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First post, by BobyTheDragon

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Hey there everyone,

Recently I was on a national auction site, Like Ebay but for our country only and managed to score this little fella for $1.50 with the cooler.

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Ive never owned such a component this old. But I want to put the little guy to good use and begin on a project of building a good old 486 pc for some good old dos gaming + maybe some windows 3.11/95
In addition to that, I am only 19 years old. Yet have a major interest and appreciation in old tech (I have a Windows 98 slot 1 build, as well as a Windows XP build that I have built over the covid lockdown). So my knowledge of old pcs is already a bit extensive.

The only requirements I would like to follow is:
- Not too expensive, I do expect to spend a bit of cash. But I don't want to go anything extreme.
- PCI Slot? For possible USB 2.0 use with USB. Though its not the end of the world if I cant use it. The real use would be a trident 2mb video card I have laying around which I think is a good fit for it.
- ATX PSU. Dont really wanna risk anything with an old AT psu. Though I know adapters do work for ATX to AT. Only issue is I wont have a -5 volts (As older ISA Soundblasters use). Apparently I can add something inline however which I can do (I have basic soldering equipment and have soldered before).

I think I would mainly want to know is, Is there anything in particular I should watch out for? Good or bad? Specific motherboards known to have weird compatibility for example.

Reply 1 of 14, by adalbert

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BobyTheDragon wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:14:

I think I would mainly want to know is, Is there anything in particular I should watch out for? Good or bad? Specific motherboards known to have weird compatibility for example.

Check if your motherboard accepts EDO or FPM memory. FPM should work in all motherboards. EDO can be a bit faster, but it doesn't work with all motherboards, for example it doesn't with Zida 4DPS (other than that it is a nice motherboard). It's also nice to have a PS/2 port for mouse.

Also watch out for fake cache chips (4 or 8 long chips with WRITE BACK text, unknown manufacturer, etc.), they can cause drastic performance impact

64MB of memory should be absolute maximum, more can cause performance issues; 32 or 16MB should be fine

Repair videos: https://youtu.be/T6mXM1tA7pA

Reply 2 of 14, by The Serpent Rider

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- Not too expensive, I do expect to spend a bit of cash. But I don't want to go anything extreme.
- PCI Slot? For possible USB 2.0 use with USB. Though its not the end of the world if I cant use it.

LuckyStar LS486-E or Zida 4DPS (PC Partner PCI400-4) motherboards should be good entryway choice. More or less easy to find, both are thoroughly documented and easy to troubleshoot. Some Zida 4DPS revisions had PS/2 mouse connector.

Last edited by The Serpent Rider on 2020-12-02, 23:40. Edited 1 time in total.

Get up, come on get down with the sickness
Open up your hate, and let it flow into me

Reply 3 of 14, by vetz

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Since you're in New Zealand you will be very limited in what is available locally and to a degree from Australia and Japan. I'd try not to go for US/Europe specific parts, but focus on what you can find in your "area" for a decent price.

The retro community has become very biased for parts that was mainly sold in the US and for Europe, in the UK. In Aus/NZ there might have been sold motherboards from completely unknown brands for people in US/Eur like for example in Scandinavia you had CMC which was a brand sold by a PC manufacturer which had a large part of the marked. If you try and Google CMC motherboards from the 486 era there is almost no info on Google. so I recon you could have the same situation in Oceania.

3D Accelerated Games List (Proprietary APIs - No 3DFX/Direct3D)
3D Acceleration Comparison Episodes

Reply 4 of 14, by BobyTheDragon

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adalbert wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:27:

Check if your motherboard accepts EDO or FPM memory. FPM should work in all motherboards. EDO can be a bit faster, but it doesn't work with all motherboards, for example it doesn't with Zida 4DPS (other than that it is a nice motherboard). It's also nice to have a PS/2 port for mouse.

Also watch out for fake cache chips (4 or 8 long chips with WRITE BACK text, unknown manufacturer, etc.), they can cause drastic performance impact

64MB of memory should be absolute maximum, more can cause performance issues; 32 or 16MB should be fine

A PS/2 mouse would be a nice touch to have especially if I do use Windows 3.11, Though worse comes to worse I can probably find a serial mouse.
Will keep note about the memory and cache, Thats something I did not know thank you for that. For memory size I was only looking at 16 to 32 mbs. 64 mbs would be way overkill (Because I honestly cant think of anything that would use ALL of that in one go) as well as I have heard that my trident video card has issues if the system ram is up to 64 mbs (A memory hole is needed at 63 mbs and it causes major problems).

The Serpent Rider wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:36:

LuckyStar LS486-E or Zida 4DPS (PC Partner PCI400-4) motherboards should be good entryway choice. More or less easy to find, both are thoroughly documented and easy to troubleshoot. Some Zida 4DPS revisions had PS/2 mouse connector.

Thank you, Will keep an eye out on those motherboards.

vetz wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:40:

Since you're in New Zealand you will be very limited in what is available locally and to a degree from Australia and Japan. I'd try not to go for US/Europe specific parts, but focus on what you can find in your "area" for a decent price.

The retro community has become very biased for parts that was mainly sold in the US and for Europe, in the UK. In Aus/NZ there might have been sold motherboards from completely unknown brands for people in US/Eur like for example in Scandinavia you had CMC which was a brand sold by a PC manufacturer which had a large part of the marked. If you try and Google CMC motherboards from the 486 era there is almost no info on Google.

Thats the sad thing about living here. Very hard to get retro parts. Usually I will look to Ebay (And have had to a few times) but shipping can be a real pain. However, A few times ive had luck locally like with the CPU. As well as I do wish to go with a brand that does have good documentation online. Especially for troubleshooting as well as setting jumpers (As back then I do know they used jumpers to set a lot of things for the CPU but can damage things if set wrong. Dont have the luxury of simple going to the BIOS and changing things as I am used to haha)

Reply 5 of 14, by Ayrton

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BobyTheDragon wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:58:
A PS/2 mouse would be a nice touch to have especially if I do use Windows 3.11, Though worse comes to worse I can probably find […]
Show full quote
adalbert wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:27:

Check if your motherboard accepts EDO or FPM memory. FPM should work in all motherboards. EDO can be a bit faster, but it doesn't work with all motherboards, for example it doesn't with Zida 4DPS (other than that it is a nice motherboard). It's also nice to have a PS/2 port for mouse.

Also watch out for fake cache chips (4 or 8 long chips with WRITE BACK text, unknown manufacturer, etc.), they can cause drastic performance impact

64MB of memory should be absolute maximum, more can cause performance issues; 32 or 16MB should be fine

A PS/2 mouse would be a nice touch to have especially if I do use Windows 3.11, Though worse comes to worse I can probably find a serial mouse.
Will keep note about the memory and cache, Thats something I did not know thank you for that. For memory size I was only looking at 16 to 32 mbs. 64 mbs would be way overkill (Because I honestly cant think of anything that would use ALL of that in one go) as well as I have heard that my trident video card has issues if the system ram is up to 64 mbs (A memory hole is needed at 63 mbs and it causes major problems).

The Serpent Rider wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:36:

LuckyStar LS486-E or Zida 4DPS (PC Partner PCI400-4) motherboards should be good entryway choice. More or less easy to find, both are thoroughly documented and easy to troubleshoot. Some Zida 4DPS revisions had PS/2 mouse connector.

Thank you, Will keep an eye out on those motherboards.

vetz wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:40:

Since you're in New Zealand you will be very limited in what is available locally and to a degree from Australia and Japan. I'd try not to go for US/Europe specific parts, but focus on what you can find in your "area" for a decent price.

The retro community has become very biased for parts that was mainly sold in the US and for Europe, in the UK. In Aus/NZ there might have been sold motherboards from completely unknown brands for people in US/Eur like for example in Scandinavia you had CMC which was a brand sold by a PC manufacturer which had a large part of the marked. If you try and Google CMC motherboards from the 486 era there is almost no info on Google.

Thats the sad thing about living here. Very hard to get retro parts. Usually I will look to Ebay (And have had to a few times) but shipping can be a real pain. However, A few times ive had luck locally like with the CPU. As well as I do wish to go with a brand that does have good documentation online. Especially for troubleshooting as well as setting jumpers (As back then I do know they used jumpers to set a lot of things for the CPU but can damage things if set wrong. Dont have the luxury of simple going to the BIOS and changing things as I am used to haha)

Ehy guy!
Be careful with HDD if using DOS/Windows 3.11 for Workgroup. If the case, keep in mind that using HDD larger than 504 Mb, Windows 3.11 cannot manage 32-bit disk-access and 32-bit file access so easily (you find it in the Control Panel settings under 386 Enhanced mode)... If the disk is bigger and BIOS of the motherboard could see it (for sure you can see until 2,1 Gb in most of 486 BIOSes), the number of hard disk cylinders are greater than 1024 and so you have to use a Disk Manager software for the specific brand of the HDD you are using to format and to create the partitions!!! "Fdisk" of DOS 6.22 (that has to be run under Windows 3.11) cannot format more than 504 Mb for FAT16 for those limitations, but the real issue is not just "to see and use" larger partitions, the real issue is that otherwise WDCTRL Windows 3.11 standard driver could create total instability and fatal errors addressing files in such a disk in 32-bit mode. So: use a smaller disk or check the brand and download Ontrack Disk Manager or the dedicated versions (all come from original Ontrack, just customized) for Seagate, Western Digital, Maxtor and so on. The issue is related to primary HARD DISK physical size, not PARTITION SIZE. If you use a 2,1 Gb and create a DOS primary partition below 504 Mb FAT16 the issue remains the same, your number of HDD cylinders of primary hrad disk when OS starts keeps to be >1024: it is an hardware limitation! The workaround of Disk Manager has some implications, other usefully system such as loading a "pre-boot" driver with a floppy disk to install a "DDO" software making the translation of HDD geometry works but had more implications. When I started as technician in 1992, the most tricky issue for Windows 3.11 to run good was that, and I could assure you that the first time you do it, you could encounter lots of troubles!
Otherwise, use 16-bit native mode of Windows 3.11 but it means you are loosing lot of speed, it is a non-sense. In the case use a simple ISA 486 motherboards (not VESA).
If you want to get the maximum performance out of a 486 machine (Intel 486DX/4 100 MHz and VESA LOCAL BUS motherboard) Win95 slows all down significantly: Windows 3.11 is awful but it is inline with that hardware, Windows95 OSR2 would create no problem with HDD size and disk usage as it is a 32bit native OS, but the Windows performance is heavily affected on 486. No bother to have more than 16 Mb of RAM on this kind of machine and no bother to have PCI cards, VLB is the right solution for an old gaming pc. How to free conventional memory (<640 Kb) to run games with music editing "autoexec.bat" or "config.sys" files is a very well documentated matter on the web, but hardware limitations not.
Use always a Creative Sound Blaster: it will not works with Cyrix CPU!
If you are planning to build a 486 machine for old games, DOS6.22+Windows 3.11 was the current hardware at that time. If you would not become crazy with things not familiar to you, better to use a Pentium I machine with Windows 95 and it is all more easy.
Do not worry about not-PnP hardware configuration via jumpers, it will be very instructive for you to understand what actual pc does by themselves and what once upon a time had to be done manually, it will make you a better expert of pc!
Cheers from Italy!

Reply 6 of 14, by BobyTheDragon

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Ayrton wrote on 2020-12-03, 00:46:
Ehy guy! Be careful with HDD if using DOS/Windows 3.11 for Workgroup. If the case, keep in mind that using HDD larger than 504 M […]
Show full quote
BobyTheDragon wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:58:
A PS/2 mouse would be a nice touch to have especially if I do use Windows 3.11, Though worse comes to worse I can probably find […]
Show full quote
adalbert wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:27:

Check if your motherboard accepts EDO or FPM memory. FPM should work in all motherboards. EDO can be a bit faster, but it doesn't work with all motherboards, for example it doesn't with Zida 4DPS (other than that it is a nice motherboard). It's also nice to have a PS/2 port for mouse.

Also watch out for fake cache chips (4 or 8 long chips with WRITE BACK text, unknown manufacturer, etc.), they can cause drastic performance impact

64MB of memory should be absolute maximum, more can cause performance issues; 32 or 16MB should be fine

A PS/2 mouse would be a nice touch to have especially if I do use Windows 3.11, Though worse comes to worse I can probably find a serial mouse.
Will keep note about the memory and cache, Thats something I did not know thank you for that. For memory size I was only looking at 16 to 32 mbs. 64 mbs would be way overkill (Because I honestly cant think of anything that would use ALL of that in one go) as well as I have heard that my trident video card has issues if the system ram is up to 64 mbs (A memory hole is needed at 63 mbs and it causes major problems).

The Serpent Rider wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:36:

LuckyStar LS486-E or Zida 4DPS (PC Partner PCI400-4) motherboards should be good entryway choice. More or less easy to find, both are thoroughly documented and easy to troubleshoot. Some Zida 4DPS revisions had PS/2 mouse connector.

Thank you, Will keep an eye out on those motherboards.

vetz wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:40:

Since you're in New Zealand you will be very limited in what is available locally and to a degree from Australia and Japan. I'd try not to go for US/Europe specific parts, but focus on what you can find in your "area" for a decent price.

The retro community has become very biased for parts that was mainly sold in the US and for Europe, in the UK. In Aus/NZ there might have been sold motherboards from completely unknown brands for people in US/Eur like for example in Scandinavia you had CMC which was a brand sold by a PC manufacturer which had a large part of the marked. If you try and Google CMC motherboards from the 486 era there is almost no info on Google.

Thats the sad thing about living here. Very hard to get retro parts. Usually I will look to Ebay (And have had to a few times) but shipping can be a real pain. However, A few times ive had luck locally like with the CPU. As well as I do wish to go with a brand that does have good documentation online. Especially for troubleshooting as well as setting jumpers (As back then I do know they used jumpers to set a lot of things for the CPU but can damage things if set wrong. Dont have the luxury of simple going to the BIOS and changing things as I am used to haha)

Ehy guy!
Be careful with HDD if using DOS/Windows 3.11 for Workgroup. If the case, keep in mind that using HDD larger than 504 Mb, Windows 3.11 cannot manage 32-bit disk-access and 32-bit file access so easily (you find it in the Control Panel settings under 386 Enhanced mode)... If the disk is bigger and BIOS of the motherboard could see it (for sure you can see until 2,1 Gb in most of 486 BIOSes), the number of hard disk cylinders are greater than 1024 and so you have to use a Disk Manager software for the specific brand of the HDD you are using to format and to create the partitions!!! "Fdisk" of DOS 6.22 (that has to be run under Windows 3.11) cannot format more than 504 Mb for FAT16 for those limitations, but the real issue is not just "to see and use" larger partitions, the real issue is that otherwise WDCTRL Windows 3.11 standard driver could create total instability and fatal errors addressing files in such a disk in 32-bit mode. So: use a smaller disk or check the brand and download Ontrack Disk Manager or the dedicated versions (all come from original Ontrack, just customized) for Seagate, Western Digital, Maxtor and so on. The issue is related to primary HARD DISK physical size, not PARTITION SIZE. If you use a 2,1 Gb and create a DOS primary partition below 504 Mb FAT16 the issue remains the same, your number of HDD cylinders of primary hrad disk when OS starts keeps to be >1024: it is an hardware limitation! The workaround of Disk Manager has some implications, other usefully system such as loading a "pre-boot" driver with a floppy disk to install a "DDO" software making the translation of HDD geometry works but had more implications. When I started as technician in 1992, the most tricky issue for Windows 3.11 to run good was that, and I could assure you that the first time you do it, you could encounter lots of troubles!
Otherwise, use 16-bit native mode of Windows 3.11 but it means you are loosing lot of speed, it is a non-sense. In the case use a simple ISA 486 motherboards (not VESA).
If you want to get the maximum performance out of a 486 machine (Intel 486DX/4 100 MHz and VESA LOCAL BUS motherboard) Win95 slows all down significantly: Windows 3.11 is awful but it is inline with that hardware, Windows95 OSR2 would create no problem with HDD size and disk usage as it is a 32bit native OS, but the Windows performance is heavily affected on 486. No bother to have more than 16 Mb of RAM on this kind of machine and no bother to have PCI cards, VLB is the right solution for an old gaming pc. How to free conventional memory (<640 Kb) to run games with music editing "autoexec.bat" or "config.sys" files is a very well documentated matter on the web, but hardware limitations not.
Use always a Creative Sound Blaster: it will not works with Cyrix CPU!
If you are planning to build a 486 machine for old games, DOS6.22+Windows 3.11 was the current hardware at that time. If you would not become crazy with things not familiar to you, better to use a Pentium I machine with Windows 95 and it is all more easy.
Do not worry about not-PnP hardware configuration via jumpers, it will be very instructive for you to understand what actual pc does by themselves and what once upon a time had to be done manually, it will make you a better expert of pc!
Cheers from Italy!

Thank you very much! It was a lot to take in. But very informative.

Reply 7 of 14, by chinny22

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Living arse end of the world right definitely has it's benefits but parts availability isn't one of them! 😉

Socket 3 motherboards with PCI are common enough, not as much as pure ISA boards but still common.
It's not a bad idea either as the desirable PCI cards for a 486 are cheep and plentiful.

A PCI board will mean its fairly late in the 486 lifecycle so your probably safe but just make sure it supports 3.3v CPU's which your DX4 will need.
some motherboards can only do 5v

Other desirables but not necessarily deal breakers when looking for a motherboard would be the PS2 ports although this was more common on OEM machines then generic parts at the time.
Coin battery is best, motherboard with external battery would be my next preference then finally Dallas RTC chip -unless your good with soldering iron's in which case the Dallas chip is just a slight inconvenience

Actually that's another option that may work out cheaper and not a bad idea as a intro PC. OEM PC's
For the most part they still used generic parts, plus you get a AT case in the deal.

but once you get a motherboard, that'll decide other parts but in general

Video
you can check the below to see how compatible your card is. 100% compatibility isn't the goal here just with the games your actually interested in.
https://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/

Sound
Dangerous topic as people have very strong opinions on this
Creative, Yamaha YMF xxx or ESS based cards are common and popular. all have pros and con's so just read up on them if you find one locally beforehand.

HDD
Spinning rust is nice for that retro sound however CF or SD card's make more sense these days if you don't have any old drives. I woudlnt worry about the size limit till you know what mother board your getting.

RAM
again wait for your motherboard, that'll decide things for you.

FDD/USB
rather then a USB card and hack USB support into dos I'd get a gotek floppy emulator then you'll have USB support natively in a way. As you already have a 98 PC you could just move the entire drive from 1 PC to the other if you don't want to buy 2 drives.

CD-ROM
CD, DVD, RW, doesn't matter just as long as it's IDE, fast isn't necessary better either, just what you can get for a good deal.

OS's and whatever else you can worry about once you get the hardware 😀

Reply 8 of 14, by Mister Xiado

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FDD
Not super essential anymore, as the aforementioned floppy emulators are much more convenient, and perhaps most importantly, cheaper. Long gone are the days of the $10 new-old-stock 1.44MB floppy drives.

HDD
I have no issues at all with a 2GB Compact Flash card (with cheapo CF/PATA adapter board) divided into two roughly equal partitions with my 486 running DOS 6.22 and Windows for Workgroups. I similarly have no problems with a 4GB CF card divided into two partitions in my Pentium system running Windows 95. In both cases, the cards are formatted to FAT16. I am considering replacing the adapter board in my 486 with a dual card version, because surprisingly, even 2GB feels cramped in the system, even though it likely shipped with a 300MB HDD when it was new.

CDROM
It's a crapshoot at best. As long as you have network sharing set up, you don't need it for anything but games that run best from CD (even if just for music). I'm currently having to play musical chairs with ISA cards in my 486, as installing a controller card to use a CDROM drive has stuffed up everything but my video card.

NETWORK
Any new-old-stock Linksys card should serve you well, but if it's easier and cheaper to just get another card, make sure you can find drivers for it before buying it.

VIDEO
A hundred dollars being the typical asking price for a 1MB ISA VGA card is what keeps me out of truecolor Windows 3.11 heaven for the time being. Or, it disheartens me so much that I stop looking while everyone secretly sells them for $15.

MOUSE
I recommend using a Microsoft Optical Wheel mouse with one of those USB to PS/2 adapters that they used to (?) come with. They perform flawlessly in both DOS and Windows with the basic mouse driver.

KEYBOARD
Anything goes. Not like you're going to be needing to simultaneously press five keys, like you would in recent PC games. The keyboard I use is just a cheap PS/2 keyboard I bought for a dollar at a rummage sale. Its advantage is that it's one of the more modern, slim and black keyboards. You only need a chunkyboard if you're trying to use a Model M or something else that's legitimately good, for the good old clacking.

b_ldnt2.gif - Where it's always 1995.
Icons, wallpapers, and typical Oldternet nonsense.

Reply 9 of 14, by amadeus777999

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If speed's not your main focus then an OEM board with built-in PS/2 ports might be a viable option. On top of that you most likely can get on-board Audio and maybe even Video(you can still plug-in your Trident if you want) but you'll have score a fitting riser card obviously.
On the other hand a more modern board with an SiS49x or UMC UM888x chipset(LS486E, HOT433, GA486AM/S, etc.) may be the king's choice and you can build a really fast system if you score good cache and ram.

If you have the time make sure to give Feipoa's grand work...
The Ultimate 486 Benchmark Comparison
...a read - highly recommended.

Reply 10 of 14, by henryVK

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BobyTheDragon wrote on 2020-12-02, 23:14:

- ATX PSU. Dont really wanna risk anything with an old AT psu. Though I know adapters do work for ATX to AT. Only issue is I wont have a -5 volts (As older ISA Soundblasters use). Apparently I can add something inline however which I can do (I have basic soldering equipment and have soldered before).

There's not that many soundcards that require -5V, so if you stay clear of those you'll be good with an ATX PSU:

ISA Cards & Devices Requiring -5V

Reply 11 of 14, by Warlord

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having some experience, id say get a PCI/ISA board. This open your options a lot on video card. Such board should also have atleast 256k L2 cache and 72pin simm slots for FPM. Start there. PCI board open a lot of possibilities you dont have with VLB boards. Understand that early implementations of PCI can be bad or OK depending on chipset so research which chipsets have ok PCI.

Sound cards, People will argue a lot about this but you should get anything that has real OPL3 chip. This main thing.

Last edited by Warlord on 2020-12-03, 20:25. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 12 of 14, by BobyTheDragon

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chinny22 wrote on 2020-12-03, 10:43:
Living arse end of the world right definitely has it's benefits but parts availability isn't one of them! ;) […]
Show full quote

Living arse end of the world right definitely has it's benefits but parts availability isn't one of them! 😉

Socket 3 motherboards with PCI are common enough, not as much as pure ISA boards but still common.
It's not a bad idea either as the desirable PCI cards for a 486 are cheep and plentiful.

A PCI board will mean its fairly late in the 486 lifecycle so your probably safe but just make sure it supports 3.3v CPU's which your DX4 will need.
some motherboards can only do 5v

Other desirables but not necessarily deal breakers when looking for a motherboard would be the PS2 ports although this was more common on OEM machines then generic parts at the time.
Coin battery is best, motherboard with external battery would be my next preference then finally Dallas RTC chip -unless your good with soldering iron's in which case the Dallas chip is just a slight inconvenience

Actually that's another option that may work out cheaper and not a bad idea as a intro PC. OEM PC's
For the most part they still used generic parts, plus you get a AT case in the deal.

but once you get a motherboard, that'll decide other parts but in general

Video
you can check the below to see how compatible your card is. 100% compatibility isn't the goal here just with the games your actually interested in.
https://gona.mactar.hu/DOS_TESTS/

Sound
Dangerous topic as people have very strong opinions on this
Creative, Yamaha YMF xxx or ESS based cards are common and popular. all have pros and con's so just read up on them if you find one locally beforehand.

HDD
Spinning rust is nice for that retro sound however CF or SD card's make more sense these days if you don't have any old drives. I woudlnt worry about the size limit till you know what mother board your getting.

RAM
again wait for your motherboard, that'll decide things for you.

FDD/USB
rather then a USB card and hack USB support into dos I'd get a gotek floppy emulator then you'll have USB support natively in a way. As you already have a 98 PC you could just move the entire drive from 1 PC to the other if you don't want to buy 2 drives.

CD-ROM
CD, DVD, RW, doesn't matter just as long as it's IDE, fast isn't necessary better either, just what you can get for a good deal.

OS's and whatever else you can worry about once you get the hardware 😀

Mister Xiado wrote on 2020-12-03, 11:08:
FDD Not super essential anymore, as the aforementioned floppy emulators are much more convenient, and perhaps most importantly, […]
Show full quote

FDD
Not super essential anymore, as the aforementioned floppy emulators are much more convenient, and perhaps most importantly, cheaper. Long gone are the days of the $10 new-old-stock 1.44MB floppy drives.

HDD
I have no issues at all with a 2GB Compact Flash card (with cheapo CF/PATA adapter board) divided into two roughly equal partitions with my 486 running DOS 6.22 and Windows for Workgroups. I similarly have no problems with a 4GB CF card divided into two partitions in my Pentium system running Windows 95. In both cases, the cards are formatted to FAT16. I am considering replacing the adapter board in my 486 with a dual card version, because surprisingly, even 2GB feels cramped in the system, even though it likely shipped with a 300MB HDD when it was new.

CDROM
It's a crapshoot at best. As long as you have network sharing set up, you don't need it for anything but games that run best from CD (even if just for music). I'm currently having to play musical chairs with ISA cards in my 486, as installing a controller card to use a CDROM drive has stuffed up everything but my video card.

NETWORK
Any new-old-stock Linksys card should serve you well, but if it's easier and cheaper to just get another card, make sure you can find drivers for it before buying it.

VIDEO
A hundred dollars being the typical asking price for a 1MB ISA VGA card is what keeps me out of truecolor Windows 3.11 heaven for the time being. Or, it disheartens me so much that I stop looking while everyone secretly sells them for $15.

MOUSE
I recommend using a Microsoft Optical Wheel mouse with one of those USB to PS/2 adapters that they used to (?) come with. They perform flawlessly in both DOS and Windows with the basic mouse driver.

KEYBOARD
Anything goes. Not like you're going to be needing to simultaneously press five keys, like you would in recent PC games. The keyboard I use is just a cheap PS/2 keyboard I bought for a dollar at a rummage sale. Its advantage is that it's one of the more modern, slim and black keyboards. You only need a chunkyboard if you're trying to use a Model M or something else that's legitimately good, for the good old clacking.

Will note that all down, I have been tempted to go with a classic HDD (I have a Quantum Bigfoot, Which would be way overkill for it still. But you got to admit the sound of one of those starting up is classic) but I think I will go with CF or SD Card. Which will also eliminate the need for USB if I just unplug the drive. Put the drivers/programs i need onto it with a modern PC and slot it back in.

amadeus777999 wrote on 2020-12-03, 16:00:
If speed's not your main focus then an OEM board with built-in PS/2 ports might be a viable option. On top of that you most like […]
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If speed's not your main focus then an OEM board with built-in PS/2 ports might be a viable option. On top of that you most likely can get on-board Audio and maybe even Video(you can still plug-in your Trident if you want) but you'll have score a fitting riser card obviously.
On the other hand a more modern board with an SiS49x or UMC UM888x chipset(LS486E, HOT433, GA486AM/S, etc.) may be the king's choice and you can build a really fast system if you score good cache and ram.

If you have the time make sure to give Feipoa's grand work...
The Ultimate 486 Benchmark Comparison
...a read - highly recommended.

Speed is not a focus at all. Again, Im not focusing on anything extreme with the build. Though in saying that. I dont wish to be stuck with a "slow system" even in that time period. Will not that down and give that link a read too. Thanks!

henryVK wrote on 2020-12-03, 16:15:

There's not that many soundcards that require -5V, so if you stay clear of those you'll be good with an ATX PSU:

ISA Cards & Devices Requiring -5V

Must admit, Didnt do a whole ton of research quite yet into soundcards. But thats a bit of relief off my back already if most soundcards dont need that rail. Less work for me haha. Thanks though

Warlord wrote on 2020-12-03, 20:19:

having some experience, id say get a PCI/ISA board. This open your options a lot on video card. Such board should also have atleast 256k L2 cache and 72pin simm slots for FPM. Start there. PCI board open a lot of possibilities you dont have with VLB boards. Understand that early implementations of PCI can be bad or OK depending on chipset so research which chipsets have ok PCI.

Will note that and look into the chipsets. As amadeus777999 stated above I found a few boards online im going to do some heavy reaserch on and make a choice between them which meet most of the requirements

Reply 14 of 14, by pan069

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chinny22 wrote on 2020-12-03, 10:43:

Living arse end of the world right definitely has it's benefits but parts availability isn't one of them! 😉

I concur. It's not so much the cost of parts. It's mostly the insane cost of shipping...