My Powerful DOS Machine

Page updated May 13, 2021

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Many people have built/reused old computers to run software (mostly games) on DOS, and so many of these builds are clean, perfect and pristene. This monster that I've created is none of those.

This is my incredible DOS machine, a mish mash of random parts that don't fit together at all, jammed into a beat up case that doesn't ever close properly. It's perfect, so here's what's going on inside. (and don't piss over the "cable management")

Alright, so there's a bunch of cables blocking everything. cable management in the olden days was pretty much... not a viable option. So it's period correct, right!

Now the main part of a build is the motherboard. This motherboard was in the case when I got it, and I have no clue what it is. It's just an unbranded Socket 7 board, w/ Pentium 166 MMX CPU, 64MB of EDO RAM, Intel i340TX Chipset, and the Award BIOS v4.51PG of 04/28/97.

Desptie being a no-name board, it's actually very good, and has run all the software I've thrown at it without crashing (unlike the old DOS machine mobo).

You might be wondering, why would I want THIS mobo & CPU in a "DOS machine" anyways? Why don't I go with a 486? Well that's why I call it my "Powerful DOS machine" it can run practically all DOS software that I would want it to. I have 2 486 systems, one with a DX-33 and the other with a DX4-100, and neither are powerful enough to run all the software I wanted to, most notably Impulse Tracker. I don't know, whatever. Having a fast DOS machine is fun.

Moving on, here's the expansion cards, which are in my opinion one of the most interesting parts of any old system like this.

Going from bottom to top, first card is my favourite in this system, the Creative AWE64 CT4380 sound card. Anyone into old systems like this should be familiar with the incredible AWE sound cards. I got this card in a huge box of cards I acquired, and this was the first time I got to hear what an AWE really sounded like, and it sounds incredible.

Next up, isn't really a card, but it's the hard drive. It's a 4GB CF card in a back mounted adapter board. These things are infinitley useful for transferring files and copying drive images to them. If you don't have one of these, go get one, they're only about $10 on eBay. CF cards are really expensive for some reason so except to pay up to $20 for a couple of cards.

Next is the D-Link DFE 530TX Ethernet card. These things are super useful and fun to have. I do connect these old systems to the network and I can browse the file share hosted on my Windows 10 machine, on Windows 3.1. I can even browse the internet in Windows 3.1 which is always cool. I still never got Arachne to work in DOS though.

Next is the video card, the ATI Mach64 GT, a REAL nice card that works great. Much more powerful than an S3 card.

And last, we have 3 brackets for some I/O. 9pin serial, parallel printer, 25pin serial and PS/2 mouse port. The PS/2 mouse port is super useful, since I can use good PS/2 mice without having to mess around with my serial mouse (I keep that one around for my 486s). I have an AOpen PS/2 mouse that has great precision and tracking, and I got it at the thrift store for only $5.

For the other hardware in the case, we have a "Sunny Tech" ATX PSU with the ATX > AT adapter. I was gonna keep this PSU around for something else, but the crappy "DSW" PSU that was in this case when I got it, silently died after being powered on for about 20 minutes. When I took it out, that thing weighed NOTHING, and the screws were already removed from the case. BAD SIGN. That thing went in the recycling right away, and I'd suggest you check your old systems for cheap PSUs as well, since they can be dangerous to you, or your computer.

It also has an HP cd-writer 9100 CD-R drive, and a Mitsumi 3.5 floppy drive. What, no 5.25 drive? There was actually one in this case when I got it, but it was 360k, and all my disks are 1.2MB, so I put that drive in my 486 DX-33 instead since it seemed more appropriate... or something. 5.25 floppy drives are incredibly expensive, and there's already a 1.2MB drive in my 486 DX4-100 system, so I don't really need another.

Right, so I guess that's all the hardware in my DOS machine. I could talk all about the software I run on here, but maybe I'll add that another day. I do DOS things on here.