VOGONS


First post, by kenan83

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Hello. In my previous posts, I shared my trident tvga 9000b 512k ISA video card problem. I decided that the problem is most likely in the ram. And I replaced this card with a cirrius logic gd5428 1 mb vlb card. The card works fine, but it doesn't seem to be enough for win95. This new card has free slots to upgrade to 2mb. What kind of performance will I get if I add 1 mb of ram to this card. What should I pay attention to when upgrading ram and what kind of ram should I use? I would appreciate it if anyone with previous experience can help. Do I need to upgrade ram or processor to speed up the system? Thanks in advance for your advice.

My system;

MOTHERBOARD :
FIC 486 PWT
CPU: Cyrix Cx486dx2-v66
RAM: 16MB
VGA: Cirrius Logic GD5428 1 mb vlb
HDD: SEAGATE IDE 1.2GB ST31276A
I/O : UMC SST284SE
AUDIO: ESS 1868F
FDD: EPSON 3.5" 1.44 MB
FDD2: YE DATA 380 B 5.25" 1.2 MB
MONITOR: UNISYS 15" CRT

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Reply 1 of 15, by CoffeeOne

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kenan83 wrote on 2022-05-05, 19:46:

Hello. In my previous posts, I shared my trident tvga 9000b 512k ISA video card problem. I decided that the problem is most likely in the ram. And I replaced this card with a cirrius logic gd5428 1 mb vlb card. The card works fine, but it doesn't seem to be enough for win95. This new card has free slots to upgrade to 2mb. What kind of performance will I get if I add 1 mb of ram to this card. What should I pay attention to when upgrading ram and what kind of ram should I use? I would appreciate it if anyone with previous experience can help. Do I need to upgrade ram or processor to speed up the system? Thanks in advance for your advice.
.....

Zero gain, if you upgrade it to 2MB, so let it be.

Reply 2 of 15, by mkarcher

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kenan83 wrote on 2022-05-05, 19:46:

Do I need to upgrade ram or processor to speed up the system? Thanks in advance for your advice.

You already got an answer about the pointlessness of the Video RAM upgrade. Although on Windows 95, you should get more hardware offscreen surface memory in Direct Draw which might help with performance on some DirectDraw-based 2D games. A 486-class machine isn't appropriate for most DirectX games, so in practice the gain is in fact zero.

There is an easy indicator to find out whether you need to upgrade RAM or the processor. Few people know that computers of that era generally came with a "please buy more RAM" indicator LED. Just kidding, I'm talking about the hard disk access LED. Upgrading RAM mostly helps when your machine is accessing the disk a lot due to not enough caching or constant swapping. When you feel that your computer is slow, take a look at the hard drive LED. If it is mostly on, but flickering a bit, that's a good indicator for RAM being the bottleneck. If the hard drive LED is off or only flickering a bit, the hard drive definitely is not the root cause of the slowness.

16MB of RAM should be enough for a baseline Windows 95 system. That is:

  • You are not running any background Virus scanners. Real-time Virus Scanners are extremely memory and CPU hungry.
  • You are not loading any Office "quickstarter" (no matter whether we talk about MS Office or StarOffice)
  • You are not trying to run multiple big applications at the same time (like Word 95 and Paint Shop Pro)
  • You limit yourself to 1024x768 @ 256 colors or 800x600 @ 65536 colors.

Windows 95 has been designed to start being useable somehow at 4MB of RAM (but it is a chore if you start more than minesweeper or solitaire at the same time), works kind-of usable at 8MB and quite nice at 16MB of RAM. That is, if you stick to period-correct software. If you pick the latest Opera version that can run on a Windows 95 system after you installed a lot of updates that makes the system mor Windows-98-like (e.g. IE 5.o, DCOM), that application on its own won't be happy with 16MB of RAM.

Reply 3 of 15, by dionb

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Could you clarify this statement:

but it doesn't seem to be enough for win95

What in your Windows 95 experience seems wrong? When talking old-fashioned 2D stuff, pretty much the only thing video RAM affects is max resolution and colour depth - but it can be (and in this case is) limited by chip design too.

If there are no such limits, you can calculate the amount of video memory needed for a certain mode by just multiplying horizontal and vertical resolution and colour depth, then dividing by 8 for bits to Bytes, and 1024 for kBytes.

So with common video RAM amount:
512kB: 640x480@8b (256 colours) or 800x600 @8b
1MB: 640x480@24b (16.7M 'true colour'), 800x600@16b (65k 'high colour') or 1024x768@8b
2MB: 80x600@24b, 1024x768@16b or 1280x960@8b
etc.

However the RAMDAC on the card also needs to be able to handle the higher resolution/refresh. Cirrus Logic was the first vendor to integrate RAMDAC into chip, which made cards cheap and low-end cards better (i.e. not paired with a crap old RAMDAC) so they were pretty popular. The RAMDAC on the GD542x series was good but low-spec and unfortunately couldn't handle anything over the 1MB modes unless you used interlaced (=eye destroying) settings. In practice there's no real point going above 1MB with them. With one of these cards, 800x600@16b is generall the sweet spot for desktop work. Back in 1995, you would be very lucky to have a monitor capable of more than than, and if you did, you would have bought a more high-end VGA card to go with it.

But this is all about video modes. Is that what your Winodws 95 experience is missing? If so, consider a different card with CD-GD543x chip, or indeed any S3/Tseng/ATi alternative that can also do higher modes. If not, you're looking at the wrong part.

Reply 4 of 15, by Cuttoon

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As has been mentioned, more RAM won't make the VGA faster. But, you still totally should upgrade that card, it will be a very rewarding thing to do.
Pretty sure this applies:
Re: 1MB Video RAM upgrade - are they all standard?

Win 95 does not seem odd for a 486-66. Keep it lean, it should be fine.
You could upgrade the processor to Intel I7 or AMD Ryzen, that would speed up Win95. But then you wouldn't have the quintessential 486 any more. 😉

I like jumpers.

Reply 5 of 15, by rasz_pl

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Cuttoon wrote on 2022-05-08, 11:19:

As has been mentioned, more RAM won't make the VGA faster. But, you still totally should upgrade that card, it will be a very rewarding thing to do.

the only reward will be availability of two additional interlaced modes

Reply 6 of 15, by Gmlb256

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Cuttoon wrote on 2022-05-08, 11:19:

You could upgrade the processor to Intel I7 or AMD Ryzen, that would speed up Win95. But then you wouldn't have the quintessential 486 any more. 😉

It would require a patch for faster CPUs. For even later computers using CPUs such as the ones you mentioned, getting the appropriate drivers for audio and video card unless you are using the OS within a virtual machine. 😉

And there is no support for SSE and AVX instructions which even with hacks that can enable them it would have glitches in multiple applications using these instructions at the same time.

Reply 7 of 15, by Cuttoon

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rasz_pl wrote on 2022-05-08, 14:31:
Cuttoon wrote on 2022-05-08, 11:19:

As has been mentioned, more RAM won't make the VGA faster. But, you still totally should upgrade that card, it will be a very rewarding thing to do.

the only reward will be availability of two additional interlaced modes

Exactly, wouldn't that be awesome?!?

Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-05-08, 14:49:
Cuttoon wrote on 2022-05-08, 11:19:

You could upgrade the processor to Intel I7 or AMD Ryzen, that would speed up Win95. But then you wouldn't have the quintessential 486 any more. 😉

It would require a patch for faster CPUs. For even later computers using CPUs such as the ones you mentioned, getting the appropriate drivers for audio and video card unless you are using the OS within a virtual machine. 😉

And there is no support for SSE and AVX instructions which even with hacks that can enable them it would have glitches in multiple applications using these instructions at the same time.

How Prof. Frink would you like to be on this issue?

Gmlb256: "YES!"

I like jumpers.

Reply 8 of 15, by kenan83

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First of all, I would like to thank everyone for your comments and important advice. I do not expect much from the system, after all, it is an old system, I am aware of it. I had a computer close to this system before. At that time, I could listen to music comfortably from winamp without getting stuck. Now the music plays intermittently. I guess there is an instability in the system. I can feel the slowness when opening and closing the windows, although not too much. I tested it with test programs. Interestingly, the topbench test program shows 22 mhz, while other programs show cpu mhz speed at 66 mhz. But I have the turbo button disabled. I am sharing the benchmark results below.
I am using winamp 2.5.
system resolution 800x600 16-bit.

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Reply 10 of 15, by Cuttoon

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Apart from so many other factors, I'd say that not all MP3s are created equal and it depends a lot on their bit rate or maybe even differences in encoding.

I like jumpers.

Reply 11 of 15, by Gmlb256

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Cuttoon wrote on 2022-05-10, 14:21:

Apart from so many other factors, I'd say that not all MP3s are created equal and it depends a lot on their bit rate or maybe even differences in encoding.

Indeed, there is more CPU usage when decoding a MP3 file that has a high bit rate.

Some versions of WinAmp uses an integer-based MP3 decoder which should be friendly on 486 CPUs. However, it is better with a higher clocked 486 or Pentium CPU.

Reply 12 of 15, by mkarcher

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kenan83 wrote on 2022-05-10, 13:56:

Interestingly, the topbench test program shows 22 mhz, while other programs show cpu mhz speed at 66 mhz.

The screenshot doesn't show Topbench, it show Speedsys. Speedsys (at least the version bundled in Phil's "dosbench" suite) is known to misreport the clock on Cyrix 486 processors. You have to multiply the value by three to obtain the actual clock rate. So 21 or 22MHz is the usual value displayed on Cx486DX2-66 processors. Similarly, on Cx486DX2-80 processors, Speedsys indicates 27MHz. That's nothing to worry about.

kenan83 wrote on 2022-05-10, 13:56:

At that time, I could listen to music comfortably from winamp without getting stuck.

A 66MHz 486 is extremely borderline for decoding MP3 files at the full 44kHz stereo rate. Conventional wisdom is that for full-rate MP3 decoding, a 100MHz 486 processor is recommended. Keep in mind that the Cx486 core is different from the Intel core. If you have an MP3 decoder optimized to the last bit for the Intel core, you can expect a performance loss of 5 to 10 percent if you run it on a Cyrix processor. I wouldn't be surprised if that makes the difference between: "MP3 decoding works if WinAMP is elevated to realtime priority" and "MP3 decoding just doesn't work". If you want MP3 playback with that processor, you should check whether you can limit decoding to mono or 22kHz. As that's only half the data to synthesize, the Cx486DX2-66 should be fine with it.

Reply 13 of 15, by kenan83

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mkarcher wrote on 2022-05-10, 18:15:
The screenshot doesn't show Topbench, it show Speedsys. Speedsys (at least the version bundled in Phil's "dosbench" suite) is kn […]
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kenan83 wrote on 2022-05-10, 13:56:

Interestingly, the topbench test program shows 22 mhz, while other programs show cpu mhz speed at 66 mhz.

The screenshot doesn't show Topbench, it show Speedsys. Speedsys (at least the version bundled in Phil's "dosbench" suite) is known to misreport the clock on Cyrix 486 processors. You have to multiply the value by three to obtain the actual clock rate. So 21 or 22MHz is the usual value displayed on Cx486DX2-66 processors. Similarly, on Cx486DX2-80 processors, Speedsys indicates 27MHz. That's nothing to worry about.

kenan83 wrote on 2022-05-10, 13:56:

At that time, I could listen to music comfortably from winamp without getting stuck.

A 66MHz 486 is extremely borderline for decoding MP3 files at the full 44kHz stereo rate. Conventional wisdom is that for full-rate MP3 decoding, a 100MHz 486 processor is recommended. Keep in mind that the Cx486 core is different from the Intel core. If you have an MP3 decoder optimized to the last bit for the Intel core, you can expect a performance loss of 5 to 10 percent if you run it on a Cyrix processor. I wouldn't be surprised if that makes the difference between: "MP3 decoding works if WinAMP is elevated to realtime priority" and "MP3 decoding just doesn't work". If you want MP3 playback with that processor, you should check whether you can limit decoding to mono or 22kHz. As that's only half the data to synthesize, the Cx486DX2-66 should be fine with it.

For your suggestion, I changed the winamp settings to mono music and 22 Mhz. Now I can listen without getting stuck. thanks.

Reply 14 of 15, by CoffeeOne

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kenan83 wrote on 2022-05-14, 16:48:
mkarcher wrote on 2022-05-10, 18:15:
The screenshot doesn't show Topbench, it show Speedsys. Speedsys (at least the version bundled in Phil's "dosbench" suite) is kn […]
Show full quote
kenan83 wrote on 2022-05-10, 13:56:

Interestingly, the topbench test program shows 22 mhz, while other programs show cpu mhz speed at 66 mhz.

The screenshot doesn't show Topbench, it show Speedsys. Speedsys (at least the version bundled in Phil's "dosbench" suite) is known to misreport the clock on Cyrix 486 processors. You have to multiply the value by three to obtain the actual clock rate. So 21 or 22MHz is the usual value displayed on Cx486DX2-66 processors. Similarly, on Cx486DX2-80 processors, Speedsys indicates 27MHz. That's nothing to worry about.

kenan83 wrote on 2022-05-10, 13:56:

At that time, I could listen to music comfortably from winamp without getting stuck.

A 66MHz 486 is extremely borderline for decoding MP3 files at the full 44kHz stereo rate. Conventional wisdom is that for full-rate MP3 decoding, a 100MHz 486 processor is recommended. Keep in mind that the Cx486 core is different from the Intel core. If you have an MP3 decoder optimized to the last bit for the Intel core, you can expect a performance loss of 5 to 10 percent if you run it on a Cyrix processor. I wouldn't be surprised if that makes the difference between: "MP3 decoding works if WinAMP is elevated to realtime priority" and "MP3 decoding just doesn't work". If you want MP3 playback with that processor, you should check whether you can limit decoding to mono or 22kHz. As that's only half the data to synthesize, the Cx486DX2-66 should be fine with it.

For your suggestion, I changed the winamp settings to mono music and 22 Mhz. Now I can listen without getting stuck. thanks.

Nothing personal, but please write what you are doing next time.
Your initial message was:
" ..... The card works fine, but it doesn't seem to be enough for win95."
In the end you wanted to play mp3 files.

Reply 15 of 15, by Azarien

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mkarcher wrote on 2022-05-10, 18:15:

A 66MHz 486 is extremely borderline for decoding MP3 files at the full 44kHz stereo rate. Conventional wisdom is that for full-rate MP3 decoding, a 100MHz 486 processor is recommended.

I don't think it's enough. I was able to play mp3s at mono 44 kHz *or* stereo 22 kHz, but not stereo 44 kHz.
Using Winamp, Windows 95, 486 DX4 100 MHz, AWE64.

The next closest thing I tried was Pentium 166MMX, (I've never had a non-MMX Pentium) and there was no issue of course.