What can this computer do?

I have a co-worker who wanted me to check out an old computer someone had given her mother. It used to belong to a now-defunct convenience store. I had to restore it to its original state using a “Wipe CD”.

Here’s the stats:

Compaq Deskpro
Windows NT 4.0 SP5 (build 1381)
300Mhz PII
64Mb memory
1.2 Gb hard drive
3.5" floppy drive
2 USB 1.1 ports

It appears to function properly.

The mother wants to give the computer to her granddaughter to play games. I’m not a gamer so I don’t know what level of games this thing can handle (I’m sure it can’t handle anything created in the last couple of years, at least). I also don’t know what kind of games the girl wants to play, either.

What say ye, computer geeks?

I can play games, but only those from around 1997-8 at the most recent. I notice it doesn’t have a cd-rom, though, so this might be difficult.


It does have a CDROM drive.

Also, the Windows NT is the Workstation version.

Maybe she can use it for web browsing and web games at places like Yahoo! games, games.com, PopCap, addictinggames.com, etc.

Beyond that… it depends on the game. You’ll probably need rather old games with low system requirements. You can check out the bargain bin at your local software store (the Fry’ses around here have a lot of old games for very cheap).

You might want to find a copy of Windows 98 to get some more game comaptibilty out of it. Windows NT doesn’t really work well with most games.

I’ll suggest this. Can NT 4.0 be upgraded or would it need a full install?

There’s a bunch of both versions on eBay real cheap.

That’s a great old machine for Win 98. The memory is a little light but that can be upgraded cheaply. You can play all the original Doom games, Heroes of Might and Magic, plenty of fun old games. There is nothing on the web that’ll choke that system so flash games are available.

If I had that machine I’d put a tiny linux distro on it, maybe a usb camera, make it a security system or an art project. Old computers don’t slow down with age, they don’t burn oil, they just keep doing what they did when they were new. That machine probably sold for a grand back when it it was new, there’s got to be plenty of jobs still available for it.

surch for emulators and roms. I can recomend sites, but as Emulators are perfectly legal, while roms aren’t, I will not post them. Also, look for games that are no longer avalible commercialy, called abandonwares. Again, while such sites are highly ethical , taking down games when they get re-released, I don’t think I should link to them.

Full format and re-install. Win98 and WinNT use different file systems and have different development histories. Though I would suggest going to Win98 SE.

How old is the kid? There are lots of games that can be played on a system that old, where the only problem is getting a copy. Most are fairly cheap (see Master of Orion II, for example) and easy to find, while others, like Wing Commander: Kilrathi Saga routinely sell for $100 due to rarity and popularity. If the kid is fairly young, I’ve got some old SuperSolvers and other educational games that were designed for high-number versions of DOS, but aren’t hard to get running on Win98. I could probably part with them, as there is likely to be no demand for such things in my family for at least another decade, at which point we’re talking about 20+ years legacy software.

I’d up the RAM a bit and maybe the storage space as well. I’d say at least 128 MB for Win98 SE, perhaps 256, and a bigger hard drive. Remember, though, that the DOS-based Windows OSes have a size limit for hard drives. I would stick a 40 gig in there. That ought to be plenty of space and cheap. Also, upgrading the CD-ROM drive might not hurt. Get a 32x or something, depending on what’s already in there. You don’t need a really fast drive for most legacy games, but it was amazing what a difference it could make on games that spent a lot of time accessing the CD.

The girl is eleven. I have no idea what kind of games she likes.

I figured a hard drive & memory upgrade would be in order. Drives are cheap and plentiful on ebay as well.

I’ll suggest these upgrades. I figure about $100-125 should bring it up to snuff.

If you’re going to spend 100-125 dollars on this old machine i’d suggest you just splurge an extra few hundred and buy an entirely new system. It’d last much much longer.

If it were me, I would. I’ll suggest it to the woman, too.

I’ve got roughly the same system set up at my parents’ house. Its a Dell, PII 300MHz, 64Mb RAM. I put Win98SE on it and its run happily for years now. My mom uses it for web surfing and email and it runs an older version of AOL pretty well. It works great with the router I use there and gets lickety-split connection speeds.

I wish all my computers ran as well as this one.

I’ve got a PII-266 128MB laptop in my kitchen/dining/family area that we use for random web browsing. Also used for remote-desktopping to the music server and queuing play lists. It’s fine for that use, but I wouldn’t play games or run any app with serious CPU needs.