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LF: ISA VGA (Preferred trade, so very broke)

TheLazy1

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
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370
Location
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I'm looking for a ISA VGA card with good DOS performance and compatibility.
All I have now are Trident/Oak which are apparently extremely poor in many ways.

Seeing as I'm pretty broke hopefully one (or more) of these items may interest people wanting to trade.

Off the top of my head:

Previously mentioned Oak and Trident cards
Promise EIDE Max IDE bios with IDE connector
Adaptec 16Bit ISA SCSI Controller (Has bios, cable - can test if there is interest)
8Bit ISA Adaptec Controller (Floppy? Has bios? Again, bug me and I'll check :D)
4x 3 Chip SIPP Memory (Bug me to check pin conditions/specs)
Combo ISA RTC/Floppy?/Serial/Parallel/Game (Bug me and I'll check what it actually has)


PCI Items: (Non vintage but... eh)

Yamaha YMF-724 PCI Sound (Real OPL hardware)
Matrox m3D (Has original disc)


I checked eBay, no one has sane prices or decent chipsets.
Located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
 

Druid6900

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Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
OK, what make and model of VGA card are you looking for and what's the model number(s) of your Adaptec card(s)? I have some VGAWonder cards that might suit you and I have, oh, about 10% of the VGA cards I have on my site (see link in signature space)
 

Raven

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DE, USA..
I've got lots of VGA/SVGA cards, a laughably large amount. I'd be more than happy to trade. The Promise EIDE controller and the Combo card, and the two PCI cards all interest me. If the Yamaha card functions soundblaster-compatible under DOS then I choose that and will straight swap for whatever kind of VGA card you can imagine - save for 8-bit ISA - those are worth a bit more, and I'd ask for at least three cards in trade for that (I only own two 8-bit-capable cards...).

Edit: Answered my own question about the Yamaha via spec sheet, yes it does. It does require DDMA or PC/PCI, though (if you're interested in the topic of SB-compatible cards in a modern machine, you know what I'm talking about, heh).
 
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TheLazy1

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Messages
370
Location
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I'll see if I can get some scans up for you guys, even if we don't trade I'm more than happy to give these away for the price of shipping.
Except for the m3D... My first 3D accelerator will be a little harder to part with. :)
 

TheLazy1

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
370
Location
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Adaptec controller:


RTC Combo:


Yamaha YMF-724:


I still have a few more to find as I'm reboxing and writing an inventory.
Raven: Do you have anything Tseng based? I hear they are the best for DOS.
 

Raven

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Don't have any Tseng, but I can tell you with lots of experience to back it up that as long as you're not using an absolutely horrible card it will play every DOS game up to but not including Quake if you pair it with a 486 DX2-66 or above. Cirrus Logic is a good balance of quality/speed and rarity. I've not even seen a Tseng, myself.

Trident cards are slow but are fine for anything that was designed to run on up to a 386/lowend 486, Oak cards are budget cards as far as I can tell - I keep finding them in old school machines (I have at least a dozen). If you have the option of VLB in the system you're making, I'd recommend that over ISA, as it makes quite a difference.
 

TheLazy1

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It would be non VLB since I'm going the 386 route and in as small a space as I can fit one.
What kind of chipsets do you have? I'll have to do some research. :D
 

Raven

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Cirrus, Trident, Oak, STB, AMI... pretty much anything but Tseng, really. I personally recommend the Cirrus, but tbqh you'd probably be fine with an OAK or Trident as you have for a 386 box.
 

PeterNY

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Don't have any Tseng, but I can tell you with lots of experience to back it up that as long as you're not using an absolutely horrible card it will play every DOS game up to but not including Quake if you pair it with a 486 DX2-66 or above.
From my personal experience many games have issues with Tseng: especially since generic VESA drivers do not seem to get along with it.

Cirrus Logic is a good balance of quality/speed and rarity.
I concur.

Trident cards are slow but are fine for anything that was designed to run on up to a 386/lowend 486
I would argue Trident is the best choice for compatibility.

Oak cards are budget cards as far as I can tell - I keep finding them in old school machines (I have at least a dozen).
I would argue Oak cards work just fine for simpler games.

If you have the option of VLB in the system you're making, I'd recommend that over ISA, as it makes quite a difference.
Most later IBM ValuePoint systems have video cards integrated into the mother board that run on VLB: stay away from those with Tseng: I am having lots of issues with mid 1990s games because of the VESA issue.
 

Raven

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Yeah, I have a Cirrus card built into my ValuePoint 486, and it has no actual VLB "slots", so I use that to great effect. :D

I wasn't insulting OAK cards, btw, just saying they must have been cheap at the time - not necessarily bad.

Personally I'm a big fan of Trident cards, and have had no trouble with them... until you try to run Quake, at which point they're too slow even when the system is fast enough otherwise (i.e., midrange Pentium w/ plenty of RAM). For the majority of DOS games Trident is perfectly fine, though. I even did some benchmarking and such to confirm the disparity.

I've not had trouble with compatibility on Cirrus, OAK, or any other card - what exactly have you managed to find that won't run on some other cards but will on a Trident? I'm curious, now, lol.
 

TheLazy1

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Oddly enough now that you mention it the Quake scores are exactly what I was looking at.
Not that you could play Quake on a 386 but it seemed that the Trident and Oak cards were at the bottom of the list by up to 10 frames per second.

I figured, perhaps incorrectly that if you were going to build something with as much performance as possible that you would go for the fastest card available.
This may be something I'll have to do real world testing with on my own hardware, but choice is also nice.

It also may be possible those cards were in 8bit mode for the tests which would cut their score in half.
On the other hand, speed might be important if you don't have an accelerated graphics driver. (Does Win3.1 even do graphics acceleration?)

What chipset versions of the Cirrus cards do you have, if you don't mind me asking?
I hear some of them have GUI acceleration, or one of those funky 8514 addon cards they were talking about at vogons.
 

Raven

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Windows 3.x *CAN* do graphics acceleration! I love Win3x, so expect a spiel of information... now!

Windows 3.x featured, bundled with some games even, a precursor to DirectX and GDI, known as WinG. WinG allowed some games that previously would only be feasible under DOS (i.e., as little overhead as possible) to run under Win3x smoothly. The sequel to Halloween Harry, called Zombie Wars, is one such game (and quite good, too). Like DirectX, however, the game or application had to be coded explicitly to use the API in question, or it would not receive said acceleration.

WinG was really a product of the 486 era, but iirc Zombie Wars will run on a 386 on low settings (and maxes out on an early Pentium). However, unlike DirectX, WinG isn't really GPU specific in it's support (afaik), meaning it will work with any card to enable some direct access, unlike DirectX which requires a DirectX capable card with specific hardware features.

</end spiel>

I have.. pretty much any Cirrus you could ask for, about two dozen cards. If you really want a list I'll make one up tomorrow for ya (post here to let me know if you do).

As for 8-bit mode, the cards will autoconfigure themselves if they are in a 16-bit slot (typically - check for a jumper or MAYBE config utility otherwise), and ones that are backwards compatible with 8-bit are rare.

Before you hit the 486 era, most DOS games were coded to the 286 with *any* VGA card as the minimum requirements. Some required SVGA, and some required EMS (EMM386 on a 386 would provide this using normal RAM). So IMHO unless you're building a 486 or Pentium era machine, the GPU isn't of much consequence. Also, many ISA cards you may have are likely newer than the 386 era. Unlike today, where GPU interfaces shift around (PCI, AGP, PCIe) they used to all use ISA (and VLB for a time), so even budget GPUs from the mid 486 era would blow anything out of the water from the 386 era and run any title intended for a 286 or 386. It's like putting a GeForce 6800 AGP in a Pentium II, vs a Geforce 4 MMX - both will max out the system for performance even though the 6800 is way faster.
 

IBMMuseum

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As an aside from some time ago, I had a customer with a 486, Windows 95, Cirrus Logic video card. Whenever she would navigate to our homepage (IE 3 era, so nothing fancy) it would lock up her system. Any other page (even from our website), no problem. Netscape browser, no problem, different video card (yes, we went that far), no problem.

A very specific bug...

I changed resolution, color depth, nothing changed the specificity...

She couldn't browse our homepage with that videocard until we changed the layout later...
 

njroadfan

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But does Win3.1 do fill/bitblt/ect accelerations with the proper drivers, or do they all just use it as a framebuffer?

The drivers do matter. I couldn't get WinG working on my CL-GD5426 VLB (with an unheard of 2MB of VRAM in 1993) card until I switched to Microsoft's generic VBE SVGA drivers. Most of the cards from 1992-on had GDI acceleration via their drivers, some even did MCI interface acceleration to increase video playback performance in VfW and Quicktime.

As for DOS games, stuff from late 1992-1994 was VERY picky about video cards, those games all ran 640x480x256 colors and needed 512k of VRAM. SimCity 2000 and The 7th Guest comes to mind here. A Tseng Labs card with enough RAM should be compatible with just about anything, after all DOSBox wouldn't bother emulating the ET3000 and ET4000 based cards if they were poorly supported.
 

TheLazy1

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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I do have a VGA Wonder based card (ATI VGA Stereo F/X) but IIRC it has the keen scrolling bug.
Well, that and it uses a proprietary connector which no one has the cable to anymore.

[Edit]
The CL-GD5426/28/29 looks decent enough, do you have it in non-VLB?
 
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PeterNY

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As for DOS games, stuff from late 1992-1994 was VERY picky about video cards, those games all ran 640x480x256 colors and needed 512k of VRAM. SimCity 2000 and The 7th Guest comes to mind here. A Tseng Labs card with enough RAM should be compatible with just about anything, after all DOSBox wouldn't bother emulating the ET3000 and ET4000 based cards if they were poorly supported.

My experience is that a lot of older games do not work with Tseng ET4000. The system does not start the game or the graphics are complete screwed up.
 

PeterNY

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Yeah, I have a Cirrus card built into my ValuePoint 486, and it has no actual VLB "slots", so I use that to great effect. :D
Which ValuePoint model is that?

I wasn't insulting OAK cards, btw, just saying they must have been cheap at the time - not necessarily bad.
I know.

Personally I'm a big fan of Trident cards, and have had no trouble with them... until you try to run Quake, at which point they're too slow even when the system is fast enough otherwise (i.e., midrange Pentium w/ plenty of RAM). For the majority of DOS games Trident is perfectly fine, though. I even did some benchmarking and such to confirm the disparity.
Putting an early 1990s Trident 1MB ISA SVGA card in a heavy 80486 or Pentium 1 will obviously result in a discrepancy.

I've not had trouble with compatibility on Cirrus, OAK, or any other card - what exactly have you managed to find that won't run on some other cards but will on a Trident? I'm curious, now, lol.
My real issues are usually with Tseng ET4000. I do not remember having issues with other ISA SVGA or VGA cards.
 
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