VOGONS


First post, by Shishkebarbarian

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Hello All,

First, a little background,
I discovered this forum a few months ago when I decided to build a 90s gaming PC to relive my youth.
Since then I lurked and read a whole ton of articles and discussions and learned A LOT.
I completed my late 90s build (PIII 1Ghz, Voodoo3000, TNT2, etc). The late 90s I am far more familiar with hardware/software wise as I was older and had a better grasp on what was going on.

The early 90s is what I need a little bit of assistance with.

I got lucky with a "local" find a couple months ago and picked up a complete Compaq ProLinea 4/33 set up (including all original Compaq-branded peripherals!).

Over these few months I have been gathering information from around the web on this machine. It seems to have been quite popular but at the same time a bit obscure (the later Prolinea models are much easier to find information on). I will link the info I found at the end of this post to help anyone in the future coming upon this topic.

What I would like someone to help clear up for me is what is the best CPU I can put into it. I know there are really rare and expensive 486 CPUs out there but I was hoping for something more common and cheaper, like an Intel 486 DX4. I know user @ultimate386 has a system like this but I guess my account is too new to message him directly (and really this is probably a better way to go about it to leave a trail for other members to follow)

I have found a lot of mixed information on whether or not these motherboards can support a 3.3v CPU including the DX4.

I purchased the following Intel DX4 but wanted to double check it will work before i plug it in and fry everything:

iCOMP index=435
A80486DX4100
L8197A14
&EW 3VOLT SK101
INTEL(M)(C)'89'94
MALAY

I read it runs quite a bit warmer than than the 486DX/33 in my system so I preemptively picked up a fan/heatsink

My concern is the conflicting information about the 5/3/3.3v CPUs and compatibility of the motherboard. Even some official documentations has conflicting or incomplete info.

Other than that, the system had a dead hard drive in it so I plan to replace it with a CF card and adapter. If anyone has any good guides or advice on this, I would be thrilled to read it. These are the parts I purchased to get that going:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0026OYEEQ/
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009967Y/

Resources

HP Support Compaq ProLinea x86 Desktop PC Product Specifications - This link worked a few days ago but now dead, luckily webcache has it intact.
https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search … n&ct=clnk&gl=us

Early Prolinea Desktop Family Spec sheet
https://www.arvutimuuseum.ee/computers/downlo … paqProlinea.pdf

Jumper and RAM motherboard schematic:
https://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/C/C … Linea-4-33.html

Service Manual for the Prolinea family, although it is missing the 4/33:
http://www.minuszerodegrees.net/manuals ... FEB95).pdf

Thank you all in advance, I'm excited to read some tips and guides from you fellow enthusiasts.

Reply 1 of 22, by Shishkebarbarian

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I am getting some more parts for this together planning to make it my DOS machines (with some light 3.1 usability). The lack of PCI slot really holds this guy back.

I picked up a GD5428 2mb ISA video card and a ES1868F ISA sound card with a Secondary IDE port on it that I'm really looking forward. The PC only has 3 ISA slots so I'm considering if I want to add an easy to swap IDE-CF ISA back plate interface card for or keep the LAN NIC with a gameport on it (can a machine from this era handle 2 gameports - from the sound card and lan? would be cool to use 2 controllers)

Reply 2 of 22, by Horun

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Curious what CPU is currently on the motherboard ? I could be wrong but think a DX2-66 may be the fastest you can install but that depends on the board revision. Can you take a good picture of the motherboard and attach it here ? (try to keep the image size to 1Mb)

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 3 of 22, by Swiego

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Is the existing CPU socketed? I may be mistaken but generally thought that in this era, upgradeable processors were a differentiating feature of the step-up Deskpro/I line vs the Prolinea.

Note that there is a 4th ISA slot on the opposite side of the riser (at least on my otherwise similar 4/66i) and I’ve been able to get low profile cards working on it.

Reply 4 of 22, by Pierre32

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Shishkebarbarian wrote on 2020-05-11, 16:11:

The PC only has 3 ISA slots so I'm considering if I want to add an easy to swap IDE-CF ISA back plate interface card for or keep the LAN NIC with a gameport on it (can a machine from this era handle 2 gameports - from the sound card and lan? would be cool to use 2 controllers)

For what it's worth, my Compaq Presario 425 happily runs two gameports. One is onboard (feeding a joystick), the other on the SB16 (used for MIDI). Besides the initial SB address setup I've never had to do any configuring to make this work. I haven't tried using two game controllers.

Reply 5 of 22, by chinny22

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Video wise your set onboard Tseng TC6945AF on the VL Bus is about as good as it gets for a 486 Dos PC.
The CPU will already be holding back the Tseng, so the ISA card will most likely be slower, Its only benifit is it can do higer resolutins in windows (2Mb vs 1Mb of the onboard)

You can read a review on your PC here
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5KSmAXszI … epage&q&f=false

If it was me I'd keep the onboard video card and have Sound, Nic, CF in the expansion slots.
Although if you really want to use the ISA video card after initial setup as long as you have network connectivity you shouldn't need to access the CF card anyway.
Speaking of the Network card, I very much doubt that is a game port but a AUI port used in networking
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_Unit_Interface

Reply 6 of 22, by pentiumspeed

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How I use google to get to a google cache links also website archive searches to find old website archives?

Cheers,

Great Northern aka Canada.

Reply 7 of 22, by PC Hoarder Patrol

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Processor-wise, it looks as if the only Prolinea/Prolinea (Enhanced) system board supporting 486 DX4/100 was

Assembly: 003761
Spare Part: 164561-001 1
Config Code: HKE

All the others carried the following warning

"These boards supply 5 volt power to the processor socket. Do not install a 3 volt processor (Intel DX4/100) on these system boards. It will result in processor failure."

This link should help you figure out your best option

https://web.archive.org/web/19961225160931/ht … e2/appgtoc.html

Reply 8 of 22, by Tiido

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None of my ProLinea4/33 or 25 had any suport for 3.3V CPUs, there's no voltage regulator anywhere. There was also no cache on any of them which severely hurts performance. Onboard ET4000 made Windows pretty nice though, due to GUI acceleration functions.

T-04YBSC, a new YMF71x based sound card & Official VOGONS thread about it
Newly made 4MB 60ns 30pin SIMMs ~
mida sa loed ? nagunii aru ei saa 😜

Reply 9 of 22, by Shishkebarbarian

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Horun wrote on 2020-05-12, 02:18:

Curious what CPU is currently on the motherboard ? I could be wrong but think a DX2-66 may be the fastest you can install but that depends on the board revision. Can you take a good picture of the motherboard and attach it here ? (try to keep the image size to 1Mb)

Currently there is a DX-33, I am afraid you are correct.

Swiego wrote on 2020-05-12, 03:21:

Is the existing CPU socketed? I may be mistaken but generally thought that in this era, upgradeable processors were a differentiating feature of the step-up Deskpro/I line vs the Prolinea.

Note that there is a 4th ISA slot on the opposite side of the riser (at least on my otherwise similar 4/66i) and I’ve been able to get low profile cards working on it.

Yep there is a socketed DX-33. The CPU is definitely upgradeable but it appears I am only limited to the DX2-66.

Thanks for that tidbit about the fourth ISA slot. Looking more closely at my riser it is in fact a "4 Slot ISA I/O BD". There is of course very limited space on the back end of the riser and the case doesnt provide enough space for a full card, but your low profile card is a wonderful idea. I wonder what i can fit in there, what are you using in that slot? I didn't even know there were low profile cards back then.

chinny22 wrote on 2020-05-12, 09:10:
Video wise your set onboard Tseng TC6945AF on the VL Bus is about as good as it gets for a 486 Dos PC. The CPU will already be h […]
Show full quote

Video wise your set onboard Tseng TC6945AF on the VL Bus is about as good as it gets for a 486 Dos PC.
The CPU will already be holding back the Tseng, so the ISA card will most likely be slower, Its only benifit is it can do higer resolutins in windows (2Mb vs 1Mb of the onboard)

You can read a review on your PC here
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5KSmAXszI … epage&q&f=false

If it was me I'd keep the onboard video card and have Sound, Nic, CF in the expansion slots.
Although if you really want to use the ISA video card after initial setup as long as you have network connectivity you shouldn't need to access the CF card anyway.
Speaking of the Network card, I very much doubt that is a game port but a AUI port used in networking
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_Unit_Interface

Thanks a lot. Is there a table of which onboard video chips are on which systems? Is that Tseng a ET4000 variant? My configuration is 486DX/33 Assembly 003428-002 System Board 160125-001

You're probably right about the NIC port, I've never heard of a gameport on a NIC either. Most of my Computer literacy began when we updated our 386 to a P133 in '95 so I'm not as well versed in the early 90s components. The NIC chipset is SMC 83c690LJ and that is indeed a AUI port. Most of the pics i found of it though have a BNC looking connector but mine just has that AUI port and a standard RJ45.

I was not planning on keeping this connect via network though, is it worth to network in DOS/3.11 to a modern LAN? I would have to learn all about that.

Thanks for your advice. It's a shame I didn't ask around earlier, would've saved myself some dough with the video card.

PC Hoarder Patrol wrote on 2020-05-13, 23:47:
Processor-wise, it looks as if the only Prolinea/Prolinea (Enhanced) system board supporting 486 DX4/100 was […]
Show full quote

Processor-wise, it looks as if the only Prolinea/Prolinea (Enhanced) system board supporting 486 DX4/100 was

Assembly: 003761
Spare Part: 164561-001 1
Config Code: HKE

All the others carried the following warning

"These boards supply 5 volt power to the processor socket. Do not install a 3 volt processor (Intel DX4/100) on these system boards. It will result in processor failure."

This link should help you figure out your best option

https://web.archive.org/web/19961225160931/ht … e2/appgtoc.html

Thank you so very much for that link and info. I was never able to find that table in my search. saved as PDF =]

You are of course correct. Too bad I didn't post here sooner asking for upgrade advice, would've saved me enough money between the DX4 and video card to be halfway funded for an Overdrive 100 cpu 🤣.

My hardware is

Assembly: 003428-002
Spare Part: 003428-002
Config Code: HER

SO indeed I'm limited to a DX2-66 or an 100Mhz Overdrive.

I did get lucky and found 4x 16MB RAM sticks for $20, original Compaq new old stock and exact spare parts #. Maybe I'll find an affordable Overdrive 100.

Thanks again to everyone for their help.

Reply 10 of 22, by chinny22

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Shishkebarbarian wrote on 2020-06-26, 19:42:

I didn't even know there were low profile cards back then.

Official low profile cards didn't exist. More like cards with small PCB's.
I put the CF card reader in my cramped isa slot bay, they are really small.

Shishkebarbarian wrote on 2020-06-26, 19:42:

Thanks a lot. Is there a table of which onboard video chips are on which systems? Is that Tseng a ET4000 variant

I'm not sure on either of those, I just googleed proLinea 4/33 and went from there. 😀 going from those benchmarks I'd say its related to the ET4000

Shishkebarbarian wrote on 2020-06-26, 19:42:

I was not planning on keeping this connect via network though, is it worth to network in DOS/3.11 to a modern LAN? I would have to learn all about that.

It's definitely worth networking. makes copying files over so much more convenient. The question is which method.
Networking in Win3x is slow, temperamental and pretty much impossible to get working with modern systems. But once it's up it is fun.
I've networked mind and is about the only reason I really ever go into windows.
FTP with something like mtcp is the easy way to connect to modern systems and transfer rates are much much better.

and I wouldn't be to upset, spare ISA video card is always good to have for troubleshooting, CPU not so much but live and learn!
rekon branded ram is pretty cool and decent price so your still winning.
DX2/66 with VLB is considered the classic 486 by a lot of people. so you can still even brag about your rig 😉

Reply 11 of 22, by Swiego

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Shishkebarbarian wrote on 2020-06-26, 19:42:

Thanks for that tidbit about the fourth ISA slot. Looking more closely at my riser it is in fact a "4 Slot ISA I/O BD". There is of course very limited space on the back end of the riser and the case doesnt provide enough space for a full card, but your low profile card is a wonderful idea. I wonder what i can fit in there, what are you using in that slot? I didn't even know there were low profile cards back then.

I am using a Promise EIDE max host bust adapter to enable support for hard drives larger than ~512MB. It is low profile and fits in that slot.

Reply 12 of 22, by ultimate386

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The Prolinea 4/33 was the first computer my family ever owned. I think I was about 10 when my dad bought it brand new. The machine originally came with the DX-33, 4MB RAM, a 170mb hard drive, and ran DOS 5 with Windows 3.1. If you haven't already, make sure to remove the onboard barrel battery!! As was stated earlier in this thread, the lack of any cache in this system really does hurt performance. We replaced the original DX-33 with a DX2 -66 around 1998. Even with the 66mhz chip, Duke Nukem 3D runs pretty choppy. It does only support 5V processors and I did briefly run it with a 100mhz ODPR. It ran fine (didn't seem to make much difference though), but caused an audible and disconcerting whine from the power supply. As for the RAM, I'm pretty sure the stated maximum is four 8MB SIMMs for 32MB. I can't say that I have ever tried larger modules though.

AMD386/IIT387DX40, 32MB, ATi Mach64, AWE64
Compaq Prolinea 4/33, 32MB, Tseng ET4000, SB16
AMD X5, 64MB, S3 Virge/Voodoo1, AWE64
AMD K62+550, 256MB, Voodoo3, AWE64 Gold
P3 1.2Ghz, 512MB, Radeon 7500/Voodoo2 SLI, SB Live!

Reply 14 of 22, by Baoran

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chrismeyer6 wrote on 2020-06-27, 09:24:

Would he be able to add cache to the system?

On my prolinea there is a slot for cache module, but I have never seen such cache module being sold locally or on ebay even if I have been looking for it for a year or so. It runs fine with 100Mhz 486 overdrive, but because of lack of cache it isn't as fast as it could be. The motherboard didn't like 133Mhz kingston turbochip and nothing came on screen when turned on with that.

Reply 15 of 22, by ultimate386

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My Prolinea 4/33 (not a 4/33s) does not have a cache slot or sockets. It also does not have the 4th expansion slot on the back of the riser. Interestingly, the POST screen says something to the extent of 'Compaq 386 BIOS'. I suspect mine is an early model.

AMD386/IIT387DX40, 32MB, ATi Mach64, AWE64
Compaq Prolinea 4/33, 32MB, Tseng ET4000, SB16
AMD X5, 64MB, S3 Virge/Voodoo1, AWE64
AMD K62+550, 256MB, Voodoo3, AWE64 Gold
P3 1.2Ghz, 512MB, Radeon 7500/Voodoo2 SLI, SB Live!

Reply 16 of 22, by pentiumspeed

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These cache slot you see often that looks like a PCI design socket requires 64K cache card with big cache controller chip in middle and 4 small square chips which are cache chips, only seen on 486 boards by compaq.

Like this:

https://images.app.goo.gl/M8J9K6ZhdQELg2pq5

Rather rare. Due to high cost of compaq for specialty parts (the good one that make computer worth performance) made original buyers reluctant to buy anything extra. More like bait and switch thing.

Funny thing this is very common option for several compaq models, deskpro, prolinea and others that uses 486 processor.

Cheers,

Great Northern aka Canada.

Reply 17 of 22, by Baoran

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I actually have 2 of those prolinea PCs. They both have exact same motherboard. One of them is inside it's case fully working and other one is stored as spare parts. Since the PSU isn't standard, it is good to have a spare for that at least.
One thing to notice. I don't seen any electrolytic caps on these motherboards, so I guess they never need recapping.

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Reply 18 of 22, by Shishkebarbarian

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chinny22 wrote on 2020-06-26, 21:38:
Official low profile cards didn't exist. More like cards with small PCB's. I put the CF card reader in my cramped isa slot bay, […]
Show full quote
Shishkebarbarian wrote on 2020-06-26, 19:42:

I didn't even know there were low profile cards back then.

Official low profile cards didn't exist. More like cards with small PCB's.
I put the CF card reader in my cramped isa slot bay, they are really small.

DX2/66 with VLB is considered the classic 486 by a lot of people. so you can still even brag about your rig 😉

Do you mind sharing which CF card reader you got? I picked up a regular IDE-CF adapater that will go somewhere in the case. I was looking for a rear slot bay one but i [thought] i didn't have the space for one

Thanks again for the recommendations, what win3.11 program do you recommend to network with a modern LAN? (or is ftp the way to go?)

Swiego wrote on 2020-06-27, 04:48:
Shishkebarbarian wrote on 2020-06-26, 19:42:

Thanks for that tidbit about the fourth ISA slot. Looking more closely at my riser it is in fact a "4 Slot ISA I/O BD". There is of course very limited space on the back end of the riser and the case doesnt provide enough space for a full card, but your low profile card is a wonderful idea. I wonder what i can fit in there, what are you using in that slot? I didn't even know there were low profile cards back then.

I am using a Promise EIDE max host bust adapter to enable support for hard drives larger than ~512MB. It is low profile and fits in that slot.

Will this 4/33 not support 2GB CF card? Needs to be partitions of 512?

Thanks everyone for your input.

I decided decided to go with an ODPR 100mhz CPU upgrade because why not. Will report when it is up and running (probably in another month or so, waiting on sound card still ugh).

Shame this won't cut it as my "play-everything" DOS rig, hopefully it'll run Ultima VII (lol, fat chance).

Love this community, thanks again!

Reply 19 of 22, by Shishkebarbarian

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ultimate386 wrote on 2020-06-27, 05:57:

The Prolinea 4/33 was the first computer my family ever owned. I think I was about 10 when my dad bought it brand new. The machine originally came with the DX-33, 4MB RAM, a 170mb hard drive, and ran DOS 5 with Windows 3.1. If you haven't already, make sure to remove the onboard barrel battery!! As was stated earlier in this thread, the lack of any cache in this system really does hurt performance. We replaced the original DX-33 with a DX2 -66 around 1998. Even with the 66mhz chip, Duke Nukem 3D runs pretty choppy. It does only support 5V processors and I did briefly run it with a 100mhz ODPR. It ran fine (didn't seem to make much difference though), but caused an audible and disconcerting whine from the power supply. As for the RAM, I'm pretty sure the stated maximum is four 8MB SIMMs for 32MB. I can't say that I have ever tried larger modules though.

Thanks a lot for chiming in. I hope to get it up and running with an ODPR as well. Will report back if it'll take the 16mb ram sticks, according to Compaq upgrade parts list, it's the precise part number for the upgrade.

I haven't poppped out the battery yet, how do you recommend I do that? It looks soldered in. How would i replace it?