486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

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486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby MMaximus » 2018-1-30 @ 20:08

Are there any limitations with the type of system that an EGA card can be used with? I have an EGA wonder 800+ that I tried successfully in an XT, a 286-12 and a 386SX-16. I want to assemble an EGA rig and am trying to figure out the best system speed to choose for the games I used to play back in the day on my 8mhz XT (and that I remember being to slow to cope with EGA).

I've just tried the EGA wonder in a PC-Chips m918i motherboard, and it doesn't post. The same mobo posts with an 8-bit VGA card. Is this a BIOS limitation or some sort of incompatibility? In the BIOS settings VGA/EGA is selected for video. The m918i is kind of a late 486 motherboard and it had a Dx4-100 when I got it. I swapped it for the lowest supported CPU, a 486SX-25.

On another note, provided that the motherboard would accept EGA, could EGA bottleneck a system, regardless of how fast the CPU would be? One of the games I've been using to test systems is Activision's 1989 Deathtrack. On VGA, it's too slow in my 10mhz XT. The speed seems adequate on a 286-12 and too fast on the 486SX-25. I wonder if EGA would somehow limit the game speed so that a faster system could be used.

Bonus pics: Some EGA action on my 5153

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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby brostenen » 2018-1-30 @ 20:27

I have only used EGA on 286's and 386's. Mostly seen them on 286 system's. As I recall it, people that bought 386's here in Denmark, when they were the new thing. All of them bought their machines with VGA. Schools on the other hand, had 386's with EGA. I guess it was cheaper to go that route. To me EGA is 286 territory, and works wonderfully with that processor.

Nice EGA monitor. Yeah... EGA is a nice thing indeed. And it might be really rare these days, to have a fully working EGA monitor.
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby torindkflt » 2018-1-30 @ 22:32

AFAIK, VGA is backwards-compatible with EGA. All you need to do is find a way to change the mode on the fly, and the VGA card will switch to EGA mode with all the inherent limitations. A basic Tetris clone I got on one of my systems came with a couple utilities to do this, but I imagine it might be possible using the DOS "MODE" command (although I would not know the exact commands to do so off the top of my head).
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby keropi » 2018-1-30 @ 22:54

MMaximus wrote:[...]
I've just tried the EGA wonder in a PC-Chips m918i motherboard, and it doesn't post. The same mobo posts with an 8-bit VGA card. Is this a BIOS limitation or some sort of incompatibility? In the BIOS settings VGA/EGA is selected for video. The m918i is kind of a late 486 motherboard and it had a Dx4-100 when I got it. I swapped it for the lowest supported CPU, a 486SX-25.


What are the odds! Last week I tried the same with an VIA-based 486 motherboard and a 486SX/25. I also found that not all EGA cards work ok:
- the EGAMAX860 will take ~10seconds to begin booting
- a JUKO ega won't boot the system at all

So it appears that 486 is really pushing it when it comes to real EGA cards, it is unfortunate. My vision was to make a slow 486 system with EGA so games won't be slowed down due to cpu/system speed. I haven't tried my EGA WONDER 800+ with the 486 system but reading your experience I am not hoping for much... :dead:

Nice 5153 btw, kudos! :blush:
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby Deksor » 2018-1-30 @ 22:58

Hm I think I could test that as well then. However my "slowest" non OEM 486 is my 5x86 ...


On the other hand apparently even windows 9x can run with EGA so that could be fun to try if that even works on faster machines like pentium or pentium II.
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby Jo22 » 2018-1-30 @ 23:24

torindkflt wrote:AFAIK, VGA is backwards-compatible with EGA. All you need to do is find a way to change the mode on the fly, and the VGA card will switch to EGA mode with all the inherent limitations. A basic Tetris clone I got on one of my systems came with a couple utilities to do this, but I imagine it might be possible using the DOS "MODE" command (although I would not know the exact commands to do so off the top of my head).

Yes, VGA is backwards-compatible to EGA screen modes.
As far as I know, it will use 400 line mode to simulate EGA on VGA monitors.
That is why we see a centered image with a black border surrounding it (640x350 mode displayed as 640x400).
Supporting it natively would be more tricky, since it uses a line frequency of 21,85 kHz (and a different polarity).
What VGA usually does not emulate is the EGA refresh rate (70hz instead of 60Hz) also.
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby Errius » 2018-1-31 @ 08:02

Isn't the 5153 CGA? How are you getting EGA on it?
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby MMaximus » 2018-1-31 @ 16:29

brostenen wrote:...Nice EGA monitor. Yeah... EGA is a nice thing indeed. And it might be really rare these days, to have a fully working EGA monitor.


Errius wrote:Isn't the 5153 CGA? How are you getting EGA on it?


The 5153 is CGA. But like all CGA monitors it can display low-res EGA - 320x200 in 16 colors. I'd love to own a true EGA monitor again, but since most of the games I want to play are in 320x200, I'm quite happy with the 5153. :)

torindkflt wrote:AFAIK, VGA is backwards-compatible with EGA...


Sure, I could stick a VGA card in a 286 and be done with it, and most EGA games would display correctly AFAIK. But I want to play these games like I remember them, 15khz scanlines and all :)

Deksor wrote:Hm I think I could test that as well then. However my "slowest" non OEM 486 is my 5x86 ...


Would be interesting to have some results if you decide on testing on your end, let us know!

keropi wrote:What are the odds! Last week I tried the same with an VIA-based 486 motherboard and a 486SX/25....


Actually I got the idea from you when you suggested me to build an EGA rig with a 386DX40 ;) I have a few 386DX boards but none of them are in working condition. So I figured I would try with this board first. I have another 486DX2/66 that I might try with if I can find the time. The quest continues :cool:
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby Predator99 » 2018-1-31 @ 18:13

Yes, EGA should work in all boards with ISA slots, but I also noticed some incompabilities with card/board combinations

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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby keenerb » 2018-1-31 @ 19:12

All of my EGA cards are extremely sensitive to ISA bus speeds, and either have display glitches or fail to work at all when bus speeds get high.
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby MMaximus » 2019-6-06 @ 12:07

updating this thread with new findings... I was recently testing this particular motherboard again and decided to give another shot to the 486 EGA thing. This time I've tried with a Paradise PEGA2A (in 80 columns mode) and it posts! Interestingly the "energy star" logo present in VGA doesn't get displayed at boot, but apart from that the system seems to work. I've tried DeathTrack again - it works but is totally unplayable at that speed with the DX4-100 CPU, and there are some graphical glitches here and there. I'm using this game to test systems as it seems to be very speed-sensitive - I'm trying to find the sweet spot to play it.

Image

Image

Image
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby dr.zeissler » 2019-6-06 @ 12:44

keenerb wrote:All of my EGA cards are extremely sensitive to ISA bus speeds, and either have display glitches or fail to work at all when bus speeds get high.

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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby HanJammer » 2019-6-06 @ 13:14

VGA (SVGA) works in EGA modes as well.

Why one would want EGA?
- EGA had TTL output (although many older VGAs had dual outputs as well) so if you have TTL monitor - EGA will be ideally suited for it.
- Many EGAs had composite output - comes in handy too.
- If you want period-correct 8088/80286 build - CGA or EGA will be perfect too.

Other than that - there is no true advantage running EGA over VGA.
CGA on the other hand is whole different story :)
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby Ozzuneoj » 2019-6-06 @ 14:04

MMaximus wrote:updating this thread with new findings... I was recently testing this particular motherboard again and decided to give another shot to the 486 EGA thing. This time I've tried with a Paradise PEGA2A (in 80 columns mode) and it posts! Interestingly the "energy star" logo present in VGA doesn't get displayed at boot, but apart from that the system seems to work. I've tried DeathTrack again - it works but is totally unplayable at that speed with the DX4-100 CPU, and there are some graphical glitches here and there. I'm using this game to test systems as it seems to be very speed-sensitive - I'm trying to find the sweet spot to play it.


I was just curious and looked up DeathTrack and found this user review:
https://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/deat ... ewerId,16/

If you had just the right machine (an 80286 was ideal), the framerate was a good blend of detail and speed. But if you had a much slower or faster machine, Dynamix's way of adjusting that was to let you control how much detail was on the screen. This was fine for slower machines, but on fast machines, you can't add enough detail to get the game running properly. It's ludicrously fast on anything past a 386/33. Unfortunately, they repeated this behavior in other games, like David Wolf: Secret Agent and Motocross.


If one of your goals is to be able to play this game, you'll probably want to drop the 486.
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby MMaximus » 2019-6-06 @ 14:53

HanJammer wrote:VGA (SVGA) works in EGA modes as well.

Why one would want EGA?
- EGA had TTL output (although many older VGAs had dual outputs as well) so if you have TTL monitor - EGA will be ideally suited for it.
- Many EGAs had composite output - comes in handy too.
- If you want period-correct 8088/80286 build - CGA or EGA will be perfect too.

Other than that - there is no true advantage running EGA over VGA.
CGA on the other hand is whole different story :)


To me the main point of using EGA over VGA is getting scanlines - IMO it's how the games are supposed to be displayed. When the game developers were designing them they were using EGA screens as well, so they were drawing the graphics with scanlines in mind. When you display these games on VGA, they get scandoubled and I've always found that the resulting image looks somewhat wrong. It's the same story with many retro console users who prefer to play on CRT TVs or Sony PVMs.

Here's a quick comparison shot. 1st image is with a VGA card straight to the VGA input of an LCD screen:

Image

Then with an EGA card going to an MCE2VGA converter and then the VGA input of the same LCD screen.

Image

Needless to say these scanlines look better on a CGA or EGA monitor, but regardless of this, I much prefer the second picture. Some may find the effect subtle but to me it makes or breaks the playing experience - I have zero interest in playing these old games on VGA :lol:

Ozzuneoj wrote:I was just curious and looked up DeathTrack and found this user review:
https://www.mobygames.com/game/dos/deat ... ewerId,16/

If you had just the right machine (an 80286 was ideal), the framerate was a good blend of detail and speed. But if you had a much slower or faster machine, Dynamix's way of adjusting that was to let you control how much detail was on the screen. This was fine for slower machines, but on fast machines, you can't add enough detail to get the game running properly. It's ludicrously fast on anything past a 386/33. Unfortunately, they repeated this behavior in other games, like David Wolf: Secret Agent and Motocross.


If one of your goals is to be able to play this game, you'll probably want to drop the 486.


Thanks for the link. I've tried this game on many machines so far, 286-12 to 286-20 works quite well actually but there are slowdowns (maybe these are due to having a SB 2.0 in the system?) - that's why I was looking into experimenting with a 386 in the first place. I know a 486 is a bit of a silly idea for EGA but I just wanted to see how far I could push it :)
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby Anonymous Coward » 2019-6-06 @ 15:23

MMaximus wrote:Are there any limitations with the type of system that an EGA card can be used with? I have an EGA wonder 800+ that I tried successfully in an XT, a 286-12 and a 386SX-16.

If you're going to stick an EGA card in a 486, the 800+ would be a poor choice, because it's not a true EGA card. It's really an 8-bit VGA Wonder (also sold as the VGA Edge) that doesn't have the VGA connector or RAMDAC soldered in.
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby Predator99 » 2019-6-06 @ 19:13

HanJammer wrote:
- Many EGAs had composite output - comes in handy too.


Yes? Which one? ;-) I have may EGA cards but these Cinch-Connectors are all "fake". None of them outputs a composite signal on it.
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby Anonymous Coward » 2019-6-06 @ 23:23

I am somewhat certain composite output on the EGA wonders is functional.
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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby Caluser2000 » 2019-6-07 @ 05:48

My Redstone XT Turbo came with EGA card and TVM EGA monitor. It cost me nothing. The monitor has some cool features. In text mode I can select green or amber for that old skool look.

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Re: 486 with EGA? (and other EGA related questions)

Postby OldCat » 2019-6-07 @ 07:35

What is the racing game with red car displayed above? I'd like to give it a try on my monitor setup to check how it will look.
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