=My 486DX2-66MHz=

Discussion about old PC hardware.

=My 486DX2-66MHz=

Postby rgart » 2016-5-31 @ 08:18

I purchased a full tower on eBay recently. The seller did a horrible job packing and it was delivered in a large box with a thin layer of bubble wrap. I opened the case to find the CPU hanging and a few of the pins bent, external battery smashed and a large chip out of the case - it could have been worse. Here is the damage from transit:

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I found this hardware within.

ET4000AX ISA.
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Pro Audio Spectrum 16L

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Octek Hippo IV 486 EP40048R21 Rev 2.1

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Unfortunately the motherboard was damaged beyond my ability to repair from barrel battery acid and it wouldn't turn on. A good clean with vinegar and some gentle care didn't make any difference, I removed most of the acid but the motherboard still didn't boot.

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Over the years I have been fortunate and picked up quite a bit of retro gear for free. I catalogued and tested eight 486 ISA/VLB motherboards I have packed away in static bags. I mainly wanted real cache, fast boot and responsive *feel* to the board, It would also have to play well with my Tekram 680C cache controller card. I had some idea as to the CPU I wanted to use, an Intel DX2-66MHz.

With such a classic CPU I had hoped to *keep it real* and use a board that had one of the newer 486 chipsets and bios dates without using a PCI based 486. So my PCI Socket 3 boards stayed out of this build.

Contenders:

#1
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#2
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#3
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#4
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#5
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#6
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#7
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#8
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I thought it was a no-brainer, the last two boards have ZIFF sockets, coin batteries, 72 pin RAM, WB/WT Jumpers, Voltage Jumpers, 50MHz FSB, 1993 DX Bios(mouse driven). Unfortunately both of them have fake cache despite the fact they boot faster than most of the other boards and *feel* incredibly responsive.

I ended up going with #2, the UMC based 486 ISA/VLB board.

*more to come*
Last edited by rgart on 2017-4-15 @ 13:19, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby Robin4 » 2016-5-31 @ 09:08

The forex, UMC, and the SIS are the best possible VLB motherboards you have there.. PCchips on 7 is just junk on my opinion..(everything is fake on that board)

The Asaki board is the best one if you want to have that voltage regulator for 3.45volt and 3.3 volt processors. The first 3 boards seems the be early VLB board with only 5 volt voltage support.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby keropi » 2016-5-31 @ 10:25

this looks like a great 486 build!
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby rgart » 2016-5-31 @ 10:29

Robin4 wrote:The forex, UMC, and the SIS are the best possible VLB motherboards you have there.. PCchips on 7 is just junk on my opinion..(everything is fake on that board)

The Asaki board is the best one if you want to have that voltage regulator for 3.45volt and 3.3 volt processors. The first 3 boards seems the be early VLB board with only 5 volt voltage support.


Its true, that Asaki board is excellent. I used to have an Am5x86 133 installed @ 150MHz with a 50MHz FSB and it performed flawlessly with three VLB cards. I completed Lands of Lore on that system and I never had a single crash. Checking the traces to the cache on the bottom of the board though they go no where and it always reports 256K cache no matter what the settings.

I tried the Pro Audio Spectrum 16 card and although it does sound amazing playing MOD files and the quality of sound is apparent, I had some minor issues with it.

1) It seems to give off more heat than I'm used to with a creative card. (it gets bloody hot)
2) I had some volume problems with it initially.
3) Doom crashed hard once on exiting and played the same sound over and over.

I switched to the Sound Blaster Pro 2 CT1600 for the ultimate speech solution to complement the Roland MT-32.

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Here's the hardware I've put together over the last couple of days.

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I spent a few hours playing Wolfenstein 3D, Ultima 7, Conquest of Camelot, Willy Beamish, Doom and Monkey Island. The ET4000/W32I caused some strange artifacts in Monkey Island.

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I switched to an ET4000/W32 and the Monkey Island artifacts disappeared. It has 1 MB less RAM and is not upgradable.

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Last edited by rgart on 2016-6-01 @ 20:48, edited 8 times in total.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby rgart » 2016-5-31 @ 10:38

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Heres where I'm currently at:

◙ Intel 486DX2-66MHz WB Enhanced.
◙ 256K 15ns cache
◙ 16 MB Fast Page RAM
◙ VLB Tekram DC-680C Controller card (16MB DRAM)
◙ VLB ET4000/W32 VLB video card (1MB)
◙ Generic UMC Controller card
◙ Roland MPU-IPC-T
◙ Creative Sound Blaster Pro 2 CT1600
◙ 2 x Seagate Medalists 2.1GB (jumpered)
◙ 1 x Conner 400MB (for OS DOS6.22)
◙ Creative INFRA 32X IDE CDROM
◙ Full Tower with funky MHz LED


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Last edited by rgart on 2016-5-31 @ 13:16, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby rgart » 2016-5-31 @ 10:48

Here's some benchmark results:

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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby Tetrium » 2016-5-31 @ 11:02

Your rig looks really cool and nice case!

One piece of advice on the #8 motherboard: If you decide to store it, remove the coin cell battery, those might also start leaking even though I only saw this happen once or twice.
rgart wrote:Unfortunately both of them have fake cache despite the fact they boot faster than most of the other boards and *feel* incredibly responsive.

Are you positive the last board's cache chips are fake? They look socketed and the brand on the cache chips are usually the real deal (unless I've not been paying attention the whole time :dead: ).
I can't make out from the pic whether they are socketed or not though. Non-socketed cache chips were usually a bad sign though.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby Sutekh94 » 2016-5-31 @ 14:52

Tetrium wrote:Are you positive the last board's cache chips are fake? They look socketed and the brand on the cache chips are usually the real deal (unless I've not been paying attention the whole time :dead: ).
I can't make out from the pic whether they are socketed or not though. Non-socketed cache chips were usually a bad sign though.

Looks like you might've:

rgart wrote:Its true, that Asaki board is excellent. I used to have an Am5x86 133 installed @ 150MHz with a 50MHz FSB and it performed flawlessly with three VLB cards. I completed Lands of Lore on that system and I never had a single crash. Checking the traces to the cache on the bottom of the board though they go no where and it always reports 256K cache no matter what the settings.

(emphasis mine)

Also, that is one funky case. I've never seen a MHz display like that ever before.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby feipoa » 2016-5-31 @ 21:05

That Intel DX2 board has write-back cache. Do any of your boards support write-back L1 cache? DX2 chips with write-through cache were more common.

I notice that your case has a tape drive. What do you use it for and do you have any data tapes?

Does that case have an uptime counter? Or is that local time?

That MHz display is pretty unique. What are all the numbers? 25, 33, 40, and 50 MHz?

So there were non PC Chips manufacturers doing the fake cache trick? Interesting how they didn't both with the fake TAG RAM.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby Tetrium » 2016-5-31 @ 21:48

Sutekh94 wrote:
Tetrium wrote:Are you positive the last board's cache chips are fake? They look socketed and the brand on the cache chips are usually the real deal (unless I've not been paying attention the whole time :dead: ).
I can't make out from the pic whether they are socketed or not though. Non-socketed cache chips were usually a bad sign though.

Looks like you might've:

rgart wrote:Its true, that Asaki board is excellent. I used to have an Am5x86 133 installed @ 150MHz with a 50MHz FSB and it performed flawlessly with three VLB cards. I completed Lands of Lore on that system and I never had a single crash. Checking the traces to the cache on the bottom of the board though they go no where and it always reports 256K cache no matter what the settings.

(emphasis mine)

Also, that is one funky case. I've never seen a MHz display like that ever before.

Ehh...I must've had one of those idiot moments, whoops haha :blush:
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby rgart » 2016-6-01 @ 19:41

Tetrium wrote:Your rig looks really cool and nice case!

One piece of advice on the #8 motherboard: If you decide to store it, remove the coin cell battery, those might also start leaking even though I only saw this happen once or twice.


Good point, cheers. I'll go through and remove all my coin batteries from hardware in storage.

Tetrium wrote:Are you positive the last board's cache chips are fake? They look socketed and the brand on the cache chips are usually the real deal


Those cache chips are socketed but the ISS-10 chips are only there because I was testing them. I can't recall what kind the board came with but I've never been able to get cache working. It always claims theres 256k while booting and cachechk says there's none.

Does this look normal? Seems like an unusual amount of solder points going nowhere on the cache.

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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby rgart » 2016-6-01 @ 19:43

feipoa wrote:That Intel DX2 board has write-back cache. Do any of your boards support write-back L1 cache? DX2 chips with write-through cache were more common.



None of the older boards have a WB/WT setting in the BIOS or jumper. The Asaki board does have the jumper.

feipoa wrote:I notice that your case has a tape drive. What do you use it for and do you have any data tapes?


The case came with the 250MB tape drive. I don't own any tapes to test it though. It might be decent for backup purposes.

feipoa wrote:Does that case have an uptime counter? Or is that local time?


It's a clock and also a timer. The clock LED stays on when the PC is turned off.

feipoa wrote:That MHz display is pretty unique. What are all the numbers? 25, 33, 40, and 50 MHz?


When the turbo button is off 25 and 33 light up and when it's on 40 and 57 light up. Its probably adjustable but there's a massive PCB behind the turbo switch I haven't pulled out yet and two molar power connectors. I'm not sure if this interfaced in a special way with that Octek Headland motherboard it came with or not.

feipoa wrote:So there were non PC Chips manufacturers doing the fake cache trick? Interesting how they didn't both with the fake TAG RAM.


What does the picture above look like to you, I don't normally see so many solder points going nowhere. Is this real cache? It's socketed.
Last edited by rgart on 2016-6-01 @ 21:04, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby rgart » 2016-6-01 @ 20:05

I benchmarked a few video cards in this system. The Diamond Stealth came out on top but has some compatibility issues with Black Gate/Serpent Isle so it's not an option for me.

I've got about 5 more Western Digital and Cirrus Logic VLB cards to test but they are a bit fiddly to get working with the VLB contacts in the VLB slot. (pushed in normally or a little too hard the motherboard wont turn on, you gotta find that sweet spot with the contacts) I'll add the results when I have a little more time to play.

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Tseng ET4000/W32I VLB
3DBench2 : 44.7
Pcpbench /vgamode : 10.1


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S3 805i VLB
3DBench2 : 43.3
Pcpbench /vgamode : 10.1


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S3 Diamond Stealth VLB
3DBench2 : 46.2
Pcpbench /vgamode : 10.2



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Tseng ET4000/W32 VLB
3DBench2 : 43.3
Pcpbench /vgamode : 10.1



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Cirrus Logic CL-GD5429 VLB
3DBench2 : 44.7
Pcpbench /vgamode : 9.9



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Tseng ET4000AX ISA
3DBench2 : 31.6
Pcpbench /vgamode : 9.0


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Trident TVGA 8800CS ISA
3DBench2 : 11.8
Pcpbench /vgamode : 5.4
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby feipoa » 2016-6-02 @ 00:14

Are the cache traces on the other boards more complete? Photo?

Is there any soldered on TAG RAM on the board, anywhere? If not, then could the TAG be part of the chipset?
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby rgart » 2016-6-09 @ 01:47

I have been enjoying Ultima VII Serpent Isle a lot on this system! Its such a great game to combine with a Roland MT-32 midi module and a Creative Sound Blaster Pro 2. The ambient midi music and sound effects are the best! I have become accustomed to the 486DX2-66MHz scrolling speed and I think its perfect. The Tseng Labs ET4000W32 is a good choice for this game.

Serpent.Isle.Audio.Magicians.Wand.Roland.MT32 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ie0vAqn8ZBc

Serpent.Isle.Audio.Lightning.Whip.Roland.MT32 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqzWQ3bThlk

Serpent.Isle.486DX2-66MHz.TEKRAM-680c.Scrolling.Speed.Excellent.with.Roland.MT32
*redoing this video, please wait*

MHz LED in operation
https://youtu.be/_0aEY3hFoVU

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Monitor Trainer Bug (After Knighthood Banquet) Saved too infrequent and now too far in to restart. Spewing!
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Sentencing the beer drinking, chicken eating PC pirate to death for copyright infringement...
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby PhilsComputerLab » 2016-6-09 @ 01:55

Lovely stuff!

I think board #3 is exactly the same board I used in my recent 486DX 33 MHz build. It is missing the RTC module though, did you de-solder it? I de-soldered mine, put a socket in and replaced the RTC module.

Also you have a lot of loverly cards. It's great when you have so many options to choose from.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby clueless1 » 2016-6-09 @ 02:33

Loved Ultima VII: The Black Gate. One of the first games I played to completion on my 386sx-20 (yeah, I know). I bought SI, but for some reason could not get immersed in it (maybe because I was burned out on The Black Gate?) and ended up moving on to other games. Today I own it again and plan to someday give it another go. No MT-32 for me, though. :( Sounds brilliant, thanks for sharing the vids.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby RacoonRider » 2016-6-09 @ 04:26

Great stuff, rgart! Once again I look at you posts and think "The guy surely knows how to hove propper fun" :Ъ
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby Tertz » 2016-6-09 @ 09:34

clueless1 wrote:No MT-32 for me, though.


There is always DOSBox option. Connect CRT and get almost same.
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Re: New 486 build - Full size tower - JPG heavy.

Postby Anonymous Coward » 2016-9-26 @ 08:16

Octek Hippo IV has no L2 cache as far as I can tell, so no big loss. Plus, if you want to go for a 486 with no local bus, then go for the Asus board.
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