still trying to work out if the SSD solution or using a dual Compact Flash to IDE adaptor is better for Win98 or not; I already have 2 adaptors, and they both have a 4GB flash card in one slot, with a 2x64GB (125GB shown) Micro SD carts in a Micro SD to Compact Flash converter, as 64 and 128GB Compact Flash cards aren’t cheap! I have yet to see if this works or not, so perhaps it’s time for me to see how well the setup will work on the Win98 laptops, as I can still see what happens with the 2 adaptors, and maybe get 3 more IDE and CF adaptors, albeit with 32GB Micro SD cards instead of 64GB, though the latter may be best for the 3440CTs.
All things considered, I’m new to this stuff, and in some respects, I’m also breaking new ground too considering only certain laptops have been focused on, plus hardly anyone (if at all) is talking about the potential for retro gaming on XP laptops, although I could be wrong about that. Certain laptops are better for this as they have more powerful graphics cards, but integrated graphics may not be the worst option either, especially for those on a budget. I do however want to start at least writing out some notes for future videos and make sure I set up a checklist for what to get, and also what to cover with these laptops, although I will mention that some of this stuff will work for desktops too to an extent, but the focus is mostly laptops, seeing as desktops are much easier to work with! Do feel free to @ me on Twitter though, if you have any questions, or game/software suggestions, or also hardware stuff too, as that will probably be the trickiest to get a hold of, at least when it comes to graphics cards anyway!
It’s unlikely that I’ll be doing any filming for this till towards the end of the year at least, given what I have to plan out for that, though I will also want to start moving parts from the case my current rig is in to a new one, after I pick up some case fans as well! Also, I finally have also gotten some RAM for my Dell Vostro laptop, so once I sort out a decent hard drive for my desktop, I can move the SSHD in that to the Vostro, to give it a storage and speed boost; I might record a video of that, because it’s not as easy accessing those components compared to most laptops! In any case, I do have some desktop/laptop hardware I can either film or stream in the future, as I want to do more than just play games on stream, though I do enjoy that as well! I am thinking about having my solo streaming slots on Tuesday and Friday, with the Super Sunday Show being fortnightly, but at the same time, it may be a Tuesday and Thursday thing, but I need to time my thrifting sessions first! I do have a little more time to think about it, although, it’s likely I’ll roll out the Tuesday stream first, as I need to work out if I want Thursday or Friday.
In any case, I will probably need to reorganise my pre and post stream flow, though for the time being, expect there to be no post-stream report until September, though I will try to get into the habit of at least tweeting when a stream ends!
In any case, that’s enough blogging for now… I’ll see you all later on, so until then, take care and stay safe!