Here's my current work in progress
I've finally found a nice case for my Pentium VLB, the current specs are:
- Pentium 100;
- Supermicro P54VL-PCI board that has no onboard I/O just like 486 VLB boards, but has 2 VLB slots, 3 ISA and 4 PCI;
- 32MB of FPM RAM;
- Ark Logic 1000VL with 2MB RAM. Voodoo 1 works in this system, but I don't see a lot of use for it because I'm running DOS 6.22/Win3.11;
- Tekram DC-680C with 4MB cache and a 2.5GB Fujitsu drive. The controller's BIOS has been upgraded to support PIO4;
- Turtle Beach Tropez Plus. I like this card — too bad there is no way to use soundfonts in game (or a good choice of soundfonts to begin with). The card is connected to a 4x Mitsumi drive;
- Primax Soundstorm Wave. A GUS Classic clone with a hardware mixer;
- 3COM 3C590 PCI. Essentially an Etherlink III on PCI for better compatibility — I think I couldn't get a regular 3C905 to run on this board.
- a PS/2 controller for ISA.
The board has a locked CPU multiplier (so nothing faster than 100MHz) and the BIOS seems to detect Pentiums (likely because the chipset is a revision of something made to work with 486 chips), so I can't use K5/K6 or even a Pentium MMX Overdrive. If I use a BIOS from a different board, it does work, but not as stable, so I've decided to stick with P-100 and look for a regular Pentium Overdrive or a CPU interposer that provides voltage for regular Pentiums.
As a result the system really feels like a very souped-up 486 (because it is) and you kind of have to tweak a lot of stuff here and there to get an extra 0.1 FPS in Quake 😀 But overall the performance is enough for a lot of games. Quake timedemo demo1 runs at 23.5 FPS or 25.9 FPS if using QDOS sourceport (I don't know why, but it's consistently faster even though I think it only has changes made to netplay/support for DOS packet drivers).
One interesting thing this board has is the turbo functionality that brings the CPU to 4.7MHz (according to SI8). According to the service manual, the turbo functionality was designed to save power rather than provide compatibility (Intel boards tends to run at mid-386 speeds in comparison, which is a lot more useful).
I might switch to a different disk controller, because my Tekram doesn't support ATAPI or have serial ports, so I have to occupy the last ISA slot to have a mouse and I'm kind of forced to use Turtle Beach, because most soundcards I like don't have IDE. I have some cached controllers that at least have a COM port. I also have SCSI controllers for VLB, but they don't seem to work (maybe because I'm running write-back cache).
I absolutely love the case, but it is EXTREMELY cramped. Basically because of the power supply I can't screw the board to the case. Currently it's using plastic stand-offs for support and the cards themselves are being used to hold the whole thing in place — extremely hacky, but I'm not sure what I can do at this point. The Supermicro board is very big, and this is not the only case that gave me issues.
One interesting detail is the indicator panel. Apart from the usual POWER, TURBO and HDD indicators it also has a COMM indicator with a 2-pin connector. Does anybody know what it could be for? I don't think I've seen a network card or a modem with a header like that.