VOGONS


First post, by Technomancer21

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Ohai!

I was just wondering if anyone could confirm or deny a few things for me, as I'm still learning my way around real hardware of the DOS era and trying to restore my first ever pc into as serious a dos gaming box as I can make it.

First of all, It has an embedded 386SX-25 in it, and also what looks extremely resemblant of an empty CPU socket, I'm wondering what the highest model of CPU chip I can put in it would be, as I've found an AMD 386DX-40
fairly cheap on ebay.
This raises another question simply because I've never dealt with embedded processors before, Will the SX-25 deactivate automatically? or will I need to do some jumper configuration? Theres nothing in bios about the CPU at all. (I have no idea what model of mobo it has, I've examined it top to bottom for any identifying markings but there simply weren't any.)

My next question is if I went and got the CPU from ebay, Would there be any performance boost *at all* if I also installed a 387 math coprocessor? I don't care for the numbers, I just want to know is theres any benefit beyond the running of things like autocad on it. Because if there is, I'll probably end up doing it just for the sake of having a "complete" machine if that makes any sense.

I've got one photo here of the CPU socket I spoke of, alongside the coprocessor socket, and the embedded CPU. (also shows some markings on the board but google got nowhere with them, if anyone recognises it, any information on it would be greatly appreciated. 😁)

cpu socket.jpeg
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cpu socket.jpeg
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Thank you all for taking the time to read this 😁

Reply 1 of 13, by jesolo

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The motherboard appears to be proprietary.

386SX motherboards were designed to only have a 16-bit external data bus, whereas 386DX motherboards are designed to have a 32-bit external data bus.
Upon closer inspection of the PGA socket in the photo you provided, it appears that it is meant for a 486 CPU upgrade, which is quite strange.

Best would be to first try and identify your motherboard.
What is displayed on the POST screen when you start up the PC?
Take some pictures of the entire motherboard and the POST screen (where it counts down the memory).

Should you wish to retain the on-board 386SX CPU and only install a math co-processor, then there would be very little benefit from that, apart from CAD programs and applications like Excel/Lotus 1-2-3.
Very few games made use of the math co-processor back in those days. The only two that comes to mind is SimCity & Falcon 3.0 but, both ran much better on a faster 386 based CPU.

Reply 2 of 13, by Technomancer21

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I can tell you right now when it does its post test, it does not display any information aside from memory test and number of devices found. Nothing identifiable sadly. As for the entire mobo, its an ass of a case and its currently at my father's house, but I do agree it seems proprietary. I assume your looking for identifying markings when asking for photos? I have one photo on me that may be of some help.

mobo 386.jpeg
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mobo 386.jpeg
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Reply 3 of 13, by konc

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Not being smart or anything, I just wanted to comment that I believe "embedded" is not the right word to describe this not-socketed CPU.
I'm only saying this because "embedded" also appears on the topic's title, misleading about the contents.

Reply 4 of 13, by Technomancer21

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Much apologies, That is simply the term I have grown up with when describing components permanently attached to the board in this manner. (semi permanently, if you have a soldering iron 😜)

Reply 5 of 13, by Technomancer21

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So the motherboard finally got its big photoshoot!
Warning, bare naked motherboard ahead, viewer discretion not required 😜 <-- (sorry, I couldn't resist 😜)

https://www.dropbox.com/s/ndighngjzb85q28/201 … 124708.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/srhyrsc7arbqlq7/201 … 124715.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/omw1vnpoowwjoj6/201 … 124721.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/znmb5c4lf7rw8cw/201 … 124725.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/2g58vazp73234qg/201 … 124742.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vkspiqiyszuvakh/201 … 124902.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/5gcvnqxtygr5j3t/201 … 125005.jpg?dl=0

https://www.dropbox.com/s/a42blo2kvokrt30/201 … 125545.jpg?dl=0

Much apologies for the dropbox linkfest, Whats up with the upload limit on vogons anyway? 2mb top in a day and age where the average photo filesize for a jpeg is 3-6mb?
anyway photos as requested. I did note an acer logo on the bios chips but I couldn't find any matching logo on the board itself.

Reply 6 of 13, by fitzpatr

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The best description of this CPU style is "Soldered"

After researching, I've determined what you could have easily told me...that this is from an Acer Desktop. Specifically, the Acerpower 386SX.
Re: Bought these (retro) hardware today the second to last post on this page gives a bit more information.

https://books.google.ca/books?id=1T0EAAAAMBAJ … 20386SX&f=false This link provides some information about the 486/487 upgrade.

MT-32 Old, CM-32L, CM-500, SC-55mkII, SC-88Pro, SC-D70, MU2000EX
K6-III+/450/GA-5AX/G400 Max/Voodoo2 SLI/CT1750/MPU-401AT/Audigy 2ZS
486 Build

Reply 7 of 13, by Technomancer21

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Much apologies but perhaps I should have said this sooner, The only instance of Acer logos on the unit is on those bios chips, if you are referring to reading markings on the case to determine what it was, I'm going to have to throw a curveball at you, the case stickers claim its an Alcatel 8551.
There are absolutely no indications whatsoever of it being an Acerpower 386SX. Though I do thank you for identifying the board inside it. You have found more in two hours than I've found in years of owning this unit.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/giecatdfiov7jgu/201 … 151105.jpg?dl=0

Anyway, in regards to the 486 upgrade, that article you linked claims it requires intel chips specifically, is there any truth to that? I've seen a fair few AMD chips out there that look like they would fit and come alot cheaper than legacy intel hardware.

Reply 9 of 13, by Technomancer21

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So it will work with higher spec models than the 486sx 25, I like what I see. Although I have no grasp of the language on that page, the images speak for themselves.

I have only one last question, this motherboard is sporting an ATI video chip. Do I need a driver for that?

Reply 10 of 13, by Murugan

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Technomancer21 wrote:

So it will work with higher spec models than the 486sx 25, I like what I see. Although I have no grasp of the language on that page, the images speak for themselves.

I have only one last question, this motherboard is sporting an ATI video chip. Do I need a driver for that?

Just translate the page in Chrome 😀
For DOS you won't need a driver afaik, probably in Windows if you decide to install it.
I have 2 386 with CL chips (running pure DOS) and they work without a hassle.

1991 1090012220, 1090014310 VGA Wonder XL ATI 28800-5

Seems the Vogons driver database has W3.x AND DOS drivers.

My retro collection: too much...

Reply 12 of 13, by Murugan

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Np. I am still pretty amateur at these things too.
I mostly use the database but in rare occasions I need to go search on the internet.

Gl with your project.

My retro collection: too much...