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Thread: Attempt at a time-period correct 386sx40

  1. #51


    Quote Originally Posted by lowen View Post

    The OP asked about a period-correct 386SX-40. Other than having a sound card, nothing in the text of the post indicated a gaming rig, just a 'rig' even though the photo shows a game loading. There wasn't that much difference between the business/enterprise PC of the day and the home PC of the day;
    I was indeed thinking of a "mainstream" 386 rig, used in a home setting. Not only oriented for gaming, but a generic machine used in a generic way. I can imagine in the early nineties there were 386 machines used by dad for business and the kids where the occasional game was played.

    Quote Originally Posted by lowen View Post
    The period-correct gaming rig from 1992 would not have had Ethernet, an enterprise/business technology, but would have had a modem for dial-up. So you have a mix of business-class and consumer in the original post, AND the OP specifically mentioned the 3C509 card, which is the immediate successor of the 3C503 and 3C507 cards.
    But it's a valid point on the networking card. Should have picked on of those earlier versions but got lazy and wanted to use ethernet And didn't occur to me that ethernet wasn't at all used much at the time.
    As far as the dial up is concerned, they are of very little / no use today so I didn't add them to this build (modem cards are typically the first things that get thrown out here).

  2. #52


    Quote Originally Posted by Stone View Post
    It's probably something he already had lying around as opposed to one he just acquired for this build.
    Exactly.... these 386 boards are not easy to come by. I've been fortunate enough to have a couple of big retro hauls with lots of XT / 8 and 16 bit ISA peripherals, but the 386 stuff is not that common here. And don't really want to spend 40+ euros / dollars on an untested 386 motherboard

  3. #53


    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck(G) View Post
    I'd always thought of a 386SX as a 386 machine for those who wanted a little more oomph for the 286. The downside is that most SX machines use the soldered-in variety of CPU, so swapping it for a better-performing chip isn't an option.

    I believe that there were some late 286 systems that could outrun the ubiquitous 16MHz 386SX boxes.
    My 386sx40 was released around 1991 I think. I saw it more as a budget friendly consumer option for the more expensive 486 computers. I was under the impression that not a lot of people were still using the 286 in 1991. (but could be wrong offcourse).

  4. #54


    Quote Originally Posted by Unknown_K View Post
    From what I recall 386sx40 boards were made at the time everybody was using a 486. They were small form factor budget boards. I shipped a 386SX40 board to a guy in Canada ages ago because he wanted a 386 board to mess with and I would rather give that up then a full blown 386 board at the time. Cyrix made 486sx type upgrades for the 386sx that just fits on top of the chip. I also have 386sx chips that have pins that would go into a normal 386 board in my collection (Intel).
    It is indeed a very small form factor and does look very budget. There are very few chips on it. Compared to other 386 boards I've seen this one is really mini. But I am interested to see how it compares to a "full-blown" 386 like the dx40.

  5. #55


    And for those interested ... I've documented the build a little bit here :

    But will definitely do a follow up to make it more time period correct (networking) as well as software (probably dos 5.0 / windows 3.1).
    Also like the whole discussion on SX / DX and budget motherboards VS full blown motherboards. Would be interesting to see exactly how much difference is between them.

    For now, I'm just enjoying the machine because it is pretty cool to finally have a 386 up and running

  6. #56


    Quote Originally Posted by RetroSpector78 View Post
    Do you know of an online reference somewhere that centralises release dates of all these hardware components ?
    I doubt if there's such a thing.
    I usually search Google Books, in this case a search for "Etherlink 16" has found Network World, Apr 1, 1991: "3Com Corp. recently introduced its EtherLink 16 TP, a 16-bit Ethernet adapter for 10BaseT twisted-pair networks..."

  7. #57
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Pacific Northwest, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by RetroSpector78 View Post
    My 386sx40 was released around 1991 I think. I saw it more as a budget friendly consumer option for the more expensive 486 computers. I was under the impression that not a lot of people were still using the 286 in 1991. (but could be wrong offcourse).
    Depends on where you were looking. In the industrial control area, the 286 was still quite common, because the chipsets were mature and 20+ MHz CMOS 286s were available and Windows was notorious for its instability (i.e. you wouldn't run a power plant with it). For the average user in 1991, there was little impetus to move to the 386; most stuff was still DOS or Windows 3.0 at best. What really pushed people into running 32-bit Windows code (and we're talking about the typical small business or home user) was the need of a larger architecture to support the nascent consumer internet. AOL, for example, didn't get started until 1991. CIS didn't even offer internet-connected email until 1989.

    I think the best way to get an idea of what was period-correct is to read the various magazines of the exact period that you're interested in--and keep in mind that those were pushing bleeding-edge products--the average home user was usually a couple of years behind.

  8. #58
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Western North Carolina, USA


    For period correct references, I would recommend Computer Shopper.
    Bughlt: Sckmud
    Shut her down Scotty, she's sucking mud again!

  9. #59
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Galicia, Spain


    I have a 386SX @ 40 Mhz running. Performance is in the range of a 386DX @ 25. Those boards where very late in the party and the 386 was really obsolete by then. Specs are, certainly, not 100% period correct:

    - Am386SX @ 40Mhz (of course)
    - IIT math coprocessor @ 40Mhz (yes they did that thing)
    - 4 MiB RAM
    - Generic Super I/O card
    - Trident TVGA9000B (512KiB)
    - Aztech Sound Galaxy sound card
    - Realtek 8019AS (NE2000 clone) network card
    - Floppy disks: 3.5 1.44 and 5.25 360
    - 400 MB Seagate Medalist Hard disk
    - Genius serial mouse
    - Joystick
    - A - Random PS/2 keyboard with "Win" keys
    - A Random 17" LCD monitor
    - Desktop "pizza box" format AT case. It is very yellowed but I like it that way, it's period correct

    I currently do not have any photo but I promise to post some ones soon .

  10. #60
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Durham, Durham, United Kingdom


    Back in 1992 or so I bought myself a 386-SX40 based system to replace a 286-16. It was specced as follows:

    AMD 386SX-40
    - 4x 1MB 30pin SIMMS
    - 3.5 1.44MB FDD
    - 80MB IDE HDD
    - 1MB Cirrus Logic CL5428
    - Soundblaster 2.0
    - 3 button serial mouse

    In terms of games, I ran most things on it until I upgraded to a 486-DX2 in about 1995-96. It eventually gained a SB16 instead of the SB 2.0, and a 420MB HDD instead of the 80MB. Also it was host to my first CDROM - a double speed Mitsumi.

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