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View Full Version : GA-586TX mainboard - bridge between generations



Ole Juul
August 10th, 2014, 11:32 PM
I have been putting together a new box for a project and wanted the oldest pentium compatible board I could find which had an ISA slot for an older modem. I didn't want to use any of my 386/486 boards since this box is going to be on 24/7 and I don't want to wear out more valuable stuff. I found a nice little board with a single ISA slot, but I couldn't get it to fire up. Anyway, to make a long preamble shorter, I found what I think is a very cool board. It seems a bit of a waste for a dedicated application, but it's what I got that fits the bill.

It's a GA - 586TX Pentium Processor PCI - ISA BUS MAINBOARD. AWARD BIOS 05/28/97
What makes this so special in my opinion? Well it takes a lot of options, which would actually make it a great test bench board. There's a long list of CPUs, two kinds of memory, ISA/PCI, and most interestingly, two kinds of power supply connectors. Here's the list:


- Pentium Processor based PC / AT compatible mainboard with PCI - ISA Bus.
- 4 PCI Bus slots, 3 ISA Bus slots.
- Supports Pentium Processor running at /90-200 MHz, P54CT (150 166),
MMX (150 / 166 / 200 / 233), P54CTB (150 / 166 / 180 / 200), AMDK5
(PR-133 / PR-166), AMDK6(PR2-166/180/200 (2.9V) /233 (3.2V)), Cyrix /
IBM 6x86-120/ 133(PR-150+ / PR-166+), Cyrix / IBM 6x86L (PR-150+ /
PR-166+(2.8V)), Cyrix / IBM M2 (PR2-166/180/200/233).
- Supports true 64 bits CACHE and DRAM access mode.
- Supports 321 Pins (Socket 7) ZIF white socket on board.
- Supports 512 KB Pipeline Burst Sync. 2nd Cache.
- CPU L1 / L2 Write-Back cache operation.
- Supports 8 - 256 MB DRAM memory on board.
- Supports 2*168 pin 64/72 Bit DIMM module.
- Supports 2-channel Ultra DMA/33 Enhanced PCI IDE ports for 4 IDE Devices.
- Supports 2*COM (16550), 1*LPT (EPP / ECP), 1*1.44MB Floppy port.
- Supports AT Keyboard & PS/2 Mouse port.
- Supports Green function, Plug & Play function.
- Licensed AWARD BIOS, FLASH EEPROM for BIOS update.
- 22cm x 33cm, 4 layers PCB.
- Supports USB port.
- Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI).


This board seems to be the perfect bridge between generations. It's probably one of the last times a baby AT board was used, yet it has PCI and USB.

http://cgs.coalmont.net/GA-586TX-board.jpg

I really like the looks of the metalwork for this generation of computer, so I always leave off the cover. No idea where this one went anyway, since it was just in the junk pile. It also helps cooling for this kind of machine, and keeps dust from collecting inside like on the vacuum cleaner type of designs, which this would be if it had the bodywork intact. Here's what it looks like now.

http://cgs.coalmont.net/box-1.jpg
http://cgs.coalmont.net/box-2.jpg

This box is going to be running a dialup BBS, so here it is with a 1.2 meg floppy drive, a video card, two SIMM sticks, and a modem. I've got lots of Pentium chips, but I chose a 100mhz one. Those came out in March of 1994. I'm trying to put this thing vaguely at the end of an era which ended with the takeover by the internet.

I don't want to put an IDE drive in it, since that will make more noise and the old drives are better saved for true vintage use. I was contemplating using a CF card and plugging it straight into the MB, and may still do that. Actual telephone connection tests show the floppy to be adequate for the purpose. But I may change my mind and I'll make another thread about that later. Ironically, if I do use a CF drive, I'll probably run the BBS in a ramdisk and just use the CF for backup. Another irony is that I stuck two 16MB simms in it because I didn't have smaller ones handy, and i could certainly have filled up the DIMM slots for over-the-top memory . . . times have changed. :)


http://cgs.coalmont.net/box-3.jpg

For space saving convenience this box is now attached to my KVM. More about the BBS another time. ;)

Stone
August 11th, 2014, 04:08 AM
Ole, I have an almost identical board in my tweener. I also have a pair of mobile HD racks so I can swap HDDs easily and run many OSes from it. It's got a 233 MMX CPU in it and 128MB RAM. I normally run DOS 7 (WIN98SE DOS) with two 33.5MB Ramdrives, which is the maximum for a normal DOS Ramdrive. That gives lots of space to fool around in. Two FDDs round it out.

mojorific
August 11th, 2014, 07:52 AM
Another cool board is the Asus P2B-F as well. (http://www.motherboards.org/files/manuals/1/p2bf-103.pdf)

It supports ISA, PCI, and AGP slots. It's a slot 1 board, and supports the Celeron, P2 and P3 cpu boards. The slot one cpu's are dirt cheap, as well as the DIMM PC-133 ram. I maxed out 768MB of ram on mine for less than $20. Coin batteries were standard (so no real issue of corrosion). PS/2 style connectors is standard at this point so no daughter card required with connector on the mainboard. AT style keyboards are also becoming more difficult to find as well. Also has a couple usb slots.

This is an atx standard board as well which is much easier to find a case for than the older style AT cases.

I have both the P2B-F and P3B-F, but found the P2B-F to be more compatible with 16-bit sound cards in dos.

There was a point at which legacy dos support via 16-bit slots was lost through some shared-pci nonsense for windows. I think that was the only difference between these two boards.

Chuck(G)
August 11th, 2014, 08:33 AM
I have a couple of the P2A SS7 boards with K6-2 CPUs. They appear to run faster than any of my Slot 1 P2 boards. My big gripe is only 3 ISA slots and lack of integrated sound and net hardware. AGP video.

Otherwise, not so bad. XP runs fine on them.

njroadfan
August 11th, 2014, 10:38 AM
There was a point at which legacy dos support via 16-bit slots was lost through some shared-pci nonsense for windows. I think that was the only difference between these two boards.

The P3B-F is 440BX based, so it shouldn't have any problem with ISA compatibility (the PIIX4 south bridge is still full ISA). It'll also work with PCI sound cards with DOS emulation due to it supporting NMI.

mojorific
August 11th, 2014, 11:33 AM
I tried several sound blaster and ensoniq cards with the p3b-f and all of them had a stutter behaviour that I could not trace to anything besides the boards compatibility with ISA cards.

Same cards in the p2b-f would work fine. Not sure exactly why that was. Perhaps a shared PCI/ISA bus issue? Couldn't figure it out so I abandoned it for dos only gaming.

Ole Juul
August 12th, 2014, 04:40 PM
Ole, I have an almost identical board in my tweener. I also have a pair of mobile HD racks so I can swap HDDs easily and run many OSes from it. It's got a 233 MMX CPU in it and 128MB RAM. I normally run DOS 7 (WIN98SE DOS) with two 33.5MB Ramdrives, which is the maximum for a normal DOS Ramdrive. That gives lots of space to fool around in. Two FDDs round it out.

The thing I like most about my board is the ability to take two different types of memory and two different types of power supply. It's almost a shame to use it for an appliance instead of a test machine. It will be on the floor by my feet though, so not too difficult to shut it down and plug something in for a quick test.

For me the biggest problem with these kinds of projects is that I'm limited to what I've already got. Matching a suitable board to a suitable box is always a challenge. There's no shops around here with old parts and buying a mother board off the net is totally out of the question. Ebay prices are waaaayyyyy over the top. I don't know who would pay $40 and up for a pentium era board. Probably nobody. I'd pay $5 if it was a really good one. And this just to be able to match whatever boxes I've got. Of course, if I was to do it the other way around and buy a specific box, then shipping would make it not worth while.

Stone
August 12th, 2014, 05:20 PM
The thing I like most about my board is the ability to take two different types of memory and two different types of power supply.Same as the one in my tweener. :-)

Malc
August 13th, 2014, 02:23 PM
I have a GA - 586HX board i recently found hiding in my shed, The RTC chip was missing but luckily found one tho the battery was dead as a dodo so did a bit of surgery and fitted a CR2032 and holder, Quite a nice board.

Anonymous Coward
August 13th, 2014, 07:08 PM
I recommend a K6+ CPU for use with a TX motherboard. That way you are able to get around the L2 cache limitations which was a major issue with the TX chipset at the time of release. I personally prefer to use boards with the HX chipset as it can handle quite a bit more memory.

Unknown_K
August 13th, 2014, 07:47 PM
I prefer the HX chipset as well for socket 7 boards. While the TX gives you the option of using SDRAM I recall it is picky on modules and on size, most people tossed the older small DIMMs away.

TX and VX chipsets were slower then HX if that matters to gamers.

Mau1wurf1977
August 16th, 2014, 12:48 AM
I got a GB 586ATX using SDRAM and it it's right up there with the best Intel chipset socket 5 and 7 boards.

Vogon's user vetz has done a massive roundup of motherboards:

http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=39258#p356913

And here my results:

http://www.vogons.org/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=39258&start=40#p373346

What really stands out is that these old Intel chipsets are faster than VIA or ALI chipsets.

I like the GB 586ATX because it's ATX and can be used with modern power supplies in modern cases. I don't know if there are many other ATX Socket 7 motherboards using Intel chipsets...