Benchmark Your Retro Hardware with Phil (June 29, 2019)


Super Soaker Collector / Administrator
Phil's Computer Lab is a great YouTube channel focused on reviewing older tech. A while back he made a handful of tweak guides for Wing Commanders 1-3 and Privateer. In the clips below, he's also set up a series of reference videos to demonstrate how the original Wing Commander would be expected to run on actual 386 hardware: SX25, DX25, DX33 and DX40 machines. He lays out the other major components and BIOS settings and then lets them go!

These would have been common mid to higher end systems when the game was new, so prospective players can get a sense of what the developers' intended performance levels were. Unlike most of the series, the original WC did not come with a frame rate limiter that normalized play as computers got faster. A great many slowdown utilities and emulators have been implemented since, but they don't all work perfectly. It can sometimes be tricky to calibrate the right balance of speed to ensure simple navigation is controllable while keeping dogfights smooth. Check out the videos below to help get the right sense of speed for yourself!

Wing Commander is a game that is very speed sensitive. Is your PC too slow and it will be a slide show, is your PC too fast and you will find it difficult hunting down that last remaining enemy :) It's a good game to test old retro parts and I like to document the performance so others can use it as a reference. Be it for tuning their emulators or for comparing their retro computer and checking if everything is ok.
Original update published on June 29, 2019