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This forum is part of our mission to promote the preservation of vintage computers through education and outreach. (In real life we also run events and have a museum.) We encourage you to join us, participate, share your knowledge, and enjoy.

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"Better" 486 Video / Graphics Cards

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    "Better" 486 Video / Graphics Cards

    What are some of the "better" 486 VESA cards to get the best possible graphics out of your 486 machine?

    Curious what's out there outside the various Tridents, including my 2MB Trident.
    "In Life, The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short..."

    #2
    Depends what you want to do with them, but overall I have never seen much difference.

    Some Tseng ET4000 cards offer simple 2D Acceleration in Windows with the correct drivers. Otherwise you've generally got S3 and Cirrus Logics of various models, both of which I would reccomend over the Trident as the Trident cards have a knack of not properly detecting the monitor and switching to monochrome mode in my experience... There is a program to override this that I used to use with one of mine, no idea where you'd find it now.
    YouTube (Mostly DOS Stuff) | Let's Plays (Mostly DOS Games) | Twitch.TV | Duke4.net
    DOSBox sucks, my Casio is better than your Roland and my clone is better than your overblown proprietary box.

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      #3
      Do you know the name of that program?

      Also, didnt Creative make a VESA card that was pretty good?
      "In Life, The Days Are Long But The Years Are Short..."

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        #4
        ATI made some nice VESA cards under the Mach32 and Mach64 chipsets.
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          #5
          Depends on what you need to do with the video card. The better cards have 2-4MB of RAM so that you can do high resolution, decent refresh rates, and 32 bit color depth (if you need to do image editing for instance). The ET4000 was decent in accelerating Windows while still providing good DOS speeds.
          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

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            #6
            Don't know about Creative's cards, forgot they were even in that market so I can't comment there.

            That program, I had forgotten, but I did some digging and it turns out it was called SMONITOR. If you download this driver (Even if you are not using this card) and open the TVGAUTIL.ZIP file up, go to the UTILITY folder and you will find it along with some other programs. Interestingly, the program appears to work with other adapters and even DOSBox (In S3_SVGA mode).
            YouTube (Mostly DOS Stuff) | Let's Plays (Mostly DOS Games) | Twitch.TV | Duke4.net
            DOSBox sucks, my Casio is better than your Roland and my clone is better than your overblown proprietary box.

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              #7
              I'm going to assume that you have VLB. The Diamond Viper P9100 was a pretty hot card. I think I still have the PCI version kicking around.
              Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

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                #8
                Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
                I'm going to assume that you have VLB. The Diamond Viper P9100 was a pretty hot card. I think I still have the PCI version kicking around.
                These cards were pretty awful performance wise in DOS. Remember, they are really two video cards in one, basically a VGA card with a dedicated graphics accelerator chip (The P9000 or P9100). They used a crappy Oak or Weitek 5186 chip for bog standard VGA support and VESA BIOS Extension support required a DOS TSR in order to work right. The Weitek P9000/P9100 with proper Windows drivers was very advanced for its time however.

                http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~torsten/viper/index.html

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                  #9
                  Personally I have the S3 Trio 64 in VLB that should be pretty close to the best VLB. I wanted the S3 968 version that comes with VRAM, but the last auction for one of these went beyond what I was willing to pay

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                    #10
                    I've tried a range or cards lately and, for a system that's simply aimed at DOS games (non SVGA) I settled on a humble cirrus logic with 1mb. I tried Trident, S3, ATi, Tseng, etc and none had the image quality + compatibility of the cirrus logic. Speed isn't really a factor for 2D vga.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by njroadfan View Post
                      These cards were pretty awful performance wise in DOS. Remember, they are really two video cards in one, basically a VGA card with a dedicated graphics accelerator chip (The P9000 or P9100). They used a crappy Oak or Weitek 5186 chip for bog standard VGA support and VESA BIOS Extension support required a DOS TSR in order to work right. The Weitek P9000/P9100 with proper Windows drivers was very advanced for its time however.

                      http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~torsten/viper/index.html
                      I'd assumed that it was going to be under Windows, but maybe that's not warranted. I've got a Tsenglabs something-or-the-other in my 486 box in VLB. Seems to be okay. Wish I could remember the chipset, though. 4MB RAM.

                      Really, any card is going to suck in 16-bit DOS mode. Things start to fly when you can use a 32-bit instruction set.
                      Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.

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                        #12
                        I think the Tseng ET4000 chipset could only use up to 2MB of RAM on VLB (and 2MB was much faster then 1MB because of interleaving). Cards did make a difference in DOS gaming, some early 3S chips were so slow, same with generic Trident cards. Back when there used to be local computer shows at the metroplex they used to have 486 VLB systems up and running DOOM 2 in a loop and most of those used cheap but decent late edition Cirrus Logic chips. Early ATI cards were screamers in Windows but slow as hell in DOS. The Weitek cards were fast in 256 color mode in Windows but other cards were faster when using more color at the same resolution.
                        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


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Chuck(G) View Post
                          I'd assumed that it was going to be under Windows, but maybe that's not warranted. I've got a Tsenglabs something-or-the-other in my 486 box in VLB. Seems to be okay. Wish I could remember the chipset, though. 4MB RAM.

                          Really, any card is going to suck in 16-bit DOS mode. Things start to fly when you can use a 32-bit instruction set.
                          Its likely a Tseng ET4000/W32p, one of the fastest cards under DOS. The Diamond Viper uses a slow VGA chip hooked up to the ISA bus, so plain VGA stuff was slow. It was sluggish even in 32-bit protected mode DOS games. UniVBE was a godsend with that board, mostly because of Diamond's lousy VBE1.2 implementation.

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                            #14
                            Originally posted by orion24 View Post
                            Personally I have the S3 Trio 64 in VLB that should be pretty close to the best VLB. I wanted the S3 968 version that comes with VRAM, but the last auction for one of these went beyond what I was willing to pay
                            This is what I was going to suggest. Mine is branded a Diamond Stealth 64 DRAM T. The Tseng cards might be marginally faster, but the S3's compatibility can't be beat. I have a Cirrus Logic card, 5426 based IIRC, and it cut about 5% off of my framrates in DOOM. The S3's picture quality is flawless, and it works perfectly in demanding DOS side scrollers like Jazz Jackrabbit, and Dangerous Dave 3.

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                              #15
                              I haven't found Trio64 to be near the level of ET4000W32P or ARK1000 under DOS (though supposedly very compatible). It's probably a better card than either of those under Windows though.
                              "Will the Highways on the internets become more few?"

                              V'Ger XT

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