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XP Software Thread: Post Some of Your Favorite Free XP-Compatible Software (old or new)

I've had multiple people (mostly new XP users) on this sub ask me what software is available for XP. I've been answering by saying that there's an XP version of virtually all Windows software, and that you can find an XP program to accomplish just abut anything you'd ever want to accomplish on a PC. I've since realized that this leaves them with no starting point and no examples of software a person might want/need to have installed, so I'm posting a small number of recommendations or examples that come to mind and I encourage others to do the same. My intention is to only list free software. Try not to turn this into a thread of criticizing other people's recommendations. Just provide your recommended alternative instead.
I recommend uninstalling Windows Media Player and installing one (or all three) of these. Whichever one you install last will likely be your default player (because of file associations).
  • VLC Media Player King of media players. Enormous capability, ethical behavior and open source. Does have some bugs and unintuitive default behavior though.
  • PotPlayer or KMPlayer Both players are pretty similar but PotPlayer is arguably better. I actually use these more than VLC because of their intuitive default behavior and ability to play essentially anything without any fiddling. For both of these players, you'll need to pay close attention to the install options to make sure no unwanted items are installed, and, after install, you'll likely need to change some settings to disable updating and other Internet-accessing features. Regardless of what settings you use, both players will always try to phone home to some extent so you'll want to permanently block their Internet access via your firewall.
  • Media Player Classic Very good, lightweight, open source and potentially stand-alone.
Disabling & replacing Windows Firewall is usually a must. The ability to monitor and block/allow both incoming and outgoing connections is usually critical for true security & privacy.
  • Privacyware Privatefirewall ° My current favorite by far. Lightweight & powerful. Makes no attempt to install any garbage.
  • Comodo Free Firewall I usually only use version 3.0.14 or prior. Later versions are bloated & dumbed-down and make it clear the author began to prioritize profit over security/efficacy.
  • Zone Labs ZoneAlarm Good and lightweight. Excellent for old laptops & such. Only problem is that it was caught sending small encrypted packets to an Israel IP even after setting it to ask for user approval before phoning home. Zone Labs eventually made a statement about it but it was cryptic. I still trust it more than Windows Firewall. I usually only use version 6.5.737 or prior. Later versions are bloated crap.
  • Tall Emu Online Armor Personal Firewall ° I didn't get a chance to use this one much because it was conflicting with a piece of obscure software I had installed, but it was one of the most recommended firewalls for Windows XP. Newer versions, after it was sold to Emsi Software, are bloated crap, so, after you download it, hover your mouse cursor over the installer .exe file to make sure the company shown is Tall Emu. Version is the version that worked best for me. Version appears to be the last release under Tall Emu but I haven't found an installer for that version yet.
At a later date, I'll create another thread dedicated just to browsers, and I'll update this post as well.
  • Firefox King of the browsers Here's a few useful extensions (as of the date this was posted). If your comp is quite old, you'll need to monitor the performance effects of every extension you install to determine if they're worth keeping. Some extensions, like uBlock Origin and Privacy Badger can actually potentially improve performance.
  • Portable Browsers I recommend making a folder containing every trustworthy (or semi-trustworthy) stand-alone/portable web browser you can get your hands on (official or unofficial). Having a wide variety of browsers at your disposal increases the chances of being able to display any page and view any web media. Try to run all browsers (or at least the less trustworthy ones, like Google Chrome °) in a Sanboxie box, but note that some browsers won't function properly in a Sanboxie box without a fair amount of extra tweaking
  • Tor Browser For anonymous web browsing. Research its many uses and the best ways to use it. I Recommend running it in a Sandboxie box whether you trust it or not.
If, like me, you disable the Windows indexing service, or just want something better than Windows Search, here's a couple options:
  • FileLocator Lite (formerly Agent Ransack) FileLocator Pro (the paid version) is better if you can obtain it. The Lite version for XP doesn't allow boolean expressions for file names (only DOS expressions) but the Pro version does. The last Lite version to work in XP was 2014 (828) and the last Pro version to work in XP was 7.5 (2114).
  • Voidtools Everything You have to wait for it to index your files when it starts up, but once everything is indexed, the instantaneous filename searching power is incredible. This is not a sufficient Windows Search replacement; just a powerful companion to whatever search program you install.
  • Nero Burning ROM Freakishly reliable burning software. I wish there were something better to recommend because it's not free anymore and the authors have a habit of bundling it with a crappy installer and invasive bloatware, but, in over a decade of using it, I've never had it produce a single coaster, even though I've used it with many different optical drives and media brands. No other burning software I've used even comes close in reliability. The developers released two minimal/lean versions for free a little while back but they were packaged with Ask Toolbar. Here's how to keep the toolbar & other junk from installing (for the free version called BurnLite 10).
    1. Run the BurnLite 10 installer
    2. When the Cancel button appears, press it to cancel install
    3. Windows Key+R %temp%\NeroInstallFiles
    4. Open the folder shown (starts with NERO)
    5. Open Setup.ini in notepad
    6. Scroll down to the [ISSetupPrerequisites] section and replace the existing eight lines in that section with these four lines:
      PreReq0= Microsoft VC Redist 2005 KB973544 (x86).prq PreReq1= MSI 4.5 for WindowsXP (x86).prq PreReq2= MSI 4.5 for Windows6.0 (x64).prq PreReq3= MSI 4.5 for Windows6.0 (x86).prq 
    7. Run setup.exe (located in the same folder)
    8. During install, choose to exclude the updater and help files
  • ImgBurn ° Widely recommended free burning software but I've had it produce several coasters. Burn success appears to be quite dependent on which optical drive and media you're using, and associated settings. As of writing this, if you download from the official site, the installer will install OpenCandy, FusionCore or other adware/spyware. Download using the above link instead, or extract the contents of the installer using 7-zip, then delete the $PLUGINSDIR folder.
  • InfraRecorder portable ° Widely recommended light-weight, portable, open-source burning software. I've only used it a few times but it's one of the most widely known, used and recommended free burning tools.
  • cdrtfe portable ° A light-weight, open source, portable front-end for the command-line-based cdrtools disc burning software. If you like the power of cdrtools but want the convenience of a GUI, you'll find this useful. I haven't used it a lot so I can't fully vouch for it, but it has worked great for me thus far.
  • Daemon Tools, Virtual CloneDrive and WinCDEmu ° These create virtual CD/DVD drives on which you can mount CD/DVD images (eg, ISO files). I usually use version 3.44 of Daemon Tools. There are newer versions you can use but there's a point where the software starts becoming untrustworthy and I don't recall which version that was. Virtual CloneDrive might be better than Daemon Tools and it has no untrustworthy version that I know of. I haven't used WinCDEmu enough to recommend it; I'm just including it because it's open-source and often highly praised.
  • DVDShrink Can be used to resize a typical 8GB DVD movie disc down to 4GB so that it will fit on a regular (single layer) DVD-R disc. As far as I know, the last version released was and any newer versions are a scam. To use, decrypt the files on the DVD using a decrypter like DVDFab or the older DVD Decrypter then open the decrypted files in DVDShrink and reduce the size by removing non-critical elements and adding compression, then save the project as an ISO so you can test it. If the result is good, burn the ISO to a DVD.
  • FastStone Image Viewer Great image viewer and has some really nice, intuitive image editing tools for quick & quality cropping, converting, rotating, resizing & more (frequently better than starting up Photoshop or GIMP)
  • IrfanView Arguably the king of image viewers. Starting to become bloated though. If you don't like how FastStone is displaying something, try opening it in IrfanView instead, and vice versa.
  • GIMP Free Photoshop alternative
  • Paint.NET Great free alternative to Windows Paint (and more). Unfortunately it requires .NET Framework to be installed, but if you've already got .NET Framework installed for some other reason, I definitely recommend installing this.
  • FFmpeg ° Amazingly powerful and well-designed command line tool for working with video files. I usually use it for converting, trimming, splitting, re-encoding, extracting frames & removing or extracting audio; but it can do even more. You don't need to learn everything about it; just do a web search and you'll pretty much always find a working command example that someone else posted. As far as I know, the last usual (Zeranoe) build that was officially for XP was build 20160227-git-5156578 but there are some more recent builds from rogerdpack & and others.
  • Avidemux Does a fair amount of what FFmpeg does but with a GUI instead of command line. I pretty much always get better results with FFmpeg though.
  • Handbrake Very popular and easy to use video convertetranscoder (use version 0.9.9 or earlier). If you put libdvdcss-2.dll in its Program Files folder, it will have the ability to rip an encrypted DVD to a video file (eg, MP4 or MKV).
If you haven't delved into the virtual machine world, I recommend giving it try. Virtual machines essentially create a second computer in your computer, on which you can install DOS, Windows 95/98 or even another copy of Windows XP (as well as many other operating systems). However, if your computer it quite old, your virtual machine options may be quite limited.
  • VMWare Player Usually better than VirtualBox because of its superior graphics capability.
  • Oracle VM VirtualBox Good for anything that doesn't install or run well in VMWare Player
  • Virtual PC ° (aka: Microsoft Virtual PC, aka: Windows Virtual PC) Older software. Just useful for anything that doesn't install or run well in the other two.
  • DOSBox Great for running many old DOS programs & games.  
  • PC Wizard Gives valuable information about all your hardware and more. I also recommend HWMonitor (temp, voltage and fan info) and CPU-Z (detailed CPU, RAM & chipset info), all made by the same company (CPUID).
  • PassMark PerformanceTest Popular benchmarking software. 30-day trial but most features continue to work after the trial has ended.
  • NovaBench Completely free benchmarking software. Version 3.0.4 works with XP.
I don't recommend keeping any anti-malware programs installed. They aren't worth the system resources they use, the conflicts they cause and the malware-like behavior they themselves often display. Instead just install them whenever you feel like you need to run a scan then uninstall them immediately afterwards (install, scan & uninstall; then repeat for the other programs - you don't want more than one installed at the same time). Also, I'm not actually recommending any of these except for Jotti & VirusTotal, the rest I'm only including because so many people ask which free ones work in XP. (This isn't a complete list; just some popular ones.)
  • Sandboxie Run browsers and other programs in a sandbox, limiting their access to your comp and Internet connection. Excellent for running software you want/need to run but don't really trust.
  • PeerBlock Blocks specified lists of IP's (or IP ranges). Excellent firewall companion but not a firewall replacement as it doesn't block soon enough upon boot, or at deep enough level (eg, Windows Update can bypass it). It can also help protect you while torrenting by blocking known/likely anti-P2P IP's.
  • TrueCrypt ° Can encrypt a partition/disk, making it a nice alternative to Windows' built-in encryption, or it can create a virtual encrypted disk that is stored within a single file (you open the file in TrueCrypt and enter your passphrase then the disk appears in My Computer like a normal drive). Use only old versions (at least prior to 7.2). Version 5.0a is the one I recommend. Don't put too much trust in this software. The average joe or black-hat may not be able to decrypt your files but you should assume the corrupt intelligence agencies do have the ability. You can also try VeraCrypt, which is based on TrueCrypt and claims to have fixed security holes in TrueCrypt. I haven't tried VeraCrypt yet so this isn't a recommendation.
  • Pidgin with cypherpunks OTR plugin Great for encrypted chat with other people who also have it installed, or who have CoyIM installed; or who have Zom, ChatSecure or Conversations installed on their phone. It can also be used for unencrypted chat with people who don't have any of those installed. You can log in with many already-existing accounts including XMPP, Google, AIM, Yahoo and more. Once again, you should assume the corrupt intelligence agencies can decrypt your communications, but, at the very least, you're making it difficult for them.
  • Process Explorer and Process Monitor Two small stand-alone programs for viewing and monitoring what's running on your computer. I also recommend Svchost Process Analyzer (also stand-alone) for getting detailed info about running instances of svchost.exe; arguably Windows' worst security hole.
  • QuickHash Excellent stand-alone program for obtaining file hash info, hash verifying, file & directory comparison and more. If you don't know what a file hash is: it's a means of identifying files beyond the usual attributes (filename, size, date, etc). Extremely useful for making sure a file you've downloaded is the file you meant to download, and not some modified/infected file with the same name.
  • Wireshark Open source packet analyzer. Excellent tool for investigating which programs are sending & receiving data over your Internet connection, and the nature of that data. Version 1.10 works in XP.
  • 7-zip Probably the only program you'll ever need for creating and opening compressed files (ZIP, 7z, rar, etc). Free, lightweight and 100% awesome. It can also create self-extracting archives and split & re-join large files (a la HJ-Split/HJ-Join) for Internet sharing, transferring using a small flash drive, or backing up to optical discs.
  • Foxit Reader Free alternative to Adobe Acrobat Reader. Newer versions are insultingly invasive. They even install a service on your comp that runs at all times. I use version (or earlier) because it's really clean & lightweight.
  • Notepad ++ Great alternative to Windows Notepad. Allows opening much larger files, is quite customizable, has a macro (automation) option, has more encoding options and allows the installation of all kinds of plugins; including spellcheck.
  • CCleaner Good for conveniently clearing temp/junk files & usage history, and finding useless (and possibly problematic) registry entries. Also has a wipe option for making it difficult/impossible to recover data (eg, deleted files) from empty drive space. The software has recently become untrustworthy, so stick to older versions (version 4.17 & earlier should be good).
  • CutePDF Writer Lets you print things to a PDF file. Shows up in your list of installed printers like an actual physical printer. Awesome for printing receipts & web pages that don't save properly, and for previewing how something is likely to print before you try printing it on your physical printer (to avoid wasting paper or toneink). It has many other uses too. Unfortunately, it attempts to install Ask Toolbar software these days so before you install it, install Ghostscript converter (a CutePDF Writer dependency) then disconnect your Internet and install CutePDF Writer. Be sure to uncheck any boxes related to installing a toolbar. Reconnect the Internet after the install completes.
  • BabelSoft Media Preview Adds a thumbnail preview for video files
  • Deluge Excellent open source torrenting software.
  • LibreOffice or OpenOffice Free Microsoft Office alternative. I only have it installed for its text editor and for opening downloaded documents that were created in Microsoft Office or one of the alternatives.
  • EaseUS Partition Master ° Easy to use software for partition managing (creating, resizing, merging, etc). Simply slide sliders to resize partitions and it does the rest.
  • WinDirStat Generates a graphical representation of all your files, allowing you to easily identify what's taking up the most space. I also recommend dupeGuru ° for finding duplicate files.
  • Recover Files Free software for recovering deleted files. Some good non-free ones include [email protected] NTFS File Recovery and iolo Search and Recover
  • Macrium Reflect Free ° ° ° ° One of the best disk imaging programs in existence and it's free. It also does conventional file back-ups and disk cloning. If you haven't been creating disk images of your OS installs, now's the time to start; it's an extremely fast & easy way to restore your OS (as well as base programs, drivers, settings, and whatever else was on the drive when you created the image) without having to do a complete reinstall of everything.
  • Audacity Excellent free audio recording & editing software. Version 2.0.6 works with XP.
  • Gavotte RamDisk ° ° Software that can create a ramdisk using your unusable RAM in XP. As you probably know, M$ imposed an artificial memory limit on XP. There have been patches/hacks created to remove the limit. If you can't get those patches/hacks to work with your hardware (or don't want to try), you can still make use of your extra RAM by using this software to create a ramdisk and moving your pagefile to it. You should probably have at least 8GB of total RAM installed if you want to do this. If you only have 4GB or 6GB it would still make sense to create a ramdisk but you'll want to use it for something else, such as your Firefox temporary files folder, or maybe a second smaller pagefile.
submitted by NagevegaN to windowsxp

I have a few builds in mind (one for games, one for work, one for DOS games, one as a media server, and one for arcade emulation) and a few existing builds that I'd like some help to salvage before buying all new hardware. Looking for any pointers/recommendations/ideas you may have.

Overall Plans & Summary

  • I like to play games on the big screen in my living room, as well as watch some movies/tv shows/youtube videos and listen to music. I want a large, controlleuser friendly interface that's as simple as turning the TV on and sitting down. This build is the primary one I want to ask this subreddit about - the others have dedicated subreddits who may know more about finding hardware that meets my specific needs.
  • I like to have a dedicated desktop for any non-game related 'work'. This also covers any games best played in an upright chair with the precision of a mouse/keyboard. I'd primarily browse the internet, write code, and read emails on this device.
  • I like to have a 'retro' machine built for looks and running classic computer software/games, with beige peripherals.
  • I like to have local streaming setup for both personal photos/videos and my own DIY DRM-free Netflix/Spotify service.
  • I want to be able to play arcade games in an environment similar to how they were originally played.
I think that each of these 'needs' is best met with a dedicated computer build, and I'd like some feedback on whether my plans for these builds will satisfy those needs, and any recommendations on hardware, including re-purposing my existing hardware.

Current Hardware

Currently, I have a desktop with a GTX 970, i5 4690k, 16 GB RAM, and two 1 TB HDDs + a 500 GB SSD. One of the HDDs is nearing 10 years old, the other only around 4 or 5. They don't seem to be failing, but I figured it was a point worth throwing out there. I have a handful of monitors, most of which are small/low resolution, but I do have a nice 27" 1440p monitor that's served my desk well. I have a some 'leftover' hardware from when I built my desktop, such as a stock cooler, smaller power supply, and a handful of network cards.
I also have a prebuilt ~$400 Dell desktop from late 2012. I don't have the exact specs because it's not currently on hand, but hopefully from the timeframe we can kinda guess at the performance it has. I did put a GPU in it - possibly the GTX 650 - so it's not a terrible PC.

Plans for Living Room 'Gaming' Computer

This device will be hooked up to my 65" ultra low-latency/response time TV. It's only 60Hz, but most games I play don't support anything higher. While the vast majority of games I play are SNES/Genesis/TurboGrafx-16 era, I do need a fair amount of poweresolution because I like to get crazy replicating the 'ideal' CRT effects seen on professional video monitors. I also like to have all my games on one device, so I definitely can't use my Raspberry Pi for this - even the GTX 970/4690k can sometimes slow down when I crank the latency-removal settings up a bit too high. While I don't play a ton of modern, high graphical fidelity games (or anything competitive), I do wish to be able to play things like GTA V, Crash/Spyro remakes, Just Cause 3, etc. at roughly max settings and ideally at 4k. I'm fine with dropping down to lower resolutions, but if I'm going to drop a lot of money I want to make sure I get an improvement over the GTX 970. I know 1080p will scale better to 4K, so if I end up having to drop resolution on the new build, I might as well just use the 970 for this build since it can do just fine on max settings 1080p (and often even 1440p) and just get a cheap GPU for the desktop build.
I'd imagine that I'd need around 2 TB of HDD and at least 500 GB SSD. I suppose using my aging HDDs on the gaming build is for the best, as very few 'important' files could ever be lost from here. Still, I'd prefer to 'start fresh' with some brand new wiped drives.
This build will be ethernet-connected, so no need for a wifi card.
Many of the games I play barely even support stereo, but I would like to listen to music/watch videos streamed locally from my media server. As a result, I wouldn't mind getting a nice sound solution. I have a really nice pair of headphones, but I think getting some good speakers or possibly wireless (yet quality) headphones is something I'm willing to spend a few hundred on. I'd rather get something that's 'improvable' - a nice set of stereo speakers for now that will last, and can become a part of a surround setup down the road (as opposed to a mediocre 'complete' surround setup). I know the hardware for good audio can be a bit more confusing than just 3mm jacks, so I should mention that I prefer something that I can hook up to the the TV and not just PC.
I like to have nice, user-friendly interfaces for everything and I think that sideloading a nice ad-free YouTube app/Plex-like apps onto Android TV (and using my Pi to DNS-block TV updates) will provide a better experience than attempting to navigate the YouTube webpages using the Steam Controller. I'm not sure if the non-gaming content will be streamed to the TV directly or via the PC, so I'm open to suggestions that keep things simplified and user friendly.
Perhaps I should keep the server directly connected to the TV via HDMI to prevent streaming lag and messing with the TV interface (and just use a dedicated mouse/keyboard)... or possibly even use the gaming build as the server. I'm open to suggestions. I plan on having a small monitor at the end of the couch, where I might keep the mouse/keyboard on a small table and locate the Desktop/server underneath. This secondary monitor would be used to make quick configuration changes without requiring messing with the main display and spending 20 minutes moving the mouse from one side of the screen to the other. If I have the server nearby, I could just switch inputs to go in-between devices.
Hardware Guesses
GPU: Something really powerful - if cards around the 5700 XT aren't much better than the GTX 970 (in terms of getting better settings), then I'll just stick with the 970.
CPU: Again, something top-quality. I'm thinking somewhere around R7 3700 (X?).
RAM: 16 GB should be plenty.
Storage: Roughly 2-3 TB should fit all my games, the vast majority being fine on HDD but some are better on SSD - especally the OS itself. Everything else is roughly going to follow the 'yellow-to-orange-ish' sections of logical increments, I'd imagine.
Overall budget: $1500 should cover it, right? Remember that I don't need a network card or monitor (I already have the TV), and I might be able to salvage my fan, power supply, and 16 GB RAM - maybe even the HDDs/SSD.

Plans for Desktop ('Work') Computer

I don't plan on doing anything super performance-reliant here, but I would like to be able to comfortably use a few monitors and hundreds of browser tabs on this machine. My existing desktop build is just fine for this, though I wouldn't mind having enough power to play a few of the games that are played best at a desk with mouse/keyboard, especially if I can upgrade to a 120Hz+ screen. I still prefer to play most games on the couch, and the Steam controller works wonders here, but a some games are just better at a desk. I do prefer to have a nice (ideally wireless) mouse/keyboard + tray for playing a few of the rare games which are 'technical' enough to require a mouse but still played best from a couch. My current mouse/keyboard setup works great for the desktop build.
Hardware Guesses
GPU: Nothing special, but nothing terrible either. My laptop's GT 740M performs quite well in most desktop needs, even at 1440p, so I don't think I need anything crazy. If I get a new GPU, I'm certain that my GTX 970 is going back into this build.
CPU: Again, if I get a better CPU for the gaming build, I'll happily reuse the 4690k. But I don't need anything new or fancy, just decent.
RAM: 16 GB should be more than enough, but I know that I'm lazy with browser tabs. Perhaps 8 GB would be too low.
Storage: Nothing special, but a 250-500 GB SSD and 1 TB HDD should be more than enough.
Overall budget: Eh, if I was starting out from scratch, I'd say $500 tops? Something around the turquoise tier of logical increments.

DOS/Sleeper Build

This build is mostly used a DOSBox machine. I'd imagine I'd just run Linux with a nice Win 9x theme and possibly a few VMs for games that rely on 95/98/00/ME/XP and don't work well with WINE. I'd also be playing some really garbage emulators like ZSNES, NESticle, and Genecyst just to relive the memories of getting your hands on those hard-to-find interleaved ROMs. Also for DOOM/Unreal deathmatches and software-rendered Quake.
The 'aesthetic' of this build is key - I don't necessarily need a Model M, but I do want EVERYTHING in that nasty off-white beige color. Personally, I'd love a keyboard with that giant L-shaped RETURN key. I definitely don't want anything that's hard to use, so I won't resort to awful membranes that stick, but I also don't need anything fancy. I'm considering just getting a cheap knock-off mechanical keyboard and putting some beige caps on - provided I can get my beautiful L-shaped Enter key.
I won't need a ton of power, but I might need some to leverage the VMs and CRT shaders I might need to use if I can't find a quality monitor. I have a ton of cheap 5:4 LCDs lying around that I could repurpose, but I still need to cram them into CRT monitor shell for the aesthetic to be pulled off. I know Linus Tech Tips and John Romero have some ancient 16:9 27"+ monitors (the former of whom somehow fit a modern monitor inside), but I'm not sure if I can find a salvageable CRT casing that'll fit my monitors. While I don't want to rely on real CRTs that likely to be low quality and falling apart, I don't know if I can really get an LCD inside a case that'll be convincing, not to mention the extra poweresolution required for convincing CRT shaders and the general lack of shaders that replicate CRT monitors instead of CRT television sets.
Hardware Guesses
GPU: Since I probably won't be fitting a 4k GPU in here, I don't think I'll need much power for my CRT shaders at lower resolutions. Perhaps my GTX 650 will be used here.
CPU: Nothing special, though I wonder how much a Windows XP VM will eat up. Perhaps whatever was in that prebuilt Dell machine from 2012 will go here.
RAM: See above comment about the VMs. I doubt I need a ton for most things, though. Maybe 8 GB tops? 4 would be fine I'd imagine.
Storage: Doubt I'd even need an SSD. I could probably get away with just a 250 GB SSD and no HDD.
Overall budget: $200-500? Assuming I started from scratch.

Media Server

I'd like to store off all my personal photos/videos, FLAC music, and DVD/Blu-Ray rips on a server that I can use to stream to either my android tv/phone or (ideally) my family's devices (who won't be on the same network). I'm quite comfortable with Linux and setting up the software, though I'm not 100% sure about the software I'd use. I think I'd go 100% open-source if possible, and Streama and Ampache seem to take care of most of my needs. Anything with at least a web interface (and ideally an android app) would be perfect. Anything that provides a controller-navigable interface would be perfect, as it would eliminate the need to use the Smart TV as anything but a monitor for the living room gaming PC. I've yet to find a good way to use YouTube on the big screen aside from the android tv app, so if you have any alternatives at all, please let me know. I'd prefer something much more user-friendly than mousing around Firefox.
I don't anticipate streaming to more than one device, and I don't mind buffering. I don't watch much HD content, so I don't think I need to crazy on the power here, just the storage. I wouldn't mind making a second near-identical build to store in family members' houses to mirror all the content for both backup purposes and reducing potential load.
Hardware Guesses
GPU: Video decoding can be tough, but nothing top quality. Maybe RX 560?
CPU: R5 1600 sounds like good territory, nothing crazy but can handle a load.
RAM: 4 to 8 GB perhaps? Probably closer to 4.
Storage: Gonna need plenty. I'm fine with 4 TB, but want to have room to expand. I'll be storing old documents and other backups here, and as my collection grows I'll need space. Shouldn't need anything on SSD I would think.
Overall budget: $200-600, since I might need a fairly good GPU/CPU - provided I don't re-purpose anything from my existing builds. Kinda a big range, but I'm not too sure on the requirements for streaming. Keep in mind that this will likely not require a network card since ethernet will be a priority. Cooling may also be important, but I do have an old fan lying around. Since only 1 person at a time will be using it, I don't expect to need much powegenerate much heat.

Arcade Build

Similar to the DOS build, I'll need a bit more power than RasPi for this, as I'll definitely need some good CRT shaders. I'm thinking of going for a standup machine with four sets of joysticks, each with six American-style concave buttons. The sticks and buttons would be in bright matching colors. This machine would likely run Linux and use MAME/FinalBurn Alpha. I think there are few games covered by other emulators like TeknoParrot, but I believe that's closed source and Windows only, not to mention doesn't have much compatability with any games I'm interested in.
The idea behind this machine is to have the ultimate arcade setup, for games best played alone or with friends. I'd like to have every control scheme possible covered, though I'm not certain if I can cover lightguns, and having more than one trackball seems like something that'll never get used. I wouldn't mind having a racing wheel/pedals that can be easily attached, but perhaps that's for another build far down the line if there are that many quality racing games that demand it - heck, if there are modern games that can use it, I might just shift the driving stuff over to the living room build.
Hardware Guesses
GPU: Something decent. I think I'll have room to fit a fairly high resolution screen in here, so being able to fully utilize CRT shaders means that something from the era of 2-4 GB VRAM GPUs will work.
CPU: Nothing terribly high quality, but emulation can be tough on the CPU. It'll probably be the bottleneck. Perhaps something around the specs of the i5 4690k (give or take) will suffice.
RAM: 4 to 8 GB should do it.
Storage: Eh, maybe 1 TB total. Probably don't need an SSD.
Overall budget: $500-800, since I might need a fairly good GPU/CPU - provided I don't re-purpose anything from my existing builds.

Other Information

Budget is quite high. I don't have any hard numbers, but I'm not floating in money either. I'd rather wait and save up for whatever can meet my requirements than buy something mediocre just because it's all I can afford today, though I prefer to get everything for any particular build all around the same time (within 1-3 months) to ensure compatibility and prevent regretting future sales/hardware releases. I'll pay whatever's required to meet my needs, and I'm willing to wait for anything I can't afford today.
I prefer to do everything on Linux (with the possible exception of the living room gaming pc, since there are one or two games in my library that I'm too lazy to get working on Linux) so I prefer AMD (especially GPUs) for performance reasons. Really, though, if it does what I need it to and the price is fair, I'll use any brand.
I'm open to ideas on:
  1. The recommended parts for any particular build
  2. The builds that my existing hardware is best suited for.
  3. Software recommendations - particularly for the media server, including both server software/distro AND client-side apps. If there's an easy way to play games/watch YouTube/listen to music from a nice big controller-compatible interface on my PC, let me know.
  4. Recommendations for old-looking PC peripherals - mouse, keyboard, montior, case, etc. Even suggestions on places to look, like eBay, Goodwill, or Craigslist.
  5. Any other ideas, even stuff that can radically change which builds I make (such as combining builds that are too similar, adding a new build to cover something I haven't thought of, etc.).
  6. Upcoming products/sales worth waiting for. I know AMD is releasing their high-end GPU sometime in 2020, so don't worry about telling me to wait for something on the horizon if it's something you'll think I'll regret not waiting for. I'm in no rush.
submitted by Corporal_Quesadilla to buildapc

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