VOGONS


Were VLB video cards ever good?

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Reply 21 of 46, by kixs

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yawetaG wrote on 2020-11-12, 12:25:
kixs wrote on 2020-11-12, 11:55:

All I said I don't agree with the "Vogons is for gamers". Maybe it is so, but I only play with hardware/benchmarks... 😉

Then you probably bolded the wrong bit in the quote in your post, because right now the bolded bit is about accelerator cards...

And in that case the reactions are justified, because VLB acceleration in Windows was never game-oriented, but Windows GDI and specific software packages such as CAD software.

Bolded part:"people here usually don t care much about acellerator cards."

I don't agree with this as I do care about it. And as I'm a member here and not a gamer, it's probably not only for gamers. And the OPs question is pretty general - nothing about games...

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Reply 22 of 46, by Anonymous Coward

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Well my understanding is that the focus of this forum actually IS games, but it's been hijacked by Chinese eBay sellers trying to get people excited about their wares so they can inflate retro hardware prices.

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Reply 23 of 46, by konc

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leileilol wrote on 2020-11-12, 01:22:

PCI was mostly for those rich luxurious Pentium jerks in the first few years. VLB filled the gap for the rest until there were common 486 PCI boards around 95.

And for the exact opposite, people stuck with late 486s well into the Pentium era.

Reply 24 of 46, by debs3759

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Anonymous Coward wrote on 2020-11-12, 14:54:

Well my understanding is that the focus of this forum actually IS games, but it's been hijacked by Chinese eBay sellers trying to get people excited about their wares so they can inflate retro hardware prices.

🤣, that's funny, if only because it was said by an long term member whose bio says they live in China 😀

I thought the forum was for anyone interested in retro hardware (and software etc in other sub forums). Never occurred to me I might not be part of the target audience, I just feel I fit here 😀

Reply 25 of 46, by TheMobRules

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Well, the original intent of the forum is about "Very Old GAMES On New Systems" after all... even if the Marvin sub-forum seems kind of detached from the rest. In that sense I would expect most people here to have at least a passing interest in retro games, as opposed to something like VCF.

But back on topic, you have to consider that even the fastest 486-class processors become the bottleneck when using a (decent) VLB card. So I'd say they were good enough for that purpose, and even if "better" VLB cards could be built they'd be kind of wasted on those systems.

Reply 26 of 46, by Baoran

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Both playing old games and playing with old hardware and benchmarking old hardware are things that I do personally, but when it comes to actually using an old pc for something gaming is the main thing because there are always modern counterparts for old productivity software that do the job better. Like I wouldn't want to use old Word Perfect 5.1 or lotus 123 when I can use openoffice to do similar things, but when it comes to a really good old game there isn't really replacement for those so in addition of configuring the OS and benchmarking hardware gaming seems to be the most useful thing you can use an old pc like that for.

Reply 27 of 46, by hyoenmadan

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dionb wrote on 2020-11-12, 11:04:

we'd test with the software that best shows off that hardware, i.e. in AutoCAD or Windows 3.x (or indeed 95) benchmarks, and then things like the Weitek 9000 and Appian AGC 98032 would leave our beloved ET4000 and 90C33-based cards behind in the dust.

True. TIGA/Weitek/GLINT cards paired with proper Autodesk HEIDI drivers are insuperable as AutoCAD/3DMax performance respects, and is true for DOS, Windows and Windows NT. This is one of the reasons why SGI started to suffer in the 90's middle/end. I guess these cards also offered drivers for things like SoftImage3D (not XS) (this software in NT is special in the fact it doesn't seem to use Windows GDI and USER window management/widgets at all 😮, but is like a game with its own video management, driven by these special drivers supplied with the high end cards).

Reply 28 of 46, by Unknown_K

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A good VLB card made using Windows 3.1 at 1024x768 256 color pretty snappy and at a decent refresh so your eyes did not hurt. There are decent ISA cards with the same chips as on some VLB cards that were fast in 320x240 or VGA where the bandwidth didn't limit them as much as higher resolution as long as you didn't go above 256 colors.

To be honest VLB really made a difference with HD controllers speeding things up quite a bit which helped overall system performance quite a bit. And if you were lucky to have a VLB caching controller that did DMA (usually using a 286 to offload all disk workload from the CPU) things were even faster.

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Reply 29 of 46, by cyclone3d

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Back in the day, when I tweaked and benchmarked my then current-ish hardware, the BitBlt speed went through the roof when I replaced my Trident ISA card with a VLB card. Don't remember the exact VLB card, but I know it was either a 2MB or 4MB card... Leaning towards 4MB. I bought it used at the Grant road Bookman's location in Tucson, AZ.

Last edited by cyclone3d on 2020-11-13, 17:31. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 31 of 46, by Baoran

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cyclone3d wrote on 2020-11-13, 03:46:

Back in the day, when I tweaked and benchmarked my then current-ish hardware, the blt-blt speed went through the roof when I replaced my Trident ISA card with a VLB card. Don't remember the exact VLB card, but I know it was either a 2MB or 4MB card... Leaning towards 4MB. I bought it used at the Grant road Bookman's location in Tucson, AZ.

In my 486 33Mhz and with vidspeed * L test my vlb card exactly matches up with the ram values so it must be bottlenecked by the cpu/ram in the system but even when being bottlenecked I get 8300, 16600 and 33300 for 8bit, 16 bit and 32 bit writes. Even then switching to an ISA card in the system would cause bottleneck other way around because there is no way any ISA video card would reach those values in vidspeed.

Reply 33 of 46, by cyclone3d

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Disruptor wrote on 2020-11-13, 04:35:

But ISA Tridents are known for slow bus access and no hardware acceleration.

Yes, but this was back in the day when I had nothing to go on.

The DOS and Windows games ran faster and the higher color modes on the VLB card were to die for.

Even back then I was overclocking. 486 DX2-66 was overclocked to 80Mhz with a jumper wired to the front of the case so I could switch between 33Mhz and 40Mhz fsb. Then after that I was running an AMD 5x86-133 at 160Mhz.

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Reply 34 of 46, by douglar

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If you are playing a dos game that does software rendering and requires raw pixel pushing power--

I tested on a 486/66 with Opti 9442 chipset

                     Landmark Speedsys       Doom
Card Bus CH/ms KBS Realitcks
Trident 8900C ISA 2,874 1,332 7,380
Mach64 EXM193 ISA 3,171 2,937 4,840
WD90C31-LR ISA 5,285 3,951 3,672
CL-GD5428 ISA 5,285 fail 3,667
Trident 9400cxi VLB 10,348 10,510 2,932
Mach32 EXM195a VLB 7,740 4,839 2,869
CL-GD5429 VLB 14,247 9,239 2,793
Trident 9440 VLB 11,844 15,716 2,700

I tested some PCI cards on a different system.

I have a 486 AMD133 Intel 420 that worked with 1990's PCI cards but not 2000's PCI cards. The general PCI results were that the comparable VGA chipsets
I have newer systems that work with the 2000's era PCI cards. I noticed that my newest PCI cards like x1300 performed very poorly on dos benchmarks, getting 7700CH/ms even though it had a 2.8Ghz P4 that should have dominated. So it looks like Raw dos pixel pushing power stopped being a performance priority at some point.

For Windows & OS/2, the story is more nuanced. Back in 1993, I opted for an ISA card with good acceleration & refresh over an early VLB card with a fast frame buffer no acceleration and doggey refresh rates, because those were my only two choices at the time. However the last generation vlb accelerators like the Mach64 and S3 964 were clearly better than all other ISA and VLB cards, and were better than the first generation of PCI cards too. Late 90's PCI cards pulled ahead over VLB cards, but the last generations of PCI cards were occasionally weak on 2d acceleration and pixel pushing, focusing on 3d acceleration at that point.

Reply 35 of 46, by Madao

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HighEnd VLB Card can run up to 1600x1200 and fast acceleration in windows. You can drag Win98SE windows smooth by 1280x1024 resolution with 16 bit color. This is impossible with ISA card and not soo good by old PCI video card.
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Reply 36 of 46, by Disruptor

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Madao wrote on 2020-11-13, 16:54:

HighEnd VLB Card can run up to 1600x1200 and fast acceleration in windows. You can drag Win98SE windows smooth by 1280x1024 resolution with 16 bit color. This is impossible with ISA card and not soo good by old PCI video card.

Depends on card, hardware acceleration and amout of video memory.
You should try an ISA based ATI Mach or Tseng ET4000 W32 card with enough RAM and proper driver.

S3 cards are also known to support hardware acceleration (BitBlt / Blitter / Bit Block Transfer).

Reply 37 of 46, by Stiletto

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Anonymous Coward wrote on 2020-11-12, 14:54:

Well my understanding is that the focus of this forum actually IS games, but it's been hijacked by Chinese eBay sellers trying to get people excited about their wares so they can inflate retro hardware prices.

I laughed at this... 😁

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Reply 38 of 46, by alvaro84

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Baoran wrote on 2020-11-12, 05:12:

Basically I can put the fastest isa card I have into a super socket 550Mhz system and I can put my fastest VLB card into a 133Mhz 486 system and the 486 beats the super socket 7 system in the dos doom or pcpbench benchmarks easily. I assume even 66Mhz and 100Mhz 486 systems would also beat the super socket 7 system that would have an isa card even if I have not tried that.

Just for the record, any decent 386 or 486 chipset (like Opti 895) gives you far better ISA VGA bandwidth than a super socket 7 one.

VLB cards are nevertheless faster and it needs serious cherry picking to find a pair with reverse order (in the same system).

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Reply 39 of 46, by Baoran

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alvaro84 wrote on 2020-11-14, 09:16:
Baoran wrote on 2020-11-12, 05:12:

Basically I can put the fastest isa card I have into a super socket 550Mhz system and I can put my fastest VLB card into a 133Mhz 486 system and the 486 beats the super socket 7 system in the dos doom or pcpbench benchmarks easily. I assume even 66Mhz and 100Mhz 486 systems would also beat the super socket 7 system that would have an isa card even if I have not tried that.

Just for the record, any decent 386 or 486 chipset (like Opti 895) gives you far better ISA VGA bandwidth than a super socket 7 one.

VLB cards are nevertheless faster and it needs serious cherry picking to find a pair with reverse order (in the same system).

I would be curious about what is the lowest realtics value someone has gotten in the doom benchmark using an ISA card and while having standard isa bus clockspeed.