Best 386 Motherboard?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2018-3-01 @ 00:49

HEYYYYYYY I may have a dozen other projects going but i may have found a real great deal!
https://www.ebay.com/itm/311886563614?ul_noapp=true

How does this look? It just dropped down to 55 USD! It is an ISA only system, so something along the lines of a DX40!
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby feipoa » 2018-3-01 @ 01:09

I personally do not have experience with OPTI 391 systems. Maybe others can comment? I like how the battery isn't leaking yet. Doesn't have the 486 socket, which is nice. If there is a MR BIOS for 391, it is probably something I would consider even to test with myself.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2018-3-01 @ 01:10

I think i'm gonna go for it!
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby feipoa » 2018-3-01 @ 02:26

Looks like the seller only ships to 48 American states and nowhere else, so there shouldn't be too much international competition for the board. I've heard all kinds of things good and bad about the OPTI 495 chipset, but cannot recall much of anything concerning the 391. There's a list here, http://www.vogonswiki.com/index.php/386 ... s#OPTi_Inc.
Anyone know the first OPTI chipset which was in 486 boards?
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2018-3-01 @ 03:30

Well, it has WB cache support, so that's good. I'm gonna finally have my first 386!
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2018-3-01 @ 03:34

I found the datasheet on the chipset here
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby feipoa » 2018-3-01 @ 03:48

Does the chipset datasheet mention anything about 486's? Or is this a pure 386 chipset? I thought someone mentioned earlier in this thread that they had a OPTI 391/392 with a 486?

I didn't realise that chipsets from 1990 could use write-back L2 cache. Is that what the "WB" refers to, or is it something else?
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2018-3-01 @ 03:51

Seems to be legitimate WB cache.
What puzzles me is that one of the tag ram socket locations is unpopulated on the board. There isn't even a socket soldered there (the pads and printing are there though), despite the information i've seen about this board saying there should be three tag ram sockets. Will that be a problem? Should i solder the third one in?
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby feipoa » 2018-3-01 @ 04:54

It was not uncommon back then to have different quantity TAG RAM chips for different size caches. For example, on one particular motherboard I have, it calls for two 16kx4 TAG chips when the cache total is 64K. When the cache total is 256K, it calls for three 64kx4 TAG chips.

You will need to look up the manual for your particular motherboard to determine what the cache requirements are. It is possible that the manufacturer didn't think anyone would ever put in 256K and omitted one of the TAG sockets to save money on production.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2018-3-01 @ 04:56

The seller seems to indicate it is working with just two, so maybe i won't have to add the third.
I do want to upgrade to 256k of cache though, so i might need the third 16k TAG socket
Soldering iron away!!
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby feipoa » 2018-3-01 @ 05:11

Could you provide a link or pdf for the motherboard's jumper sheet?
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Skyscraper » 2018-3-01 @ 07:14

Jupiter-18 wrote:http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/S/SHUTTLE-COMPUTER-INTERNATIONAL-INC-386-HOT-307.html



I think it's a bit funny that the Shuttle HOT-307 is 100% identical (except for the silk screening and the colour of some jumpers) to the generic OPTI 391 386 motherboard I posted two pages back.

I want I copy of the HOT-307 AMI BIOS! :)

I will make sure to post the MR BIOS from my identical "OPTI WB" 386 boards this weekend. The MR BIOS from the dead OPTI 493 486 board I posted on the last page would perhaps also work but probably not give you the option to set the L2 cache as WB.


I will build a system using my OPTI 493 Shuttle HOT-403 486 motherboard as I want a true 1991 486DX-50 ISA only system. So far I really like the board and the OPTI 493 chipset seems speedy enough (I have used a DX2/66 for testing). Really noisy 16bit DMA is the only issue I have found with my HOT-403 so far. As 1991 was the year of the Sound Blaster Pro the noisy 16bit DMA is a non issue for me. I have set the Sound Blaster 16 I use as a stand in at the moment to only use an 8bit DMA channel.


Edit

corrected some faulty information

/Edit
Last edited by Skyscraper on 2018-3-05 @ 18:50, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby chrisNova777 » 2018-3-01 @ 12:04

i am really happy with my 386 after the last few days
its alot faster than i had thought previously

when i last tried to use it with win3.1 it was brutally slow
i didnt realize that the system was running a disk compression software called "dblspace"
and didnt realize that the hard drive inside (120mb) was incredibly slow

now that im using it with 512mb SD card for C: drive
and i reinstalled DOS 6.22 + WFW3.11 .. wow! it actually boots faster then my 486dx2-66
really glad i got this piece of early 1990s history..

http://arvutimuuseum.ee/th99/m/P-R/32175.htm
my board has 8 slots! 6x 16bit and 2x 8bit slots
running with ET4000 Tseng VGA from A cardinal VGA732A/1MB card
and 16bit winbond i/o controller

i love that it gives me full 8 slots yet its small like a microATX (i guess its BABY AT form factor?)
when i finally get it working with a good CDROM + ZIP100 Internal drive i will be very happy indeed!
and will have to backup my autoexec.bat + config.sys + c: drive image

beauty.

if anyone can school me on anything else i should do.. would love to hear some suggestions
my i/o controller only seems to support a single hard drive.. everytime i try to connect a master/slave configuration it doesnt ever autodetect the slave

i need to get another IDE port(s) that is ATAPI compatible that will see a zip100 drive or a modern CD/DVD rom
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2018-3-01 @ 16:11

The offer went through! I am now the proud owner of my first 386!
So, what next? I gotta start choosing cards for this thing!
Most importantly, graphics and sound. Being a 386DX-40 board, I'm thinking something Cirrus Logic or Tseng.
For sound its either SB16 or AWE32 for me.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby timb.us » 2018-3-01 @ 17:12

Skyscraper wrote:
Jupiter-18 wrote:http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/S/SHUTTLE-COMPUTER-INTERNATIONAL-INC-386-HOT-307.html



I think it's a bit funny that the Shuttle HOT-307 is 100% identical (except for the silk screening and the colour of some jumpers) to the generic OPTI 391 386 motherboard I posted two pages back.

I want I copy of the HOT-307 AMI BIOS! :)

I will make sure to post the MR BIOS from my identical "OPTI WB" 386 boards this weekend. The MR BIOS from the dead OPTI 391 486 board I posted on the last page would perhaps also work but probably not give you the option to set the L2 cache as WB.


I will build a system using my OPTI 391 Shuttle HOT-403 486 motherboard as I want a true 1991 486DX-50 ISA only system. So far I really like the board and the OPTI 391 chipset seems speedy enough (I have used a DX2/66 for testing). Really noisy 16bit DMA is the only issue I have found with my HOT-403 so far. As 1991 was the year of the Sound Blaster Pro the noisy 16bit DMA is a non issue for me. I have set the Sound Blaster 16 I use as a stand in at the moment to only use an 8bit DMA channel.


FYI, I tried the MR BIOS from your 486 OPTi 391 on my generic 386WB board and it didn’t work. No video, no POST beeps, no nothing. So I suspect it’s trying to configure the chipset in a way that doesn’t quite work with the 386.

I made a dump of the AMI 386 bios from my 386WB if you want it. It has very few Chipset Options in the BIOS setup, but maybe that’s normal for this chipset? (It still has some odd omissions, like no FAST A20 GATE option, which the physical chipset *does* support; even my previous cheapo VLSI Topcat motherboard with AMI 386SX BIOS supported that!)

There’s also some small issues with the way this AMI 386 BIOS handles ROM shadowing with my particular Cirrus Logic VGA card. I’m hopeful the MR. BIOS will fix that issue.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2018-3-01 @ 19:19

One thing that interests me about this board is that proprietary memory expansion slot in the back. I would love to know more about it. Is there anyone who knows anything about it or similar ones?
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby timb.us » 2018-3-01 @ 23:20

Jupiter-18 wrote:One thing that interests me about this board is that proprietary memory expansion slot in the back. I would love to know more about it. Is there anyone who knows anything about it or similar ones?


A lot of higher end 386DX boards of that era had 32-Bit memory expansion slots. Unfortunately, as far as I know, they’re not universal and each manufacturer has their own version. So, you’d need to find a card specific to this particular motherboard. In this case, Shuttle appears to have used the OPTi reference design for the 391, so said Memory board *should* fit the generic 386WBs along with the Shuttle HOT boards, assuming that it was actually ever made in the first place.

With a copy of datasheets for this chipset it might be possible to reverse engineer the pinout and design a modern replacement.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2018-3-02 @ 00:07

I'll see if i can find any info on it. I have the chipset datasheet, but i'm probably not experienced enough (yet) to build my own. Hopefully one will come up for sale, though that's a one in a million chance.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby The Serpent Rider » 2018-3-02 @ 14:18

Meanwhile I've decided to skip PC Chips offer and instead found this cute board - SER 386-AD3
ALI M1429 386DX40 board.jpg

AMD 386DX 40, ALI M1429 (486 chipset?), 8mb 60ns RAM and 15ns cache. To my surprise even battery is still fine. Possible 256kb cache upgrade?
Last edited by The Serpent Rider on 2018-3-02 @ 15:08, edited 1 time in total.
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