DOING IT THE HARD WAY
Depending on your motivation for coaxing an old game back into operation, simply getting it up and running on your current machine might not satisfy. A 4K HDR display might do wonders for your Steam library, but it only serves to highlight the shortcomings of a game designed to run at 640x480. And there’s something a bit strange about playing Quake with an RGB mechanical keyboard and a wireless mouse, when all’s said and done. When you feel that the modern technology ensconcing your old software is detracting from the experience, there’s only one thing for it: a retro gaming PC build.
A word of warning, though: This can be costly if you’re not smart about it. Perhaps it’s not a big surprise that giant beige boxes with Pentium IIs and Voodoo 2s are a thriving cottage industry on eBay—everyone has one in their attic or garage, and for some people, the only way to enjoy old games is in situ. But their appetite for tobaccoyellowed Dell keyboards has driven prices well beyond what one might reasonably expect, so avoid searching specifically for “retro gaming PC” items. If you instead search for “Windows 98 PC,” for example, you’ll find listings for near-identical machines that don’t carry a premium for their trendy vintage appeal.
It is worth buying entire PCs in one package, though, rather than trying to source everything component by component. Unless you’ve been reading up on motherboard/CPU/ RAM/GPU compatibility of yesteryear in your spare time, it can be a nightmare to find parts that play nice with each other, or even function at all. Lastly, if you’re buying a CRT screen, look for photos of it in operation to check it hasn’t demagnetized over time.
You pay more for “retro PCs” than for old beige boxes people
don’t know what to do with.