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Quake won't run on 486-100, is it just me?

Raven

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Though this is probably really obvious to the rest of you, I just found out that Quake won't run on my ValuePoint. It lags like hell even though it technically "runs". It's an Am5x86-133@100mhz w/ 32MB RAM and a Trident T9440GUI VLB video card - 1MB.

Just wanted to see if something in my wonky setup causes this or if it's just the lack of a solid FPU.

I've read online that it will lag horribly on any 486 system except a Pentium Overdrive (someone got 18FPS w/ an 83mhz OD OC'd to 100mhz), but I didn't see Cyrix chips tested for performance with this.
 

linuxlove

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The DOS version runs much better on a 486 at the tradeoff that you don't get TCP/IP multiplayer.
I ran Quake on my 486 DX/2-66 using the WinQuake version and it ran decent at default viewing level.
 

Raven

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I'm running in DOS with a version of Quake I ripped from the Steam copy I own legally - v1.06..

I am suspecting it could be that my CPU is unhappy somehow, which is why I asked - or my RAM. Both have been kinda coerced into working (the RAM doesn't quite equal 32MB due to some.. erm.. deadness at the end).

When I say it lags, btw, I mean like 3fps unplayable lag.
 

carangil

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I have a 486-100, and I tried Quake on it a while ago. It runs, but choppy. I adjusted all the BIOS setting to the fastest possible (which is slightly unstable with my RAM, but by slight I mean it runs 2-3 hours at a time). After that it ran a little faster. Playable.

Try lowering sound quality? Sometimes that gives a little gain.
 

Raven

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No sound was coming out of the speakers at the time, even though it detected my SB..

I tried changing the "view size" to minimum, roughly the same low fps.

It's not a problem if it won't run, really, but if it should run ok on there then something is wrong with my box. Meh.
 

Old Thrashbarg

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I'd imagine a big part of what's wrong with your box is the video card.

Quake won't do great on a 486 to begin with, but Trident cards are pretty well known for making otherwise speedy systems into total dogs.
 

carangil

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I agree with the thrashbarg that Trident isn't very good. I've used them before and everything was super slow; though I believe the particular card I had was ISA. (Though I think at 320*200, ISA/VLB/PCI doesn't make much difference. I had a fast pentium system and when I put an ISA video card in, Descent at 320*200 was still fast; it was at 640*480 where I noticed the difference. With Quake on a 486 I wouldn't expect anything larger than 320*200.
 

Minerva10210

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I actually recall years ago when I had my first PC of my own running Quake. When I started with the machine, I had EGA, 4MB RAM and 2x 120MB Conner drives.

I remember when I got my first VGA card, I had just "organised" a 486 SX33 with VLB. Tried running quake on it but it did not run at all... I then went back to my 386 and it ran, although it was a slideshow ;) Afterwards I found out the reason why, the SX did not have a FPU, whereas I had a IDT 387 chip on the 386, Quake needed a FPU to run :D

Later, I also ran a AMD X5 133MHz, and I had a 2mb S3 Trio64V+ PCI video card, and it ran quite OK if I recall :?
 

swaaye

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486 will not run Quake smoothly unless you can get it to 200 MHz perhaps. I used to run the game on my AMD 5x86 160 and it was still too slow to really enjoy. Of course everyone's framerate tolerance varies and also back them 10-15fps may have seemed smooth.

I dug up a Quake benchmark page that I remembered from the ancient times. Basically the slowest Pentium is faster than even an AMD 5x86 @ 160 (4x40). Even the slow K5 and 6x86 beat the top 486s.
http://web.archive.org/web/19961223112037/www.cam.org/~agena/quake.html

There are a number of aspects to Quake that are bad for 486s. It's entirely 3D, meaning there's a lot of heavy duty math going on compared to say Doom or Duke 3D which are simpler engines. And the game is specifically designed for the Pentium (and Pentium Pro). id figured that the Pentium would be by far the most popular CPU that their game would run on and so designed the engine specifically for it. They did some interesting things that let them maximize the utilization of Pentium's parallel design. Unfortunately it doesn't work nearly as well on other CPUs (except PPro/P6).
 
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JDT

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I was able to play quake with my 486-DX4-100 & an AMD 586-133 with almost identical performance, in dos of course, but back in the day We were LAN'ing with IPX... ran fine for me IIRC I won some I lost some... good times indeed.

My current 486 box has a DX4-100 in it and it plays quake just fine, 64mb of ram, ATI mach32 vlb video card. Havent had the opertunity to lan with it...
 

carangil

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How many FPS is 'plays fine?' I used to think 15 fps was OK, but after being spoiled with newer stuff its hard for me to play things like that. So I tend to run old games an a slightly more modern PC than they were designed for.
 

Raven

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I am getting a Cyrix MediaGX-based system and MediaGX has integrated SB and VGA and runs at 133mhz stock on the Cyrix 5x86 arch which allows for those special instructions to be enabled, hopefully gaining better FPU performance than most 486 chips. I'm not buying the box for playing Quake or anything, but I'll give it a go and let you guys know how it runs when I get it.

I've decided to stop trying to get the best "does-everything" DOS machine and run three of them. I'll have the 5160 for old CGA and monochromatic stuff, the MediaGX for EGA/VGA stuff up to and possibly including Quake, and then I'll build an epic Win95 box for very late DOS games and voodoo-supporting games. This seems to be the best approach taken by most people. If I can ever locate a Pentium Overdrive or a Cyrix 5x86 I might be able to build a 486 box with PCI and a Voodoo card capable of running GLQuake, but that's not on my to-do list at the moment, heh.
 

swaaye

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An old friend of mine had a MediaGX way back. It was not that hot, I remember him complaining about Diablo not running very well. It's basically 486-level hardware but was sold during the middle of the Pentium years and so was anything but impressive.

Also, while Cyrix 5x86 does have a slightly better FPU than 486s, it's nowhere near a Pentium. Neither is 6x86's FPU.

I think that it's interesting hardware though. Most of the hardware is in the CPU. AMD bought that tech and used it for their Geode line for years.
 

Mike Chambers

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i had a 486 DX2/100 before i spilled a full cup of coffee directly onto the motherboard, but before that happened if i shrunk the screen down to about half-size it was quite playable, with stereo sound. that machine had absolutely no L2 cache, so i'd imagine a 486/100 with some cache should be able to play it quite comfortably at 320x200. also replace that evil trident card with a diamond speedstar. tseng labs ET4000 chipset. when i put one in my 10 MHz 286, it plays full screen wolf3d at over 10 FPS. i get half that framerate with any other VGA card in there.

http://cgi.ebay.com/Diamond-SpeedST...tem&pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item48389ca892

^^^ that's the one. i have two of them. it's easily worth the $25. no shipping on that either. as an added bonus, if you flip two of the DIP switches in the bracket there you can use it in an 8-bit slot, say in an XT.
 

Raven

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I have a pile of VESA cards, I'm sure one of them must be more powerful than even the best ISA card, considering the bus widths?

I've got an STB card, an AvanceLogic card, several Cirrus cards (one licensed to another company from Cirrus) and several Trident cards.

I currently plopped a Cirrus card into my 486, haven't tested Quake on it again yet though. I also downgraded the processor from the Am5x86-133ADW (which would only run at 101mhz in there) to an Am486DX4-100 which also runs at 101mhz, so it doesn't feel wasted. I realize that may make a small difference in performance, but I feel that the video card is likely the issue here.

I'm not in the mood to mess with that box right now, though.

Edit: Also you must keep in mind that you had a DX2/100, meaning a 50mhz FSB. That's a considerably more powerful system than any DX4/100 (which are actually DX3) at 33mhz FSB. Without using a VESA card you avoid the stability issues too.

An old friend of mine had a MediaGX way back. It was not that hot, I remember him complaining about Diablo not running very well. It's basically 486-level hardware but was sold during the middle of the Pentium years and so was anything but impressive.

Also, while Cyrix 5x86 does have a slightly better FPU than 486s, it's nowhere near a Pentium. Neither is 6x86's FPU.

I think that it's interesting hardware though. Most of the hardware is in the CPU. AMD bought that tech and used it for their Geode line for years.

I don't expect it to be near a Pentium, I'm just curious if it will run Quake at least at ~10fps. The box is intended for stuff from 2D Apogee games up through Duke3d, and I'm confident it will handle that just fine. If it runs Quake it will be a pleasant bonus.
 

Old Thrashbarg

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I also downgraded the processor from the Am5x86-133ADW (which would only run at 101mhz in there)

That sounds really strange to me... does your board not have a 40mhz FSB or a 2X multiplier setting?

As for the video card, the Cirrus GD-542X were decent, but if that STB card is one of the ones with an S3 chipset, that's what I'd look at first.
 

Tetrium

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I am getting a Cyrix MediaGX-based system and MediaGX has integrated SB and VGA and runs at 133mhz stock on the Cyrix 5x86 arch which allows for those special instructions to be enabled, hopefully gaining better FPU performance than most 486 chips. I'm not buying the box for playing Quake or anything, but I'll give it a go and let you guys know how it runs when I get it.

I've decided to stop trying to get the best "does-everything" DOS machine and run three of them. I'll have the 5160 for old CGA and monochromatic stuff, the MediaGX for EGA/VGA stuff up to and possibly including Quake, and then I'll build an epic Win95 box for very late DOS games and voodoo-supporting games. This seems to be the best approach taken by most people. If I can ever locate a Pentium Overdrive or a Cyrix 5x86 I might be able to build a 486 box with PCI and a Voodoo card capable of running GLQuake, but that's not on my to-do list at the moment, heh.

Any idea if MediaGX will accept a graphics card upgrade? I have a MediaGX motherboard but don't have a VGA cable for it
 

Raven

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That sounds really strange to me... does your board not have a 40mhz FSB or a 2X multiplier setting?

As for the video card, the Cirrus GD-542X were decent, but if that STB card is one of the ones with an S3 chipset, that's what I'd look at first.

STB card is a "Powergaph VL-24". I always thought S3 was garbage. The on-board card in my ValuePoint, in fact, is an S3, and I disabled it to override it with a VLB. It seems to be confused as to whether it wants to be a monochrome VGA or color VGA card - there's a jumper for it, but it boots up monochromatically no matter which way you jumper it. Games work in color on it (or at least did a while back when I got it). So would you say that the on-board S3 (likely VLB) should trash any other VLB card barring a Tseng that I can find?

The board doesn't have 40mhz operation, only 33mhz as far as I can tell. It has two jumpers related to the CPU, one of which toggles between "DX" and "DX2" (1x to 2x multiplier, I suppose). The other of which toggles between "DX" and "OD", which I presume means Overdrive (the socket is labeled P24T, meaning it would accept one). No matter what combination I put these jumpers in, the multiplier will not go above 3x on my Am5x86.

Any idea if MediaGX will accept a graphics card upgrade? I have a MediaGX motherboard but don't have a VGA cable for it

I haven't got my hands on mine yet, but I'd wager two things:
1. The card onboard is as good as you're going to get for a 486 system, considering the age of the MediaGX tech.
2. If you can disable it in the BIOS, which is possible, then yes you can replace the card, but I doubt that they make MediaGX boards with any expansion slots, considering the integrated peripherals. I could be wrong on that, however, and I hope I am, because that means mine may well have a PCI slot that I can put a NIC in. :p

What do you mean by "I don't have a cable for it"? Do you not have any CRTs sitting around, and need a VGA cable to hook it up to a multi-input LCD of yours? The cables cost about $15 at Walmart, so go get one if that's the case. :p

Can we get some pictures of your MediaGX board?
 

Old Thrashbarg

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So would you say that the on-board S3 (likely VLB) should trash any other VLB card barring a Tseng that I can find?

I can't comment on the onboard video, no telling how badly crippled that thing may be... but generally speaking, S3 chips of the era ranged from middling up to quite fast, had a pretty good balance between DOS and Windows performance (whereas the Tseng ET4000 falls a bit short in Windows), and they were amongst the most widely compatible with DOS-based games.

That STB Powergraph is an S3 805 based card. It's a later first-gen accelerator, so it'll fall in around the midrange of performance.
 
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