First post, by aitotat
One of my retro systems is above all else. It is this 486 DX4 system.
In spring 2003 I decided I need a DOS computer. I think It was sometime in 2002 when I upgraded my Pentium 3 450 MHz to Athlon XP 1700+. The motherboard on the P3 system, Asus P3B-F, was good for DOS. It had two ISA slots so I could use a Sound Blaster and GUS ACE and CPU could be slowed down enough by disabling caches, although it wasn't very pleasant to go to BIOS setup to do so. But it was doable and later DOS games didn't need any slowdown at all anyway. Even though I used Windows 98, my system always booted to DOS by default. Perhaps only a short time before upgrading the system I changed the default boot menu selection to start Windows. But all the boot menu selections for DOS remained.
But the Athlon motherboard did not have any ISA slots at all, if I remember correctly, so that and fast CPU meant it was no longer for DOS gaming. I had Pentium 120 before the P3 system. I also had to go to BIOS setup to disable L1 since icd and ice (that I had used on my previous DX4 system) did not work with Pentium. And Pentium systems did not have turbo button so I thought it would be best to get a 486 and DX4 system would likely be best for widest range of games. (There are now command line utils to disable Pentium cache so now Pentium would be very good too for old DOS games).
It was a perfect time to get a retro computer. There just happened to be a 486 DX4 system on a computer store where I had many times bought used computer parts. And it was rare because they normally didn't even sell older than Pentium systems anymore. I was very lucky but luck did not stop there. There were, not just Intel but whole lot of treasures inside:
And those it still has inside. It also had Panasonic 4x drive using the Panasonic interface on a Sound Blaster 16. I don't remember the model of the SB16 but it might have been CT2230 or CT2770. I no longer have either. The computer also came with 16 MB of RAM (one 36-bit 70ns SIMM) and a 1 GB Maxtor HDD. The BIOS supports drives up to 8 GB. I still have that HDD and SIMM but they are not in use. Unfortunately I do not have the CD-ROM drive anymore. I wish I had kept it, not for this system though.
This is how the computer looks today.
That is not the original case, however. The original case looks like this (Pinus with orange buttons). I still have the case, as you can see. It is the best AT-case I've had. No sharp edges and quite easy to work with even though it is small. But I didn't like orange and I wanted MHz display. 486 must have one of those.
But lately I've been thinking maybe I should put it back to original case. It is part of the story of this great system. It's been so long since I bought it that it now brings back memories. It cannot be seen on the photo but on the right side of the case there are two small dots without paint. When I bought the computer I carried it to home behind a bicycle and it was a 12 or 13 km ride. So much great memories about finding this DX4 system...
That motherboard is best 486 board ever. I also had PVI-486SP3 for a short while for testing with AMD 5x86-133 but it was not as good. It couldn't be slowed down enough (more on that later). It had 3 ISA, 1 VLB and 3 PCI slots. You would think that is quite good for a 486 but wrong. If you sacrifice VLB for one extra ISA (and believe me, even four ISA slots may not be enough), then you need to use PCI graphics card but those are slower than same controller on a VLB would be (yet, those boards are liked because you can use PCI graphics cards). For some uses the PVI-486SP3 can be great, perhaps even best 486 motherboard. But for me it just took away more than it gave back. It was easy and right choice to keep the Asus 486 VL/I-SV2GX4. I'm sure you agree when you see what is in it now.
Actually... I'll just post the benchmarks here and continue later. There will be much to tell.