My 486 back to live.

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My 486 back to live.

Postby Anaxagoras » 2018-1-09 @ 21:20

Hi.

This is my 486.

The first computer that I bought with my own money, and still works!!! :)

- It's an Intel 486DX4 @ 100Mhz and no needs a CPU fan, only a little heatsink.
- The mainboard is a VIP (VESA, ISA, PCI... I think).
- 32MB of RAM (2x8, 1x16), more than enough for me.
- SIS SVGA (PCI) with 1MB of memory.
- Sound Blaster 16 CT2830 (ISA).
- Serial / parallel ports and floppy controller (ISA).
- FDD 5,25" DD (1,2Mb).
- FDD 3,5" HD (1,44Mb).
- IDE to CF adapter:
1 CF 2GB (1 FAT partition).
1 HD 4GB, CF card size, pulled from broken MP3 player device (2 FAT partitions).
- CDROM 4x Panasonic.
- SONY Trinitron Multiscan 200GS (17").
- Standard keyboard (since 1995).
- Logitech 3 buttons serial mouse.

The original hardware specs (1995):

- CPU 484DX4 @ 100Mhz.
- 4MB RAM.
- FDD 3,5"
- No CD, no Audio Card.
- 14" monitor (MIA).
- Serial mouse (MIA).

A few months later I build the first upgrade, a "Multimedia Kit":

- CDROM 4x Panasonic.
- Audio Excel 16 DSP a Sound Blaseter Pro compatible PCI card.
- Stereo powered speakers.

I remember the first game that I use to test the sound... Pinball Fantasies. I could not believe what I was hearing. Awesome. My previous PC (a XT clone) only has internal speaker.

During more than a decade this 486 was boxed and stored, with some exceptions, for example when was running as a firewall.

Recently I rescue it from a wardrobe to make some changes on it to back to live.

- The HDD was replaced by two CF cards.
- Audio Excel sound card replaced by Sound Blaster 16.
- New battery.
- Added a second FDD, 5.25"
- Fixed a CPU Clock Speed Display.

17" CRT monitor, new 2.1 speakers and new manufactured serial mouse completes this 486 setup.


Mainboard.jpg
486 Mainboard

Multi_IO_controller.jpg
Multi I/O controller

Sound_Blaster_16_CT2830_ISA.jpg
Sound Blaster 16

Attached_CF_cards.jpg
CF cards

Front_view.jpg
Front view
Last edited by Anaxagoras on 2018-1-09 @ 21:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby Anaxagoras » 2018-1-09 @ 21:22

More pictures...

Back_view.jpg
Back view

Running.jpg
Running @100Mhz with turbo

Running_desktop.jpg
Desktop
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby oeuvre » 2018-1-10 @ 13:56

Very cool! Pretty high end for a 486.
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby amadeus777999 » 2018-1-10 @ 15:57

Very nice - especially the monitor!
Be aware that your mainboard has fake cache(PC Chips board) and you could solder on sockets if traces are present.
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby chinny22 » 2018-1-12 @ 15:13

Nice, Still got our first PC as well, DX2/66 with 8MB of ram in early 95. (before Windows 95 was realised )
So you guys went with faster CPU rather then RAM, probably the smarter idea. Ours did come with a SB16 and 2x Panasonic CD drive.

I couldn't bring myself to upgrade the CPU, Soundcard when I brought it back to life a few years ago as they were original to the system.
RAM, HDD's CD-ROMS had been upgraded over the years so happily replaced when necessary.

Playing games on this PC brings me most joy. even if the game runs a bit slow I'll prefer to use this PC more then a more suited one.
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby Anaxagoras » 2018-1-16 @ 20:19

oeuvre wrote:Very cool! Pretty high end for a 486.

Thank you *^_^*

amadeus777999 wrote:Very nice - especially the monitor!
Be aware that your mainboard has fake cache(PC Chips board) and you could solder on sockets if traces are present.


Fake cache? really? :(
I need to learn more about this before put the hands on it.
Thanks for your advice... More than 20 years with my 486 and it is a fake!!!

chinny22 wrote:Playing games on this PC brings me most joy. even if the game runs a bit slow I'll prefer to use this PC more then a more suited one.


Me too!
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby amadeus777999 » 2018-1-18 @ 22:09

No worries, it's not that bad... you didn't mind the last 20 years so don't be too concerend.
Your srams bear the dreaded "WriteBack" signature which is known to signal fake ic-placeholders usually planted in boards made by PC Chips. Also your chipset "features" stickers which hide the original manufacturer's identity and code - most likely UMC.

If you're not playing games which push your 486 then just leave the board as is.
It's a nice rig nonetheless.
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby Anaxagoras » 2018-1-23 @ 19:24

amadeus777999 wrote:No worries, it's not that bad... you didn't mind the last 20 years so don't be too concerend.
Your srams bear the dreaded "WriteBack" signature which is known to signal fake ic-placeholders usually planted in boards made by PC Chips. Also your chipset "features" stickers which hide the original manufacturer's identity and code - most likely UMC.

If you're not playing games which push your 486 then just leave the board as is.
It's a nice rig nonetheless.


Hi again,

I have been reading about the fake cache and I have to say that my mainboard has not external cache.
Stickers, BIOS chip soldered directly in the mainboard, and after read this excellent article from Redhill and others threads I think that Write-Back "chips" seems to be a fake :depressed:

Well, once I understand the meaning and tricks of this fake I continue with several test to be sure.

1.) Both caches enabled.
486_BIOS_Both_caches_enabled.jpg
486_BIOS_Both_caches_enabled

486_Cachecheck_Both_caches_enabled.jpg
486_Cachecheck_Both_caches_enabled

2.) Internal cache enabled and external cache disable.
486_BIOS_L1_Enabled_L2_Disable.jpg
486_BIOS_L1_Enabled_L2_Disable

486_Checkcache_L1_Enabled_L2_Disable.jpg
486_Checkcache_L1_Enabled_L2_Disable

As you can view the cachecheck report is the same in both cases. Only one cache with 16KB size.
The only thing that changes is a message in startup... Write Back Cache On :angry: :angry: :angry:
486_Write_Back_Cache_On.jpg
"Write Back Cache On" fake message


Because of this I leave the external cache disable from BIOS since it no have any but report true info to DOS (I hope).
The performance falling down when L1 is disable, more than when I turn off the turbo button. For example, Doom is unplayable.
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby amadeus777999 » 2018-1-25 @ 14:43

The WriteBack chips are obviously fake not only for the reason that there was never a vendor with said name but also because they are soldered onto the board - this was not common for 486 era "stuff" which featured cache chips in "sdip" format.
As already mentioned you can take them out, put sockets in and improve the board's performance - given there are traces leading to the rams and you're in for some tedious groundwork.
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby Srandista » 2019-7-21 @ 19:42

Nice machine!

Could you please make photo of that Audio Excel 16 DSP card? I had it when I was young, and unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of it.
My overkill "retro" PC - ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA, Pentium E6500K, 512MB/4GB RAM, Radeon 9500@9700 (Softmod), ESS Solo-1 + Dreamblaster X2, 80GB IDE HDD, Win 98/XP
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Re: My 486 back to live.

Postby Bige4u » 2019-7-21 @ 20:06

I seriously wish i knew what i did with mine, my very first... i also had a dx4-100mhz system, i bought it new back in mar1996 for my b-day from computer shopper when i was stationed overseas in the azores.

Sadly, this is the only picture i could find, and this is from mid 1997 when i came back to the states.

Specs - intel dx4 100mhz / 8mb edo / unknown motherboard-chipset with isa and pci slots / 850mb hdd / cirrus logic 1mb pci video card / opti930 isa sound card / 4x cdrom / at keyboard / serial 3button ball mouse / ctx 14'' crt / 3.5" floppy / mini at case with pwr-rst-trbo buttons and 2.5 digit led display showing cpu clock speed / 250w at psu and a set of generic speakers(not the yamaha ones pictured), only came with dos6.22, and all for $1200 shipped.
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