View Full Version : 8088 / 8086 / 286 Video Cards (VGA or EGA) - Does Speed or Brand Really Matter

December 20th, 2013, 08:53 AM
LIke the question says...

Does it really matter what brand or speed of VGA or EGA card you have running in an 8088 / 8086 / 286 machine? With proc speed and RAM so low, I wouldnt think so, but wanted to check with the experts first...

Once you get to 386 and above, things start to pick-up right?

December 20th, 2013, 09:18 AM
I don't think that all that crap matters in any situation. Some electronic snobs will tell you this is the only way to go and ..... but I believe that if it does what you want and you like it the way it does it there is no need to do it in any other way and that means both Brand-wise and spec-wise. Call me a peasant but I enjoy what I'm doing and I don't lose any sleep over the way it. :-) :-) :-)

December 20th, 2013, 09:56 AM
The differences will be in terms of resolution (SuperVGA) and drivers. Don't buy a card whose manufacturer went out of business before the software you plan on running was created.

You may have to check if some of the very early clone VGA cards support some of the common yet not documented by IBM screen modes.

If sticking with normal EGA or VGA modes, there can be a performance difference but it might not be same with all software and generally won't be noticeable unless running certain benchmarks.

I remember reading a long time ago an article about how certain cards had a memory layout issue that prevented GEM from doing 1024x768. I have no idea where to find tech support articles from defunct video card makers.

December 20th, 2013, 10:39 AM
What brand/chipset to use really depends on the software you want to run. Many DOS programs support use of higher resolution graphics beyond the original IBM VGA standard, such as 640*480 in 256 colors. But to get those resolutions, your software usually must know what kind of card you have.

On an ISA system, almost any VGA card is going to have similar performance. You don't start getting huge speed boosts until you get in to VLB or PCI cards.

December 20th, 2013, 10:47 AM
If you've got a slow (8088/8086) CPU and employ higher resolutions, your graphics are going to be slower. I think that's what it boils down to.

December 20th, 2013, 02:37 PM
Appreciate the help...that's what I thought....

December 20th, 2013, 03:02 PM
The most important factor is the speed of the ISA bus. So if you have a card and a bus that will run at non-standard speeds it will perform better. If you need and 8-bit VGA card I have an OAK 8-bit card.

December 20th, 2013, 04:20 PM
There are a few 16 bit VGA cards that work in 8-bit slots. They're listed in http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showwiki.php?title=Hardware:8bit+Friendly+ISA+VGA+ cards Some will auto detect they're in 8 bit slots and some need jumpers to be set.

December 22nd, 2013, 02:41 PM
I have a 16MHz 286 which I believe benefits from a faster ISA VGA card. It came with a lesser known VGA chipset card (I can't remember what it was now) and Stunts (4D sports driving) was a slideshow, but with a Tseng ET4000AX based card in there, Stunts is a noticeably smoother slideshow :)

Image quality is the deciding factor for me in 486 systems and slower. An ET4000AX for example is much easier on the eyes than most, so worth taking the time to track down.