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Slowest Pentium v Fastest 486

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First post, by fsmith2003

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Just curious what the answer to that would be? In your opinions and experiences what would you choose? The Pentium 60mhz or a 486DX4 100mhz ( I think that's the fastest)? I'd like to build a machine that is 1993 geared. I've found that acquiring a socket 4 board and CPU to go with it is gonna be expensive where as a high end 486 could be alto cheaper.

Reply 1 of 49, by Karm

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Look at the post above please(486 Benchmark Comparison), before asking such a question 😉
would choose the AM5x86 133/P75 (or P75+) (486 with 4x multiplier) over the Pentium 60.
(Cyrix is not a real 486 in my eyes)

But if you really want to build a 1993 machine... don't use either a Pentium nor a High End 486...

Reply 2 of 49, by Ampera

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The fastest strictly 486 is the Intel 80486-DX4-120. This chip can definitely give the P5-60 a run for it's money. However, there are more chips on the 486 platform that could all technically be called a 486, not to mention situations like overclocking, and Socket 3 boards with 66mhz FSB support. Things like the 5x86 chips from AMD and Cyrix can definitely beat out an early Pentium.

A properly overclocked Am5x86 chip (200mhz) can beat out the Pentium in basically every task, even FSB, just because of the high speed.

This is just the pure technicality of it. It I were to be asked which one I would want, given that I have no other machines already in my collection, I would pick the 486 any day, due to the ability to downclock and exchange for lower chips, so games that only run on slower machines can work without tricky throttling programs. One thine to keep in mind with 486 machines is that most of them were VLB based, or just plain ISA. If I am building a serious gaming rig, I would need a board with PCI. This is nothing much to haver about, since both the 486 line and P5 line have PCI support.

Another issue is that while the 486 has better software support for older games, the Pentium will have support for operating systems and programs that for whatever reason insist on a P5 based CPU, even if a 486 can do everything it can.

Some of this is speculation, especially near the end, but the bottom line is the Socket 3 line has so many options, that given the right chip, a 486 based machine can without any doubt in anybody's mind beat a P5-60. As for vanilla 486, counting the 80486-DX4-120 as the fastest chip (Intel version of course) then the competition gets real close. I suggest you check out The Ultimate 486 Benchmark Comparison to get an idea of where different 486 based chips lie on the performance side of things.

Reply 3 of 49, by Ampera

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Karm wrote:
Look at the post above please(486 Benchmark Comparison), before asking such a question ;) would choose the AM5x86 133/P75 (or P7 […]
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Look at the post above please(486 Benchmark Comparison), before asking such a question 😉
would choose the AM5x86 133/P75 (or P75+) (486 with 4x multiplier) over the Pentium 60.
(Cyrix is not a real 486 in my eyes)

But if you really want to build a 1993 machine... don't use either a Pentium nor a High End 486...

I believe this is a valid question despite the other post, which I have linked. The benchmark comparison does not include a figure for the Pentium 60 mhz chip, not to mention the fact that the OP asked if the Pentium 60mhz was faster than the fastest 486, not what is the fastest 486.

Reply 4 of 49, by clueless1

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Ampera wrote:

The fastest strictly 486 is the Intel 80486-DX4-120.

I don't think such a cpu ever existed. Intel stopped at 100Mhz, but was sometimes overclockable to 120; AMD did make a 120Mhz version though. But yes, all the answers are in the Ultimate 486 Benchmark Comparison sticky thread. Download the PDF for more benchmark results than you can shake a stick at.

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Reply 5 of 49, by leileilol

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An AM486DX4-120 existed though and AM486 is identical to 80486 in timing... the real difference there is the cache.

Also Quake answers a big fat "no" to the whole 'is 486 faster' thing. 😉 Looking back, had I wanted serious speed in Quake on a 486, i should've went with the POD83s

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Reply 6 of 49, by BeginnerGuy

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leileilol wrote:

An AM486DX4-120 existed though and AM486 is identical to 80486 in timing... the real difference there is the cache.

Also Quake answers a big fat "no" to the whole 'is 486 faster' thing. 😉 Looking back, had I wanted serious speed in Quake on a 486, i should've went with the POD83s

Problem for me was the pricetag on the 83mhz overdrive was around $300 in late 1995, I waited and got myself a Pentium 133 in the spring of 1996 for about $250.. Not a huge premium after the board and misc and I ran that machine for a good while.. Well whatever a good while was in those days, I upgraded to a K6-350 SS7 setup I guess barely 2 years later.

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Reply 7 of 49, by Scali

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fsmith2003 wrote:

I'd like to build a machine that is 1993 geared.

In which case a 486DX2-66 VLB would probably be the only realistic option.

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Reply 8 of 49, by Ampera

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clueless1 wrote:
Ampera wrote:

The fastest strictly 486 is the Intel 80486-DX4-120.

I don't think such a cpu ever existed. Intel stopped at 100Mhz, but was sometimes overclockable to 120; AMD did make a 120Mhz version though. But yes, all the answers are in the Ultimate 486 Benchmark Comparison sticky thread. Download the PDF for more benchmark results than you can shake a stick at.

Ah, maybe I was a bit confused with the Intel and AMD. Either way the chip can be gotten by a moderate overclock, which I have done on my Am486-DX4-100

leileilol wrote:

An AM486DX4-120 existed though and AM486 is identical to 80486 in timing... the real difference there is the cache.

Also Quake answers a big fat "no" to the whole 'is 486 faster' thing. 😉 Looking back, had I wanted serious speed in Quake on a 486, i should've went with the POD83s

While FPU performance on the 486 platform is still a lot lower, a 200Mhz Am5x86 would still just be so fast that it would still beat out a 60 Mhz P5 in FPU performance. This is, however, a very rare and difficult to achieve configuration, but in all technicality, it is still a 486.

In terms of 1993 spec, you can go low, medium, or high end for PCs. The cream of the crop is still going to be a Socket 4 66Mhz Pentium, as the later 486 chips were not even out yet. What most people (with some amount of money still) had was a DX2-66, which in my opinion is a shit chip. I find it too fast to make sense for strictly 2D gaming on most ends, but just barely too slow to make 3D gaming that much of a possibility. I am aware that if I said this in front of most people here in real life, I would probably walk out with less teeth than I did when I entered the room, but I stand by it. The only reason people really like the DX2-66 is because of nostalgia reasons. It made sense when it came out because it was all anybody had, but it makes 0 sense today for a 486. Even still, nostalgia IS a major driving force, and I could definitely agree with people who choose to use the chip for nostalgia purposes.

Reply 9 of 49, by fsmith2003

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Appreciate all the replies folks! I will be a little more specific though. My goal is to try and build the best Intel had to offer for each year of the 90s. I have completed 1992 and 1996-99 I'm a fan boy what can I say. So anyways if you were to base it solely on the processors Intel had to offer in 1993 what would you choose? I know a lot of factors go into this but if you just had to choose one

On a side note, was there much difference between the P5-60 and 66? Would the 66 outperform, the fastest Intel 486?

Reply 10 of 49, by Scali

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Ampera wrote:

What most people (with some amount of money still) had was a DX2-66, which in my opinion is a shit chip. I find it too fast to make sense for strictly 2D gaming on most ends, but just barely too slow to make 3D gaming that much of a possibility.

Must be because of your strange definition of '3D gaming' I suppose.
The 486DX2-66 could be considered a 'platform' for a few years.
Plenty of 3D games came out in that era.
Of course there was DOOM and its various clones/derivatives.
But there was also Descent, Microprose F1 GP, Comanche, Falcon 3.0 and tons of other 3D games. Even Need for Speed was doable on my 486, albeit not in high res at maximum detail. 320x200 mode or 640x400 interlaced ran fine.
It's no surprise that Quake doesn't run well on 486, since the design goal for the 3D engine was: make it fast on Pentium. Which is exactly what they did. Pentium has a fast, asynchronous FPU. They exploited it. 486 doesn't, so it chokes.
Doesn't say all that much about the 486 and its ability for running 3D software in general of course.

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Reply 11 of 49, by Ampera

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Scali wrote:
Must be because of your strange definition of '3D gaming' I suppose. The 486DX2-66 could be considered a 'platform' for a few ye […]
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Ampera wrote:

What most people (with some amount of money still) had was a DX2-66, which in my opinion is a shit chip. I find it too fast to make sense for strictly 2D gaming on most ends, but just barely too slow to make 3D gaming that much of a possibility.

Must be because of your strange definition of '3D gaming' I suppose.
The 486DX2-66 could be considered a 'platform' for a few years.
Plenty of 3D games came out in that era.
Of course there was DOOM and its various clones/derivatives.
But there was also Descent, Microprose F1 GP, Comanche, Falcon 3.0 and tons of other 3D games. Even Need for Speed was doable on my 486, albeit not in high res at maximum detail. 320x200 mode or 640x400 interlaced ran fine.
It's no surprise that Quake doesn't run well on 486, since the design goal for the 3D engine was: make it fast on Pentium. Which is exactly what they did. Pentium has a fast, asynchronous FPU. They exploited it. 486 doesn't, so it chokes.
Doesn't say all that much about the 486 and its ability for running 3D software in general of course.

My definition of 3D gaming is stuff like Doom and Duke Nukem. I just think that the DX4-100/120 runs those games better, and they come out more playable. In today's market the DX2-66 and DX4-100 don't really have much of a price disparity, so getting a DX4-100/120 is a lot smarter of an option.

Reply 13 of 49, by CkRtech

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Ampera wrote:

In today's market the DX2-66 and DX4-100 don't really have much of a price disparity, so getting a DX4-100/120 is a lot smarter of an option.

I think retro PC building should always be a question of philosophy, desire, and nostalgia. The smarter option would always be "emulate."

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Reply 14 of 49, by nforce4max

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I am thankful that it is not up to a couple of people to decide for everyone else what is or is not retro and that we all have the personal freedom to decide for ourselves. That said the only easy way to get lucky on a working socket 4 board is through rolling the dice on buying lots listed by sellers who don't care or are too stupid to figured out what they got could be valuable. You are better off trying to emulate pentium 60 performance with a socket 5 or 7 board, if you do end up with the chance of building a socket 4 system just be sure to use a fan as cooling it passive it gets rather hot and is why they got the rep for being scorchers. Also make sure that you get one of those boards with ps2 ports instead of the normal retail version as the com ports are not standard and the onboard ide controller can be very dodgy on these boards. Uses FPM ram..

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Reply 15 of 49, by PhilsComputerLab

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I very much prefer the "last" of an era vs the "first". Everything just works, the kinks have been ironed out and it feels great having the latest and greatest. I do get the appeal of using the "first" of something, but it's not for me.

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Reply 16 of 49, by i486_inside

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I didn't realize socket 4 boards are that hard to find, I guess it make sense since they were only used for a very short period and then the platform was abandoned, In my dad's basement I have two socket 4 systems , two nearly identical(if not identical) Packard Hell machines with Pentium 60's, one is a machine my dad has had since it was new the other is a machine I bought from a random thrift store in Middletown, Ohio . I bought it thinking it probably had a newer Pentium in it and was pleasantly surprised to find out that it was nearly identical(it might be the same model I haven't bothered to check) to the P60 machine I used as a child,. I don't rember what the name of the thrift store was but at the same time I bought the P60 machine I bought my CompuAdd 316s , I paid $20 for both machines.

Reply 18 of 49, by oerk

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fsmith2003 wrote:

...My goal is to try and build the best Intel had to offer for each year of the 90s. I have completed 1992 and 1996-99 I'm a fan boy what can I say...

In that case, I can't really see why you would want to build a 486 over a first generation Pentium - the Pentium 60 is one of the most iconic Intel chips, IMO.