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Fastest PCI graphics card in a 486

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First post, by feipoa

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I am curious, what is the least old and fastest PCI graphics card you guys have been able to get working in a socket 3 486? Is the core speed allowed to exceed the processor speed?

The most modern PCI graphics card I can get working in my PCI-based 486's is a Matrox Millinnium G200 w/16MB SDRAM.

I have tried several others but was unable to get an image from the monitor. These have been,
1. nVidia Riva TNT2 16MB
2. Matrox G450 32MB (these may only work with Intel MB chipsets)
3. nVidia GeForce6200 512MB

Anyone have success with a Voodoo3?

EDIT: This topic has been concluded in another thread, Modern graphics on a 486

Last edited by feipoa on 2014-05-22, 08:37. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 1 of 31, by sliderider

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In a 486 machine the CPU will be the limiting factor with any PCI video card and 3D with a 486 is pretty much a hopeless cause. If you have a PCI sound card, it makes things that much worse because you may end up with IRQ conflicts and noise on the PCI bus. A 486 can't do the geometry calculations fast enough to feed a 3D card. Even a first generation ATi Rage (Mach64 GT) would probably be too much and that's about the slowest 3D card you can find. Your Matrox Millenium might work but it sure isn't running at full speed paired with a 486 because it's still overpowered for the CPU.

Reply 2 of 31, by feipoa

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I ask because my Diamond Stealth 64 VLB (4MB) receives a significantly higher pcpbench score over my Matrox Millennium G200 PCI (16MB) card at a 40 Mhz fsb and a Cyrix 5x86 -120 cpu.

PcpBench:
Diamond Stealth 64 VLB score was 9.7
Matrox Millennium G200 PCI score was 7.6

PcChips M919 motherboard with 256 KB Cache and 128 MB FPM RAM. If it is not the Diamond card itself that is better at 3D, then the M919 may be playing some tricks with the PCI FSB that are not in the user-side of the BIOS.

That in mind, I'd like to re-inquire about PCI graphics cards in 486 motherboards. Does anyone have a variety of VLB and PCI graphics cards that they have tested in the same PCI/VLB-based 486 motherboard? If so, can you post the PcpBench results.

FYI, Diamond Stealth 64 VLB scores 10.7 with an AMD x5-160 Mhz.

Reply 3 of 31, by leileilol

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i'd just leave an s3 Trio 64v+ in. A Voodoo2 can bring a bit of reasonable performance for a 486 on most earlier games, if you head in the 1996-1998 3d game timeframe for those you should be OK with s3 + v2. 1999 games and after will suck.

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Reply 4 of 31, by Tetrium

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leileilol wrote:

i'd just leave an s3 Trio 64v+ in. A Voodoo2 can bring a bit of reasonable performance for a 486 on most earlier games, if you head in the 1996-1998 3d game timeframe for those you should be OK with s3 + v2. 1999 games and after will suck.

I think you're being conservative here hehe 😉

Anyway, I guess the S3 Virge would be just fine for a 486. If you want faster Windows acceleration, perhaps some low-end 16MB graphics card 'could' work?

I have a couple spare TNT2 M64's (64 bit versions of TNT2, performance roughly comparable to TNT) 16MB PCI cards, perhaps it's 2D performance might help speed up Windows browsing?

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Reply 5 of 31, by sliderider

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Tetrium wrote:
I think you're being conservative here hehe ;) […]
Show full quote
leileilol wrote:

i'd just leave an s3 Trio 64v+ in. A Voodoo2 can bring a bit of reasonable performance for a 486 on most earlier games, if you head in the 1996-1998 3d game timeframe for those you should be OK with s3 + v2. 1999 games and after will suck.

I think you're being conservative here hehe 😉

Anyway, I guess the S3 Virge would be just fine for a 486. If you want faster Windows acceleration, perhaps some low-end 16MB graphics card 'could' work?

I have a couple spare TNT2 M64's (64 bit versions of TNT2, performance roughly comparable to TNT) 16MB PCI cards, perhaps it's 2D performance might help speed up Windows browsing?

How fast does Windows acceleration need to be with a 486? I also think 16mb is a bit overkill. 4mb would likely be more than enough. How much resolution and color depth can a 486 handle that it needs 16mb of memory?

Reply 6 of 31, by Tetrium

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sliderider wrote:
Tetrium wrote:
I think you're being conservative here hehe ;) […]
Show full quote
leileilol wrote:

i'd just leave an s3 Trio 64v+ in. A Voodoo2 can bring a bit of reasonable performance for a 486 on most earlier games, if you head in the 1996-1998 3d game timeframe for those you should be OK with s3 + v2. 1999 games and after will suck.

I think you're being conservative here hehe 😉

Anyway, I guess the S3 Virge would be just fine for a 486. If you want faster Windows acceleration, perhaps some low-end 16MB graphics card 'could' work?

I have a couple spare TNT2 M64's (64 bit versions of TNT2, performance roughly comparable to TNT) 16MB PCI cards, perhaps it's 2D performance might help speed up Windows browsing?

How fast does Windows acceleration need to be with a 486? I also think 16mb is a bit overkill. 4mb would likely be more than enough. How much resolution and color depth can a 486 handle that it needs 16mb of memory?

Don't know, but I like the idea of it being optional 😜

Last edited by Tetrium on 2011-03-11, 11:47. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 8 of 31, by swaaye

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You can use just about anything. I used a Voodoo3 once and it worked fine but I had to use older drivers because newer releases would crash (probably want Pentium instructions).

But like others have said a Trio64 will already be faster than any 486 can take advantage of. S3 chips also offer the best compatibility with DOS games.

Reply 10 of 31, by feipoa

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The M919 that I bought new at a computer store in 1997 did not come with the cache module. However, I later found the cache module on eBay in about 2000. It was hard to distinguish them between the Pentium-based COAST modules, which will not work in an M919. The auctions still call them COAST modules though. 10 years ago, I also found an M919 on eBay which had the cache module in it already, so now I have two M919's with 256kb cache.

The M919 was probably one of, if not the last, consumer-based 486 motherboard out there. Mine has a June 1996 BIOS date. It is packed with BIOS features, and from my experience, has been very difficult to get it to crash. If you don't have the 256 KB cache though, its not so good. If you set the cache to write-back, CTCM7 reports 32 MB of the RAM is cacheable, but if you set it to write-thru, CTCM7 reports the full 128MB ram as cacheable (as opposed to 64MB, which is what I had expected). There are probably some extra bits in the tag-ram allowing for this, or some special cacheing technique from the memory controller.

I've run the M919 with 256 MB of RAM, but it cannot address all of it, it seems. MemTest 4.0 will give errors eventually, but the system is bootable and it will count all 256mb at boot.

I haven't had much luck with a Diamond Stealth 64 VRAM VLB in the M919 when booting into Windows. It eventually crashes, so I use PCI graphics cards, and this is the long store that drove me to post forum heading.

I am using 1280x1024 resolution at 32-bits, which requires, according to Matrox, at least 8MB of RAM. The core speed of the G200 is about 84-90 Mhz, memory speed is 112-120 Mhz, and RAMDAC is 250 Mhz. Would implementing a graphics card with specifications higher than these show any improvement in video imagery and the speed at which a webpage containing graphics loads into memory? What about routine office use? I chose the G200 for its reputation in crystal clear 2D imagery, which I can vouch for. However, is there something else out there that might show more improvement and will work in a 486 PCI 2.1 compliant system?

Reply 12 of 31, by leileilol

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feipoa wrote:

If you don't have the 256 KB cache though, its not so good.

I disagree. My cacheless M919 was one of the faster results on a benchmark thread here and was removed for being overclocked (160MHz clock). Still, 71.4 on 3dbench isn't so bad... if I wanted more speed or power I wouldn't even bother with the cache or adding ram at this point. i'd step to the next generation for that. The M919 is unstable if you go farther than this

fyi, it had an s3 Trio 64v+ 1mb PCI. 😀

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Reply 13 of 31, by sliderider

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Menkau_ra wrote:

Tseng Labs ET6100 would be the best.

I've got one of those. 😁

feipoa wrote:
The M919 that I bought new at a computer store in 1997 did not come with the cache module. However, I later found the cache mod […]
Show full quote

The M919 that I bought new at a computer store in 1997 did not come with the cache module. However, I later found the cache module on eBay in about 2000. It was hard to distinguish them between the Pentium-based COAST modules, which will not work in an M919. The auctions still call them COAST modules though. 10 years ago, I also found an M919 on eBay which had the cache module in it already, so now I have two M919's with 256kb cache.

The M919 was probably one of, if not the last, consumer-based 486 motherboard out there. Mine has a June 1996 BIOS date. It is packed with BIOS features, and from my experience, has been very difficult to get it to crash. If you don't have the 256 KB cache though, its not so good. If you set the cache to write-back, CTCM7 reports 32 MB of the RAM is cacheable, but if you set it to write-thru, CTCM7 reports the full 128MB ram as cacheable (as opposed to 64MB, which is what I had expected). There are probably some extra bits in the tag-ram allowing for this, or some special cacheing technique from the memory controller.

I've run the M919 with 256 MB of RAM, but it cannot address all of it, it seems. MemTest 4.0 will give errors eventually, but the system is bootable and it will count all 256mb at boot.

I haven't had much luck with a Diamond Stealth 64 VRAM VLB in the M919 when booting into Windows. It eventually crashes, so I use PCI graphics cards, and this is the long store that drove me to post forum heading.

I am using 1280x1024 resolution at 32-bits, which requires, according to Matrox, at least 8MB of RAM. The core speed of the G200 is about 84-90 Mhz, memory speed is 112-120 Mhz, and RAMDAC is 250 Mhz. Would implementing a graphics card with specifications higher than these show any improvement in video imagery and the speed at which a webpage containing graphics loads into memory? What about routine office use? I chose the G200 for its reputation in crystal clear 2D imagery, which I can vouch for. However, is there something else out there that might show more improvement and will work in a 486 PCI 2.1 compliant system?

Could you post any part numbers that may be on the cache module that would make finding one easier? I have an M919 and need a cache module.

Reply 14 of 31, by BastlerMike

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That is how they look... on the backside of the lower one it reads 'Elpina'.

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Reply 16 of 31, by BastlerMike

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To me they look not like fake. I could never test it. Once I had a M919 without the stick... i sold the board. Later I got a cache stick, but I no longer had a board... so I discarded the stick 😢

Reply 17 of 31, by feipoa

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I noticed significant speed improvement with everyday office tasks when I inserted the 256 KB cache module. It was a real eye opener for me. I'd never want to use this board without cache again.

Surprisingly, I've found some of the cache modules work better than others. On some of them, they sometimes fail to report at POST. The image of the one I am including always shows at POST, cachechk and Speedsys both recognise it.

I use this M919 with 128 MB EDO ram on the fastest cache settings (2-1-1-1) and fastest RAM waits (0 WS). I can also turn on all Cyrix 5x86 enhancements (minus BP), which makes a big difference as I've noted in a previous post.

Versions prior to 3.4 may not be so good.

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Reply 18 of 31, by feipoa

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Regro Games, regarding that post, I think you have a winner. Try setting the L2 to Write-Back, power down, remove cache, power up, power down, reinsert cache, power up, resave BIOS such that L2: Write Back and check Cachechk and Speedsys again.

With my other cache module (the more flakey one), this is what I did and it worked.

If you have a Diamond Stealth 64 VRAM VLB card, can you try it in your M919 and boot into windows and see if you can get the driver working in Windows? I can only seem to use mine in DOS.

Reply 19 of 31, by retro games 100

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feipoa, this is very interesting. Thanks a lot for the tip. I'll make a concerted effort to locate my M919, and retest it. Regarding your uploaded photo: it's exactly the same module I have!