thinking of the "ultimate" retro x86 PCs - what bits to seek/keep ?

Swift Griggs swiftgriggs at
Fri Jun 3 09:57:38 CDT 2016

On Thu, 2 Jun 2016, TeoZ wrote:
> The ultimate gaming 486 would have an EISA+VLB motherboard.

Yes, I would agree on that. However, since I'm mostly interested in 
running older Unix variants and DOS, games aren't at the top of my value 
system. Don't get me wrong, I love games, and I'd surely have a few loaded 
with DOS. However, I'm looking for something special. I have this foggy 
memory of a small, white, NEC (or maybe it was NCR, or or or... crap. I 
just can't remember) slimline desktop machine that was a 486 and had a 
SCSI2 interface right on the mobo and had an external SCSI2 header, too. I 
know it had two or three expansion slots, but I didn't get to pop open the 
box to look at what kind of slots they were. I've been google image 
searching for a while trying to find it again. I saw them while doing some 
contract job back in the 90's. The green LED on a SCSI terminator caught 
my eye (as well as the fact that I liked the case design).

> EISA for SCSI caching controllers and 10/100 Ethernet cards, VLB for 
> high end video cards, plus room for an ISA sound card.

I have an Orchid VL-bus card I plan to use. I think I'll probably go with 
the 3c509 for ethernet, or a 3C905 if the machine comes with PCI 

> The ultimate work 486 would probably be an IBM PS/2 Model 90 or 95 with 
> exotic MCA cards. Or the same EISA + VLB as above with different cards.

I'm not a huge PS/2 fan, but some of them were still interesting to me. I 
just looked those up. That model 95 is a beast. 8 32-bit MCA slots. Geeze. 
However, I'm afraid a lot of those MCA adapters won't be supported under 
something like BSDi or Solaris x86.

> To be honest I have a few different ultimate 486 setups so there isn't 
> one ultimate to be had.

I totally understand. That's why I put big quotes around "ultimate". 
Everyone has their own idea of that. I'm really just hoping that if 
someone sees me saying "I think this bit was really nice" about something 
they had a bad experience with, then they'd speak up. Some folks have 
already, and I appreciate that. Plus, I've learned a ton about floppy 
drives with the discussion about 2.88M floppies. :-)


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