View Full Version : Stick with Win 3.0 or Revert to Win 286/2.11?

July 30th, 2017, 05:54 PM
The machine I am working with mainly now is my Packard Bell Pack-Mate III with a 12mhz 286 and a standard config of 1MB ram.

I've had Windows 3.1 on it, and it ran because it's pretty much the minimum requirements, but it was slow as hell because it was well, minimum reqs.

I then installed the IBM PC-DOS 3.3 that I have, and Windows 286/2.11, and it worked fine, Windows also ran quite quickly.

I thought it was period appropriate too, because the bios says 1989 as it's copyright date, and that's what I have to go by as date because I can't find any info on this machine itself. The Monitor is from 1990 and the internal modem is from 1991. Though the monitor is just a monitor, though in my case it's an IBM PS/2 8512 VGA monitor. The modem also could've been added in later.

A week ago, I upgraded to MS-DOS 5 and Windows 3.0, then I installed my sound blaster 16 because it didn't have a sound card, the sound card works fine, and even programs that don't support the 16 but do support the original SB or SB PRO like Dual Module Player, work with it as well.

Today, when I installed and attempted to use Microsoft Word 2.0, I saw just how slow this machine is under 3.0, but then I closed the things like file manager and control panel I had running in the background and MS Word worked faster, but still a little slow.

According to this Computer Chronicles video, the i386 came out in 1987 so the 286 must greatly predate Windows 3.0:


I did recently buy 4mb of RAM for it, as that's the maximum it can take. However, I know RAM can only improve performance so much.

with a 12Mhz 286, would quadrupling the RAM make using Windows 3.0 managable, or should I keep MS-DOS 5 as it's given me no issues, but revert back to Windows 286/2.11? :cool:

https://scontent-lga3-1.xx.fbcdn.net/v/t1.0-9/20374668_10210193029606370_5278444703020002334_n.j pg?oh=ea8b6db8a74c0a53f31e6f91aa7cee3d&oe=59FE5F08

July 30th, 2017, 06:43 PM
The 80286 was from 1982 with the IBM AT introduced in 1984. However, the mainline system from the late 80s was going to be a 286. In 1987, I bought a 286-10 complete system for $1000; a Compaq 386 or IBM Model 80 at the same time was closer to $8,500. The 286 was roughly 75% of the speed of the 386 systems at the time. The 386SX started off as a $219 chip which is $100 cheaper than the full 386DX but still much more than a $40 80286. Wasn't until 1990 or 1991 that prices on the 386 variants dropped enough to move it out of the server and workstation markets.

When I was running Windows 3 on it, I had a bit over 5 MB and it ran Word and Visual Basic at a reasonable pace. Even if you go back to Windows 286, you would need a good amount of EMS to keep from discarding and reloading from disk with any sizable program. The very obscure survivors from the Windows 1 era used very little memory but were equally feature limited and rather sluggish. The second batch of Windows programs like Excel, Word, or Corel Draw had quite buggy initial Windows 2 releases which were greatly improved in the Windows 3 updates.

Note that 4 MB is not the most memory you can install in that system. You could add a 16-bit memory expansion card and rather easily increase memory by another 8 MB. Not really worth it at current prices when a stocked 486 system is often cheaper than an AT memory expansion card by itself.

July 30th, 2017, 07:50 PM
From my own experience, 1 MB isn't really enough to actually *do* anything in Windows 3.1. 2 MB or more leaves enough RAM for decent sized applications, even on a 286.

But really, even up to a 486 era machine, the more interesting stuff is going to be DOS based, not Windows based.

One nice thing about Windows 1.x through 3.x is you can have multiple versions if you have enough hard disk space.

Many of the earlier Windows 3.x applications (such as MS-Office 4.x) will indeed run on a 286, although the later ones will usually require a 386 - but they won't tell you.

July 30th, 2017, 08:04 PM
It seems then, that when the RAM finally comes in from Russsia, and I install it, I should have a much easier time with Windows 3.0, maybe even able to upgrade to 3.1?

July 30th, 2017, 08:56 PM
3.1 has many bug fixes so try it out.

The issues you may run into with 3.1 are:
TrueType fonts push the limits of what a 286 can do. Don't try to install an entire CD worth of them and be judicious in using them in a word processor document. Ransom notes may look ugly but they will also seriously bog the machine.
Multimedia is also right at the edge of system ability.
OLE will be a challenge because in many cases each application will want more than a MB and for OLE to work multiple applications need to be in memory.