MAME cabinet, system upgrade part 2
On to some testing results with the MAME cabinet computer upgrade. The new hardware was almost a “no fit” inside the cabinet (silly considering the size of it!), but I got the hardware installed eventually. The coin return slot had to go, but it’s not like there was any actual use for it in the cabinet.
Ok so results, let’s do image quality first. Like said, I wanted to give ATI one last chance even despite throughout the process, I found myself wondering “why do I even bother?”.
To boot with, the new motherboard proved immediately a whole lot better: SATA bus interference in the display image gone for good! Yay \o/. With the graphics cards, the surprising end result was that ATI ruled Nvidia in S-Video output quality, but Nvidia composite out was way better than S-Video on ATI.. wtf?! :)
Factual performance upgrades are quite hard to evaluate. The new system is slower to boot, but this is because of some hardware features that can’t be disabled (causing wait periods in the boot sequence). Overall, the emulation is definitely faster on some of the more CPU-intensive games, but they do not run smooth enough to be playable anyway.
Audio emulation did definitely benefit from the multithreading (far less skipping), at least after I understood to add the “-mt” switch on the MAME command line ;). The integrated soundchip on the new motherboard even has a better equalizer in its Windows driver, allowing me to better tweak around the short-comings of the Labtec speaker set.. Though even after these the sound I’m getting still makes me want to upgrade the speakers ;)
Speaking about upgrades, next up though I’ll probably be looking into doing something about the spinner. The current one just has too many issues, so I’m probably faster off getting something less DIY. Since I do have a Opti-PAC board getting a real arcade spinner is very much a viable option. Trackball might be nice to squeeze in too.. But not much space on the controller console though, so let’s see what I’ll end up with.
One additional / possible upgrade I’m trying to wrap my head around at the moment is how to incorporate a steering wheel to the cabinet. I got this lovingly retro Thrustmaster T1 wheel/pedal set for free, so of course I can’t just pass by the opportunity. The set is slightly repaired by someone, possibly also modded to be more robust than what the set is in its original configuration. Regardless of this, I got the set working fine with Model 2 emulator at least (Sega Rally, yay!), though it took a good while to do all the config stuff.
..if nothing else, I guess I’ll have to start working on a new “racing” cabinet ;)