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Buying a Pentium 133? Am I crazy?

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First post, by monsterbaldy

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I have a P2 266 that I use for old sierra and lucasarts dos games, and honestly it works great. However...

I find myself scouring ebay for pentium 100/133 now... am I crazy? Is there any legitimate reason I should do this besides loving the way an IBM case looks? My P2-266 is downclocked to 150, performance probably isn't that different between the two, though I think the P2 L1 cache is twice as big.

Talk me off this ledge... or push me into computer hoarding oblivion.

-ben

Reply 1 of 30, by dionb

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P2 performance gain over P1 is more than just the amount of cache. P1 cache runs at bus speed, P2 cache at half CPU speed, the P2 has a dedicated cache bus where it shares the FSB with P1 - and then there are the differences in the core itself.

So a P150 would already be much slower than a P2@150MHz.

That said, "much" is relative. If you have software you can't run on the P2, it's unlikely to run on the P1 either. If you have cantankerous old cards that don't play nice in a PnP system, you'll hit that with a P1 too. If you're looking for an old system for a more authentic Lucasarts feeling, I'd suggest aiming for an ISA/VLB 486 instead. That's truly in a different class to the P2. A P1 would be nice, but for the same OS pretty pointless.

Reply 3 of 30, by xjas

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The dreaded "Runtime Error 200" hits some programs right around the 180~200MHz mark. It's probably avoidable by downclocking your P2, but that's pushing it. A P133 would be completely safe.

(Is there a "universal" patch for that error, or do you have to patch each affected program individually? I forget now.)

twitch.tv/oldskooljay - playing the obscure, forgotten & weird - most Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 6:30 PM PDT. Bonus streams elsewhen!

Reply 4 of 30, by Horun

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xjas wrote on 2020-05-30, 00:01:

The dreaded "Runtime Error 200" hits some programs right around the 180~200MHz mark. It's probably avoidable by downclocking your P2, but that's pushing it. A P133 would be completely safe.

(Is there a "universal" patch for that error, or do you have to patch each affected program individually? I forget now.)

Think each app and game had it's own patch if memory is correct though I do recall one DOS patch that helped with many of the apps (or was it a Win9x patch hmmm...)

Hate posting a reply and then have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor.

Reply 5 of 30, by auron

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there's definitely a number of speed sensitive games that run at an intended speed on ~p133 while running too fast on pentium ii, 320x200 descent being a well-known example. with lesser known games these issues seem to be even more prevalent, on average. there's also issues like joystick/sound card detection failing, and other less obvious things breaking, as many PC games simply were not written to scale well to faster systems. this certainly continued well into the pentium/win95 era.

personally, i mostly dislike running 3d VGA games on very fast systems, as the results tend to look off in some intangible way. this seems to be mainly related to the animations not being designed to hold up at a full 70fps and it's an issue with games as late as quake, where the 10 fps animations will look much more jarring at 70fps than in the 30fps range or so. screamer is another one that comes to mind, as while it's playable, effects like the screen jitter when going off track were clearly not tuned with high fps in mind at all.

a pentium system can also be slowed down into the 486 performance range, which isn't really possible with a pentium ii or faster. but if the pentium ii is running your stuff to your liking, there's no necessity to bother with other hardware.

Reply 6 of 30, by SodaSuccubus

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Unpopular Opinion(?): A classic Pentium 133 will serve you much better then a 486 or your P2.

At least if your into playing a variety of games that include mid 90s 3D games like Descent, Screamer, BUILD Engine titles. Even games like Transport Tycoon/Theme Hospital.

You could play these on your P2 machine. But P2/P3 machines never felt like DOS game machines. They felt like Windows game machines. Even with DOS 3D titles, you still run into games like Descent that play oddly on faster machines, and of course older games that'l just get harder to slow down your system for with a fast P2.

On the flipside, you could play these on a high end 486 too, and its an okay experience. But its just that. Okay....and potentially uncomfortable .

Pentium machines offer great balance between just enough performance for 3D titles, and options to slowdown for your picky early 90s games. This extends to early "OG" Pentiums like the P90/133.

Reply 7 of 30, by xjas

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^^ yeah, I agree with this. People idolize the DX2/66 now, but that's really looking back through nostalgia goggles. Back when that's what everybody had , we all wanted to upgrade as quickly as possible. Even Doom can slow down on a DX2. A mid-range Pentium just does everything better, plus you get onboard IDE, PCI slots, maybe USB, no 540MB HDD limit, and a way more stable platform with mature chipsets. I love the 386/486 generation, but I've only got one left and I'm thinking of selling it because I just can't think of anything I need it for... if you want to have one to appreciate the hardware, more power to you, but as an all-purpose DOS gaming rig just go Socket 7.

That said, I've got heaps of DOS stuff that wants a decent P2 or K6-2, especially if you start playing at 640x480 or above. A slower Pentium and a faster (400-600MHz) P2/3 that can also run Win98 stuff is a pretty good balance, IMHO.

My current "do everything" DOS machine is a P233MMX with a fast video card & SDRAM, it's probably on par with a downclocked P2. I have a couple slower options but those are more about variety of configuration than absolute need. I've run into the Runtime Error 200 a couple times, but I think everything I hit that with had a patch.

twitch.tv/oldskooljay - playing the obscure, forgotten & weird - most Tuesdays & Thursdays @ 6:30 PM PDT. Bonus streams elsewhen!

Reply 8 of 30, by kolderman

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I had a 386 when everyone else had 486s. I was sooo jealous of friends with the dx2. I could barely play Doom with a smaller view window. Eventually I got a 686 "multimedia pc" and spent more time using encarter than playing games.

Reply 9 of 30, by dionb

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SodaSuccubus wrote on 2020-05-30, 03:19:
Unpopular Opinion(?): A classic Pentium 133 will serve you much better then a 486 or your P2. […]
Show full quote

Unpopular Opinion(?): A classic Pentium 133 will serve you much better then a 486 or your P2.

At least if your into playing a variety of games that include mid 90s 3D games like Descent, Screamer, BUILD Engine titles. Even games like Transport Tycoon/Theme Hospital.

You could play these on your P2 machine. But P2/P3 machines never felt like DOS game machines. They felt like Windows game machines. Even with DOS 3D titles, you still run into games like Descent that play oddly on faster machines, and of course older games that'l just get harder to slow down your system for with a fast P2.

On the flipside, you could play these on a high end 486 too, and its an okay experience. But its just that. Okay....and potentially uncomfortable .

Pentium machines offer great balance between just enough performance for 3D titles, and options to slowdown for your picky early 90s games. This extends to early "OG" Pentiums like the P90/133.

Fully agree with that for the mid 90s games, but OP specifically mentioned (older) Lucasarts titles. That's why I suggested a low-end 486 (or later 386 for that matter), all the more so as a downclocked P2 can handle most of the things you're mentioning perfectly.

And as for P2 not "feeling" like DOS boxes - neither should P1 systems. Pretty much every P1 out there would have come with Windows pre-installed, and the vast majority were sold in the Win95 era. Running DOS on them is just as 'incorrect' as running it on a P2. If you want to be a period-correct stickler run DOS on a mid-period 486 or older. If not, AFAIK anything with ISA slots and less than 512MB RAM is a perfectly good DOS computer 😉

Reply 10 of 30, by oohms

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A pentium 133 was the go to CPU between mid 1995 and 1997. I remember every school and office pc for a couple of years was a P133, and it co-incides with a golden era of gaming

DOS/w3.11/w98 | K6-III+ 400ATZ @ 550 | FIC PA2013 | 128mb SDram | Voodoo 3 3000 | Avancelogic ALS100 | Roland SC-55ST
DOS/w98/XP | Core 2 Duo E4600 | Asus P5PE-VM | 512mb DDR400 | Ti4800SE | ForteMedia FM801

Reply 12 of 30, by SuperSirLink

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dionb wrote on 2020-05-30, 08:30:
SodaSuccubus wrote on 2020-05-30, 03:19:
Unpopular Opinion(?): A classic Pentium 133 will serve you much better then a 486 or your P2. […]
Show full quote

Unpopular Opinion(?): A classic Pentium 133 will serve you much better then a 486 or your P2.

At least if your into playing a variety of games that include mid 90s 3D games like Descent, Screamer, BUILD Engine titles. Even games like Transport Tycoon/Theme Hospital.

You could play these on your P2 machine. But P2/P3 machines never felt like DOS game machines. They felt like Windows game machines. Even with DOS 3D titles, you still run into games like Descent that play oddly on faster machines, and of course older games that'l just get harder to slow down your system for with a fast P2.

On the flipside, you could play these on a high end 486 too, and its an okay experience. But its just that. Okay....and potentially uncomfortable .

Pentium machines offer great balance between just enough performance for 3D titles, and options to slowdown for your picky early 90s games. This extends to early "OG" Pentiums like the P90/133.

Fully agree with that for the mid 90s games, but OP specifically mentioned (older) Lucasarts titles. That's why I suggested a low-end 486 (or later 386 for that matter), all the more so as a downclocked P2 can handle most of the things you're mentioning perfectly.

And as for P2 not "feeling" like DOS boxes - neither should P1 systems. Pretty much every P1 out there would have come with Windows pre-installed, and the vast majority were sold in the Win95 era. Running DOS on them is just as 'incorrect' as running it on a P2. If you want to be a period-correct stickler run DOS on a mid-period 486 or older. If not, AFAIK anything with ISA slots and less than 512MB RAM is a perfectly good DOS computer 😉

I wouldn't say that. I think it just depends on what you experienced back then. I have the same feeling, just built a P150 (non mmx) because that is a system I have a lot of nostalgia for. I found my old desktop case in my parents attic, bought a brand new AT PSU and found a motherboard and CPU off eBay. It feels more "DOS" appropriate for me, because that is what I ran. I had Windows 3.11 on it as well, but it was more of just another app. I wrote my own batch file menus to launch my games straight from DOS. I didn't get Windows 95 till around 1998. Most of my hardware before then was hand me down components that built into working systems. I got a Dell in 1999 when I started working because I wanted to see what a "prebuilt" computer was like. So it all comes down to what you experienced back then.

So OP, if you have room and the funds to do it; I say go for it... If nothing else you are just ensuring the preservation of hardware. Like someone else stated, there is irony here. We always sought the better and faster back then as tech was changing fast. Now we specifically seek out the older, slower tech. So go for it!

Reply 13 of 30, by monsterbaldy

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Question... the bios screenshot from seller shows cache size of 0... is that referring to cpu cache or something else? I thought all p133 had cpu cache...

This community is so great.

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Reply 16 of 30, by darry

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Horun wrote on 2020-05-30, 00:40:
xjas wrote on 2020-05-30, 00:01:

The dreaded "Runtime Error 200" hits some programs right around the 180~200MHz mark. It's probably avoidable by downclocking your P2, but that's pushing it. A P133 would be completely safe.

(Is there a "universal" patch for that error, or do you have to patch each affected program individually? I forget now.)

Think each app and game had it's own patch if memory is correct though I do recall one DOS patch that helped with many of the apps (or was it a Win9x patch hmmm...)

See https://www.pcmicro.com/elebbs/faq/rte200.html

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Reply 17 of 30, by Intel486dx33

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Crazy people do not live happy lives.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-z4NS2zdrZc

Please think things out and use logic and follow the laws and rules they are there to protect you from hurting yourself and others.
The Laws and Rules where written by very smart people to help you.

That is what is going on with the computer builder community. People are looking for the "Perfect" computer. Apple and IBM have always been looking for the "Perfect Computer".
It's different for everyone because people are different.

It might be a:
Mobile phone
Tablet
Desktop
Personal assistant like Alexa, Siri, or Hey Google.

People build "Frankinstien" computers looking for the right combination.
If you are unsure buy a Prebuilt name brand computer.
And always follow the manual and supported hardware combinations.

Just because it fits in the same socket/slot does not mean it is the Right hardware combination.

Last edited by Intel486dx33 on 2020-05-31, 00:54. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 18 of 30, by dionb

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monsterbaldy wrote on 2020-05-30, 16:39:

I just bought it...

*What* did you buy?

No L2 cache is BAD news, probably some OEM system sold on a big number CPU but every possible other corner cut to make a certain price point, including leaving out L2 cache 😮

Unfortunately 486DX33 is - as usual - missing the point. Brand-name systems are designed to work together, but they are designed with optimum marketability in mind, not optimum usability. Worst-case you have a system with no L2 cache, no way to add L2 cache, crappy onboard VGA and no way to replace the custom motherboard that gives you all that crappiness...