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My cool 486 EISA tower

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First post, by CoffeeOne

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Let me present my second 486 computer (the other one is the Compaq Prosignia Server).

It's built in a black big AT Tower from the German company Escom, also keyboard and serial 😁 mouse of the same design are there

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I have no idea, why I see the picture with keyboard and mouse twice, there is only one link in the post 😁

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Reply 1 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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The reason why I like that computer a lot is not the case, it's because of the mainboard:

It's a Micronics ASIC EISA full size AT board. 7 EISA slots
16 memory slots for 30pin SIMMs, fully equipped with 64 MB (maximum).
socket 2. There is a "Kingston Turbo Chip" inside, so a Am5x86-133 with included voltage adaptor.

Other components are not too bad either:
100 MBit NIC EISA from 3Com
ATI Mach32 2MB VRAM EISA, please note the picture with the windows screen with 1280x1024 😀
Adaptec 2742AT EISA
Soundblaster 16 ISA.

EDIT: The cache was original 64kB only with MT chips like the tag ram chips. I upgraded it to 256kB, which is maximum for the board.
But so it's no more made in USA, the cache chips are UMC 😁

Last edited by CoffeeOne on 2020-01-04, 18:53. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 2 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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Mainboard:

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Reply 3 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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OK, but now the question to the experts:

This board features a "Micronics local bus slot", it's the one on the bottom
Anyone heard of it???
Are there graphics cards for it?

EDIT: I wrote something about Windows screen, so here is the picture:

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Reply 4 of 20, by Grzyb

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CoffeeOne wrote on 2020-01-04, 18:44:

Am5x86-133

AMD processor, and the "Genuine Intel..." sticker on the case? Ugly 😜

EDIT: The cache was original 64kB only with MT chips like the tag ram chips. I upgraded it to 256kB, which is maximum for the board.

Let me guess: 64 KB was not enough to cache the entire 64 MB, but with 256 KB - no problem, right?

In general - yes, very nice machine, I want something like this, with only minor corrections.

Reply 5 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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Grzyb wrote on 2020-01-04, 19:06:

EDIT: The cache was original 64kB only with MT chips like the tag ram chips. I upgraded it to 256kB, which is maximum for the board.

Let me guess: 64 KB was not enough to cache the entire 64 MB, but with 256 KB - no problem, right?

In general - yes, very nice machine, I want something like this, with only minor corrections.

No I don't think so, the board could also cache 64MB with only 64kB Cache, it has 3 tag ram chips 😀
But not 100% sure, and NO I am not downgrading it to test it.

Reply 7 of 20, by OSkar000

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Can't help you with that much but I really like this computer. Early 486 computers are seriously cool 😀

I have a spare motherboard with 486 DX/33 and 7 EISA-slots that I should try to get running some day.

Reply 8 of 20, by NJRoadfan

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I had this board's successor model, the Micronics EISA/VL2. The biggest problem I had with it was the damned BIOS and memory controller. You couldn't run ROM BIOS shadowing with over 16MB of RAM installed due to how they implemented it on the board. With shadowing turned off, POSTing was stuck in a de-turboed state taking forever (even the floppy seeked in slow motion!).

Reply 9 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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NJRoadfan wrote on 2020-01-17, 02:19:

I had this board's successor model, the Micronics EISA/VL2. The biggest problem I had with it was the damned BIOS and memory controller. You couldn't run ROM BIOS shadowing with over 16MB of RAM installed due to how they implemented it on the board. With shadowing turned off, POSTing was stuck in a de-turboed state taking forever (even the floppy seeked in slow motion!).

True, I had to turn off shadowing, because 64MB are inside. What is the disadvantage? Maybe only in pure DOS(?) Under Windows 98 the machine seems to be reasonable fast.

About Turbo... That's only about counting up the memory, right? I agree it takes some time to count up to 64512k extended memory. I did not see a slowdown in floppy seek, so not really a problem for me.

Reply 10 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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I am now going to change the harddisks to wide scsi ones.
So I pulled a Seagate ST52160N (production date 1997?), IBM DCAS-34330 (production date 1998), IBM Type DFHS 4GB (production date 1995)
The last one is really fat

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So even the existing disks did not really fit to the production date of the mainboard, which is from 1992, but to my taste the new disks should be from the 90s.

Also removed the Adaptec 2742T.

Added: Nothing 😁

Strange thing for this monster case, that it has only space for 6 5.25" Drives, 3 are already taken (2 Floppys, CD ROM) so only place for 3 disks, and all disks need these adaptors ....
OK, so I will put in the Adaptec 2742W, that's for sure.

And then either 3 times IBM 9GB

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or 2 times Quantum Atlas IV 9GB

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So the IBM disks are from Jun 1999, the quantum also from 1999(?), I think I am going with the 3 IBMs. 27GB will be enough space for windows 98 and dos.
I will put the 2 quantums into my Compaq Prosignia Server later.

Reply 11 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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I am progressing slowly.
I added the 2742W (re-arranged all the EISA cards) and the 3 IBM disks.

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Then I installed MS DOS6.22 from and the ASPI driver for DOS from floppy disks. I made 2 2GB (FAT16 / DOS) partitions on each hard drive, on the remaining space of each harddisk I will create a FAT32 partition later.

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So far so good.
The hardware is pretty much at the maximum, so I want to make a good sw setup (dos and windows98) this time.
For DOS I want to take the suggestions from philscomputerlab.
Even if I will have no time to play any games, I would like to have the possibility to play DOS and Windows (98) games, as a first thing I want to run DOS benchmarks 😀

I plan to make the data transfer from/to this machine via network in Windows 98, so installed that today, too.
If possible I would like to directly download stuff. So as a first thing I need a web browser for https sites.
There was a nice site:
http://retro.remotecpu.com/win98.php
It's now down?
Can I download a web browser for Windows 98 over http?

Reply 12 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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I managed to get an FTP client on the machine.
Then transferred latest Retrozilla, and started it.
Success, I can browse https sites like google 😁
But that is definitely not a good browser for this machine, the 486 eisa is too weak, starting takes already too much time for my taste.

Reply 13 of 20, by chinny22

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Nothing but the earliest Win95 games will be much fun on a 486 either.
I'd say even Win98 is pushing the hardware unless its using the Win95 explorer aka Win98 lite.
Win9x does make for a good file management and networking OS though on a 486

Reply 14 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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chinny22 wrote on 2020-02-02, 23:04:

Nothing but the earliest Win95 games will be much fun on a 486 either.
I'd say even Win98 is pushing the hardware unless its using the Win95 explorer aka Win98 lite.
Win9x does make for a good file management and networking OS though on a 486

I checked the resource usage when using RetroZilla with this Windows 98SE installation.
So everything is slow, opening FileZilla, opening google, search something.
The process explorer clearly showed it's not lack of RAM (before opening RetroZilla 20MB were used, with RetroZilla about 32MB), but the CPU is being on 100% quite often.
So my question would be, if there is a less resource hungry Browser for https sites for Windows 98 😀

But I know, that I pushed the machine to its limit, mainly because I set the maximum resolution: 1280x1024. It's really nice that it's possible, but the screen refresh is a heavy load for the poor 133MHz cpu, also the mainboard's chipset is old and for sure not the fastest , L1 / L2 are WT/WT .... Will run benchmarks later.
I don't think using Windows 95 would improve the situation a lot for that.
That said, I will try to set the Windows resolution to 1024x768 or even 800x600 and try again some web-sites with RetroZilla (and try other browsers).

Reply 15 of 20, by jade_angel

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Now there's a sweet box!

Main Box: Ryzen-TR 1900X | GTX 1050/Radeon RX 580
98/2000 Box: PIII/866 | G400 MAX
PCI DOS Box: 5x86/133 | S3 Trio64/V2 PCI
VLB DOS box: 486DX4/100 | Cirrus GD5428 2MB

Reply 16 of 20, by chinny22

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It's not so much WIn95 will improve your performance, just explorer.exe
Win98 and later (and also IE4 in WIn95) integrated explorer and IE and performance took a noticeable hit. It's why 98lite was "invented"

Not saying it will be lighting fast, it is a 486 class PC all! but may make it more usable at 1280x1024 in the windows GUI.

Reply 17 of 20, by CoffeeOne

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chinny22 wrote on 2020-02-10, 14:07:

It's not so much WIn95 will improve your performance, just explorer.exe
Win98 and later (and also IE4 in WIn95) integrated explorer and IE and performance took a noticeable hit. It's why 98lite was "invented"

Not saying it will be lighting fast, it is a 486 class PC all! but may make it more usable at 1280x1024 in the windows GUI.

I now switched over to 1024x768 16bit colour, looks a bit nicer than the 256 colours.
Performance is ok, but Retrozilla is a heavy load for this hardware. But it is ok for some google searches. I won't do it very often, transfer almost everything from/to the machine via ftp.

Reply 19 of 20, by feipoa

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Is that 5.25" drive and CD-ROM drive natively black, or were they painted?

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