Question PC newbie trying to build an XP machine from a childhood rig pulled from storage

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Oct 8, 2022
Hello! I'm a big console guy trying to rebuild an old PC from my high school days with XP gaming in mind. This PC was originally built back in the early to mid 2000's when I was barely in High School. My stepdad bought all the pieces for this PC and gifted them to me for Christmas back then and he helped my build the entire thing. Some years later, it ended up dying for reasons I was never told, and it sat in a closest collecting dust for nearly 20 years. Now, in the year 2022, I've dug this beast out from its cave with the intention to rebuild it and fire it up for XP retro gaming.

As you can tell from the title, I'm not terribly familiar with PC building other than some of the most basic concepts. I know what RAM, CPU's, GPU's, Motherboards and storage drives are on a basic level. I'm also really good at building and disassembling most electronics and other complex machines. I was a vehicle technician by trade for awhile and I've torn apart plenty of video game consoles for some time so I'm confident in my ability to build something. That being said, I'm not familiar with what kinds of different pieces of hardware I can look at to build a PC of any kind. In fact, I'm typing this forum post as we speak from a laptop lol. For all these reasons I have decided to consult any forums I can in hopes of getting any advice or information from much more seasoned and knowledgeable PC enthusiasts on how I can get this beast to fire up once again for some good'ol fashioned Windows XP gaming.

To make this a bit more fun, if possible, I'd like to max out the potential of this rig in any areas that I can. The best GPU, the most RAM, best CPU, anything and everything I can do that fits into any of my listed goals that I'll provide below. As an added bonus for those interested in following my build, I'll also keep posting updates and pictures whenever I can during the process all the way up to the finish. For now, I'll list what I know is currently sitting in this PC alongside pictures of what it looks like now as well as my "will do's", "won't do's" and personal goals for the build.

What's currently known to be inside:
-Motherboard: ECS Elitegroup NForce 6M-A Version 2.0 with built in nForce 520LE
-GPU: GeForce 8400GS 512MB DDR2 TV DVI PCI-E
-Power Supply: CoolerMaster eXtreme Power RP-600-PCAR

This is all I know by very specific product names on the boards or stickers. Much of this stuff seems to be from CoolerMaster as the internal fans, power supply and even the clear blue piece on the front fins of the case have the name CoolerMaster on them. Perhaps this was the common theme for what might have been a package deal for the case...?

What I'm willing to do:
- Replace CPU
-Replace GPU
- Replace power supply
-Replace RAM
-Clean everything... obviously. The case and all its contents have nearly 20 years of dust and cob webs. This will be done when I tear everything down to bare parts.

What I'm NOT willing or going to do:
-Replace the case
-Water Cooling (Not sure if this applies to this era of PC. I've seen some gnarly modern builds that have water cooling and I'd rather not step into that world if it applies here.)
- Build a modern PC... just in case someone decides to say it for whatever reason
-Use a virtual desktop. I want an authentic retro experience with the best compatibility for real physical games. Virtual desktops won't give me that.
- Go online. This will primarily be an offline machine. No reason to go online with Windows XP as far as I'm concerned.

What I MIGHT be willing to do if necessary:
- Replace the motherboard. I'm not sure how good ANY of the current components are as far as performance and I'd like to keep this one if possible, but if it's not good enough to reach my goals then I'd consider getting something better for this build.

Build goals:
  • Best compatibility with Windows 98, XP and Vista era games via CD or DVD. XP and Vista games are prioritized but if 98 games could also work that would be awesome. A few examples include F.E.A.R. plus its expansions, Lost Planet, Comanche 4, System Shock 2, Battleship Surface Thunder, Star Wars Empire at War, ect. Windows 95 era games would be a bonus so long as they don't require any MS-DOS bootups as that would be far better handled by a dedicated Windows 95/98 machine.
  • A max resolution of 1080p via a digital connection. HDMI, DVI or DisplayPort would all be fine. Would prefer to avoid VGA but will use it if I have to.
  • A framerate target of at least 60 fps for games that can go that far. Higher is fine if it was possible for machines back in the day, but not necessary.
  • Has as little input latency as possible.
  • Has the best and/or most compatible version of Windows XP installed. A how to for that alone would also be welcome.
  • Supports using controllers like the wired Xbox 360 controller for games that can take advantage of that.
  • Whatever good sound options that are available. I know sound isn't usually integrated into the video feed line with PC builds so any good options are welcome here.
  • Keep the build cost low. I'm not really hurting for cash but if money can be saved in any areas of this build it would be appreciated.
Here are some pictures of the PC as it currently sits:









Thanks for entertaining my long post and I hope anyone out there can give me a helping hand. I apologize that I couldn't get more specific with what's inside the case, but I will be doing a tear down at some point so if you need more info or pictures then I'll provide them over time.
Oct 8, 2022
you can also look for the Intel DX48BT2. I had one and it's a very good board for overclocking.

That's also pretty nice. More pricey than the DDR2 options you mentioned, but not bad all things considered. I'll also consider this one. 😉👍

As far as a CPU goes, would this one fit the bill?

As far as a CPU goes, would this one fit the bill?

i7-2600 was a legendary processor. Still talked about.

But I have NO idea if it compatible with your other parts/software. I had its younger brother on a DDR 3 machine as I recall.
Oct 8, 2022
Update #4:

After a bit of looking around as well as following the advice of all of you amazing people, I've set my eyes on this eBay listing for an Intel DQ45CB. The listing is as follows:

The board was pulled from a working setup, has 8gb of the same Corsair RAM I currently have and also has an E8400 CPU. The CPU isn't as good as the i7 2600 I found earlier but if the E8400 isn't enough to get my goals completed then I can just grab the i7 and swap both CPU's. The motherboard is also another DDR2 setup like my old one, but it seems like DDR2 is still more than enough for an XP rig. If I'm lucky, I can score this for a good price within a few hours. Let me know your thoughts. 😉👍
Oct 8, 2022
Just realized that the i7 I was looking at does not support an LGA775 socket for the motherboard I just bought. This is what I mean when I say that I am a newb lol. :p

Anyone here know a good LGA775 CPU I could use for this build?
Just realized that the i7 I was looking at does not support an LGA775 socket for the motherboard I just bought. This is what I mean when I say that I am a newb lol. :p

Anyone here know a good LGA775 CPU I could use for this build?

Take a gander here:

Processors listed along the right side, but I wouldn't think ALL of them will be compatible with ALL socket 775 boards. You'd need to research which are fully compatible with your particular board.

In that era (2007-2010), I used a Core 2 Duo E6600. I used it for work purposes and it was more than adequate...relatively high on the pecking order of the time.
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Jul 31, 2022
That's also pretty nice. More pricey than the DDR2 options you mentioned, but not bad all things considered. I'll also consider this one. 😉👍

As far as a CPU goes, would this one fit the bill?

i7 2600 is LGA 1155

Get a Q9400, one of the fastest 775 CPUs you can get
Oct 8, 2022
Update #5:

So after a couple days of learning, research and constant web browsing alongside much of the advice and suggestions you guys have made for me, I finally have a comprehensive list of the major components that will (hopefully) make up my newly built XP rig. I made sure to research if all the chosen components are actually compatible with each other and will work with the XP OS so not to assemble a PC with incompatible parts and software. The list of all the major components I chose to build with and needed to buy to replace what I already had are as follows:

  • Mobo: Intel DQ45CB
  • CPU: Intel Q9650
  • GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti Superclocked

As many of you can already tell, this is going to be a DDR2 build. I was also debating at the time with going for a DDR3 setup using something like the Intel DX48BT2 which a previous user had commented about, but I decided to try the DQ45CB instead as I felt that DDR2 was more era appropriate and therefore more compatible with what I was looking for. It was also a fair bit cheaper as the mobo I bought had the connector shield and spare 2GB DDR2 sticks all for under $50. It also had a E8400 CPU, but I won't be using that one.

The choice of CPU should be fairly obvious as it seems to be one of the best 775 CPU's of its day. I should have no problem getting good performance from an XP build with this one.

The GPU was chosen because of its smaller form factor and, apparently, better specs compared to other 750 Ti's I was seeing. Though far from an ideal GPU by today's standards, it will be more than enough to run whatever I throw at it from an XP box. The shorter form factor will also makes cable management a bit easier so that's a bonus.

On a side note, I'm choosing to use Windows XP Pro 32-bit as my OS. From what I've been able to gather, the 32-bit version of XP has the highest compatibility with games from that era. However, it's limited to a max of 4GB of useable RAM so I'll only be using half of what I'm actually getting from my Mobo purchase. The other two will serve as extras if I ever need to replace them. I'll also be applying new thermal paste to all related components. Since these are all used products, I want to make sure they're as well taken care of as possible before slamming games into their faces. :p

To save some time, effort and a little bit of money I wanted to salvage as much as I could from whatever I already had so long as it was a decent part and in good shape. As you can tell, I went through the trouble of find out what exactly they were all called so not to sound like a complete idiot rofl. Below is a list of parts I intend to salvage from my original build from high school:

  • PSU: Cooler Master 600W PSU
  • Case: Cooler Master Mystique 632
  • CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper TX2
  • Optical Drive: Writemaster DVD drive

Unless I missed something, after doing some quick math, a 600 watt PSU should be fine for the build I am assembling. If I need something better feel free to let me know and I'll shop around for a better PSU, but for now my original Cooler Master PSU seems to be good enough for the job.

The case was never up for debate to begin with, but I may replace some other things attached to it.

I honestly thought about replacing the original CPU cooler I had for something more exotic, but after reading old reviews about it and making sure it still fit for a 775 setup I decided to keep this one as well. It ran fine when I powered the rig last weekend and I didn't want to add something that may require more power so I'll hold onto this one for now.

A DVD drive is a DVD drive, so unless it ends up not working there's not much else to say here. Maybe I'll add a floppy disc drive just for s**ts and giggles. XD

Some of the things I'm still thinking of replacing are the case fans and the hard drive. The two fans, located on the front and rear of the case, are quite dusty and probably worn down so I may go find some 120mm replacements. That may also be a "cool" opportunity (sorry, but not sorry lol) to add some extra flare by getting some blue LED fans since my Mystique case seems to have a blue LED theme going for it. Blue is also my favorite color so to see the entire rig glowing with it from different spots would be neat.

I want to wait on the hard drive just to see if my old 320GB one that was inside still works and has the original XP OS I used back in the day. Maybe some interesting time capsule treasures lay inside of it...? Otherwise, I'll probably get a 500GB SSD and install XP onto it.

Lastly, I want to make this as fun of a project as I can so I've been looking into extra hardware to occupy the last PCIe x1 and PCI slots I'll have left for this board. The first thing that comes to mind is a good sound card. Based on my findings, I came across the Audigy 2 ZS and the Audigy RX as being quite good for XP era machines. The former fits into a PCI slot and the latter fits into a PCIe x1 slot. Let me know what you think of those two or perhaps any others you may like yourself.

Since the mobo I chose doesn't have any PS/2 connectors on it I thought a PS/2 expansion card would also be neat. Now I could be EXTREMELY wrong about this so don't be shy to say I'm wrong and that I'm an idiot, but PS/2 should have the least latency as well as not requiring drivers so that wouldn't be too bad an option for this board. There are versions of these cards for both the PCI and PCIe x1 slots so it would ultimately come down to which sound card I'd end up going for.

Besides replies to other comments as well as last minute minor updates, this should be the last time I talk about the overall build for a little bit until all the parts I bought start coming into my mailbox. In the meantime, I'll focus on cleaning and prepping this dirty Mystique case I have. I'll continue to post pictures of any relevant things I get or do. I've been having a great time learning about how PC's work and talking to you guys abut all of it especially since you've all been so helpful. I look forward to continuing and sharing this project.