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benali72
October 3rd, 2007, 07:19 AM
I happened to use an old 486 today when I was down in the basement and needed to do some quick text processing.

Man, does it boot fast compared to today's systems!

I booted the machine, got into Windows 3.1, and then into Notepad quicker than my new 3.2 ghz machine with 1 gig RAM even boots into Windows XP SP2!

This is a 486/66 DX-2 with 8 meg and Windows 3.1.

Looks like software bloat has outpaced the speed of hardware improvements!

Mad-Mike
October 4th, 2007, 05:13 AM
Well, most of that is because of the silly graphical crap most people want these days but don't necessarily need. My 286 boots faster than most of these new vista boxes, and that's including the super-long memory count to 6144K.

When Windows 3.1 loads, all it has to load as far as silly graphical garbage is the backdrop and the color scheme (generally). When XP loads, it has to pick the "interface theme", the color scheme, run Active Desktop (anyone remember how often we'd disable that waste of time in Windows 2000 and below?), fancy icons, icon shading, all the shadow effects for the arrow and icons, and all that other petty graphical jazz that looks cool but eats up even a bit of system memory, and all that on top of the two Win 3.1x has to pull up.

The only slowing things for 3.1 I've found are if you are someone like me who pushes the 486 to it's limits. My 486 has 48MB of RAM, Windows For Workgroups 3.11, DOS 6.22, networked to the LAN via TCP/IP w/ DHCP, running at 800X600 @ 32 bit true color, with a TV Tuner, and Packard Bell Radio card to add to the mess of IRQ's, and even with 1MB Fort and Dr. Watson at boot, that thing loads faster than my PIII running Win 2K, and that's saying a lot because my Win2K setup is VERY fast. To slow the 486 down with a huge load of stuff, I usually wind up opening about 4-5 browser windows, IRC open (on #VC), plus my DOS graphics program idling in the background. For such an old computer, I still get a lot of use out of it.

atari2600a
October 4th, 2007, 06:56 AM
Sometimes I really wish Microsoft would automatically check hardware on install & disable most of that sluggish crap on systems running w/ minimum requirements, check for hardware changes w/ each startup, then if true, do it again. Things would be so much faster for the average user...

evildragon
October 4th, 2007, 09:24 AM
Sometimes I really wish Microsoft would automatically check hardware on install & disable most of that sluggish crap on systems running w/ minimum requirements, check for hardware changes w/ each startup, then if true, do it again. Things would be so much faster for the average user...
I think XP does this.

On some slow systems on a clean install, no mouse shadow, no shadow period will occur, even with no font smoothing. On my Penitum 4, EVERYTHING is enabled.

JDT
October 4th, 2007, 02:38 PM
I got a i486 DX4-100 w/ 64MBs of ram, SB awe32 and a 2mb mach32 vlb vid card, love the box, just put it together a few months ago, its become my retro gaming box. Got D622 and W311 installed. it runs everything as fast as could want / hope for.

... now to find that elusive 2mb mach64 vlb vid card... /want

Anonymous Coward
October 4th, 2007, 04:24 PM
If you want that VLB Mach64 card, there is a seller in eBay stores that has about 20 of them for $10 each, but unfortunately with about $10 shipping. Good luck finding the 2MB VRAM module for it though. The VLB Mach64 is a nice card, and a good choice for an ultimate 486 system. If you want cards on the cheap, a PCI 486 is probably a better choice. VLB cards are getting expensive.

I'm a big fan of the 486, and I think most of the software developed in the early to mid 90s is really wonderful. I'd like to be able to use that as an excuse for dumping so much money into my 486 system...but there's just no way to justify it to a sane person. It's just an obsession.

JDT
October 4th, 2007, 04:47 PM
If you want that VLB Mach64 card, there is a seller in eBay stores that has about 20 of them for $10 each, but unfortunately with about $10 shipping. Good luck finding the 2MB VRAM module for it though.

Been looking on ebay and my local computer recycling place. Some sellers have them, but are asking WAY too much for a 15 year old peice of hardware.


The VLB Mach64 is a nice card, and a good choice for an ultimate 486 system.

I thought so too ;) My mach32 was free though so I cant complain.


If you want cards on the cheap, a PCI 486 is probably a better choice. VLB cards are getting expensive.

486 + PCI = teh wrong


I'm a big fan of the 486, and I think most of the software developed in the early to mid 90s is really wonderful. I'd like to be able to use that as an excuse for dumping so much money into my 486 system...but there's just no way to justify it to a sane person. It's just an obsession.

Me too, and theres no way for me to explain my obsession to my poor wife whom has to suffer my collective impulses.

Anonymous Coward
October 4th, 2007, 10:20 PM
Ha, you should feel no sympathy for your wife at all about your collective impulses. Women are infamous for collecting all kinds of useless shit, mainly dresses they never wear, shoes and holiday themed decorations. At least our stuff is cheap and generally stays in the basement (next to the boxes full of X-mas ornaments).

Before I get moved to the "rants" section, I had better get back on topic. Yes, I tend to agree that PCI has no place on 486 systems. Because really, what's stopping you from dropping in a Geforce4 or a Voodoo5 or something. Since PCI cards are still being produced there's no challenge for creating an "ultimate" system.

Anyway, good luck on your build. Please post some pictures. :D

benali72
October 5th, 2007, 08:24 PM
Wow, really cool to read about some of the 486s you guys have built.

I've got two 486s, but they're just old "stock" machines, one a 486/25, the other a 486/66, both only have 8 meg ram each. But they're great for my limited use, which is usually just writing & playing around.

Mad-Mike -- when you're talking about 4-5 browser windows, you mean you're surfing the web on your 486 with all those windows open? How do you do it (I thought it would use up too much memory). Which browser do you use? I didn't really think it would be possible to do GUI web surfing using a 486.

atari2600a -- I share your sentiments.... but MS *CAN'T* do that or they wouldn't be able to force you to upgrade and pay their fees. It amazes me to see what the 5 different editions of Vista cost retail versus what Windows 95 went for, but that's the power of monopoly. The name of their game is money and retaining their monopoly, above the interests of their users.

BTW, does anyone remember what Windows 95 went for originally at retail from MS? I'd be really curious to get a real number to compare to those 5 Vista editions. Thanks!

modem7
October 5th, 2007, 09:35 PM
BTW, does anyone remember what Windows 95 went for originally at retail from MS? I'd be really curious to get a real number to compare to those 5 Vista editions.
Someone else tried that comparison at http://www.neowin.net/index.php?act=view&id=37494

Cloudschatze
October 5th, 2007, 10:05 PM
Oh, the many uses for a 486.

http://www.reama.com/elw/486s_2.jpg
http://www.reama.com/elw/studio_s.jpg
Oh, the many uses.
Oh, what could they be?
Look here, what's this? It's a "Synthe PC!"

http://www.reama.com/elw/unisys.jpg
http://www.reama.com/elw/sx64.jpg
Oh, what's this now?
Oh, what could it be?
A diminutive host for 64HDD!


Dr. Seuss, eat your heart out. :rockedov:

Mad-Mike
October 5th, 2007, 11:06 PM
Mad-Mike -- when you're talking about 4-5 browser windows, you mean you're surfing the web on your 486 with all those windows open? How do you do it (I thought it would use up too much memory). Which browser do you use? I didn't really think it would be possible to do GUI web surfing using a 486.


Yep, and I've been surfing in Windows 3.1 since 2001 using everything from AOL 3.0 all the way to what I use now, Netscape 4.08 (the big 14MB version with the HTML Editor and AIM). Browsing graphically is actually quite possible on a 486 based PC. I find Netscape better than MSIE with some machines, particularly 4.08, since it has the least javascript errors, and can still pull some fairly modern stuff. In Win95 I managed to get youtube to work on IE 5.5, the audio was perfect, but the framerate was 2 a minute, lol.

As for what I'm using to get on-line, it's through a router, 768K DSL is seemingly perfect for the 486 to get decent speed on-line, and to see how well it can do the job. The only downside is if you want true color graphics in WFWG, you pay up in GDI Resources.


So far for 486's I've had the following
----------------------------------------------
Flight 386 SX w/ ZEOS mobo - 16MB RAM, 100 MHz DX/4, now an AMD K-6 200, WFWG 3.11
IBM PC-330 100DX4 - 64MB EDO ECC RAM, 100 MHz DX/4, no longer here, Win98SE
Twinhead Slimnote II - 8MB RAM, 33 MHz 486 DX, kitty killed it, Win31
AT&T 3150 Safari - 12MB of RAM, 50 MHz 486 DX, wore that bugger out, it was like new when I got it, Win31
Prostar 9200M - 8 MB of RAM, 66 MHz 486 DX, broken screen, parts moved to Duracom 5110D, Win31
Duracom 5110D - 8MB of RAM, 100 Mhz 486 DX, used till it literally fell apart, WFWG 3.11
NanTan Notebook 3500 - 4MB of RAM on SIP, 33 MHz 486 DX, screen broke, no networking, used a NiCad battery, Win31
IBM Ps/Valuepoint 433DX/D - 8MB of RAM, 66 Mhz 486 DX, Sold it on E-bay, Win31 & Tiny Linux
Zenith Data Systems 433SX+ - 8MB of RAM, 66 Mhz 486 DX, sold it, Slackware Linux 96'
Cat Computers 486 - 48MB of RAM, 100 Mhz 486 DX/4, the 486 mentioned above, WFWG 3.11
IBM PS/2 9556 SL/2 - 12 MB of RAM, 50 Mhz 486 SL/2 (386 SX w/ large Cache), WFWG 3.11

Big Blues
October 6th, 2007, 03:05 PM
I too have been toying with the idea of building a supercharged 486 for the heck of it. I have the parts kicking around here. What I've envisioned is:

486DX4/100
__ MB RAM
Diamond Stealth 64 VLB
Adaptec 2740A VLB SCSI host + SCSI drives (x ?)
Promise EIDE VLB caching controller (2MB on board I think) & drives
Sound Blaster 64
Gravis Ultrasound v1.0
Hauppage TV Tuner/Capture
Floppies & 2GB tape drive

As far as drives go, while there's no need to mix SCSI and IDE, I'd do it because I could ;). The only thing I lack is a full tower case to load with drives. Otherwise I've got everything to make this system happen.

I also have a 486 DX4/120 box that is working that's got lots of room for improvement. But alas, it's PCI.

Joel

benali72
October 6th, 2007, 06:35 PM
modem7 -- thank you for the link. It looks like Windows 95 was $89.95 retail, while Vista ranges from $199 to $399 retail, depending on the edition. Monopoly looks like a lot of fun! (at least for Microsoft)

I found Microsoft's description of the 5 Vista editions at -- http://www.microsoft.com/uk/windowsvista/getready/editions/default.mspx

What's amazes me is that part of the gimmick with the 5 editions is the way they've stripped basic functions of out "Home Basic"... take a look at MS's own editions comparison chart at -- http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/choose.mspx

So we're all paying more, not only in the base price, but also for their technique of disguising additional price hikes in the salami-slicing of features across editions.

Mad-Mike -- wow, thanks for the info! I never would have guessed that kind of surfing to be possible with a 486. Very cool! I guess I just assumed one needed at least a Pentium II or so for modern internet access. Wrong-o!

The bottom line is -- 486 + Windows 3.1... rock on forever!!!

Anonymous Coward
October 6th, 2007, 07:47 PM
Are you sure Windows 95 went for just $89 when new? That sounds about right for their "upgrade version", but I am fairly certain that the full version was $200.

Thrashbarg
October 7th, 2007, 02:51 AM
Got myself a VESA Local Bus 486DX2-66 Intel Overdrive with a VESA Cirrus Logic VGA adaptor (most likely 256k) and a VESA IDE controller. I put 32MB RAM (8 4MB 30 pin SIMM's), a Sound Blaster 16 and an ISA network card in it.

You wouldn't believe how quickly it boots NetBSD 3.1, it's about as fast as some of my 500MHz machines!

One slight hiccup with it however, when I got it it had the usual dead CMOS battery. Unfortunately for me the battery was built into the RTC chip itself. So what did I do to remove it? I used the gas STOVE... warped the board nicely and I broke a heap of traces. I patched them up with some wire wrap (soldered), put in a 24 pin socket and a spare RTC with battery I had about. It still worked after all that punishment!

Currently it runs Windows 3.1, DOS 6.22 and some games.


Yep, and I've been surfing in Windows 3.1 since 2001 using everything from AOL 3.0 all the way to what I use now, Netscape 4.08 (the big 14MB version with the HTML Editor and AIM). Browsing graphically is actually quite possible on a 486 based PC. I find Netscape better than MSIE with some machines, particularly 4.08, since it has the least javascript errors, and can still pull some fairly modern stuff. In Win95 I managed to get youtube to work on IE 5.5, the audio was perfect, but the framerate was 2 a minute, lol.

There's a 16-bit version of IE5 floating about too...

Here it is, http://browsers.evolt.org/?ie/16bit/5.01

Mad-Mike
October 9th, 2007, 04:53 PM
There's a 16-bit version of IE5 floating about too...

Here it is, http://browsers.evolt.org/?ie/16bit/5.01[/QUOTE]

I already have it but thanks anyways, I don't use it too much on the CAT 486 because it has a tendancy to eat up resources more than Netscape Communicator 4.08 for some reasonn.

So far I've Run The Following Browsers on a 486

Windows/Windows For Workgroups 3.1x
-------------------------------------------------------
AOL 3.0 - Works good even on 8MB of RAM, meaning "good" for AOL
AOL 4.0 - Does'nt display some sites properly, and kinda slow w/o 16+ RAM
Netscape 2.02 - Fast, but a TON of Javascript Errors (probably more now)
Netscape 4.08 - Won't work with less than 16MB of RAM, flies with 32MB+
Internet Explorer 3.03 - Decent, allbeit a little sluggish on 8MB, Java Issues
Internet Explorer 4 - Decent, much like 3.03, except a few less JS Errors
Internet Explorer 5.0 - Decent, but can eat up resources with some configs.
Internet Explorer 5.01 - The best featurewise, though it can be sluggish

Windows 95
-------------------------------------------------------
AOL 4.0 - 16MB really wakes this one up on dial-up
AOL 5.0 - 32MB or More and this thing will fly on 56K or faster
Netscape Navigator 5 - Worked pretty well as I remember
Netscape Navigator 6 - Worked pretty well as I remember
Internet Explorer 4.01 - Seems somewhat lacking, probably Javascript
Internet Explorer 5.0 - The usual Browser I use for Win95

Windows 98 SE
-------------------------------------------------------
AOL 4.0 - Ran fine when I used it, though AOL still sucks
AOL 5.0 - The best AOL for 486 (and I mean best for as "best" as AOL can be)
AOL 6.0 - This literally CRAWLS on a 486, takes about 5 mins to load on 32MB of RAM
Internet Explorer 5.0 - Came with 98SE, works great
Internet Explorer 5.5 - Same as 5.5
Internet Explorer 6.0 - Just a hair slower, but still not low enough to reach the average mark
Mozilla - Slow as molasses in January the one time I tried it on a 486
Netscape 6.1 - Was somewhat slower than when I ran 6.0 on 95, mostly due to all the included plugins and attachments.

Windows 2000 Pro
--------------------------------------------------------
Internet Explorer 5.5 - The one time I tried this, it ran surprisingly well