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Slowest Pentium v Fastest 486

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Reply 20 of 49, by Karm

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Second that.
I think the DX4 100 were available in 1994 so one year later.
The pentium 60 was available in 1993. And in comparison to a pentium the 486 DX2 is not a match.
The differences between the 66 and 60 I thought was, that the 60 versions were 66 with a lower clockspeed, because they don't run stable at 66

Reply 21 of 49, by lvader

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I recollection from 1993 is that early Pentiums were a bit rubbish, but if you already have a 1992 486 DX2, then there wasn''t much else that year. DX4 came in 1994. If you are not too fixated on the year of the CPU but want similar performance to early Pentiums then I think 5x86 is a lot more interesting.

Reply 22 of 49, by Scali

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lvader wrote:

I recollection from 1993 is that early Pentiums were a bit rubbish

Not to mention stupid-expensive, since back in those days, new CPUs were introduced as 'server/workstation' class, like today's high-end Xeons.
Your average gamer couldn't afford a Pentium system until years later (for that same reason 486 only became mainstream around 1992-1993).
I think hardly any gamer ever had a 60/66 MHz Pentium for that reason. By the time Pentium became more mainstream, these CPUs had been superceded by the second generation of 75+ MHz Pentiums (Pentium-S, aka P54C).
The 75 MHz Pentium was the archetypal Quake machine.

Last edited by Scali on 2017-06-28, 10:01. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 23 of 49, by jheronimus

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PhilsComputerLab wrote:

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.

My experience was actually radically different. I've tried building a late 486 with a VLB, but it turned out really complicated and buggy — a real disappointment. It's hard to find a good motherboard, there is not enough documentation, and so on. However, I do realise that 486DX2@66 would not give me so many problems.

My Pentium 60, in comparison, actually turned out to be the "just works" solution. Sure, it has quirks (like weird PS/2 headers or the fact that P-60 runs really hot), but you get:

- next to zero jumper setup;
- full support for EDO RAM;
- all the documentation and BIOS updates you need. Yes, I'm using Intel's own Batman motherboard (and they still host everything on their site), but I hear that it was one of the most popular OEM boards for Socket 4 anyhow.

Now, when it comes to performance:

- yes, there are some games that need faster FPU or Pentium specifically — namely, Quake;
- however, there are games that will actually run faster on a DX4. For example, Duke Nukem 3D and other Build-based games actually favour higher clock.
- for either of those games a Socket 7 would absolutely give you a much better experience.

So, I'd vote for P60 over a DX4 just based on the ease of use and stability.

Reply 24 of 49, by Scali

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I think what makes a difference between the 486-era and the Pentium-era is that in the Pentium-era, Intel started providing their own chipsets on a large scale, which were generally very high-performance, reliable chipsets. Even cheap OEM boards using the Intel chipsets would generally work like a charm. 486 boards however would often use budget chipsets from ALi, Opti, UMC and such, and weren't always as trouble-free.

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Reply 25 of 49, by clueless1

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Scali wrote:

I think hardly any gamer ever had a 60/66 MHz Pentium for that reason. By the time Pentium became more mainstream, these CPUs had been superceded by the second generation of 75+ MHz Pentiums (Pentium-S, aka P54C).

I went the DX4/100 route myself back in the day. And I held out until Pentium 120.

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Reply 27 of 49, by i486_inside

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DOS and WFW 3.1 are period correct for early Pentium's and 486s, I would say just about no one used windows NT outside of businesses, it required 12MBs of RAM which was a fairly large amount of RAM in 1993 from my understanding. Windows NT 3.1 is pretty useless there is very little software for it and finding drivers for it can be a nightmare, I remember playing with it in a virtual PC and it seemed more like buggy early beta (may be alpha) software , NT didn't really start to take shape until NT 3.5

Reply 28 of 49, by fsmith2003

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i486_inside wrote:

Since you are trying to build a Machine for 1993, the Pentium would be the fastest, since in 1993 the fastest 486s were the DX2-66mhz.

Good point. I forgot that the DX4s were in 94.

Reply 29 of 49, by i486_inside

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I think the major thing that allowed the DX4 to happen is that Intel had began using there 600nm process, the 800nm process that the original pentium was built on was clearly not suitable for high clock speeds or really a chip as complex as the Pentium, looking through the CPU lists on Wikipedia the 600nm shrink allowed Intel to reduce the operating voltage to 3.3v and brought down the TDP considerably, the 66Mhz Pentium had a TDP of 16W while the 75mhz Pentium had a TDP of half that. Looking at some figures for the 486 the DX2-66 had a power dissipation as high as 6.4W and the DX4 100 on the 600nm process only had a power dissipation rating as high as 5.3W , If they would have tried to make the DX4 on the 800nm process the heat production would have been ridiculous , it probably would have required a slight voltage bump above 5V like the Pentium 66 did which would be problematic since I don't think any 486 board had a way to boost voltage above 5 volts, which means the cpu would have needed active cooling and a boost circuit vrm on the chip which would have added cost and complexity to the ageing 486 platform which for obvious reasons would not work for that market segment.

Reply 30 of 49, by Ampera

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CkRtech wrote:
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."

Emulation is never the smarter idea, because it can emulate the software, but can't emulate the machines. There is always a joy in using old hardware, not to mention this debate could probably have been had in 1994 when the DX4 came out.

I stand by my statement that in the period from when it came out to today, the DX4-100/120 is the better chip, and will run stuff faster. I think for someone looking to build a 486 it's the more logical option, while in my mind the DX2-66 is reserved for those who had one or lusted after one, but can only now get around to purchasing one. It doesn't make sense, but love often doesn't. I said before in this thread that there is reason to get a DX2-66, I just think that the DX4-100 is the better chip.

Reply 31 of 49, by lvader

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i486_inside wrote:

DOS and WFW 3.1 are period correct for early Pentium's and 486s, I would say just about no one used windows NT outside of businesses, it required 12MBs of RAM which was a fairly large amount of RAM in 1993 from my understanding. Windows NT 3.1 is pretty useless there is very little software for it and finding drivers for it can be a nightmare, I remember playing with it in a virtual PC and it seemed more like buggy early beta (may be alpha) software , NT didn't really start to take shape until NT 3.5

The P60 was pretty much a business machine. I don't know anyone how bought one for gaming in 93. Come to think of it WFW 3.11 would have been the main business OS at the time.

Reply 32 of 49, by clueless1

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Ampera wrote:

I stand by my statement that in the period from when it came out to today, the DX4-100/120 is the better chip, and will run stuff faster. I think for someone looking to build a 486 it's the more logical option, while in my mind the DX2-66 is reserved for those who had one or lusted after one, but can only now get around to purchasing one. It doesn't make sense, but love often doesn't. I said before in this thread that there is reason to get a DX2-66, I just think that the DX4-100 is the better chip.

From my point of view, a DX2/66 is more flexible on the lower end - it will have fewer speed issues with old games while still being able to run all 486-era games well, while a DX4/100-120 is less flexible with old games, and still struggling with some early Pentium-era games (such as Quake). I see your point of view, but I don't think a DX2/66 is only "reserved for those who had one or lusted after one". For me, it allows the flexibility of playing games from 1988-1993. If I want to play games from 1994-1998, I play them on a real Pentium.

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
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Reply 33 of 49, by Ampera

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clueless1 wrote:
Ampera wrote:

I stand by my statement that in the period from when it came out to today, the DX4-100/120 is the better chip, and will run stuff faster. I think for someone looking to build a 486 it's the more logical option, while in my mind the DX2-66 is reserved for those who had one or lusted after one, but can only now get around to purchasing one. It doesn't make sense, but love often doesn't. I said before in this thread that there is reason to get a DX2-66, I just think that the DX4-100 is the better chip.

From my point of view, a DX2/66 is more flexible on the lower end - it will have fewer speed issues with old games while still being able to run all 486-era games well, while a DX4/100-120 is less flexible with old games, and still struggling with some early Pentium-era games (such as Quake). I see your point of view, but I don't think a DX2/66 is only "reserved for those who had one or lusted after one". For me, it allows the flexibility of playing games from 1988-1993. If I want to play games from 1994-1998, I play them on a real Pentium.

I see no truth to this. A DX4-100 can be downclocked to run exactly like a DX2-66, or even a DX-25 no problem. Cache can be disabled and then you essentially get a 386-40 on the lowest clock speed. Add the turbo button and you get even less.

Reply 34 of 49, by clueless1

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Ampera wrote:
clueless1 wrote:
Ampera wrote:

I stand by my statement that in the period from when it came out to today, the DX4-100/120 is the better chip, and will run stuff faster. I think for someone looking to build a 486 it's the more logical option, while in my mind the DX2-66 is reserved for those who had one or lusted after one, but can only now get around to purchasing one. It doesn't make sense, but love often doesn't. I said before in this thread that there is reason to get a DX2-66, I just think that the DX4-100 is the better chip.

From my point of view, a DX2/66 is more flexible on the lower end - it will have fewer speed issues with old games while still being able to run all 486-era games well, while a DX4/100-120 is less flexible with old games, and still struggling with some early Pentium-era games (such as Quake). I see your point of view, but I don't think a DX2/66 is only "reserved for those who had one or lusted after one". For me, it allows the flexibility of playing games from 1988-1993. If I want to play games from 1994-1998, I play them on a real Pentium.

I see no truth to this. A DX4-100 can be downclocked to run exactly like a DX2-66, or even a DX-25 no problem. Cache can be disabled and then you essentially get a 386-40 on the lowest clock speed. Add the turbo button and you get even less.

My DX2/66 is clock-double locked. I can change the bus so it runs at dx2/40 or dx2/50, but I can't make it run at dx/20, dx/25 or dx/33. I assume the same is true of a DX4 (clock-triple locked): your theoretical choices are 120Mhz, 100Mhz, 75Mhz, or 60Mhz, depending on motherboard. So I don't think you can downclock at DX4/100 to DX2/66 or DX/25.

Even so, with your method, jumpers have to be changed. With my method, a quick trip to the BIOS (for disabling L2), or a push of the turbo button, or a quick setmul command (for disabling L1). None of which require cracking the case open.

L1+L2+Turbo = fast 286
L1+L2 = slow 386
L1 = mid 386
Turbo by itself = slow 486
L2 by itself = mid 486

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 35 of 49, by i486_inside

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lvader wrote:

The P60 was pretty much a business machine. I don't know anyone how bought one for gaming in 93. Come to think of it WFW 3.11 would have been the main business OS at the time.

My recommendation for the Pentium 60 was based on him asking for the fastest Machine, I said WFW 3.1 because it is a little more mature than regular Windows 3.1, and has greater support for networking and tried to do all networking in protected mode which greatly increases stability, I would assume that he would want to add some sort of networking, to make it easier to transfer files to the machine, by 1993 ethernet cards were fairly common (at least for business and at higher educational institutions), I don't know about how common cards with a twisted pair interface were but you could always use a twisted pair AUI transceiver on an era appropriate card. I assume that since he is asking what is the fastest that he wants to build the best possible machine for 1993, not necessarily what the average home computer user had.

Reply 36 of 49, by fsmith2003

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i486_inside wrote:
lvader wrote:

I assume that since he is asking what is the fastest that he wants to build the best possible machine for 1993, not necessarily what the average home computer user had.

That's the direction I was leaning towards. I am just trying to get the best that someone with bottomless pockets could of pieced together at the end of 1993. I would say the answer to the original question I was trying to ask has been answered. If I were to never put anything on this machine that is dated after December, 31, 1993 it would seem that the Pentium 60 or 66 would be the way to go. I say this because the DX4's did not even exist to the public at this point. So I am basically having to choose between a DX2 486 or the Pentiums which no doubt the Pentiums would be the best bet for the "best" machine.

However, I am loving this conversation so keep it going. It seems to be a great debate if someone wasn't concerned about being "era specific" with their choices. 486DX4 vs Pentium 60/66.

Reply 37 of 49, by gerwin

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clueless1 wrote:

So I don't think you can downclock at DX4/100 to DX2/66 or DX/25.

As you and Ampera can see here: 486 VLB UMC-Chipset, what is it?. Both my Intel and AMD 486 DX4 can be jumpered for either 2x or 3x clock, so 66 or 100MHz. 33MHz was only possible with my true 486DX-33 and with the Cx5x86-100GP (using SetMul).

--> ISA Soundcard Overview // Doom MBF 2.04 // SetMul

Reply 38 of 49, by clueless1

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gerwin wrote:
clueless1 wrote:

So I don't think you can downclock at DX4/100 to DX2/66 or DX/25.

As you and Ampera can see here: 486 VLB UMC-Chipset, what is it?. Both my Intel and AMD 486 DX4 can be jumpered for either 2x or 3x clock, so 66 or 100MHz. 33MHz was only possible with my true 486DX-33 and with the Cx5x86-100GP (using SetMul).

Thank you sir. I stand corrected on the DX4 not being able to run at 2x. 😀 That does help a bit with flexibility, but still needs a jumper change to do.

I checked the Cache Disabled Benchmark chart and pulled some Doom results for a DX4/100 and DX2/66:
With L2 disabled:
DX4/100 - 27.9 fps
DX2/66 - 19.3 fps

With L1 disabled:
DX4/100 - 6.53 fps
DX2/66 - 2.09 fps

With L1+L2 disabled:
DX4/100 - 4.08 fps
DX2/66 - 2.08 fps

The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.
OPL3 FM vs. Roland MT-32 vs. General MIDI DOS Game Comparison
Let's benchmark our systems with cache disabled
DOS PCI Graphics Card Benchmarks

Reply 39 of 49, by PhilsComputerLab

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Back in the day I had an AMD DX4 100, and I put switches at the front of the case for FSB and multiplier. I was able to run it at 25x2, 25x3, 33x2, 33x3 and also 40x2 and 40x3 😀

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