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32 megs of ram is enough for a DX4?

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First post, by AlessandroB

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On the DX4 we have been talking about for days I have two 16Mb simms, I want to install DOS, win3.11fw (for the network) and windows95 at the limit, are 32Mb adequate?

Reply 2 of 22, by Disruptor

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Basically and for the most 486, yes.

It's because the cacheable area of a 256 kB L2 cache in write back mode is just 32 MB.
If you have more cache or you run it in write through mode you may try more RAM, but I don't see more benefits.

In period correct setups 32 MB RAM on a 486 may be considered as huge, and even in later Socket 5 Pentiums systems this is a large amount.
I call 8 MB minimum and 16 MB standard with a DX4. 20 or 24 is large.

Reply 6 of 22, by Errius

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The Serpent Rider wrote on 2021-11-04, 20:44:

32 Mb is enough to launch Quake 3, MDK2, Tiberian Sun, etc.

Mobi says Q3 needs 64 MB. What happens if you run it under 32?

The following games all require 32 MB:

Unreal Tournament, Descent 3, European Air War, Daikatana, Jane's WWII Fighters, Fighter Squadron, Diablo II, Myth II, Aliens versus Predator, Grim Fandango, Rowan's Battle of Britain, Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000, Star Wars: Rogue Squadron, Falcon 4.0, MS Combat Flight Simulator 2, Flanker 2.0, Dominion: Storm Over Gift 3, Worms: Armageddon, SiN

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Reply 8 of 22, by jakethompson1

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Worth mentioning that the price of RAM dropped from about $35/MB or so in WfW 3.11's heyday/Windows 95 release (1994-1995) to $1/MB by the time Windows 98 was ready (https://jcmit.net/memoryprice.htm)

So 4 or 8 MB configurations on a 486DX2 or DX4 would have been quite common. 32MB and 64MB would have gone from outrageously roomy to the baseline configuration in that 4-year period.

I remember pushing for the family PC to be upgraded from 16MB to 80MB in early 1998 which still seemed like a ridiculous amount. Thought it was so overkill it would always be enough...

Reply 9 of 22, by dormcat

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Intel's 430 series chipsets for consumer-grade Socket 7 motherboards (FX, MX, VX, TX) had only 64 MB of cacheable RAM, even the last 430TX chipset designed for Pentium-MMX 233 MHz. My Pentium 120 MHz in 1995 only had 16 MB RAM.

So yes, 32 MB would be more than enough for most if not all DX4 games and apps.

Matth79 wrote on 2021-11-04, 22:56:

If something really needs 32MB, it probably needs more than a DX4

Seconded.

Reply 10 of 22, by The Serpent Rider

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Errius wrote:

Mobi says Q3 needs 64 MB

Well yes, but actually no. Some large vanilla maps require 64 Mb, but not all of them. Same applies to Unreal Tournament. So you totally can launch Quake 3 on 486DX4 in glorious 5 fps!

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Reply 12 of 22, by BitWrangler

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I'd say 32MB is enough up to P233MMX... the PII and K6 class over 350Mhz might begin to find 64MB necessary for late 98 games that are worth running on them.

I'll "third" the statement that if you need any more, you haven't got enough CPU to make it worth running.

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Reply 13 of 22, by PTherapist

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32MB is nice for Windows 95, with Win 3.1/DOS you can get away with less.

I once ran a couple of 486DX 33MHz computers with 64MB, simply because I had the spare RAM and wanted to run Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.

Just for fun -
I also had 32MB on a DX4 100 that ran Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server &
32MB on a Socket 3 that got upgraded to a Cyrix 5x86 and ran Windows 2000 Professional

Neither were particularly speedy, but they worked. 🤣

Reply 14 of 22, by Disruptor

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PTherapist wrote on 2021-11-05, 15:50:
32MB is nice for Windows 95, with Win 3.1/DOS you can get away with less. […]
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32MB is nice for Windows 95, with Win 3.1/DOS you can get away with less.

I once ran a couple of 486DX 33MHz computers with 64MB, simply because I had the spare RAM and wanted to run Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.

Just for fun -
I also had 32MB on a DX4 100 that ran Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server &
32MB on a Socket 3 that got upgraded to a Cyrix 5x86 and ran Windows 2000 Professional

Neither were particularly speedy, but they worked. 🤣

When comparing your 64 MB computers performance in detail with themselves when they had 32 MB, did you notice a difference? Or have all of your 64 MB RAM been in a cacheable area?

I'm running an AMD 5x86 at 160 MHz with 256 MB RAM, fully cached though.

Reply 15 of 22, by BitWrangler

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Really there's nothing you won't run inside of the classic "486 era" with only 8MB, and 16MB is plenty breathing room to stretch into the "runs but could be faster" socket 5/7 zone. Though for running any win 9x, I'd say that 16MB is justified to stop you tearing your hair out. If you buy a bag of SIMMs for $20 and discover there's parts in there that will take you up to 64MB, whoopee, enjoy, but don't sell a kidney when you've got 16 or 32 and discover some unicorn part number that is the only guaranteed way to put 64MB in it at silly prices.

Unicorn herding operations are proceeding, but all the totes of hens teeth and barrels of rocking horse poop give them plenty of hiding spots.

Reply 16 of 22, by PTherapist

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Disruptor wrote on 2021-11-05, 17:51:
PTherapist wrote on 2021-11-05, 15:50:
32MB is nice for Windows 95, with Win 3.1/DOS you can get away with less. […]
Show full quote

32MB is nice for Windows 95, with Win 3.1/DOS you can get away with less.

I once ran a couple of 486DX 33MHz computers with 64MB, simply because I had the spare RAM and wanted to run Windows NT 4.0 Workstation.

Just for fun -
I also had 32MB on a DX4 100 that ran Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Server &
32MB on a Socket 3 that got upgraded to a Cyrix 5x86 and ran Windows 2000 Professional

Neither were particularly speedy, but they worked. 🤣

When comparing your 64 MB computers performance in detail with themselves when they had 32 MB, did you notice a difference? Or have all of your 64 MB RAM been in a cacheable area?

I'm running an AMD 5x86 at 160 MHz with 256 MB RAM, fully cached though.

It was over 15 years ago, so I don't recall 100% but I don't remember noticing any speed difference at 64MB vs 32MB or less - but then I wouldn't have benchmarked or checked for caching at the time as I wasn't as clued up on such things back then.

I only have 1 of those PCs still in my collection, but unfortunately I don't have the RAM sticks to do 64MB anymore as a few of the 16MB sticks died due to poor storage. I just run 16MB on that PC now, as Windows 95 gets flakey & refuses to boot on this motherboard if I fill all 4 RAM slots, I think the motherboard has some issues that I need to look at.