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Thread: Filling the DOS gap of the at that time so-called Windows Accelerator SVGA cards

  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by AriesMu View Post
    Yeah don't worry about the 486. It's a ISA-only machine, pros and cons of using branded PCs (Compaq Prolinea 4/66).
    With that I just have to answer the million dollar question: Tseng ET4000/W32 which is built-in on the motherboard under a "local bus" (as per manufacturer spec sheet), but not clear enough about the specifics of this "local bus" (32 bit??? 33 MHz? or what?) or if to go with an ISA card... but I'd hate to have to relay on the ISA bus. But this is another story.
    Local bus means the CPU front side bus, so yes, 32-bit 33MHz.
    And ET4000/W32 is a good chip, don't even think about replacing it with some ISA card.

  2. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xacalite View Post
    Also, it should be noted that all those comparisions like S3 911 (accelerated in Windows, but poor in DOS) vs. Tseng ET4000AX (non-accelerated, but good in DOS) are only important for ISA cards.
    See eg. the GRAPHICS BOARD COMPARISON CHART at https://www.microlabs.com/
    Most PCI cards easily outrace even the best ISA cards, both in DOS and Windows.
    oh wow I didn't know nor expect that... I'm almost sure I saw plenty of benchmarks those days covering also VLB accelerated cards that ended up being poor in DOS... gotta double-check, now I'm curious!

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xacalite View Post
    Local bus means the CPU front side bus, so yes, 32-bit 33MHz.
    And ET4000/W32 is a good chip, don't even think about replacing it with some ISA card.
    Oh okay that's great to know! Thanks!

    Still I'd be very curious to run a thorough series of video benchmarks both 2D and 3D under both DOS and Windows (and also 3D-games-based benchmarks) and then install an ISA ET4000/W32 card and re-run them all and enjoy the differences! :drooling:

  4. #14
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    DOS gaming runs from 320x240 to VGA to VESA modes using UNIVBE.

    Most ISA video cards suck but most work fine for very early DOS games (mid to late 80's). You will find some of those games will crash the installer on fast Pentium systems but most people who play DOS games don't bother with that era anyway.

    There are only a handful of Win 3 games so I don't see the need to optimize anything for them. If you like to run Windows 3.11 for apps then you have to figure out what resolution and color depth you need and go from there. Early W3.11 accelerators tended to have a shitty VGA chip and a co processor for the Windows acceleration so they suck for DOS period (Weitek based Diamond cards for example). Early W3.11 acceleration was mostly for line drawing and scrolling in a 256 color environment. Once you start getting into 32k+ colors you needed a different chip to do that and more VRAM. Matrox made some nice 4mb VLB high color Windows accelerators but they sucked in DOS.

    Stay away from Trident and OAK cards. Early S3 chipset cards also suck but later ones are decent.

    If you are going Pentium or last gasp 486 PCI systems and still want win3 support then you have plenty of choices like Matrox Millenium/Mystique, Nvidia RIVA, ET4000/ET6000 Tseng cards, some ATI rage cards, and some rarer oddball chips. There are plenty of DOS based 3dgames you can use a Voodoo1 with if you have a Pentium.
    What I collect: 68K/Early PPC Mac, DOS/Win 3.1 era machines, Amiga/ST, C64/128
    Nubus/ISA/VLB/MCA/EISA cards of all types
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    Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

  5. #15

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    Thanks for the summary, Unknown_K, very useful.

    Yeah, about the avoid Trident and OAK, that I figured already lol

  6. #16

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    Windows accellerators only really "sucked" at VGA graphics in the 1990-1992 period. After that the situation improved substantially. Pretty much all the S3 VRAM based cards from the 928 onward had pretty decent VGA performance. I also tested the DRAM against VRAM versions of the Mach64, and the results from my DOS benchmarks were identical.

    Personally, I feel the best all around card for ISA bus is something based on CL GD5434. It's a 64-bit DRAM based card with pretty acceptable windows accelleration. Other options to consider are:

    -Tseng ET4000W32i (this version should be a fair bit faster than the regular W32)
    -ATi Mach32/64 when equipped with 2MB (maybe not the best choice compatibility wise)
    -S3 805i when equipped with 2MB

    In the early 90s I had an ATi card with the Mach8 accelerator chip. These cards only did up to 256 colours in Windows but were pretty fast for their day. They also had discrete VGA cores from the VGAWonder+. I hardly recall any DOS software that didn't work well, except for very old titles with CGA graphics.

    As a last resort you could always chain two cards together with the feature connector. Of course, the accellerator card should not have a VGA core, or at least a jumper to disable it. This can be tricky as on some cards the feature connector isn't configured for the input or output you need. Note that in this configuration, your VGA card would also be limited to 256 colours. On my EISA bus system I ran an ET4000W32P paired with a SuperMac Spectrum/24
    "Will the Highways on the internets become more few?"

    V'Ger XT

  7. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous Coward View Post
    Windows accellerators only really "sucked" at VGA graphics in the 1990-1992 period. After that the situation improved substantially. Pretty much all the S3 VRAM based cards from the 928 onward had pretty decent VGA performance. I also tested the DRAM against VRAM versions of the Mach64, and the results from my DOS benchmarks were identical.

    Personally, I feel the best all around card for ISA bus is something based on CL GD5434. It's a 64-bit DRAM based card with pretty acceptable windows accelleration. Other options to consider are:

    -Tseng ET4000W32i (this version should be a fair bit faster than the regular W32)
    -ATi Mach32/64 when equipped with 2MB (maybe not the best choice compatibility wise)
    -S3 805i when equipped with 2MB

    In the early 90s I had an ATi card with the Mach8 accelerator chip. These cards only did up to 256 colours in Windows but were pretty fast for their day. They also had discrete VGA cores from the VGAWonder+. I hardly recall any DOS software that didn't work well, except for very old titles with CGA graphics.

    As a last resort you could always chain two cards together with the feature connector. Of course, the accellerator card should not have a VGA core, or at least a jumper to disable it. This can be tricky as on some cards the feature connector isn't configured for the input or output you need. Note that in this configuration, your VGA card would also be limited to 256 colours. On my EISA bus system I ran an ET4000W32P paired with a SuperMac Spectrum/24

    ↑↑↑ Useful summary! ↑↑↑ Thanks!!!

    Then I guess it's either PCI S3928 and higher (maybe Vision 96, or Cirrus GD5434 (What about a PCI GD5446BV I have???).

  8. #18

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    Cirrus GD5434 is very good by ISA standards, but not interesting by PCI standards.
    AFAIR all PCI Cirruses were cheap and boring.
    Higher class cards were those with VRAM, so yes, if you want something stylish, then S3 Vision 968 is worth trying.

  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xacalite View Post
    Cirrus GD5434 is very good by ISA standards, but not interesting by PCI standards.
    AFAIR all PCI Cirruses were cheap and boring.
    Higher class cards were those with VRAM, so yes, if you want something stylish, then S3 Vision 968 is worth trying.
    great, thanks!!

  10. #20

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    Ah, I thought we were talking about ISA cards.
    If you're wanting PCI, it's a totally different game. Just get a Trio64V+ and be done with it.

    S3 928 is probably a poor choice for PCI...I don't know if that one supports PCI natively. Either way it's not a mature solution.
    "Will the Highways on the internets become more few?"

    V'Ger XT

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