When ISA vga card speed matters?

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When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-30 @ 17:05

I know that it makes a decent difference in a 486 if I put a slow trident isa video card or faster tseng labs ET4000AX video card. If we go back to even slower PCs, does it stop mattering at some point? Does it still make enough of a difference to matter in a 386 or even in a 286?
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby The Serpent Rider » 2018-11-30 @ 20:06

Depends. Some cards are so slow, that it's noticeable even on a 286/386 CPU. Some tests even confirmed minor boost with 386DX + VLB video card combo (Wolfenstein 3D performance and such).
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-30 @ 20:50

It matters with all clock speed 286 and 386 pcs even if you consider what games you can run on the pc?
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby dondiego » 2018-11-30 @ 20:59

According to the game engine black book: wolfenstein 3d book there's a big difference on a 386sx 40 between the slowest (ati vga wonder, 16 fps) and the fastest (cirrus logic cl-gd5420, 26 fps). On a 386sx 16 the difference is minimal (10 to 14), considering a 386sx is slower than a 286 at the same clock speed.
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-30 @ 21:10

dondiego wrote:According to the game engine black book: wolfenstein 3d book there's a big difference on a 386sx 40 between the slowest (ati vga wonder, 16 fps) and the fastest (cirrus logic cl-gd5420, 26 fps). On a 386sx 16 the difference is minimal (10 to 14), considering a 386sx is slower than a 286 at the same clock speed.


I think 40% speed increase when it comes to 386sx is a big difference also, but you have to consider that you wouldn't really play wolfenstein 3d on a 286 usually, so does the same thing apply to games that you would actually play in a 6, 8, 10 or 12Mhz 286.
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby root42 » 2018-11-30 @ 21:17

I definitely noticed when I switched from a TVGA9000 to an ET4000. Scrolling of screens in e.g. Monkey Island 2 got much smoother.
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Baoran » 2018-11-30 @ 21:24

root42 wrote:I definitely noticed when I switched from a TVGA9000 to an ET4000. Scrolling of screens in e.g. Monkey Island 2 got much smoother.


I also have one of those tvga9000 cards. I think it is model TVGA9000A and it is quite slow. Did you test it on a slow 286 when you played monkey island 2?
I also have tseng labs ET3000AX card and I don't know if it is normal but it is even much slower than the trident card. Should it really be that slow of a card?
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby elianda » 2018-12-01 @ 12:47

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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Tiido » 2018-12-02 @ 06:36

On my 16MHz 286 I did get very noticable improvement when I switched from a crappy UMC card to a TVGA9000i1 then to OTI077 and later TVGA8900D. Even with a WDC 90C30 that's even faster than the other 4 showed improvements. On my AM386DX-40 there's similar improvements happening (which now uses the WDC 90C30, TVGA8900D that it used previously went into the 286).

I did these tests on a 486DX2 in TOPBENCH :
Code: Select all
*OTI037C (8bit) - 899µs
*UMC85C408AF    - 541µs
*TVGA9000i-1    - 290µs
*OTI077         - 255µs
*TVGA8900D      - 201µs
*WDC90C30       - 191µs


Two VLB cards for comparison :
*CL-GD5428 - 125µs
*ET4000W321 - 82µs
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Baoran » 2018-12-02 @ 11:56

Thanks. It is interesting that in that roundup there are such big differences between different et4000ax cards.
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby root42 » 2018-12-02 @ 12:52

Baoran wrote:
root42 wrote:I definitely noticed when I switched from a TVGA9000 to an ET4000. Scrolling of screens in e.g. Monkey Island 2 got much smoother.


I also have one of those tvga9000 cards. I think it is model TVGA9000A and it is quite slow. Did you test it on a slow 286 when you played monkey island 2?
I also have tseng labs ET3000AX card and I don't know if it is normal but it is even much slower than the trident card. Should it really be that slow of a card?


I did my test on a 286 board, yes. Still very noticeable difference. Windows 3.1 also shows some difference.
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Baoran » 2018-12-02 @ 14:52

My first ever pc was a 12Mhz 286 and it had a trident vga card with only 256kb of memory. I don't remember which trident model the vga card was because pretty much all old isa trident cards I have seen for sale have been 512kb or more. I didn't know back then it mattered what kind of vga card you had, so I was happy with such a slow card.

I have been thinking that perhaps someday I could rebuild my first pc once again, but that would require remembering what model of trident vga card it had.
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Jo22 » 2018-12-03 @ 00:54

Beware. there are different models of the Trident cards. Not alll of them are equally poor.
While the 9000 rather was slow perhaps and a low-cost design (I never really got them to work),
the 8900 models were quite different in performance. One of them, the 8900D(?), was on par with the Et4000 or so I heard..
If you want to experience true slowness, try an older OAK, S3 (911/924 series) or Realtek. ;)
(Ironically, though, the cards with the lowest performance were among the most compatible cards.)

Edit: Also interesesting - http://www.os2museum.com/wp/more-isa-vga-benchmarks/
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Anonymous Coward » 2018-12-03 @ 14:01

There was a 9000A,B,C and i. I would guess they don't all perform the same. I seem to remember the 9000i being halfway decent.
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Baoran » 2018-12-04 @ 01:17

When I tested in a 486, my TVGA9000A slows down doom, 3dbench and such to 386 levels. That is one way you can slow down 486 that you can play wing commander at correct speed.
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby The Serpent Rider » 2018-12-04 @ 02:55

my TVGA9000A slows down doom

That is one way you can slow down 486 that you can play wing commander at correct speed.

That's doubtful: viewtopic.php?f=63&t=61839
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby Baoran » 2018-12-05 @ 16:30

The Serpent Rider wrote:
my TVGA9000A slows down doom

That is one way you can slow down 486 that you can play wing commander at correct speed.

That's doubtful: viewtopic.php?f=63&t=61839


I just meant that in my original tests for the thread where people tested pcs with cached disabled, it almost halved the speed in doom when I did put that trident card in the pc.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... sp=sharing
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Re: When ISA vga card speed matters?

Postby The Serpent Rider » 2018-12-10 @ 13:24

Doom is a bad example, because it's almost twice as slow when compared to Heretic, Hexen or any Build game.
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