First post, by Hezus
Thought it would be fun to do another build log! This time around I'm putting together a 486 to help me with some issues I've encountered on my regular DOS machine, which is a Pentium 233. Some older games do not run great and I've especially got trouble starting certain games that were ported to the PC, such as Cannon Fodder or First Samurai.
Let's start with the case. This AT case has no brand, only a type number: ST-460. The front is slightly yellowed but otherwise is in great condition. The panel has HDD and Power LEDs, reset button and a key lock (for which I lack the key, sadly). The sticker says RAM 486, which is probably the company that put it together initially.
PSU is this 200W unit from East. Plenty of power for this system!
Onto the hardware! I'm using this motherboard from DATAEXPERT. It's the 8049 REV 1.1A and is a great 486 board from the later era. It has ISA, PCI and an on-board HDD controller. The CMOS battery is a barrel variant, but it's still in great condition.
If you pay close attention, you'll notice that the motherboard mentions it has the best performance with an AMD CPU. So, let's do so and we're putting in the Am486-DX4 running at 100 Mhz. A heatsink is required, so let's put that on.
Putting it into the case is a bit of a hassle.The case only has 2 standoffs for the motherboard and is held in below by a plastic bar. You'll have to slide this onto the motherboard and then put it back into the case.
The plastic bar makes it a VERY tight fit but with some effort it's finally in there quite firmly. It's a cost saving method but just drilling in 2 additional standoffs would have been far more convenient.
Already inserted are these two bars of 72 pin RAM (no brand). 4 mb each gives the system a grand total of 8 mb which is fine for what I'm using it for. The motherboard supports up to 64 mb, so there is always room for more.
A 486 surely requires some COM ports, so here are two serial connectors.
Time for some drives! A:\ will be this Sony MPF920-E (3,5" 1,44 MB) and B:\ is the Panasonic JU-475-4AGJ (5.25" 1.2MB). I would rather have a beige front to go with the rest of the case, but this is all I had laying around.
The C:\ drive consists of the Seagate Medalist 8420 (ST38420A), giving me a whopping 8.6 Gb of storage. D:\ will be this Wearnes CDD-120A.
Let's put it all drives in, attach all cables and see what we've got:
Well, seems we've got CABLE MANAGEMENT HELL! I'll be able to fix that up with some wires but another great trick is to slice up the IDE cables and bundle them together. This makes is far easier to route them through the system and tuck them away.
And this is much more manageable!
Let's start picking some cards. For the videocard I've got the choice between the S3 Trio32 and the Tseng Labs ET4000AX. The first is a relatively fast PCI card which would make some more demanding games run fast. However, I already have a better system for that and I'm looking for compatibility with some older and tricky to run games. That's why I'm going with the ET4000AX for the ISA slot.
For sound I'm using the ESS Audiodrive ES1868F. It has great Sound Blaster Pro compatibilty, which a lot of the games I'm targeting use.
Lastly I'm adding this 3COM 3C905-TX network card for easy file transfer.
And here's the system with all the parts put together and finally assembled with the top cover back on it.
It runs fine and the games I've had trouble playing on my pentium give me no grief on this 486! I'm pretty happy with the system but I've got some whishes and plans for down the road:
- Replace the barrel battery with a coin cell.
- Drill in 2 stand-offs and get rid of the stupid plastic bar.
- Create a new front panel with a turbo button and an LCD display. I've got the hardware but I would have to get into 3D printing to make my own bracket.
- Swap the 5,25" for a different drive with a beige plate for aesthetics.
- Use CF storage instead of a HDD. The BIOS doesn't want to play nice with the CF adapters I've got. I might be able to load an XT-IDE BIOS into the ROM of the network card and get it to work that way.
- Increase the RAM to 16 mb just for kicks.
Thanks for reading my build log and if you've got some suggestions for the system, feel free to post them 😀 If you've enjoyed this, also check out my Pentium II build.
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