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So now you're familiar with M.A.M.E. and ROMs and there is a finished Cab to put it in, it's time to think about what Operating System we are going to run on our old beater and how we are going to control it when it is inside the cabinet.

This will largely be decided by two things;
(a) The spec of the PC you will be using.
(b) The emulators you will be running on it.

M.A.M.E. isn't too fussy about motherboards or RAM or anything like that, it is more to do with graphics cards and sound cards where the issues lie, the favourites being ATI graphics cards and Creative Soundblaster sound cards.

Personally I have had better success with PCI graphics cards than VGA cards but ISA cards (if your ancient PC supports it) can be better still.

M.A.M.E. will happily run with the on-board graphics on your motherboard but you may find that some of the more graphically intensive games only display in a smaller window if they even display at all so it's best to go with a graphics card where you can.

Another thing to bear in mind is the amount of RAM you have in the system. You don't want your M.A.M.E. cab to have to start paging and worrying about virtual Memory so the more RAM you can throw in the better but to be honest 512 MB will be plenty for your needs.

With regard to disk space a relatively small Hard Disk will do, and something around 8 or 10 Gigabytes will be more than sufficient for running classic M.A.M.E. games. However, once you start to run the newer versions of M.A.M.E. and more modern games, then the disk space requirements soon begin to increase.

I had a couple of old machines lying around that were doing nothing, and one was an old Dell Optiplex that I had rescued from a builders skip 2 years previously. I had brought it home, booted it up and it worked perfectly. Obviously the first thing I did was to check the My Videos folder to see if there was anything compromising (fully intending to delete it instantly of course), but finding nothing I formatted the hard disk and it had sat there for a couple of years waiting to be turned from a dead piece of crap into a working piece of crap.

Like I said, the spec of the machine will largely dictate what Operating System you will put on it, and also which M.A.M.E. version you should use, and as I was using such old equipment I needed a solid, reliable and more importantly low resource Operating System.

It turned out that the Optiplex having only a Pentium 3 450MHz processor was a little underpowered, despite running some games and running them well, it wasn't powerful enough to run all of them. The same goes for the P3 667MHz unit I had too, so the general rule of thumb for an antiquated version of M.A.M.E. is a processor of around 800MHz, and lo and behold I had one of those too.

So once you have your parts bin assembled into a working and bootable PC it is time to turn your attention to the software build, and though the software build is also as potentially infuriating as the hardware one, you won't be cutting the ends of your fingers on crappy old circuit boards any more.

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