Building a MicroATX IBM Clone: The NuXT Turbo PC

Building a MicroATX IBM Clone: The NuXT Turbo PC

[Battlezone missiles striking] – Yeah! It might not play Crysis but it does play Battlezone,
so I’m good. Oh game over, what?
Never mind. [smooth jazz music] Greetings and welcome to another
LGR retro computer build! And this time I’ve got
something I’ve been excited to put together since the
moment I heard it existed. We’re gonna build the NuXT MicroATX Turbo, an IBM XT-class computer system that functionally wouldn’t
have been out of place in 1987, but is an entirely new design using modern hardware and
components when possible. No emulation, no FPGA recreations, just a straight up IBM PC-compatible with a mixture of brand new
and new old stock parts. And this is here courtesy
of JD in New Zealand, who runs an online shop there
by the name Monotech PCs. He sent along a whole bunch
of awesome things actually, all of which I’ll be able
to use on future projects, so thank you very much sir! But yeah, right now the star of the show is the NuXT: a newly-designed
open source motherboard running an 8088 CPU. It’s based on a number of
other open source projects, with no shortage of them coming from the venerable Sergey Kiselev, and the result is a basis for
a phenomenally capable PC XT. Right off the bat there’s
the DIP-40 CPU socket, accepting processors ranging from a 4.77 megahertz Intel 8088 to a 10 megahertz NEC V20,
with the ability to switch between three different
clock speeds on the fly. The V20 is what JD chose to include here, a nice choice and a popular upgrade for IBM PCs in the 80s
that’ll run at either 4.77, 7.16, or 9.55 megahertz. There’s also a spot for
an 8087 math coprocessor, which is completely optional,
but he sent one of those as well, so I’m gonna go
ahead and plop that in there. As far as RAM, the NuXT
includes 832 kilobytes of onboard memory, with a
maxed-out 640K conventional and an additional 192K
for upper memory blocks. Another standout feature of the NuXT is the integrated XT-CF card interface, with an included 64
megabyte CompactFlash card, completely eliminating the
need for a controller card or spinning hard disk. There’s also an onboard floppy controller supporting the majority of 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch disk drives,
from single density and double density, on up to high density and even extra high density drives. Video output is taken care of as well, with an integrated Trident
TVGA9000i SVGA chipset from the mid-90s, one
that’s register-compatible with VGA, EGA, CGA, and
even MDA and Hercules. It’s configured with 256K VRAM by default, with sockets allowing for a total of 512K, though running higher-res
256-color graphics on this system is gonna be sluggish. Of course, integrated graphics means you get a 15-pin VGA port for outputting to your monitor of choice. And yeah, this I/O section
alone is a nice improvement on the original XT, with
a 9-pin serial connection and a PS/2-compatible keyboard port. Plus, the AT2XT-programmed
microcontroller means that you don’t have to worry
about converting AT keyboards to XT scan codes, so no
Soarer’s Converter is required. As for sound, well, it’s an XT PC so you’ve got the PC
speaker, with pins included to add an external speaker if ya like. I’ll be adding a sound card using one of the four 8-bit ISA slots though. And yes, it only has four instead of the original XT’s eight, but it’s a MicroATX board,
so there’s only so much room. Besides, all those integrated components means you don’t need as many slots anyway. Another nice addition are the ROM sockets, with the 128K system
ROM using flash memory that saves even without power, meaning there’s no need for a CMOS battery to save BIOS settings. And above that is an Option ROM socket presenting ROM upgrade opportunities, also doubling as an EEPROM programmer that can write to compatible chips. Neat! And lastly, the board generates its own negative five-volt rail and accepts a 20-pin ATX connection, so you can use almost
any modern power supply without modifying it. Yeah man, the NuXT really is a dream team of retro and modern hardware, making for a nearly
all-encompassing PC XT solution in a compact package. But enough with the tantalizingly
technical tomfoolery, it’s time to put this thing together and play some classic DOS games! Okay, so before we get
everything all built, let’s make sure that it is
functioning first of all, and for that, I’ve got one of these Focus power supplies by Seasonic. It’s a 450-watt, absolutely
overkill for what we need. The original XT only had,
like, I think 130 watts, but you know, it’ll totally do the job and it’s one of these
nice-looking semi-modular units, so cool by me, let’s get
this thing plugged in and you only need the
first 20 pins on there, the extra four for modern motherboards will not be used here. Just gonna grab a VGA monitor here. This classic Packard
Bell will do just fine. Plug that in, plug the power in, and yeah, let’s turn it on for the first time and see what happens.
[XT beeps musically] Huh, that custom startup beep
sounds a little familiar. [Intel sound plays] Yeah, it’s like a slowed-down, slightly off-key Intel sound. At least, that’s what I’m hearing. Wonder if there’s any
way to customize that, but yeah, everything is
looking good up to this point. We get the Micro 8088 BIOS doing its thing and checking everything out, and yeah, everything is checking out. Even got a little custom greetings here. [chuckles] Nice touch! -Nice. Right, so for the case situation, well, I considered a
bunch of different things but ended up deciding
on this Apevia X-QPack3 Micro ATX Cube Case. I considered using, like,
an original IBM clone case from back in the day, but I don’t know. The idea of using this in a
modern case appealed to me and this particular one appealed to me for a multitude of reasons, mostly just because I think it looks cool, but it’s also this white with blue accents that really brings to mind
kind of the IBM aesthetic. It’s not IBM beige, but blue
is definitely their color, so yeah, it looks clean and awesome to me, and it’s also got two drive bays up front. Something you’re seeing less
and less on modern cases now, but yeah, 5.25-inch and 3.5-inch, I’m definitely gonna use
that larger one there, and yeah, I don’t know, just something about this overall design
appealed to me like crazy, from the blue-tinted
windows to the form factor and, I don’t know, kind of
looks like a mini fridge, and yes, it does have a bunch of ports that are gonna be completely redundant. I mean, we can’t use USB or these audio plugins on this board, but it does have LEDs and
power and reset buttons that are compatible with this board. No turbo button, but that’s okay because this is a tri-mode turbo thing, and that’s controlled through software. And here’s another reason
that I really was attracted to this case, and check this out. Look at the way the
motherboard mounts in here. Yeah, it goes in there
horizontally, not vertically. It’s very much the way
that the original IBM XT horizontal desktop form factor
computers were built as well, so you have the cards
going in vertically there, kind of like a test bench as well. It gives me a whole lot of room to just plug and play with
all sorts of different cards and add-ons and whatever
I wanna do in the future. And yeah, let’s go ahead
and get the power supply installed in there, and
I’m gonna do my best in terms of cable management. Thankfully it looks like this
case is pretty well-equipped to get cables and stuff
them out of the way, and with that installed underneath the motherboard area there, we’ll just get rid of
a lot of these cables, especially like the audio and USB headers. We don’t need those at all,
so I’m just gonna, again, tuck those completely out of sight. And yes, every one of these
front panel headers here will have a spot to plug
in on the motherboard. Hard drive and power LEDs,
reset and power switch, and yeah, that’s all
that stuff taken care of. Just gonna get the motherboard
screwed into place here, and now to make use of
that 5.25-inch drive bay on the front here, and
I’ve got a new old stock, IBM personal computer,
5.25-inch, 360K disk drive. Something picked up from
Computer Reset, yep. Absolutely new that I wanted one of these, so yeah, we’re gonna
use it, hope it works. I also got a new old stock
floppy disk drive cable here. It is a wide ribbon cable, but, you know, we’ll get it out of the
way as much as we can, and the front of the case
just pulls right off of there and we can get the
drive tucked into place, for the most part. See, this is actually
configured for optical drives, so it’s got one of these toolless
plastic locking mechanisms that’s supposed to make life easier, but yeah, it doesn’t actually do anything for keeping our floppy disk in place, so we will not be using
that, but you know, whatever. We’ll get the front of
the case back on here, and just use some traditional screws. Now, I might install a
3.5-inch disk drive later on, but really, a 360K
5.25-inch is pretty much all that I wanna use with an XT-class machine. All right, ribbon cable power plugged in, and that’s that, looking good. Ah, I was really hoping this would look as awesome as it does. [laughs] I think this looks awesome, flat black and flat white, oh yes! All right, well, let’s go ahead and get the sound card installed. I’m gonna go with this Lazy Game Reviews
Edition AdLib clone card. And yeah, here’s another little
weird quirk about this case, it has this cover that
goes over the screws of the expansion cards. Yeah, you have to unscrew
this panel, pull that off, then you can plug things in,
screw the card into place, and then, if you want, you
can put that panel back, and yeah, I’ll put it back. It kind of makes it look clean, I guess. And really, that’s about it. I mean, with everything
being all integrated onto the motherboard,
there’s not much else I wanna add right now. Maybe something with a game port and a parallel port down the line, but yeah, that’s about it. Just get the disk drive
protector out of there and I’ve got another couple things that I wanted to install on here. I got these neat little
custom case badges recently, and I thought it would look awesome on the front of this case
with that black floppy drive and white case design, and something about the reflective silver just appeals to me, and
yeah, the brushed metal, I don’t know, it’s got a retro look while also still seeming to me
to be a bit sleek and modern. Just gonna put IBM and
MS-DOS on here, and yeah! Check that out. Almost like an IBM XT-class machine if it were from “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Star Wars” or something,
I don’t know, man, but it’s time to get the
plastic off the sides. [plastic film crinkling] [continuous cellophane crinklage] -I should’ve peeled it slower. Yes you should’ve, but
it’s too late for that now. Okay, time to get everything
plugged in and turned on and here’s a slight nitpick I have about the back of the
case, there’s no I/O panel. The motherboard didn’t come with one, but it would be nice to
have one of these made as an option, I’d prefer it
not to be all open like this, but you know, it’s fine. Let’s get it turned on
and see what we get. [XT beeps musically] Ooh, oh yeah, it is alive. It is looking good, and it’s quite quiet. I did actually plug in the front fan. It doesn’t need it, but
I think it looks cool and it’ll keep it cool. Now to get the floppy
drive doing its thing, and for that, we just press
F1 to enter the BIOS setup, and it is extremely simple
on this Micro 88 BIOS here. Very much like the
original IBM XT startup, but without the need for diagnostics, setup disk or anything. I tested it out really quick, and it is indeed writing
and reading just fine. So let’s get a mouse plugged in here, and try out some games
and software and stuff. First up here, I’m gonna
try the highly useful old-school PC Benchmark, or TOPBENCH, and yeah, as you can see here, it’s giving it a score of 11 and a few different computer models that are close to it in performance, and how we can use the
keyboard combination to change the clock speed on the fly. So here it is on the medium speed, that then takes it down
to a score of eight, close to a XT clone, which makes sense, and then you take it
down to the slowest one, the 4.77 megahertz NEC V20,
and that’s a score of five, which is very close to
a Tandy 1000 EX or SX, or a PCjr with an NEC V20, so
again, makes a lot of sense. And it’s just cool to be able
to switch between the three using Control + Alt
and either minus, plus, or the asterisk on the
numpad, it’s that easy. It is a V20, though, not
an original Intel chip, so as you can see from the
8088 Mile Per Hour demo here, running in the slowest
mode is still 9% faster. Yeah, it’s just something to
keep in mind, and of course, taking it to the maxed-out
speed is 55% faster. It’s just something to keep in mind, you know, the processor being quicker, and also the video card being a bit newer than what a lot of the
XTs had back in the day, so as you can see here, that same demo is just not working properly. This needs an original CGA card and 4.77 megahertz Intel 8088, so it’s not gonna do what it needs to. Completely expected in this case, and presumably could be alleviated, but yeah, let’s move on to some games. First up, we’re gonna try Lemmings, because it was pre-installed
on the CF card. [“Let’s Go!” by Tony Williams] And I’m running the
processor at full speed here and the AdLib is doing just fine. Ah, it’s awesome, I mean, it’s Lemmings. Of course it’s awesome, but yeah, totally playable, much
moreso than an original 8088. That is for sure, not quite
286-level or anything, but you know, a whole lot
more tolerable nonetheless. All right, another one to
try here is 688 Attack Sub. [“688 Attack Sub” by Rob Hubbard] Yeah, I just wanted to try this out, not only because of that
ominous AdLib music, but also because it is a 256-color game. Really showing off the VGA
capabilities of this card. Again, you can install more VRAM into this and get SVGA and all that, but [laughs] it’s just not
gonna run very well, so. You know, I might do
that anyway just because. Here’s an example of a
nice game to play on here, Sim City, the original. Got this running in EGA mode here and I’m gonna load up
one of my saved cities that I have from when I reviewed the game, and yeah, as you can see,
it’s loading in here. It’s definitely quicker
than an original PC XT, but again, you can see just
scrolling around the map here, this is the full speed,
and if I take you down to one of the slower
speeds, well, it’s slower, so yeah, it’s making a difference. That higher clock speed and V20-ness certainly comes in handy. Even on the slowest
speed, it is still quicker than an original 8088. Okay, let’s try something else here because I was messing
with it on a PCjr lately. Codename: ICEMAN. [“ICEMAN Theme” by Mark Seibert] Mm, more ominous AdLib music, and some nice-looking 16-color graphics. This game is from 1990, and
it runs about how I expected for one of this era of SCI
Engine games from Sierra. A whole lot quicker than
the PCjr I was messing with, for sure, but this is right on that edge of not being something you’d wanna play on a system this speed, or maybe you just don’t
wanna play it anyway ’cause it’s not a particularly
great game, but that’s okay. Something that does
run wonderfully on here is David Murray’s Planet X3. Of course, though, I mean,
he designed this to run on an original PC for Tandy
1000s and stuff like that, but I’m running the VGA
mode here because we can. [“Fight for the Future” by Noah Aman] And yeah, this is an absolute improvement over what it would be
running on an actual XT with a VGA card, yeah, this is awesome. Great example of a game to play on here with AdLib and VGA, and
it’s got just enough speed to be smooth and awesome
and just an enjoyable game, without needing to reduce the screen width or turn off transparency
or anything like that. Now, for an example of
something that isn’t very great to run on this speed of a system, but is still technically possible, we have Stunts, AKA 4D Sports Driving. [FM synth motor idling, revving] [chuckling] Yeah, okay, so
this is just beyond the limits of this machine, I
mean, you know, it runs, but you don’t wanna play it like this. Even doing things like
reducing the graphics level to the lowest and turning
off the sound and everything, you’re still gonna get
single-digit frame rates, so yeah, something like
Stunts, I mean [laughs] obviously it’s not gonna be
great on an XT-class system. Really needs a 386, but still
kind of fun to push the limits and see what it can and can’t do. Now, here’s something that I wasn’t sure if it would run as well
as it ended up running, and yeah, it’s Commander
Keen episode four. [“Welcome to a Kick In Yore
Pants In Good Ole Hillville!” by Bobby Prince] Yeah, it sounds awesome, and actually it runs relatively smooth considering this is just an NEC V20, but again, it’s really not
made for this slow a system and the side-scrolling is
obviously a little jittery. It’s skipping some frames, and the loading takes absolutely forever, even with that CompactFlash card. But, you know what, I
totally would’ve played this if I had a computer of this
speed back in the day, dude. All right, we got another
homebrew modern DOS game here and this is Paku Paku by Jason Knight. [Pac-Man sirens blaring] I mean it’s Pac-Man, it’s gonna work, but I just wanted to test this out because it has this
tweaked graphics mode here that doesn’t always work on everything, but I mean, for the most part it does, and looks great, sounds
great, plays great. It’s just a well-optimized game, so that makes sense, unlike something from back in the day that
used a tweaked graphics mode, and this is a game called Round 42. And yeah, you end up with
this half-height screen and parts of it are corrupt, and of course it’s just
running too fast as well, even if the CPU is
turned all the way down. This really is made for an
original 8088 and CGA card, and yeah, that’s just how it goes, man. These clone systems, this kind of stuff was common back in the day. There’s always trade-offs,
and same goes for a game like Atarisoft’s Defender
from 1983 here. [incredulous laughter]
It’s way too fast, as expected, and yeah, even cranking the CPU all the way down to that 4.77 megahertz the V20 just runs it a
bit faster than intended, so this is the slowest
that this computer can go, and it’s still running this too fast. And things like this are precisely why I keep all kinds of different DOS and PC-compatible computers lying around. There’s always something that needs a little something different, and maybe I’ll switch this out
to a original 8088 later on so I can have that extra
bit of compatibility, but yeah, for now, I am
quite happy with this. I’m also quite happy that you
can boot from floppy disks. You just press A during
the startup of the system and it’ll boot up from any
kind of bootable floppy, including PC booter games like Microsoft Flight Simulator 2.0 here. Though it’s made for older video cards, so you get a similar problem with Round 42 in that it’s horizontally weird but again, this can be addressed. There’s a dip switch on
the motherboard there for different compatibility modes for different video cards, and you can just plop in another card and disable the onboard one if you want. Might make some changes later on, but for now, the only one that I want to immediately
change is that PC speaker, because that little piezo
beeper in there is okay, but I really like the
sound of a cone speaker like this one here. I mentioned it earlier, but it
does have the pins on there. It’s just a standard connection for this, so you can just take out
the jumper and plug this in, and hear what it sounds like, like this. [XT beeps sonorously] Oh yeah! It really does sound better. Here’s a comparison with California Games. Listen how much more full the cone sounds compared to the piezo beeper. [“California Games” music plays] [“California Games” music plays better] Yeah, that just sounds so
much more authentic to me, especially if you get it in
the right spot of the case, then it reverberates off
of the proper components, and dude, this is just one
of my favorite projects in a long time now. I absolutely love the new XT motherboard just as something that’s
a little bit different from all the other turbo
XTs that I already have, and as much as I like the
options of FPGA machines and emulation and all that kind of stuff, there’s something about original hardware or even just modern modifications
to original hardware and homebrew systems
like this that satisfy me on a very nerdy, geeky level, and that absolutely is what this is. So if you’re interested,
do check out Monotech PCs. He’s selling them for around 300 bucks, is where they start depending
on if you want it assembled or what components and all that, and I’m not sponsored here. I’m not getting any commission. He just sent this to me and wondered if I wanted
to do a video, and I did. And it’s extremely well-made
and professional-looking, and it’s absolutely my kind of project. Perhaps it’s not your cup
of tea, or even if it is, I really hope that you enjoyed
seeing it all come together. I certainly had fun making it. But that’s all for now. There’s new videos every week, so stay tuned if you wanna
see more stuff in the future. And as always, thank you
very much for watching!

100 thoughts on “Building a MicroATX IBM Clone: The NuXT Turbo PC”

  1. That plastic peel, that cone speaker upgrade, and your little nerdy giggles satisfy my inner geek in ways only you would understand.

    Great project, sir.

    Thanks for the fun!

  2. Would have been really funny when he said "And well just get rid of these cables" then proceeds to take some scissors and starts cutting the cables. Would have been good humour for "cable management"

  3. to heck with a cone speaker.. remember the old sound blaster cards had a pc speaker input. I rigged that up on my 98 machine after watching this

  4. am i just being picky or would the IBM and MS-DOS badges look better on the top part of the front? where there aren't any ventillation holes..?

  5. Man, this thing is so awesome you made me download OpenWatcom v2 and I started C programming for the 8086 in a VM just to get ready for when I'll actually buy the kit. Thanks for discovering this gem!

  6. This is such a cool project. There's so many legacy systems out there, so there's a market for systems like this outside the gaming world. Shoot, the stuff that DOS lets you do over Windows especially (example: send data straight through a parallel port) can be nice

  7. 11:23 that's a nice touch there, that message from Monotech 🙂
    and yes… CONE SPEAKER FTW… I too am satisfied in a nerdy/geeky level 🙂

  8. Somewhere I have one of those chip puller tools that pop those chips in the brown "deep dish" sockets. one end was for smaller chips like on old modems and a larger end for the deeper bigger chips.

  9. nice a trident integrated onto the board. Got a tvga9400gui myself…. now if only I could figure out what I wired wrong when I was fucking with it last lol… at least it posts tho I just wired the ide hdd to the wrong connection. Leave me alone I was born after the damn thing was manufactured its my first retro pc

  10. Where to find this come speaker you upgraded to??? Please add a link or guide to what to look for. Need to upgrade my speaker. Sounds so much better. Thanks 😊

  11. Someone should design a MicroATX with the NuXT specifically in mind. Since it doesn’t have an I/O shield, whoever designs it can probably integrate an I/O shield into the case, if they so chose. Or include a NuXT I/O shield in the box, who knows.

    They could have different options depending on what floppy drive setup you want, what colors you want, and whether you’re a fan of side windows.

    Also, what brand of speaker are ya using? I’m curious.

  12. LGR, first off love your videos! I saw that case you had and had the thought – you should make "modern" IBM 5150 badges to put on it!

  13. Wow, that's really cool! Also love the type of chasis here (has window)! ^_^
    Did you know that you can have 704KB+ of conventional memory on a CGA/Hercules PC ? 😉
    There's an ancient DOS utility called "704K" ( that makes it possible,
    provided that RAM is available in the A segment (which EGA/VGA would normally use).
    In the past, some ISA RAM (UMB) cards could be configured to provide it. 🙂

    Edit: Never mind! ^_^; Just realized it has SVGA on-board. Anyway, that's really cool, too!
    There are patched EGA drivers for Windows 1.x and 2.x (works on 3.0, too)
    that can run in VESA VBE modes (800×600, 1024×768 etc) once a VBE BIOS is loaded.

  14. I purchased one of those motherboards from Monotech a few months before you made this video. I love mine too! Anyway, I noticed yours came with a pamphlet. Mine did not? Would you mind sharing a scan of it?

  15. My computer case fits the motherboard in horizontally as well, but it's for full ATX boards so it's massive; It's got space for two PSUs underneath lol.

  16. Hi LGR, Love the channel, you may consider an I/O Shield Without Any Opening Blank Backplate, that you can use to make your own backplate.

  17. What's the point of this? You want to play old games,then get an old computer. Visit E-Bay. Modern junk is what that is.

  18. @lgr If you can send me detailed pictures of the back panel with a ruler for reference we can 3d print and smooth finish an I/O shield and send it to you. Dont want dust building up in that beautiful case

  19. This will seem meaningless to anyone looking at these comments, but I've been trying to find out the identity of Stunts: 4D off and on for over 20 years. I always thought it was a genesis game, and in my memories I'm still playing it with a controller, but that's 100% it. I love you for this.

  20. It looks cool, but why did they go so old-school? A 486 could do the same job as well as running newer (i.e. less-ancient) programs.

  21. Pasta Sarmonella E-Specialé

    That motherboard design looks pretty cool with matte black and various color accents making you think of something really oldschool.

  22. You should announce the prizes on The Price is Right lol. The way you describe these parts makes it sound like you are a professional game show announcer.

  23. I would love to see what your take is on this PC months later. Did you find any other compatibility issues? Did you manage to discover any workarounds for any current compatibility issues? what else have you installed into your ISA slots?
    I love your videos, keep up the great work.

  24. I really like this build! The fact that everything on that motherboard and soundcard are new, yet its essentially a retro part, made in 2019, its really amazing!

  25. OMG stunts! you should do a review. My friends an I sunk many hours into making tracks for that game and trying to get the best times.

  26. So awesome that this stuff is in NZ. I always watch videos on envy of things people can get from overseas, nice to have it at my backdoor step. Will be ordering me one of these for sure!

  27. I was happy to get rid of my XT in 1990, when I got a 386, BUT THIS IS SOOO F***ING COOOOL. WANT!!!! I wonder if Minix 1.6 will run on it? Or if I can track down an old enough version of XENIX? For some reason, the moment I found out I could have been running a Unix-like or Unix-based OS on the machine I had from 1986 to 1990, that I thought would only run WordPerfect, Procomm, and very primitive games, I've wanted to try it.

  28. The part of this that’s hilarious is that a Raspberry Pi can curb stop the performance of that system with a 5v power connection.

    A hilarious thing you should do, is install a Pi in that case, to make it do cool RGB stuff, and you can get it to use some of those otherwise useless ports. If it makes you feel better, you can run Linux on the Pi without a GUI, and that’s just about as old school as you can get—it might even be possible to get it talking to that old XT board.

  29. These are great in time parts won't be source able but for now this is great. For me personally FPGA is going be the way to go more future proof and space saving. Feels great to have options in a realm I thought we would never even have an option for so happy to see the dedication of others with preserving the past.

  30. $300 though…. holy jesus…. for that price I can get a real 8086 XT in mint condition with CRT monitor and all. I spent the whole video thinking "wow that's pretty cool for what it is", thinking this would be 60 bucks or something , but $300? I think is too much for what it does. By your own admission, even at the lowest CPU setting is way too fast. Maybe if it could emulate the real retro late 80's early 90's PC experience accurately it would be worth it. To me at least.

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