Virtual Build Your Own Retro PC with 86Box

I enjoy playing old DOS and Windows games. However, I do not have the space for a dedicated Retro PC or multiple PC’s if I want machines for different era’s. To scratch my Retro PC itch, I’ve been using the PC emulator 86Box.

It allows me to virtually build a Retro PC by choosing the components I want to use for the build. You can select CPU’s ranging from the 8086 to the Pentium II. There are sound card options like the Sound Blaster series, Gravis UltraSound, Adlib Gold & more. It also has a huge list of video card choices. You can pick 2D accelerators from S3, ATI and many other manufactures, and even pick 3D accelerators like the 3DFx Voodoo series of cards. Other options include choosing input hardware, CD-ROM, hard disk controllers and more. Pretty much every component needed to build a PC.

Once you have the hardware picked out, you will need to move on to the software setup. That includes setting up the BIOS, installing the OS & drivers, installing the needed software and customizing things they way you want. Since this is PC hardware you are building, you can install OS’s like Windows, OS/2, Linux and more. 86Box really makes you feel that you are building your own machine and gives you the ability of covering different periods in PC history.

If you don’t want to deal with the hardware and software setup, then 86Box isn’t for you. Programs like DOSBOX or the eXoDOS project would be better fits to get software running quickly. 86Box is for users who want to have a similar experience to building real hardware.

86Box is free and open source and has ports to PC, Mac & Linux.