VOGONS


First post, by Intel486dx33

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These VLB motherboard setups can be very frustrating.
The cards don’t alway have a good fit and often the CPU get in the way.
Most only support up to a 486-66mhz CPU.
And there are allot of onboard components that can fail ( cache, battery, capacitors, bios, etc. )
Lots of settings and Motherboard jumpers and IDE controller jumpers.
Lots of IRQ and DMA setting too.

So far out of about 5 VLB motherboards I only have one that is working correctly.

I also have some 386 and 486 ISA motherboard and 486 PCI motherboards.

What do you think. Is it to hard to find a good working VLB motherboard today and is it worth it ?

Or just build a 486 PCI or Pentium computer which is much easier , has newer bios and more abundant on eBay.

Reply 2 of 11, by SodaSuccubus

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Iv wondered that too after dumping a fair bit of coin on 486 parts. And iv come to the conclusion that their largely project machines.

A 486, even a high end one, will never perform as well as a good Pentium. Especially if you like your games In a veriety pack.

Late DOS games on a 486, great games like Duke 3D, Whiplash, Theme Hospital, GTA, BLOOD...well they just arnt happening. (comfortably anyway)

As for PCI Socket 3 boards. They arnt necessarily any better then VLB. These where the early days of PCI. and not all bioses where properly optimized for it yet. Iv had 2 PCI Socket 3s. And both have given me more trouble in the longrun then my VLB board ever has, ironically.

Especially when you start trying to mess around with OCing 586s and squeezing out every drop of performance in the bios. Then you just wish you had a Pentium.

I love 486 builds, they ooze purr nostalgia. If you have multiple builds you might as well have one for that factor alone 😁

But they're also not the ideal retro gamers PC. For someone that -just- wants to play lots of games, anyway.

Reply 3 of 11, by Tetrium

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-06-03, 21:15:
These VLB motherboard setups can be very frustrating. The cards don’t alway have a good fit and often the CPU get in the way. Mo […]
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These VLB motherboard setups can be very frustrating.
The cards don’t alway have a good fit and often the CPU get in the way.
Most only support up to a 486-66mhz CPU.
And there are allot of onboard components that can fail ( cache, battery, capacitors, bios, etc. )
Lots of settings and Motherboard jumpers and IDE controller jumpers.
Lots of IRQ and DMA setting too.

So far out of about 5 VLB motherboards I only have one that is working correctly.

I also have some 386 and 486 ISA motherboard and 486 PCI motherboards.

What do you think. Is it to hard to find a good working VLB motherboard today and is it worth it ?

Or just build a 486 PCI or Pentium computer which is much easier , has newer bios and more abundant on eBay.

I don't know, but from what I gathered, VLB stuff has always been a bit more fragile due to how huge these cards are when comparing them to ISA and PCI. And this hardware is a quarter of a century old, or older, so more stuff breaks and more of the stuff unscrupulous people sell might be broken (if only due to the age).

Is it worth it? Depends on how much you think it is worth it to have a VLB rig. Personally I was content with the 486 PCI rig I had build and I had fun building it and fiddling around with 486 and 386 hardware.
I ended up using my newer rigs more often though, but I sure never regretted it.

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Reply 4 of 11, by squelch41

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The thing about VLB boards is that they are 'different'.
Building a Pentium class machine isnt that different to building a modern PC - pci just tends to work, most of setting in bios software etc.

VLB is the last stand of jumpers, lack of things like on board IDE integration etc.

So, if you are building VLB it is to overcome all that. If you just want a machine that will. Work for old games, why bother with a 486 - a pentium would likey suit better and probably be cheaper.

Just my opinion though 😉

Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-06-03, 21:15:
These VLB motherboard setups can be very frustrating. The cards don’t alway have a good fit and often the CPU get in the way. Mo […]
Show full quote

These VLB motherboard setups can be very frustrating.
The cards don’t alway have a good fit and often the CPU get in the way.
Most only support up to a 486-66mhz CPU.
And there are allot of onboard components that can fail ( cache, battery, capacitors, bios, etc. )
Lots of settings and Motherboard jumpers and IDE controller jumpers.
Lots of IRQ and DMA setting too.

So far out of about 5 VLB motherboards I only have one that is working correctly.

I also have some 386 and 486 ISA motherboard and 486 PCI motherboards.

What do you think. Is it to hard to find a good working VLB motherboard today and is it worth it ?

Or just build a 486 PCI or Pentium computer which is much easier , has newer bios and more abundant on eBay.

V4P895P3 VLB Motherboard and AMD 486 133MHz CPU
64mb RAM, CF 4Gb Hard disk,
Realtek 8019 ethernet, ES1869 soundcard, Unknown brand VLB multi-io card with Cirrus Logic GD5428 1mb VGA on it.

Reply 5 of 11, by TheMobRules

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I just have to say that I have a few VLB motherboards and I love them all, even the quirky ones. If you are particularly interested in more modern games (late DOS, Win9x) then it is obviously a bad idea, but my favorite period of retro PC games is 1988-1995, and a 486 fits like a glove in that case. Could a SS7 or S370 do that as well? Sure, but I have little interest on tinkering with those kinds of systems, so it wouldn't be as fun to me.

I enjoy configuring things manually/with jumpers, if you know what you're doing you should have no problem with those. From your list of points of failure, capacitors are way more likely to be a problem on a 2000-2005 system than a 486, and BIOS chips don't fail that often, you can program new ones if necessary. Same with cache, it can be easily replaced. Barrel batteries are a problem but you should remove them as soon as you get the board.

Is it worth it? That depends on each one... I find stuff like S478 or S775 extremely boring, but there are plenty of people in this forum that get a lot of enjoyment from them, so who am I to decide whether they are spending too much time or money on those?

If you think a Pentium or some other system is a much better alternative for your purposes, why keep trying with something you see as clearly inferior in every way?

Reply 6 of 11, by Caluser2000

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Because vlb came out when the 486DX2/66 was top dog and vlb doesn't like 50Mhz at all at all....Do your research Intel486dx33

For an IT professional in the '90s you don't know a lot about that era systems....

There's a glitch in the matrix.

Reply 7 of 11, by cyclone3d

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I have a few VLB systems mostly put together and they tend to just work. Of course I am only running them at 33Mhz FSB right now.

I actually have quite a few more 486 motherboards with VLB.. most of which I haven't even tested. They mostly came to me in cheap lots with other motherboards or in complete systems.

The prices are crazy now but even back in the day when VLB was a recent thing I never had problems with mine... and my original 486 VLB motherboard was one I fished out of a dumpster that had a bunch of coffee spilled all over it. I had to rinse it off with rubbing alcohol with a spray bottle until it ran clear. Then I let it dry for a few days. To my amazement it worked.

I eventually hooked up a jumper that I made a slight modification to the case so I could access it from the front of the case. It allowed me to switch in-between 33Mhz and 40Mhz FSB.

That is the same system I later traded for my first car, a 1980 Pontiac Sunbird, which also came with a parts car.

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Reply 8 of 11, by derSammler

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-06-03, 21:15:

And there are allot of onboard components that can fail ( cache, battery, capacitors, bios, etc. )
Lots of settings and Motherboard jumpers and IDE controller jumpers.
Lots of IRQ and DMA setting too.

How does that relate to VLB?

Reply 9 of 11, by Caluser2000

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derSammler wrote on 2020-06-04, 06:58:
Intel486dx33 wrote on 2020-06-03, 21:15:

And there are allot of onboard components that can fail ( cache, battery, capacitors, bios, etc. )
Lots of settings and Motherboard jumpers and IDE controller jumpers.
Lots of IRQ and DMA setting too.

How does that relate to VLB?

I was thinking the same. The OP seems to make things look harder than it actually is in most of his posts.

There's a glitch in the matrix.

Reply 10 of 11, by derSammler

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Seems so. And I yet have to see a VLB mainboard on which "the CPU get in the way" of VLB cards. I only ever had this issue with ISA or PCI.

But anyway, VLB is not that hard to work with. You just need to understand that the number of installable cards depends on the bus speed and that most cards need to have a jumper set when bus speed is >33 MHz.

Reply 11 of 11, by evasive

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VLB was living on the edge of the technology that was then available. If a VLB board has a 50MHz speed setting it might actually run with that. With one card. It should say so in the manual. 40MHz for 2 cards, 33MHz for 3. That was how we built the systems, never had real issues other than stuff not reaching specs (and which was promptly returned to the vendor for that exact reason).

It is also the same era that really hordes of fly-by-night-fall-apart-next-day-made-in-taiwan products were on the market. The whole "TK" series of boards is an excellent example.

So in short: is VLB finicky? No. It is challenging. is VLB satisfying? Depends on when you ask. When building: **** no. When completed: **** yes. When playing period-correct games: yes.