VOGONS


First post, by EcoPeeko

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Heyo, new here.

My uncle owns a PC repair shop. I wanted to try restoring an oId computer, so I asked him if he had anything laying around. There wasn’t much—he tosses most of the old stuff—but I came away with a free Compaq Presario 433 and Dell OptiPlex XL 590.

The Compaq works fine but has a blank hard drive with no OS. I assume I need to get a copy of Windows (I want to say 95?) and find a way to load it. Any recommendations on how to do that? One person I talked to recommended I buy an original installation CD for like $5 and an IDE-to-USB adapter for like $20. Then I’d plug them into my other PC and tell the CD to load onto the hard drive, I guess.

The Dell seems alright just looking at it, but it won’t post. My uncle guessed that maybe the power supply fried and gave me an extra that he had laying around, but I haven’t had a chance to really dig into it yet so who knows.

I was also wondering if anyone could tell me more about these two. Honestly I don’t even know what questions to ask. Are they “good” PCs for their time? Are there any upgrades I should look out for? Any other fun facts?

I’ve built a PC before so I have basic knowledge at least, but these two are literally older than me, so I’m feeling a bit out of my element.

Anything you know that can help me get them going again would be a great help. Thanks.

Last edited by EcoPeeko on 2020-06-09, 17:03. Edited 2 times in total.

Reply 1 of 13, by Horun

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EcoPeeko wrote on 2020-03-14, 17:01:
Heyo, new here. […]
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Heyo, new here.

My uncle owns a PC repair shop. I wanted to try restoring an oId computer, so I asked him if he had anything laying around. There wasn’t much—he tosses most of the old stuff—but I came away with a free Compaq Presario 433 and Dell OptiPlex XL 590.

The Compaq works fine but has a blank hard drive with no OS. I assume I need to get a copy of Windows (I want to say 95?) and find a way to load it. Any recommendations on how to do that? One person I talked to recommended I buy an original installation CD for like $5 and an IDE-to-USB adapter for like $20. Then I’d plug them into my other PC and tell the CD to load onto the hard drive, I guess.

The Dell seems alright just looking at it, but it won’t post. My uncle guessed that maybe the power supply fried and gave me an extra that he had laying around, but I haven’t had a chance to really dig into it yet so who knows.

I was also wondering if anyone could tell me more about these two. Honestly I don’t even know what questions to ask. Are they “good” PCs for their time? Are there any upgrades I should look out for? Any other fun facts?

I’ve built a PC before so I have basic knowledge at least, but these two are literally older than me, so I’m feeling a bit out of my element.

Anything you know that can help me get them going again would be a great help. Thanks.

Compaq Presario 433 "all-in-one" is a 486 based machine and designed to run DOS and Windows 3.1, not Windows 95. You want those on floppy disks.
Is this your '433 ? http://eintr.net/systems/compaq/presario433/index.html

Dell OptiPlex XL 590 is a Pentium based machine and designed to run DOS/Win3.1 or Windows 95.
https://www.cnet.com/products/32mb-dell-optip … p60-75-90-5100/
https://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/D/D … LEX-XL-575.html

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 2 of 13, by gdjacobs

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I have a soft spot for integrated PCs like the PS/2 Model 25 and Compaq's AIOs. Your 433 only has basic access to CMOS setup, but Compaq provided a utility to install on the HDD giving you more extended configuration options. Vogons Drivers has the utility archive for the CDS520. It should do the job for you.
http://www.vogonsdrivers.com/getfile.php?file … &menustate=52,0

All hail the Great Capacitor Brand Finder

Reply 3 of 13, by EcoPeeko

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Horun wrote on 2020-03-14, 22:58:
Compaq Presario 433 "all-in-one" is a 486 based machine and designed to run DOS and Windows 3.1, not Windows 95. You want those […]
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Compaq Presario 433 "all-in-one" is a 486 based machine and designed to run DOS and Windows 3.1, not Windows 95. You want those on floppy disks.
Is this your '433 ? http://eintr.net/systems/compaq/presario433/index.html

Dell OptiPlex XL 590 is a Pentium based machine and designed to run DOS/Win3.1 or Windows 95.
https://www.cnet.com/products/32mb-dell-optip … p60-75-90-5100/
https://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/D/D … LEX-XL-575.html

Yes, that Compaq you linked is the same one. I did read somewhere that it came with Windows 3.1 preinstalled, but I wasn’t sure since mine didn’t have any OS.

I looked up the recommended specs for Windows 95 earlier. The Compaq seemed like it met the requirements. Maybe a RAM upgrade would help speed it up if it’s slow. That sounds easy enough to install—just buy two compatible 8 MB sticks and slot them in the connectors, right? I read that the Compaq came out in 1994, so it doesn’t seem like a huge stretch unless I’m mistaken about something.

I was hoping the Dell might be able to run Windows 98, but I guess it’s not a big deal either way. Looking at the minimum specs for Windows 98, it seems the only place the Dell falls short is CPU clock speed. Maybe that’s upgradeable too. I dunno. Again I’ve been focusing on the Compaq first since it seems easier to tackle. Just thinking out loud.

Reply 4 of 13, by dionb

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EcoPeeko wrote on 2020-03-15, 03:52:

[...]

Yes, that Compaq you linked is the same one. I did read somewhere that it came with Windows 3.1 preinstalled, but I wasn’t sure since mine didn’t have any OS.

I looked up the recommended specs for Windows 95 earlier. The Compaq seemed like it met the requirements. Maybe a RAM upgrade would help speed it up if it’s slow. That sounds easy enough to install—just buy two compatible 8 MB sticks and slot them in the connectors, right? I read that the Compaq came out in 1994, so it doesn’t seem like a huge stretch unless I’m mistaken about something.

There's running and 'running'. Windows 95 will run on a 486DX-33 with 4MB RAM. I know, when I was at university in the late 1990s I frequently had to use those systems. Even with the - low - expectations of the day, it was terrible. With a RAM upgrade to 16MB at least the disks stopped thrashing all the time, but an early 486 is going to be sloooooooow in Windows 95 regardless. An early 486 is a great DOS system and can run Windows 3.1 accepaibly, but only do Windows 95 if you're a masochist.

I was hoping the Dell might be able to run Windows 98, but I guess it’s not a big deal either way. Looking at the minimum specs for Windows 98, it seems the only place the Dell falls short is CPU clock speed. Maybe that’s upgradeable too. I dunno. Again I’ve been focusing on the Compaq first since it seems easier to tackle. Just thinking out loud.

Same thing here. You could get Win98SE to run on this beast, but it would not be a pleasant experience. There's a reason people building retro systems tend to choose P4 or Athlon, or at least P3 builds for Windows 98. Even if the OS would run, most software you'd want to run with it wants a much beefier system. I'd consider P90 as a bit on the slow side for a Windows 95 build, let alone Windows 98.

Just for reference, my Windows 98 build runs on a P3-1400S with 512MB RAM. That's sort of overkill, but even back in the day the first Win98SE system I was happy with was a Celeron 433 with 64MB RAM (and I upgraded that to 128MB as soon as I could afford it). My late DOS build is a K6-2 350 with 64BM RAM. I also have an early DOS build based on an UMC Green CPU U5S-33, broadly comparable to a 486SX-33 with turbo button to reduce speed further, for speed-sensitive applications. Your Presario matches that one quite nicely. I'd use the Dell for late DOS stuff tbh, not any Wind9x, although with >24MB RAM it could run Windows 95 acceptably.

Last edited by dionb on 2020-03-15, 10:21. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 5 of 13, by PTherapist

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The 486 (assuming sufficient RAM) WILL run Windows 95, it's just that many people around here will always suggest they're not capable as they see them as just DOS or Win 3x machines. Personally I've always ran Windows 95 on a 486 and never had issues with it, but a 486 is not ideal for any Windows-based gaming. Using Win 95 as a GUI for launching DOS games should suffice, plus any non-gaming Windows software of the era should run fine.

The Dell will indeed run Windows 95/98/98SE/ME, assuming sufficent RAM. If the board is a Socket 5 (I'm guessing based on the system specs), it does limit you somewhat with how fast you can go. Intel-wise, a Pentium 133MHz is usually where it tops out. There are some other non-Intel CPUs that offer faster clock speeds, but perform about the same as the P133 anyway.

Reply 6 of 13, by dionb

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PTherapist wrote on 2020-03-15, 10:20:

The 486 (assuming sufficient RAM) WILL run Windows 95, it's just that many people around here will always suggest they're not capable as they see them as just DOS or Win 3x machines. Personally I've always ran Windows 95 on a 486 and never had issues with it, but a 486 is not ideal for any Windows-based gaming. Using Win 95 as a GUI for launching DOS games should suffice, plus any non-gaming Windows software of the era should run fine.

Why on earth use Win9x as a launcher for DOS games? It just adds more complexity in configuration and much slower boot times. Non-gaming software would generally run fine on Win3.1, so I'd suggest doing it the other way round: boot DOS, if you even need non-gaming stuff, run Windows.

The Dell will indeed run Windows 95/98/98SE/ME, assuming sufficent RAM. If the board is a Socket 5 (I'm guessing based on the system specs), it does limit you somewhat with how fast you can go. Intel-wise, a Pentium 133MHz is usually where it tops out. There are some other non-Intel CPUs that offer faster clock speeds, but perform about the same as the P133 anyway.

It would even run Windows 2000 and XP if you upgraded to 64MB RAM. Doesn't make it a good idea though...

The only difference between So5 and So7 is the presence of the second multiplier line, BF1, allowing 2.5x and 3x multipliers. A simple hack is to connect the BF1 pin to anything at Vss/GND level. That will give you those higher multipliers letting you run a P166 or P200.

But that just increases CPU clock, it doesn't do anything about the slow chipset (i430NX most likely) and asynch cache. It's great for running Win3.1 and adequate for Windows 95 or OS/2 Warp3, assuming at least 16MB and preferably >=24MB RAM.

Reply 7 of 13, by Horun

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dionb wrote on 2020-03-15, 10:40:

It would even run Windows 2000 and XP if you upgraded to 64MB RAM. Doesn't make it a good idea though...

Ouch 🤣 ! Yes ! Not a good idea 😁

Hate posting a reply and have to edit it because it made no sense 😁 First computer was an IBM 3270 workstation with CGA monitor. 🤣 Second computer a 286 12Mhz with real IDE drive ! After that came 386, 486, Pentium, P.Pro and everything after....

Reply 8 of 13, by PTherapist

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dionb wrote on 2020-03-15, 10:40:

It would even run Windows 2000 and XP if you upgraded to 64MB RAM. Doesn't make it a good idea though...

Totally different league there, 98 will run acceptably on such a system whilst 2000 and certainly XP would not! I never saw a Pentium back in the day where people ran just DOS & Windows 3.1 and most people did not stick with 95 once 98 SE was out. 98 runs perfectly fine on a Pentium, you don't need a PII or PIII just for 98 that is ludicrous!

My first Pentium PC was a non-MMX 100MHz system and ran 98 just fine with 40MB RAM. I upgraded the CPU to the equivalent of a P133 at one stage and was running Windows games on this PC from the late 1990s.

Reply 9 of 13, by RacoonRider

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If you are planning to use Windows, you might want to ask your uncle for some spare RAM (within cacheable limit) and a newer IDE hard drive, something in 10...20 Gb range. The HDD will change your experience a lot, not only by providing all the extra space but mainly decreasing loading/swapping time and generally speeding up the system.

When I get my hands on a mid-90s PC with authentic HDD it always makes my eyes water. That poor thing tries so hard to do simple stuff like opening the start menu...

Reply 10 of 13, by Anonymous Coward

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PTherapist wrote on 2020-03-15, 15:21:

I never saw a Pentium back in the day where people ran just DOS & Windows 3.1...

Windows 95 didn't come out until the end of August 1995, so most people wouldn't have got it until after Christmas, that means Pentiums were around for almost 3 years before Windows 95 was a thing.

"Will the highways on the internets become more few?" -Gee Dubya
V'Ger XT|Upgraded AT|Ultimate 386|Super VL/EISA 486|SMP VL/EISA Pentium

Reply 11 of 13, by PTherapist

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Anonymous Coward wrote on 2020-03-15, 16:10:
PTherapist wrote on 2020-03-15, 15:21:

I never saw a Pentium back in the day where people ran just DOS & Windows 3.1...

Windows 95 didn't come out until the end of August 1995, so most people wouldn't have got it until after Christmas, that means Pentiums were around for almost 3 years before Windows 95 was a thing.

Perhaps to clarify I should point out that most people here where I live wouldn't have been able to afford a Pentium PC at the time they first came out. In the mid-1990s even 486 PCs weren't all that common here. By the time Pentium PCs became affordable, people had been running 95 on them for a while and certainly did stick 98 on them too once that came out. I know I didn't get my first Pentium PC until 1998 (which was quite late, admittedly), hence it coming with 98 installed.

Reply 12 of 13, by dionb

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PTherapist wrote on 2020-03-15, 15:21:

[...]

My first Pentium PC was a non-MMX 100MHz system and ran 98 just fine with 40MB RAM. I upgraded the CPU to the equivalent of a P133 at one stage and was running Windows games on this PC from the late 1990s.

40MB RAM was absolutely huge. My January 1995 Pentium 60 had 8MB of RAM. After a year I wanted an upgrade, so in February 1996 paid the equivalent of EUR 250 (25% of price of whole system a year before!) for 8MB more. My mother bought a P90 around that time that came with 16MB, which was considered high-end, the P100 model also only had 16MB. To upgrade one of these two to 40MB would have cost EUR 1000, or nearly the price of the base system.

RAM prices dropped sharply in late 1996 and early 1997, but even then, by the time 40MB was even remotely mainstream you were talking very late Pentium MMX. Even early Pentium 2 systems were shipped with 32MB (just looked at an advert from PC Mag 16 December 1997 for a NEC P2-300)

So yes, if you bump up RAM on a ~1995 system to 1998-era levels you can run a lot more, but 'Windows games from the late 1990s'? If you add a Voodoo (2) you might get playable frame rates in Quake2, but then you've already upgraded apart from CPU to at least 1997-spec. That might have worked for you, but that's not what OP can expect from his Dell machine with (assumedly) normal 1995-era RAM and no 3D accelerators.

Reply 13 of 13, by chinny22

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As OP is new to this hobby, I'd say Win95 isn't a bad choice for the 486.
Win95 will be slow, I 100% agree with that, but for system management (copying files and the like) the familiar GUI will be nice.
Then boot into dos mode and you basically have a dos PC anyway. Get familiar setting up config.sys/autoexec.bat, installing and running games and the command line in general.

Copying the Win95 folder off the CD onto the hard drive will probably be the easyist way of installing windows.

The Dell is what I'd consider the bottom end of Win9x gaming. Win98 will be ok for system management again but this screams last dos gamming PC in my books.
The Dell's power is AT style so pre dates Dell not using standard PSU pin outs. If your uncle gave you an AT style PSU it should be enough to at the very least see if it powers on. AT PSU's don't need to be installed to work. s if the PSU doesn't turn on when you hit the switch then that PSU is no good either