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IBM XT computer alternative.

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First post, by Intel486dx33

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I wanted to buy an IBM 5170 computer but I found the Idea too expensive and not practical.
Since my Goal is for best DOS game play I found a 386 computer to be more reasonable.
This way I can play games at 386sx-33mhz speed and disable cache to play at 286mhz speed.
Non-proprietary parts and readily available. Inexpensive , quiet and better performance.

Since the IBM 5162 / 5170 is basically a 286 computer with proprietary bios that only works with some hardware..

Here are the Specs of my Build.
CPU - AMD 386sx-33
Motherboard - 386sx-33 , ISA motherboard.
Math coprocsesor - REVEAL 387
RAM - 16mb FPM 60ns
Video card - Tseng ET4000
Sound card - Turtle beach , Monte Carlo ( Why NOT ).
Controller - ISA Gold
Network - 3com 3c509
CDROM - 4x or better
Floppies - 5.25 and 3.5
Hard-drive - WD 540mb
Case - White with Green buttons AT. (repurposed ).
OS - DOS 6.22

I am still gathering up parts for this build.
Let me know if you have any suggestions.

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Last edited by Intel486dx33 on 2020-08-02, 18:02. Edited 14 times in total.

Reply 1 of 22, by Intel486dx33

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Reply 2 of 22, by Anonymous Coward

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How are the 5162 and 5170 in anyway proprietary? The 5170 in particular set the AT standard. Everything inside of that machine was copied by other manufacturers.

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 5 of 22, by Intel486dx33

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Byrd wrote on 2020-07-02, 00:41:

Erm so you've built a nice really 386, well done but why compare it to a 5160/5170?

I am just saying it an “Alternative” to what I initially intended to do ( IBM 5170 ).

FYI, I removed the barrel battery and cleaned up this motherboard and added a coin battery.

Reply 6 of 22, by Almoststew1990

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That's pretty similar to mine, a soldered 386SX 40MHz with no option for cache. It can barely run Wolf3D it's great!

It's got 4MB of RAM though which hasn't been a problem so far.

I added a Sound Blaster 2.0 with CMS chips so it's a solid Slow DOS machine.

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Reply 7 of 22, by rmay635703

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Almoststew1990 wrote on 2020-07-04, 11:43:

That's pretty similar to mine, a soldered 386SX 40MHz with no option for cache. It can barely run Wolf3D it's great!

It's got 4MB of RAM though which hasn't been a problem so far.

I added a Sound Blaster 2.0 with CMS chips so it's a solid Slow DOS machine.

Never could understand the point of all the 40mhz cacheless 386’s that came out well into the 486 era,
Most every one I encountered was running a 170mb HD with some sort of DOS powered automotive diagnostics or working as a POS terminal at a small business.

One of my family friends got both a Harris 25mhz low profile desktop and a 386sx-40 Tower from the place she worked at as obsolete surplus.
The 286-25 ran circles around the 386sx-40
In Windows 95 the DTK SX-25 I had ran circles around the SX-40 as well and that thing always felt like a dog but still faster than the sx-40

I wonder if anyone made an actual proper sx-40 with decent cache?

It should have run about as well as a 386DX33 if it had decent zero wait state cache

Reply 9 of 22, by Caluser2000

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-07-04, 21:16:

I am looking into finding another motherboard with cache. But this one has 640kb.

That statement does not compute......

There's a glitch in the matrix.

Reply 10 of 22, by Anonymous Coward

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rmay635703 wrote on 2020-07-04, 19:46:

I wonder if anyone made an actual proper sx-40 with decent cache?

It doesn't make sense that a 286-25 or a 386SX-25 should been faster than an SX40. Something must not have been set right, or the motherboard design was defective.
Let me guess, it was one of those SARC boards from PCchips, right? Those things were dirt cheap in the mid 90s. I think I picked mine up for something like $15...it must have been around 1995 or so.

There actually was a 386SX-40 board with cache. I think it was called "WH386" or something of that sort with a Winbond chipset. I can't remember the manufacturer, but it may have been ECS/Elite Group. Those took either 16kb or 64kb external cache. I've always wanted to play with one, but I could never seem to find one for the right price.
I think there were also some late 386SX boards with OPTI 291/295 chipsets and cache as well.

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 11 of 22, by martinot

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-07-01, 19:01:

I wanted to buy an IBM 5170 computer but I found the Idea too expensive and not practical.

I have had the possibility to buy an original IBM AT (5170) for a reasonable price, but I skipped it because I do not like it.

Even if I actually think it is a very beautiful design and extremely handsome computer (one of the best looking; clean design and cool retro look at the same time), I think it is way too BIG and bulky as a desktop. Better IMO to buy a smaller slimmer 286 (or 386) desktop, or to buy a 286 (or 386) tower (if you really need a big machine with many slots and many disks).

Last edited by martinot on 2020-07-12, 08:26. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 12 of 22, by Intel486dx33

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I have another motherboard I am working on fixing. I am cleaning it up right now getting it ready for repair.
Just has one busted cap and a broken resistor leg. needs new battery too.

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Reply 13 of 22, by matze79

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I run 386SX 33, it runs well.

I also have a 386SX Board with 25Mhz CPU and MrBIOS it has Cache 😉.
Still had no time to build a System with it 😒

a 386SX is a 286 replacment with less down sides as you can launch 386 Software as needed.
For example i can use unzip32, so i can unzip almost all zip files found on the internet.
a 286 can`t do this because there is no modern Unzip for it.
Also CTCM and other Driver Stuff will run.
You can run Memory Managers and upload more Stuff to HighMemory/UMB etc.

A lot of advantages over small disadvantage being slower at same clock speed then 286.

For the 386DX40, i would replace all Cache Sockets, also desolder everything where the green stuff is and clean it up.
Or you will regret some days/weeks/months/years later.

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Reply 14 of 22, by Jo22

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matze79 wrote on 2020-07-11, 20:06:

a 386SX is a 286 replacment with less down sides as you can launch 386 Software as needed.
For example i can use unzip32, so i can unzip almost all zip files found on the internet.
a 286 can`t do this because there is no modern Unzip for it.

Hi, what about EMU386 ? Does it run unzip32 by chance ?
Please excuse my ignorance, but I always use ARC, PKUNZIP und LHA. 😅

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In what to one race is no time at all, another race can rise and fall..." - The Minstrel

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Reply 15 of 22, by StaffelGuard1917

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I have full set of IBM PS/2 Model 40SX. 386SX/20mhz/4mb ram/MCGA/ISA16 with ESS688 SB Clone. Though I have plenty of fast 286's this machine is for a good alternative for them - as it works on the same speed - even in Test Drive III, and also can run some 32 bit software...

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Reply 16 of 22, by Anonymous Coward

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I really like the look of the Model 40SX. A proper full height desktop case. It looks like a microchannel system, but it takes ISA cards!

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 17 of 22, by Intel486dx33

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martinot wrote on 2020-07-11, 19:03:
Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-07-01, 19:01:

I wanted to buy an IBM 5170 computer but I found the Idea too expensive and not practical.

I have had the possibility to buy an original IBM AT (5170) for a reasonable price, but I skipped it because I do not like it.

Even if I actually think it is a very beautiful design and extremely handsome computer (one of the best looking; clean design and cool retro look at the same time), I think it is way too BIG and bulky as a desktop. Better IMO to buy a smaller slimmer 286 (or 386) desktop, or to buy a 286 (or 386) tower (if you really need a big machine with many slots and many disks).

Yes, i like IBM Computer quality but I found the idea for an XT build to expensive and it was
NOT going to meet my needs when complete anyways. Limitations in bios and hardware proprietary and hard to service and maintain when compared to a mini-tower 386 computer. Also hard to find parts for the IBM. On the 386-PC side I can build and customize it how I like with no problems or issues.

Last edited by Intel486dx33 on 2020-08-04, 14:51. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 18 of 22, by martinot

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-08-02, 18:01:
martinot wrote on 2020-07-11, 19:03:
Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-07-01, 19:01:

I wanted to buy an IBM 5170 computer but I found the Idea too expensive and not practical.

I have had the possibility to buy an original IBM AT (5170) for a reasonable price, but I skipped it because I do not like it.

Even if I actually think it is a very beautiful design and extremely handsome computer (one of the best looking; clean design and cool retro look at the same time), I think it is way too BIG and bulky as a desktop. Better IMO to buy a smaller slimmer 286 (or 386) desktop, or to buy a 286 (or 386) tower (if you really need a big machine with many slots and many disks).

Yes, i like IBM Computer quality but I found the idea for an XT build to expensive and it was
NOT going to meet my needs when complete anyways. Limitations in bios and hardware proprietary and hard to service and maintain when compared to a mini-tower 386 computer. Also hard to find parts for the IBM. On the PC side I can build and customize it how I like with no problems or issues.

Agree. Even if I find the IBM PC, XT and AT interesting from a historical perspective, I actually prefer the IBM PS/2 line as they are generally more compact built and more refined construction.

That is except the MCA machines, which I really do not like at all (I find it too difficult to get expansion cards for MCA bus). I really love the PS/2 ISA machines. Unfortunately no PS/2 towers with ISA (that I know of), but I love the PS/2 desktop models that I own (Model 30, 35SX, 40SX, and PS/2E).

Reply 19 of 22, by martinot

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Another great alternative to the original IBM PC/XT, if you want to play games optimized for the 8088/8086 CPU generation, and could think about going with a non-IBM brand, is a Tandy 1000 series machine.

My personal preference is the Tandy 1000RL which I really love. Being so nice and compact, but still with Tandy 1000/IBM jr compatible graphics and sounds (and one normal 8-bit slot), it is one of my favorite machines. But I actually prefer the whole Tandy 1000 series in general over the original IBM PC/XT(and also over my PS/2 Model 30). IMO you can not get any better 8088/8086 PC than that (at least for games)!