Comparing my 486s with SpeedSys

Today I pulled out my two 486 desktops to work on some loose ends that I’ve put off for a while.

The first one with IPC branding I bought earlier in the year from a bloke in Perth, though was missing a serial/parallel port cable for connectivity. I purchased a new one cheaply off eBay a while ago but finally got around to installing it. Now I can use a serial mouse.


The specs are fairly modest for a 486. It runs a PcChips M918i motherboard (also sometimes known as a Amptron DX-9300) with fake cache chips that were relatively prevalent in the early 1990s. Not ideal, but these days I’m thankful for having a working 486. Still I consider having PCI slots and using a replaceable coin battery instead of a soldered barrel of acid positives with this board.

Installed into the board is a DX4 100 MHz processor, 8MB 72-pin RAM, 2 MB S3 Trio64 PCI video card, and a Seagate 518 MB hard disk drive. I also tossed today in a spare 3Com 3C905x PCI network card and got it connecting on my home network under Windows for Workgroups 3.11.

This ESS 1868 ISA sound card I was going to use with it, though for some reason the machine wouldn’t boot up at all. Pulling out the card, and the machine would start fine. I’ve used the card in a Pentium so I know it works, though decided to leave it out for now.


I gave it a whirl on SpeedSys 4.78 and these were the results. First thing noticeable was picking up only 6 MB of RAM instead of 8 MB as detected by the BIOS. The Seagate hard disk is a ST3660A running at only 3,800 RPM where speed does not belong in the same sentence.


The other 486 I’ve built completely from scratch sourcing various parts over time on eBay. 486towerMany of the components I managed to get new (e.g. motherboard, I/O card, and sound card) which I really didn’t expect though it did come at a price. This is what I call my “ultimate” 486, though I’m sure there are some out there even better.

Again this has a DX4 100 MHz processor, though with 32 MB Panasonic 72-pin RAM, 4 MB Matrox Millenium II PCI video card, and a 20 GB Maxtor DiamondMax 7200 RPM hard disk drive. Only 2 GB is used on the drive though.


Today I tossed in the SoundBlaster AWE64 Gold ISA sound card. This is really the ultimate for DOS gaming and the last before the transition to PCI cards. Maybe the only thing better is having a Roland setup when it comes to MIDI.


I ran a comparison and this is where it became a little more interesting. This DX4 processor scored only 37.04 compared to the previous 39.34 on the IPC 486. The Maxtor hard disk blew the Seagate out of the water given the higher RPM and general advancements over the years. Also noticeable was the testing of the extended memory. Both sets of RAM were consistent until the 256 mark, though this PC had Level 2 data cache which suggests this has an influence on the test.



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