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Compaq Presario 433, my 486 pure DOS machine

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Reply 20 of 86, by gdjacobs

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jheronimus wrote:

Damn those SCSI drives are expensive. I mean, since I have all the necessary components it would be about 10 times cheaper to get a Presario CDS — in case I REALLY need CD.

The thought had occurred to me. You kind-of chose a really difficult chassis to work with, there.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 21 of 86, by jheronimus

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gdjacobs wrote:
jheronimus wrote:

Damn those SCSI drives are expensive. I mean, since I have all the necessary components it would be about 10 times cheaper to get a Presario CDS — in case I REALLY need CD.

The thought had occurred to me. You kind-of chose a really difficult chassis to work with, there.

Honestly, I did not expect that this machine would be THAT much fun. I bought it to play games that were released on floppies, but now I'd like to play as many titles on it as possible.

Pure DOS turned out to be IMMENSELY better than Win9x as a gaming platform — stable, fast, predictable and easy to understand. Now I understand why DOS only died as a gaming platform in late 90s.

Reply 22 of 86, by lolo799

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PeterLI wrote:

LPT CD-ROM will be relatively slow BTW. Ironically LPT CD-ROMs are usually SCSI CD-ROMs with a LPT interface.

Backpack is a known brand for these devices. Example:
http://cgi.ebay.com/151967106849

I have a LPT enclosure for IDE drives that works with CD-ROM or HDD
The bandwith is around 930kb/s on the laptop I use it with, not that great.

PCMCIA Sound, Storage & Graphics

Reply 23 of 86, by jheronimus

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lolo799 wrote:
PeterLI wrote:

LPT CD-ROM will be relatively slow BTW. Ironically LPT CD-ROMs are usually SCSI CD-ROMs with a LPT interface.

Backpack is a known brand for these devices. Example:
http://cgi.ebay.com/151967106849

I have a LPT enclosure for IDE drives that works with CD-ROM or HDD
The bandwith is around 930kb/s on the laptop I use it with, not that great.

It's obviously awful for data transfer. Is that enough to play The Dig or Gabriel Knight?

Reply 27 of 86, by idspispopd

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Considering single speed for CD-ROM is 150kB/sec, 930kB/sec is about 6x speed. Many of those old games specify a certain speed in the requirements.

Reply 29 of 86, by Malvineous

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Slightly off-topic: why are LPT CD drives not practical with ECP and require EPP? My understanding was that EPP is bidirectional but with no hardware acceleration, and ECP is the same but with DMA to minimise CPU usage. So to me ECP would be the better option as it has lower CPU usage.

Reply 30 of 86, by gdjacobs

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It was me being confused. ECP will work as well. Earlier modes will not.

Is this good news?

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 31 of 86, by jheronimus

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gdjacobs wrote:

It was me being confused. ECP will work as well. Earlier modes will not.

Is this good news?

I googled that briefly and got under the impression that ECP will be too slow to be useable in games, but I can't find the prooflink anymore. Is that true?

Reply 32 of 86, by gdjacobs

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As you mentioned, ECP is similar in speed to EPP with less CPU load due to DMA. By the book, EPP and ECP can push 2 MB/s and 2.5 MB/s respectively. Micro Solutions quotes 1.2 MB/s for their USB/Parallel combo DVD drive.

That's equivalent to the peak rate on an 8x CD-ROM drive. This was around the time CD-ROM speeds started to become meaningless (like Dragonball power levels), so I think you'll be fine.

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 33 of 86, by Yushatak

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I've been obsessed with these Compaq All-In-Ones for years now, and my main DOS box is a kitted-out Presario 425.

Specs:
Pentium Overdrive CPU (yes it works even without the extra pins of a socket 3)
20MB RAM (I'd love to bypass this limitation by some means for good Win95 performance someday)
Sound Blaster 16 Value
ISA<->PCMCIA adapter w/ Cisco Aironet 350 802.11b card (works in DOS w/ packet driver, has Win3x drivers, Win9x drivers, etc. - I use Aironet cards on any older retro machine so I can avoid network cabling)

I don't remember how big the HDD is, but I've had upward of a 750GB IDE drive in there in the past. I use drive overlay software to get bigger disks to work (OnTrack is the best IMO, but there are a few choices).

I use a Tandy MMS-10 speaker which is almost exactly the same size as the machine itself in width and as such looks flawless under it.
See here (http://imgur.com/jph5vmm)

I've been inactive on here for ages but I'm gonna try to pick up on activity, so shoot me a message if you want any assistance with that line of machines since I know almost everything about them (or knew, assuming I can remember it all from a while back) and have a copy of the original manual for the series as well.

Last edited by Yushatak on 2016-04-23, 14:02. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 34 of 86, by jheronimus

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@ Yushanak

Really cool! Hell yeah I have questions! =)

1) What kind of Pentium Overdrive are you using? I've never looked at those chips seriously, but how well/fast does it work on your machine? What kind of games can your run with your Overdrive that I can't with a 486DX2@66?

I'm feeling that lack of L2 cache is really hurting my performance so getting an Overdrive might be a good idea.

2) What kind of RAM are you using? I feel like I've tried a bunch of RAM but could still only get it to work with 16 MB (i.e. 4MB onboard + 4MB + 8MB).

Here's what I tried and couldn't get to work:

2016-04-23 16.51.56.jpg
Filename
2016-04-23 16.51.56.jpg
File size
2.32 MiB
Views
936 views
File license
Fair use/fair dealing exception

As far as I understand, this machine doesn't take EDO RAM. So everything on the left column doesn't work. On the right column there are two pairs of 8MB chips (starting from the bottom): I could only get the system to work with one 8MB stick. What specs should the RAM meet?

3) How do you deal with the lack of a CD-ROM?

4) I don't suppose you have scanned the manual, did you? =)

Reply 35 of 86, by Yushatak

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Hadn't really intended to pull it apart and check things, but with that level of enthusiasm how can I not? 😁

1. POD @ 83Mhz - If memory serves it helps Quake run playably. Pretty much everything you'd want to run on this machine will run with any higher-end 486 chip, and most will run fine with a DX2/66, but I love esoteric stuff and maxing out machines with strict limitations (like this one). I think pretty much everything else that I threw at it either ran fine without the floating point boost of the POD or else wouldn't run even with it. However, I suppose if you were feeling particularly psychotic you could try to install XP with a POD in there.. 😜

2. No damn clue, really. I tested dozens of SIMMs at one point and labeled them with their capacity if they weren't already, so I just found two with 8MB that the machine was happy with. One is marked, so you could hunt that down, but the other is not.

3. Mostly I network transferred things. I set up an FTP server under DOS and FTP'd things over to it from my modern machine, and at one point I shared on WFW3.11 and accessed the shares on a modern box. That said, no reason you can't hook up parallel port SCSI (which I have, just need a terminator to get here in the mail so I can hook up an optical drive). I also own a lot of weird media like ZIP100 and LS-120 stuff with external parallel port drives so I can use that too for transfer. Worth noting that nothing *needs* a CD-ROM really if you're willing to crack it, but you will lose out on CD audio on certain titles. I played through a pirated copy of the DIG on this box with no CD-ROM drive and it was great.

4. I have not. At one point I also had the spec sheet for the chipset that I'd hunted down, not sure where that got to though (was a PDF) - should still have it, but my HDDs are terribly unorganized. The manual covers some interesting things (diagnostic codes, etc.) but doesn't detail potential memory for the system - which is odd, I'd expect it to at least mention the requirements but nope. It's the "Maintenance & Service Guide", by the way.

The HDD I have in there is 120GB - I probably switched to that because I suspected that while it reported fine, the 750GB disk may have been not actually fully usable - that or I just wanted to use it in my 300Mhz Pentium box (where it currently resides).

Pictures of RAM, insides, CPU, and outside: http://imgur.com/a/p5OSU

Reply 36 of 86, by Half-Saint

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Why not use a sound card with IDE interface?

You could route the cables out of the case and use a normal CD-ROM as an external one. I actually did that once in the late 90's and it worked just fine although it did look a bit ugly 😀

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Reply 37 of 86, by Kamerat

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jheronimus wrote:

Here is the error I get from Doom 2. Note that for that I disabled ESS by editing autoexec.bat (the ESSCFG and SET BLASTER lines). So I don't have any other devices and IRQs are only occupied by integrated parts at this point.

You can try using the DOS32A DOS extender instead of DOS/4GW.

http://dos32a.narechk.net/index_en.html

DOS Sound Blaster compatibility: PCI sound cards vs. PCI chipsets
YouTube channel

Reply 38 of 86, by jheronimus

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Kamerat wrote:
jheronimus wrote:

Here is the error I get from Doom 2. Note that for that I disabled ESS by editing autoexec.bat (the ESSCFG and SET BLASTER lines). So I don't have any other devices and IRQs are only occupied by integrated parts at this point.

You can try using the DOS32A DOS extender instead of DOS/4GW.

http://dos32a.narechk.net/index_en.html

Turned out to be a RAM issue. Eveything runs well since I've installed different RAM. No idea what was wrong with the old sticks though.

Reply 39 of 86, by jheronimus

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Half-Saint wrote:

Why not use a sound card with IDE interface?

You could route the cables out of the case and use a normal CD-ROM as an external one. I actually did that once in the late 90's and it worked just fine although it did look a bit ugly 😀

Tried that, it didn't work for some reason. Not to mention that I had to route three cables (IDE, power, audio) out of the case through the empty ISA slot. That's beyond ugly, so I didn't even bother figuring the software issue out.