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Worst 90's computer brands?

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Reply 20 of 57, by Skyscraper

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Its a shame Fujitsu and Siemens didn't start to make computers together earlier. From 1999 and onwards FSC made alot of nice systems, everything from cheap and decent to really expensive and really good.

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Reply 22 of 57, by Unknown_K

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Late generation Packard bells were junk. Leading Edge sold cheap crappy machines as well.

The early 90's were a time of major expansion of a few brands that were sold in stores like K-mart, Sears as well as Sun electronics (and other small and big time electronics stores). Leading edge and Packard Bell were selling in major volumes but the quality was bad. There was also a major economic downturn in the early 90's that killed good brands like Northgate, ZEOS, Zenith Data Systems,and CompuADD. The ones that survived the early 90's death blows were decent brands like Gateway and DELL that sold direct via mail order catalogs.

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Reply 24 of 57, by Tetrium

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Skyscraper wrote:

Its a shame Fujitsu and Siemens didn't start to make computers together earlier. From 1999 and onwards FSC made alot of nice systems, everything from cheap and decent to really expensive and really good.

Fujitsu-Siemens systems I pillaged usually had FSP PSUs and as this was the time when Windows XP was still top, the boards could be used to install a copy of the Fujitsu-Siemens versions of XP without activation. Those FS disks were actually fully capable XP install disks (could even slipstream them with n-lite), they would even install on non-FS motherboards! 😁 (though on non-FS boards they wouldn't auto-activate 😊 ).

Can't remember for sure if the n-lighted FS XP disks would still properly auto-activate on FS motherboards though, but I had my share of fun with em 😀

edit:
The Barton 3200+ system I used for years was a FS, this is how I got my first FS XP install disk very early (I got a couple more for free later as nobody wanted them) and the system went through several upggrades. Right before I partially dismantled this system (I had plans but the plans fell through) I had upgraded almost everything except for the board, CPU and the FS case itself (but I did add a case fan because it got quite hot in there). Even the parts I was left with after I did the upgrades often ended up in my own builds, like the Radeon 9600 and the PSU which was a FSP 300W with 30A 5v and not-as-much-but-still-enough on 12v. It was only years later that I found out this FS KT600 board had a P4 connector, I had only ever seen those in NF sA boards before, never before on VIA sA boards.

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Reply 25 of 57, by Windows9566

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I have one packard bell pc, it has been fine with me, its compatible with most gpu and sound cards i have used, the awe64 worked and the sb16 vibra worked other than the OEM aztech azt2320 card that was in it. im getting a sb16 ct2830 with a real opl3 in it and i will use it in my packard bell

Reply 26 of 57, by kanecvr

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HighTreason wrote:

Never understood why ECS get so much stick, never had a problem with any of their boards and when they go for it they can make good stuff. In the 2000s, the PF5 kicked the shit out of the competing Asus boards and cost a lot less on top of it.

I agree 100%. ECS and Biostar get an undeserved rep. Even looking around flea markets and second-hand hardware trading add sites / forums there's a lot of ECS boards around and all of them still working. Personally I've never actually seen a dead ECS or Biostar motherboard. I especially love Biostar boards. Too bad no e-tailer will stock them in Romania anymore (because they get discount prices from Asus, Gigabyte and other big manufacturers to only stock their shit - discounts witch are NOT passed down to the consumer)- at least not the high-end models I'm after.

Reply 27 of 57, by Sutekh94

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^Agreed. Of all the ECS boards I've seen over the years, none of them have shown any problems. I even use a couple of ECS boards in my builds - a K7VTA3 socket A Athlon XP board, and a UC4913 486 board, and both work fine for what I want them to do.

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Reply 28 of 57, by HighTreason

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I have to like ECS, given I'm still using one as the basis for my workstation and it will sail past 11 years old in April. Given the abuse both it and the TR5510 Socket 7 board I own have taken without failure, along with the weaker SiS-based Super 7 boards I have around, I can only conclude they are good. Plus I really like their clean board layouts and their support is pretty good.

BioStar are a bit of a mixed bag for me, but that is probably because in recent years I have only seen very cheap ITX boards, I suspect the more up-market models like the Z97-based options they have are probably much better, as I haven't heard anyone complain about them. I'm not a fan of gaming boards though so I don't look too far into those, couldn't really tell you much about ECS's current line-up either.

Ah, corporate corruption, it knows no bounds, always out to rip off the consumer with mark-ups on the price. It sucks.

I think we're missing something in this thread... PCChips. Yeah, you don't really hear from them anymore, but back in the 1990s they were out in full swing and were not owned by anyone but themselves - today, they are actually owned by ECS - I actually have a computer system with PC100 branding on. Yeah, the whole thing is branded "PC100" and it smells strongly of burning. A K6 from the late 1990s. No surprises, it does not work. I don't even use the case because it takes those stupid Micro ATX power supplies that used to cost too much and now you just don't see them anywhere. Probably for the best, they were simply horrible.

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Reply 29 of 57, by Tetrium

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If we're gonna name crappy brands, how about "Premier"?
Q-Tec is also nice in this regard, such fond memories...of all the weird stuff I seen these brands do to computers 😁

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Reply 30 of 57, by JayCeeBee64

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Never owned any OEM/branded PCs, every single one was custom built. Of the brands I dealt with for family/friends/others, the worst was Leading Edge - they were either dead or would have the 1-2-2/1-3-3 Phoenix BIOS beep code on them (you can find the beep codes here). Packard Bell was a somewhat distant second, since at least the motherboard and PSU still worked; the problem was usually a dead CD-ROM, hard drive or Aztech sound/modem combo card. Replace them and they were good to go again.

As for motherboard brands, ECS is the one I hate the most. I only owned one, the K7S5A, but the "experience" I had with it (if you can call it that) was more than enough. Here's the link to what I wrote about it (from an old thread):

Your most shitty motherboard?

I was 'trying' to use it with a 1.4GHz Athlon T-Bird (Socket A, 100MHz FSB). At least I disposed of it properly (evil laughter ensues).

Ooohh, the pain......

Reply 31 of 57, by Living

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JayCeeBee64 wrote:

As for motherboard brands, ECS is the one I hate the most. I only owned one, the K7S5A, but the "experience" I had with it (if you can call it that) was more than enough. Here's the link to what I wrote about it (from an old thread):

Your most shitty motherboard?

I was 'trying' to use it with a 1.4GHz Athlon T-Bird (Socket A, 100MHz FSB). At least I disposed of it properly (evil laughter ensues).

no wonder, thats far the worst ECS motherboard and the only one that gave me problems.

you can read about http://redhill.net.au/b/b-02.html (2nd one in the list)

in my experiencie the problem was the chipset, i had at the time with my very first Athlon XP (1800+ Palomino) an MSI 745 ultra, god...you had to cherry pick the DDR memory, otherwise it was VERY unstable, most notable in windows xp (Bsods)

Reply 32 of 57, by JayCeeBee64

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I see, looks like the T-Bird CPU and PC133 SDRAM is what actually killed it 🤣

After its demise I got and Abit KT7A non-RAID to go with the T-Bird; that board lasted for the better part of 10 years (upgraded to an Athlon XP 2000+ T-Bred a while later).

It also seems that updating the BIOS on a K7S5A is also an adventure in itself; good thing I never got to experience that 😊

http://www.geek.com/chips/the-damnable-k7s5a- … rom-ecs-548415/

Ooohh, the pain......

Reply 33 of 57, by Errius

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DamienC wrote:

THAT CD-ROM died probably two years later; still an insanely short time imo.

Isn't it normal for consumer-grade optical drives to malfunction after 2 or 3 years? First the tray begins to jam, then they lose the ability to burn certain kinds of media, then they lose the ability to read certain kinds of media. This usually happens over a 2-3 year cycle.

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Reply 34 of 57, by gdjacobs

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A bit of a shame that most SIS Socket A based systems were low balled in features and reliability. the 735 and 745 chipsets had an impressive design for disk I/O.

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Reply 35 of 57, by Scali

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Ah yes, SiS... they produced some pretty dreadful chipsets back in the day.
I'd also like to mention VIA. They refused to license technology from Intel, such as PCI, AGP, USB etc.
So instead, VIA would try to reverse-engineer it themselves. The result was poor compatibility and often lousy performance.

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Reply 36 of 57, by Putas

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JayCeeBee64 wrote:

I only owned one, the K7S5A, but the "experience" I had with it (if you can call it that) was more than enough. Here's the link to what I wrote about it (from an old thread):

Your most shitty motherboard?

Your piece was obviously faulty, QA of ECS on these was not the best, But when K7S5A works, it is reliable just like lot more expensive boards. Only the CMOS setup being forgotten from time to time was annoying.

Reply 37 of 57, by DamienC

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Isn't it normal for consumer-grade optical drives to malfunction after 2 or 3 years? First the tray begins to jam, then they lose the ability to burn certain kinds of media, then they lose the ability to read certain kinds of media. This usually happens over a 2-3 year cycle.

IDK, I have a few machines with optical drives pushing the 10 year mark with no degradation in read/write quality. Although the DVDRW drive in my wife's computer came from her old eMachines box and died on me recently with under 5 years of use, but I think that because she literally never used it. Maybe I've just been lucky with optical drives.

The PB stands out in my head because I remember the CD-ROM dying on us within a week of owning it, then the replacement CD-ROM died within a couple years.

Reply 38 of 57, by kanecvr

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Scali wrote:

Ah yes, SiS... they produced some pretty dreadful chipsets back in the day.
I'd also like to mention VIA. They refused to license technology from Intel, such as PCI, AGP, USB etc.
So instead, VIA would try to reverse-engineer it themselves. The result was poor compatibility and often lousy performance.

The only VIA boards I've had any issue with are early P4 chipset boards, and I've used everything VIA from socket 7 to 939 and LGA775. My favorite chipsets by far ar the MVP3 (SS7), the Apollo PRO (S370) and the KT880 (S462). The only hassle back in the day was driver support - some drivers would conflict others - like some versions of via 4 in 1 did not mix well with versions of nvidia forceware (bsods or black screen) but one that's sorted you get a fast and stable system.

As for chipsets I've had problems with:

- intel 420 chipset (socket 3) - I've had to deal with some OEM machines running this chipset and they gave me headaches all the time. For some reason they would corrupt all data written on the HDD.
- early VIA VT82C486 (socket 3) - poor memory read performance, trouble managing L2 cache. Later VT82C486A revision fixed the issue.
- ALi Aladdin V - for some reason I've never been able to get the Aladdin V chipset to work with CPUs faster then 500MHz - and even at 500MHz there are horrible AGP isusues. The MVP3 in contrast is simple - just don't install AGP drivers. Don't get me wrong - I love ALi/ULi chipsets - the M1689 is my favorite socket 754 / 939 chipset by far - I just dislike the Aladdin V.
- SiS 735 - horrid memory support - too bad - I/O and AGP implementations were great.
- Early intel 440 chipsets - oh god the hours I spent trying to get some machines to work correctly - fussy about ram and poor AGP compatibility. The only 440 board I ever liked is my Abit BE6-II, the rest of my 440 boards I consider mediocre at best. I remember trying to get 3dmark99 to run on a 500MHz PIII with the 440BX chipset - it would freeze 5 seconds in. I also remember trying to get Unreal to run on 440 boards with no luck whatsoever (it would only work in GLIDE mode with a voodoo card, nothing else - not even software).
- Intel 810 chipsets - slow, slow, slow and they were expensive at the time too. The Apollo Pro 133 had it for breakfast. AGP performed poorly compared to the Apollo, and even the i440FX.
- VIA KT266 chipsets - for some reason lots of KT 266 equipped boards refused to work with FSB 266 CPUs or were unstable - tough they worked great when paired with a 200MHz FSB duron, even when using 266MHz DDR. The problem was fixed in the later KT266A revision, but too little too late for some of us.

Favorite chipsets of all time:

UMC UM8881 (socket 3) - these things are FAST. Just stay away from the first revision - buggy PS/2 implementation and will only run EDO DRAM when paired with a slow CPU. Late revisions work flawlessly tough.
SiS 85C496 (socket 3) - same as above - fast, and has 66MHz fsb support. Great for overclocking old 486 CPUs (got an intel DX4 100 to 120MHz stable under windows with no voltage increase - and got my cyrix 5x86-100gp to 133MHz (66x2) at 3.75v
Intel i430 (socket 7) - hassle free socket 7 builds - very stable
VIA MVP3 (super socket 7) - my favorite retro chipset by far. ISA, AGP, USB and my Aopen AX59PRO will OC my K6-3+ to 600MHz perfectly stable witch is kind of cool.
VIA Apollo PRO 133 (VT82C694T) - ISA, AGP4x , USB, Tualatin support, somehow a little faster then the 815t
VIA KT333 (socket A) - latest chipset with universal AGP support - great for running your voodoo 5 😜
VIA KT880 (socket A) - this gave the nForce 2 a run for it's money. Great OC, very stable, will run any ram you put in it (in dual channel as well) and really really fast.
Intel i865 - my favorite P4 chipset by far. Comes in socket 478 and LGA775 flavors
ULi / ALi M1689 - favorite socket 754 / 939 chipset - very fast, very stable, great win98 and winXP drivers, excellent overclocking

Reply 39 of 57, by JayCeeBee64

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Putas wrote:
JayCeeBee64 wrote:

I only owned one, the K7S5A, but the "experience" I had with it (if you can call it that) was more than enough. Here's the link to what I wrote about it (from an old thread):

Your most shitty motherboard?

Your piece was obviously faulty, QA of ECS on these was not the best, But when K7S5A works, it is reliable just like lot more expensive boards. Only the CMOS setup being forgotten from time to time was annoying.

I read many reviews of the time that were very favorable; I also read many that were not. I just went for it and hoped to get one of the good, working boards; got one of the lemons instead - a really bad one 😵

I'm not the only one either, here's a short account from DonutKing (from the same thread):

Your most shitty motherboard?

What's ironic is that my very first home built PC had an SIS Socket 5 motherboard that performed flawlessly; can't remember the brand and no longer have it (it was accidentally destroyed in 2005). Here's a link that shows a somewhat similar board with an SIS 503 chipset:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-SIS-Socket-5- … =p2047675.l2557

After my experience with the K7S5A I'm now wary of buying any motherboard with SIS chipsets. I don't want to go through the same mess again, it's not worth it 😒

Ooohh, the pain......