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Value in IBM AT vs a 386 for retro gaming?

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Reply 60 of 68, by TechDeals

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Intel486dx33 wrote on 2021-01-10, 08:48:
Proprietary IBM hardware vs Open IBM PC standards. […]
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Proprietary IBM hardware vs Open IBM PC standards.

The IBM XT 286 uses Proprietary IBM hardware and Bios.
Leading to hardware compatibility limitations and capacity limitations.

An open systems IBM PC clone 386 uses non-proprietary hardware and bios.
Leading to a larger selection in hardware compatibility and larger capacity in ram and hard drive size.

Also availability and costs should be considered.

It wasn't cheap, that's for sure... But it's a real AT, they aren't that common in good condition, and now it's all mine forever! 😀 Or at least until I'm old and gray...

This was bought for collectability and history, not overall function.

Reply 61 of 68, by TechDeals

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Robin4 wrote on 2021-01-10, 13:41:

286 is only better for speed sensitive games. like wings of fury (dos). Its running to slow on a XT class machine, but its to fast on a 386 DX machine.
Other benefit is, you could install all 1989 - 1991 games on it instead of your 386, so it uses less disk capacity on the 386 machine so you could spread it over 2 machines.

Do you really needs a IBM..?? I think if you are only fan of that machine maybe yes. Otherwise no.

I don't need any of it, to be fair 😀

A clone is boring, generic, and otherwise uninspiring... as someone who grew up in the 80s, I remember these fondly. Having a real, honest to goodness, IBM 5170 on the desk, knowing it's really the real deal, actually means something to me.

I get that it doesn't mean something to everyone.

Reply 62 of 68, by appiah4

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Caluser2000 wrote on 2021-01-10, 07:38:
appiah4 wrote on 2020-08-26, 13:18:

Is there a point to running Windows 3.1 in Standard Mode as opposed to Enhanced Mode that I am not aware of?

Yes.
And it has been mentioned numerous times in recent months.

As far as I am aware the only argument was that it performed better on a 286 vs enhanced on a 386sx, that is not entirely a merit just an outcome.

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 63 of 68, by Anonymous Coward

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I'd be okay with a clone 286 too. But, it has to be in a full sized desktop case. There were some pretty good clones. Everex was one of the best.

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 64 of 68, by Intel486dx33

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TechDeals wrote on 2021-01-11, 08:44:
Intel486dx33 wrote on 2021-01-10, 08:48:
Proprietary IBM hardware vs Open IBM PC standards. […]
Show full quote

Proprietary IBM hardware vs Open IBM PC standards.

The IBM XT 286 uses Proprietary IBM hardware and Bios.
Leading to hardware compatibility limitations and capacity limitations.

An open systems IBM PC clone 386 uses non-proprietary hardware and bios.
Leading to a larger selection in hardware compatibility and larger capacity in ram and hard drive size.

Also availability and costs should be considered.

It wasn't cheap, that's for sure... But it's a real AT, they aren't that common in good condition, and now it's all mine forever! 😀 Or at least until I'm old and gray...

This was bought for collectability and history, not overall function.

I was conscidering purchasing an IBM 5170 once but the limitations in bios, and ram is what kept me away.
Those memory cards are hard to find and then only add 512kb or 1mb of system ram.
Video card ram limitations, and sound cards are also limited.

So I went with a 386-33/40mhz build instead with:
Math-coprocessor
16mb ram
CDROM,
NIC,
Sound Blaster Pro 2.0,
Floppy drives,
Quiet fast IDE 410mb hard-drive.,
1mb ET4000 video card,
1992 bios

It’s quiet and fast, Boots quickly, non-proprietary parts, easy to fix, SVGA video.
It can be slowed down to an 8088.
Will play most DOS games which was my priority.

It cost allot less than the IBM 5170.

My 486dx4-100 computer can also be slowed down to 286@20mhz.
For playing old games.

Reply 65 of 68, by creepingnet

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Speaking from about 30 years of experience here and several 386's and 286's.....and looking at the OP's post....

Were comparing a 386 DX running at a blazing 40MHz (that's very fast for a 386 DX, most were 16-25MHz) and the first 286 x86 IBM Compatible running at sub 10MHz here. This is like night and day, so it might be worth it, especially if you want to consolidate and run the PC XT era games on the 286 as well. But it also depends on how well your 386 DX-40 works with the turbo off too. Even a Turbo Clone 286 could not touch a 386 DX-16.

The 386 SX and 286 are a lot closer, and even overlap with the 286 at higher clock speeds. The 386 SX basically replaced the 286 as a budget CPU - it was sort of the original "Celeron" if you will. It'd run all the new software, but not as fast as it would run with a fully 32-bit 386 DX.

But an early 8MHz or 6MHz IBM 5170 AT will be the slowest option. And you will have a Turbo Button, and it was designed to use that turbo button to slow the machine down to run PC/XT software so I'd say it'd be worth it if you want to run non-throttled XT-class titles and have some early AT class titles. You'd effectively be getting an XT and an AT in the same case. This also counts on clones up to 12MHz. I have a 12MHz GEM 286 and it works so well as an XT class machine that I'm seriously considering cashing out on my Tandy 1000 and putting one of those TNDY cards into the GEM and using that for my old Sierra titles that support Tandy but not SoundBlaster.

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Reply 66 of 68, by Caluser2000

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appiah4 wrote on 2021-01-11, 11:24:
Caluser2000 wrote on 2021-01-10, 07:38:
appiah4 wrote on 2020-08-26, 13:18:

Is there a point to running Windows 3.1 in Standard Mode as opposed to Enhanced Mode that I am not aware of?

Yes.
And it has been mentioned numerous times in recent months.

As far as I am aware the only argument was that it performed better on a 286 vs enhanced on a 386sx, that is not entirely a merit just an outcome.

Does not compute......

There's a glitch in the matrix.

Reply 67 of 68, by appiah4

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Caluser2000 wrote on 2021-01-11, 19:59:
appiah4 wrote on 2021-01-11, 11:24:
Caluser2000 wrote on 2021-01-10, 07:38:

Yes.
And it has been mentioned numerous times in recent months.

As far as I am aware the only argument was that it performed better on a 286 vs enhanced on a 386sx, that is not entirely a merit just an outcome.

Does not compute......

That the normal mode executes faster on a 286 does not make it an inherently better choice of running Windows 3.1 in general, that is just one special case which hardly applies to how normal mode performs in general. I would be interested in knowing how each mode deals with lots of memory as well as what normal mode means for overall stability and security. What is it that does not compute? Faster is not inherently better.

Retronautics: A digital gallery of my retro computers, hardware and projects.

Reply 68 of 68, by Eep386

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It's a lot less of a pain in the butt to keep up a 286+ than it is an XT class system, and for most intents and purposes your garden-variety 286 box performs far better than even the best turbo XT. (Not counting 20+MHz 'mutant XTs' running 386s on adapter boards, of course.)
So I can see why someone'd want to just stick with AT-class and later systems.

...All this coming from someone who's hanging onto his Tandy 1000 STL * for dear life, and wants to re-discover the 8088-powered Tandy 1000 HX he had growing up.

* What is a 'Tandy 1000 STL' you ask? Well, it's a Tandy 1000 TL motherboard stuffed into a 1000 SL's case. I found the 8MHz 8086 (and even V30) a bit too slow for my patience, so I replaced it with a 286-fitted 1000 TL board (with some appropriate insulation tape work).

Life isn't long enough to re-enable every hidden option in every BIOS on every board... 🙁