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Want to build first 486 or Pentium machine for DOS games; suggestions?

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    Want to build first 486 or Pentium machine for DOS games; suggestions?

    I've started collected a few of my favorite DOS games; Darklands, Eye of the Beholder, The Immortal, etc. I want to build my first real DOS gaming machine, but wasn't sure if I should go with an i486 or Pentium processor.

    I love the full height AT tower cases with the turbo button and the MHz LED display. However, as far as I can tell, the turbo button only worked with the Pentium. Is that correct? Also, would a Pentium be too fast for many of the older DOS era games? Or wasn't that the point of the Turbo button?

    Thanks.

    #2
    Actually, its the other way around. Most if not all 486's had turbo buttons, few Pentiums did. As for the games you listed. Both the 486 and Pentium will be overkill. Personally, I'd run those games on a 386. The Pentium will be "easier" to get parts for as they have PCI and you can put a slow Pentium in it to limit the speed. If you will forgive the SHAMELESS SELF PROMOTION, I have motherboards on eBay that range in power from early 486 through the super socket 7. I even have a pair of "gaming" 486 boards for sale on there.

    Based on the games you listed, I'd choose a 486 setup. Its more period correct and because they have turbo switches, they are easier to slow down if you need to.
    It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

    Comment


      #3
      Oh, good. I was hoping it'd be a 486. Seems more appropriate. Thanks for the motherboards, I'll check them out. I have a 486 DX2 processor, is there a particular motherboard that's more appropriate? I've never built a vintage PC before, so this is all new to me.

      On a side note: how do the PCI and ISA slots not overlap? Maybe I'm just not visualizing the orientation correctly. Or do you just use one or the other?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by olePigeon View Post
        Oh, good. I was hoping it'd be a 486. Seems more appropriate. Thanks for the motherboards, I'll check them out. I have a 486 DX2 processor, is there a particular motherboard that's more appropriate? I've never built a vintage PC before, so this is all new to me.

        On a side note: how do the PCI and ISA slots not overlap? Maybe I'm just not visualizing the orientation correctly. Or do you just use one or the other?
        If you take a PCI card and turn it upside down, you basically have an ISA card. In terms of orientation and what not. If you want some examples of other "retro" gaming systems, i'd have you look at this site: http://vogons.zetafleet.com/index.php They specialize in dos gaming emulation (via dosbox) and retro "gaming" machines.
        It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

        Comment


          #5
          Interesting that you haven't built a system that old before but great that you'll get to. I'm not sure how you're thinking they'd overlap, they're all in a line but at most.. if the motherboard manufacturer didn't think about it you may have just 1 slot where the two meet that they wouldn't be able to be next to each other, however most the boards I recall I either never had a system that was fully populated or the had enough of a gap to not interfere. There weren't too many huge cards to cause problems like the video cards today that end up burning you two slots.

          Funny that you were hoping for a 486 but asking, build what you want Either will be fine for what you're looking at doing. You'll be pretty happy if you end up with a dx/math coprocessor system, that'll end up doing math quite well and take some load off vs an SX chip. Been a while since I've been seriously inside home built systems from that era but I think 486s started having the 487 integrated and just badged the chips as dx or sx opposed to previous chips where you had to have a second 80x87 processor installed for the math coprocessor. Other than that then you'll be looking for an ok video card. PCI will be faster of course so something to keep in mind. Unfortunately I didn't do hardcore gaming back then so I'm not up to snuff on what video cards were good for what game. Most of the games I played weren't very 3d intense so they ran find on whatever we had (s3 or trident or something). This was before the 3d heavy games that needed larger amounts of video memory to cache images.

          Back then it was more of playing games the computer supported than building a computer to support a game.
          Looking to acquire: IBM 5100, Altair 8800

          Comment


            #6
            If you're looking to run 3D beyond the Doom level, you might as well build up a pentium. There's really no need anything beyond a 1mb video card of your favorite flavor in a 486. If you need more video memory than that, you're going to need (or rather, want) more processing power than that as well.

            Diamond made some nice VLB cards for the 486-era... I can't think of the specific model, but I know that Chromedome45 has one in a 486 I gave him (think it's a Diamond Speedstar VLB model, but not sure).
            ---
            Currently seeking:
            * Roland MPU-401/AT (with daughter card header)
            * Magitronic K-156 Keyboard (5pin DIN w/ XT-AT switch)
            I also collect PC and C64 Sierra On-Line software!

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              #7
              Originally posted by Maverick1978 View Post
              If you're looking to run 3D beyond the Doom level, you might as well build up a pentium. There's really no need anything beyond a 1mb video card of your favorite flavor in a 486. If you need more video memory than that, you're going to need (or rather, want) more processing power than that as well.

              Diamond made some nice VLB cards for the 486-era... I can't think of the specific model, but I know that Chromedome45 has one in a 486 I gave him (think it's a Diamond Speedstar VLB model, but not sure).
              I'll second that. Diamond Speedstar VLB w/ 1 MB onboard. Fairly cheap on ebay.
              Surely not everyone was Kung-Fu fighting

              Comment


                #8
                I have a 100MHz 486 DX4 with a pair of Voodoo 2s and an ATI Mach64 in it.

                This, obviously, is more than anything on your list would require. As stated above, a 66MHz 486 DX2 with a 1MB VESA video card should be MORE than enough for a machine of that calibre.

                Comment


                  #9
                  You know, I forgot about that. Back when they had video accelerator cards. But yeah those were for pretty advanced games, though I do remember playing descent and terminal velocity on my 486 pretty well but 3d games weren't as common. Actually I think I was just old enough to start swapping out parts in our 486 from scavenged systems and friends who worked at repair shops and had surplus parts for cheap or garbage. I know we upgraded the processor a few times even to where we had some fast processor that was slower than the slower one for some reason (possibly we didn't change the motherboard jumpers correctly). I probably did upgrade the video card at some point since I do recall playing some games that I don't think a stock Packard Bell would handle.
                  Looking to acquire: IBM 5100, Altair 8800

                  Comment


                    #10
                    HP VL-series Vectras employed unevenly-spaced card slots, so that you could insert a problem card in a "wide" slot without problems. Just another example of the "old" HP's thoughtfulness.

                    I still have my "sleaze" P1 board available. It comes with documentation; just search the forum for "sleaze"...
                    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by kvanderlaag View Post
                      I have a 100MHz 486 DX4 with a pair of Voodoo 2s and an ATI Mach64 in it.

                      This, obviously, is more than anything on your list would require. As stated above, a 66MHz 486 DX2 with a 1MB VESA video card should be MORE than enough for a machine of that calibre.
                      I'm going to point out that is a POOR combination for video/cpu. Even a voodoo 1 is overpowered for that processor. Its like putting monster truck tires on a scooter.
                      It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Really I would start out with trying to find an old 25 MHz or a 33 MHz 486 board, look on Freecycle and such places.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Whatever you get, try and get it as complete as possible. Motherboard, processor, ram, & CPU fan all together, or a complete system. It's a pain to hunt all the parts down individually, and it's more expensive. A Pentium will usually work with an ATX case & power supply (20 pin). 486 will usually be AT, which are getting harder to find. A few go both ways. But some power supplies have the pins switched around and will blow your motherboard. And the matching boards will be blown by a standard power supply.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Hmm where to begin.

                            DOOM is 2D not 3D, a very fast 486 will run it just fine. If you want to play an early 3D video game then Quake is what you are looking for.

                            Forget doing real 3D on a 486. The Voodoo 1 was the first real game changer for 3D video and that was well into the Pentium 1 era.

                            Voodoo 2 SLI was usefull in the P2/P3 era.

                            You need to do some research and find out what games you want to play and then research the hardware needed to play them (don't go by minimum specs). Most likely you will find one machine and video card setup is not optimal for everything you might want.
                            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
                            Boxed apps and games for the above systems
                            Analog video capture cards/software and complete systems

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Unknown_K View Post
                              Voodoo 2 SLI was usefull in the P2/P3 era.
                              I don't think it was called SLI back then.

                              olePidgeon: Where are you located? I have a pretty decent P75 that I could sell you. PM me if you are interested and I can get you some pictures and stats.

                              IBM 5160 - 360k, 1.44Mb Floppies, NEC V20, 8087-3, 45MB MFM Hard Drive, Vega 7 Graphics, IBM 5154 Monitor running MS-DOS 5.00
                              IBM PCJr Model 48360 640kb RAM, NEC V20,, jrIDE Side Cart, 360kb Floppy drives running MS-DOS 5.00
                              Evergreen Am5x86-133 64Mb Ram, 8gb HDD, SB16 in a modified ATX case running IBM PC-DOS 7.10

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