Best 386 Motherboard?

Discussion about old PC hardware.

Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby keenerb » 2016-8-08 @ 19:28

brostenen wrote:If you don't mind spending money, and are satisfied with a Cyrix CPU, then perhaps this one?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/TOP-IBM-Blue-Lightning-SLC2-50MHz-auf-VLB-Motherboard-Co-Processor-RAM-/282107573302?hash=item41aeebf436:g:XCcAAOSw-FZXj~Iv


I had this board. I loved it so much.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby keenerb » 2016-8-08 @ 19:39

snorg wrote:
jesolo wrote:
Jupiter-18 wrote:I see.
The only 486SXL2's I could find on ebay are both $119.95 - that is a lot. I think I will probably look to the Ti 486SXL/Cx486DLC.
Is VLB worth it for graphics?
I might look for a board with a Weitek 3167 socket, just because they are esoteric and cool, but I'd start with a Fastmath. Would a fastmath fit in a 3167 socket?
For ISA graphics, what were the top cards for the late 386 era?

I think you'll have more luck in finding a TX or TI 486DLC as opposed to a Ti 486SXL. The former are basically just clones of the Cyrix DLC CPU's with also 1 KB of L1 cache. The SXL CPU's have 8 KB of L1 cache onboard.

From what I've quickly read, a FasMath should fit into a Weitek slot, but it's dependent on motherboard and BIOS - refer this page for more information: http://www.cpu-collection.de/?tn=0&l0=c ... l2=386+FPU.
Most 386 (DX based) motherboard's I've come across only has the standard 68-pin math co-processor socket and not the 121 pin EMC socket.

Having a math co-processor on any 386 or 486 (although all DX based 486 CPU's had them integrated) is useless from a gaming perspective, since there are practically no games that utilizes a math co-processor from that era.
It's only when you start moving onto games that were developed for Pentium class CPU's that math co-processors became an important factor (Quake being one of the first examples I can think of).
So, unless you can pick up one for a bargain, you'll just be wasting your money on something that is plugged into your motherboard, serving no purpose (unless you plan on running some CAD programs and Excel spreadsheets :lol: ).


Seconded. Unless you are a vintage computer enthusiast that also likes mucking about with vintage computer graphics software (which back in the day was limited to 3D Studio for DOS...at $3,000 they were the "OMG so cheap!" competitor to SGIs which were a minimum $10,000-$50,000 for the workstation and another $10,000-$50,000 in software) then there is little point in having a math coprocessor, unless you happen to see one for cheap. Falcon 3.0 is the only game I know of that uses one. Fractint and Povray (freeware ray-tracer) will also make use of one.
So, if you are a 3d graphics hobbyist also and want to cut those times down from days to hours for something that would literally take seconds to do on any modern system, by all means get the math coprocessor :)


Scorched Earth supported a math co-processor. I was the envy of the neighborhood when I added the math co-proc and everyone saw how much better it ran.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby nforce4max » 2016-8-08 @ 22:52

Jupiter-18 wrote:I guess you could say I am a retro computer masochist. The more difficult hardware and software configuration there is, the happier I am. Thus, I am going to find a Weitek board!


I had like two of the later 486 variety but ended up selling them as the math cos were just too expensive and hard to find. Don't get too disappointed if you don't find anything right away as you might end up waiting months if not a year or more until one pops up.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2016-8-08 @ 23:11

nforce4max wrote:I had like two of the later 486 variety but ended up selling them as the math cos were just too expensive and hard to find. Don't get too disappointed if you don't find anything right away as you might end up waiting months if not a year or more until one pops up.

I'm not too worried about waiting. It will be worth it when I find the right board.
Now that that is settled, how about graphics? This seems a bit more difficult than later systems, since there are so many companies to choose from. The way I see it, I have a few possibilities.
ATi Mach 64
Tseng Labs ET4000
TL ET6000
Cirrus Logic Something
S3 Trio
I've only done a little research so far.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby nforce4max » 2016-8-08 @ 23:46

Cirrus logic is the easiest to come by for VLB and Trident is all over the place but the others are much nicer but more expensive (worth it). The Tseng cards are really good but they are getting harder to find, as for S3 got to love them for compatibility and they perform well. Not sure how hood the Mach 64 is but if you go VLB be sure that you find one of the nicer ones with the upgraded dac.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2016-8-09 @ 00:13

Gotcha. Seems like S3 might be a good choice.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby nforce4max » 2016-8-09 @ 01:05

Well I am scrounging eBay and sure enough I was wrong about the boards as there is a few with the weitek socket but most are not price fairly (like hundreds of percent overpriced). To spot them the math co pro socket has extra rows of pins.

From this old thread. http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=25&t=27015

Image
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby SquallStrife » 2016-8-09 @ 01:18

A 386 board with VLB (or Pentium board for that matter) is going to have some kind of bridge chip, since VLB is a very 486-specific tech. Any performance gains are going to be minor, and there's likely to be compatibility issues.

If you want VLB for fast video and IO, build a 486. 386 and VLB aren't great roommates.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby nforce4max » 2016-8-09 @ 01:36

SquallStrife wrote:A 386 board with VLB (or Pentium board for that matter) is going to have some kind of bridge chip, since VLB is a very 486-specific tech. Any performance gains are going to be minor, and there's likely to be compatibility issues.

If you want VLB for fast video and IO, build a 486. 386 and VLB aren't great roommates.


Just bought a lot of hybrid boards and none are bridged, the one hybrid vlb I got hasn't given me any issues at all. Some of us are doing these builds just for fun so the performance isn't a big deal.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby SquallStrife » 2016-8-09 @ 06:05

nforce4max wrote:Just bought a lot of hybrid boards and none are bridged,


What gives you that impression?

nforce4max wrote:Some of us are doing these builds just for fun so the performance isn't a big deal.


Sure. I was mainly posting for OP's benefit. He (she?) started out with "I want a 386 with VLB!" then later asked if it was good to have.

Lots of people getting in to the hobby have very nebulous understandings of what was around "in the day", and I don't think it's fruitful to fog that with weird franken-puters we build "just for fun". :)
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby noshutdown » 2016-8-09 @ 08:00

i havn't seen many 386 boards but i think a good 386 board shall meet the following conditions:
1. integrated with amd386dx-40. (which indicated it was designed with 386dx-40 in mind. if its pga socket, it may lack support for 40khz clock)
2. socket for cyrix fastmath 387-40.
3. 8* 30pin simm sockets.
4. cache socket with at least 256k support, 512k preferable.
5. good build quality.
6. support for coin cell. (a few latest ones do, which is less prone to corrosions from barrel battery)
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby dirkmirk » 2016-8-09 @ 10:52

Image
http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/E/EFA-CORPORATION-486-ECA-34M50FL.html

I've had no luck getting this board up and running with the 386 and VLB video cards, I have just purchased a TI486SXL2/50 and it still refuses to work with VLB video cards so it might be a specific problem with Hybrid UMC 386/486 boards.

I'm going to try and run this chip at 2X33 for 66mhz if the chip can handle the overclock.

Yeah I got lucky finding the SXL2/50 chip got it very cheap.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/272325191213?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

For an isa video card if you want 2d acceleration ie smooth scrolling in windows you'll want a Cirrus Logic 5434, ATI mach 32/64, a few others I cant think of, the ET4000 is a good card if you don't care about windows acceleration.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby 386SX » 2016-8-09 @ 11:00

Was S3 Trio ever built on ISA boards?
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby nforce4max » 2016-8-09 @ 16:42

386SX wrote:Was S3 Trio ever built on ISA boards?


Not that I am aware of, op can still get a 386 compatible vlb board at least in the states for around $50 us but I don't know how good they are. The one I got just works like any board should and doesn't give me any grief which is nice. For bog standard 386DX there are lots of choices out there so he or she is better off going for something that is tried and tested.

Never really expected to be doing any 386 builds until just recently in the past two months or so which is exciting. Scored two more hybrid boards yesterday but they are isa only.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby 386SX » 2016-8-09 @ 18:10

nforce4max wrote:
386SX wrote:Was S3 Trio ever built on ISA boards?


Not that I am aware of, op can still get a 386 compatible vlb board at least in the states for around $50 us but I don't know how good they are. The one I got just works like any board should and doesn't give me any grief which is nice. For bog standard 386DX there are lots of choices out there so he or she is better off going for something that is tried and tested.

Never really expected to be doing any 386 builds until just recently in the past two months or so which is exciting. Scored two more hybrid boards yesterday but they are isa only.

I recently found an "expensive" CL-GD5429 ISA card with 60ns memories and it's not a bad card even if I expected more compared to the ATI 28800-5 one that has a bit lower perf but better lcd quality output signal in my opinion.
Regarding the 386DX-40 even if I respect so much this cpu, it's the main problem here. With the Cyrix DLC40 the Ati 28800-5 basically fly and I didn't test the GD5429...
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2016-8-09 @ 22:14

dirkmirk wrote:Yeah I got lucky finding the SXL2/50 chip got it very cheap.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/272325191213?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

For an isa video card if you want 2d acceleration ie smooth scrolling in windows you'll want a Cirrus Logic 5434, ATI mach 32/64, a few others I cant think of, the ET4000 is a good card if you don't care about windows acceleration.

Wow... I hope I find one that cheap...
What would happen without acceleration?
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby 386SX » 2016-8-10 @ 11:57

Jupiter-18 wrote:
dirkmirk wrote:Yeah I got lucky finding the SXL2/50 chip got it very cheap.

http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/272325191213?_trksid=p2057872.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

For an isa video card if you want 2d acceleration ie smooth scrolling in windows you'll want a Cirrus Logic 5434, ATI mach 32/64, a few others I cant think of, the ET4000 is a good card if you don't care about windows acceleration.

Wow... I hope I find one that cheap...
What would happen without acceleration?

In Win o.s. it should theoretically be faster and free up some cpu cycles from the GUI even if I expected more from the GD5429 (having 2D acceleration) even with the DX4-100 in Win9x enviroment.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby Jupiter-18 » 2016-8-10 @ 17:30

I was considering looking for the Cirrus Logic 5436 and 5446 as my graphics cards. They were meant to be a pair and they provide both 2D and 3D acceleration.
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby tikoellner » 2016-8-10 @ 17:56

noshutdown wrote:i havn't seen many 386 boards but i think a good 386 board shall meet the following conditions:
1. integrated with amd386dx-40. (which indicated it was designed with 386dx-40 in mind. if its pga socket, it may lack support for 40khz clock)
2. socket for cyrix fastmath 387-40.
3. 8* 30pin simm sockets.
4. cache socket with at least 256k support, 512k preferable.
5. good build quality.
6. support for coin cell. (a few latest ones do, which is less prone to corrosions from barrel battery)


I think you overstimate the meaning of cache in 386 systems. 256 or 512 kb of cache is a good thing to have, but in a fast 486 or even 5x86 system. And in case of high-end systems the difference in performance is marginal. I am quite sure that in 386 it woun't make any difference. There are even lots of 386 boards with no cache.

And about coin cells... I've seen no 386 motherboard with factory coin cell battery. Most have those barrel batteries. I would say that the best mobo in this respect is the one that comes WITHOUT battery soldered and has external battery connector. My Asus 386-33/64K (yep, 64K of cache) came without battery.

And why do you need that fastmath socket for? Again, nice and cool feature those FPU's, but how do you use them? Do you perform any particular floating point operations on a 386?
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Re: Best 386 Motherboard?

Postby FGB » 2016-8-10 @ 18:25

Some people just want empty sockets to be filled :-)
Also, there are a few games supporting the FPU.. not that they need one, but they do benefit from one.

Cache makes a difference. Later 386 chipsets are highly optimized for onboard cache. They are really slow when the cache is missing. Cacheless boards on the other side usually have tighter memory timings but are still slower when it comes to effective memory bandwidth.


Btw, the IBM Blue Lighning 486SLC2 is not Cyrix based, it is infact an enhanced Intel 386SX core with 16KB L1 Cache and 486 instruction set. Cyrix DLC / SLC and IBM Blue Lighning are two different architectures, the IBMs are the faster ones, but the Cyrix / Ti ones are much much more common.
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