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Retro PC Rebuild

Mr.Huggles
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Sorry for those coming here thinking I'm sharing a How To Guide for a retro pc build, but maybe this topic will gain some interesting responses that can help others (kind of what I'm hoping for myself).

 

I've got a crazy idea to surprised my boyfriend by upgrading or restoring his old windows xp machine.  While I'm familiar with building modern computers I'm in no way familiar with computers or components from back in the day since my family was poor and we didn't see any modern tech till 2004 and had to wait till 206 before we could even ditch dial-up internet. I don't know what components he has in the case other than a 3 1/2" floppy drive and a cd player (possibly comparable with dvd and not sure if it is Rom or Writable).

 

It seems obvious that I could just build him a modern computer with a VM for classic windows, but I know he'd appreciate and enjoy the real thing much more.  I could use a lot of help in understanding how to go about doing a project like this.  What types of parts or peripherals I should be looking at; brands that were notable from back in the day (i remember Voodoo gpu's being a thing); are there comparability issues to be concerned with (could modern parts be used); and anything else I'm sure I should be asking about, but not aware of?

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the biggest questions are what the PC is intended to be used for when its done and the budget.

 

If this is supposed to be a gaming PC in the end it will not only be expensive but you will also need to find solutions to provide enough cooling to the components as old cases often have very bad airflow.

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5 minutes ago, Pixel5 said:

the biggest questions are what the PC is intended to be used for when its done and the budget.

 

If this is supposed to be a gaming PC in the end it will not only be expensive but you will also need to find solutions to provide enough cooling to the components as old cases often have very bad airflow.

This is meant to be just a nostalgia trip machine.  I'd expect him to just throw in and play some of his old games or software, but nothing modern (he's already got a modern gaming laptop and isn't much into modern games).  I honestly wish i had the case with me, but we're in the middle of moving and it's already at the new home.

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2 minutes ago, Mr.Huggles said:

This is meant to be just a nostalgia trip machine.  I'd expect him to just throw in and play some of his old games or software, but nothing modern (he's already got a modern gaming laptop and isn't much into modern games).  I honestly wish i had the case with me, but we're in the middle of moving and it's already at the new home.

then its not really about the hardware as you could even run into some issues trying to play old games on modern hardware, you really want to keep everything as old as possible in the PC also because you will never find windows xp drivers for any new components.

 

in my opinion you should leave the PC as it is as long as it is running, do a fresh install of windows XP and then try to find some old games, this is less about the hardware and more about having the software working and ready to go.

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2 minutes ago, Pixel5 said:

then its not really about the hardware as you could even run into some issues trying to play old games on modern hardware, you really want to keep everything as old as possible in the PC also because you will never find windows xp drivers for any new components.

 

in my opinion you should leave the PC as it is as long as it is running, do a fresh install of windows XP and then try to find some old games, this is less about the hardware and more about having the software working and ready to go.

Unfortunately, the pc doesn't work.  It's been dead for a while and it's components are apparently not the best for the time.  Was hoping to get some advice on how to upgrade it while keeping it in line with the era it's from.  Never thought about the driver support thing, so at least that's something to think about.

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Aside from obsolete drivers, there's not much happening with PC hardware in the last 20 years. So the build order still stays the same pretty much.

 

Ok i will guide you step by step to troubleshoot the pc:

1. If there's no sign of life when you press power on, Check the power supply, it should be broken by now, especially if it sits for a long time, the capacitors are the first to break. Go ahead buy a cheap 300-500 watt power supply unit. You wanna check if the power supply is a AT or ATX model, its written in the box. If the PC is from 2000-2005 i guess its a ATX format.

2. The pc is powered on, fans are moving but no life. Unplug everything from the motherboard, gently rub the copper contact with alcohol like Display card and Memory Dimms, and put it back.

3. If you clean the gpu and memory but still not turning on, RESET the bios, you do this by removing the cmos battery (the round battery attached to the motherboard) wait for 30 seconds before putting it back. The board may beep if theres any error, listen to the beeping sound, it indicates the broken parts.

4. If you done all of those, still no life, then the motherboard is dead. Change one up that is compatible with your CPU socket 

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1 hour ago, SupaKomputa said:

Aside from obsolete drivers, there's not much happening with PC hardware in the last 20 years. So the build order still stays the same pretty much.

 

Ok i will guide you step by step to troubleshoot the pc:

1. If there's no sign of life when you press power on, Check the power supply, it should be broken by now, especially if it sits for a long time, the capacitors are the first to break. Go ahead buy a cheap 300-500 watt power supply unit. You wanna check if the power supply is a AT or ATX model, its written in the box. If the PC is from 2000-2005 i guess its a ATX format.

2. The pc is powered on, fans are moving but no life. Unplug everything from the motherboard, gently rub the copper contact with alcohol like Display card and Memory Dimms, and put it back.

3. If you clean the gpu and memory but still not turning on, RESET the bios, you do this by removing the cmos battery (the round battery attached to the motherboard) wait for 30 seconds before putting it back. The board may beep if theres any error, listen to the beeping sound, it indicates the broken parts.

4. If you done all of those, still no life, then the motherboard is dead. Change one up that is compatible with your CPU socket 

Interesting.  Thanks for the step-by-step.  I didn't even know there was such a thing as an AT power supply.  Is it recommended to use steel a wired brush for cleaning the contacts or should i be using a normal tooth brush or just sponge or towel? (wait a minute, this shouldn't be any different from when I used a q-tip and alcohol to clean my NES games as a kid)

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