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The Wang Alliance 750CD is the unfortunate victim of a somewhat silly name and at least to the immature of us it easily evokes a snicker or a grin. Beneath the somewhat silly name implication the 750CD is a very capable 386 era PC. Wang Laboratories was actually a fairly successful American company that existed from the 70’s up until they were bought in 1999 and besides manufacturing a few IBM compatible PC’s, among other things also developed the PC RAM SIMM which basically is putting RAM on sticks rather than having a bunch of RAM memory chips socketed to a motherboard.

I’m seriously a sucker for the desktop case design. Towers are nice and all and really the better overall design but the desktop case just gives me a nice retro feel and the Alliance 750CD is a very nice and low profile case. Nothing overly complicated about it or non standard. The only odd feature is the placement of the reset button far off to the upper center area of the case but its only a cosmetic oddity. One limiting factor of this PC is the limited drive bays with only one 3.5 and one 5.25 inch bays. The 750CD came standard with a 1.44MB floppy drive and a CR-ROM drive. Its a tough call sometimes with a 386 based CPU computer on whether to go with a 5 1/4 inch floppy drive or a CD drive. I would say have both but really if only given the choice between one or the other it gets a little harder. the 1.2MB 5 1/4 floppy drive was standard for the 386 era and a lot of games came in that format also a lot of CD based games were a little too much for a 386 CPU but at the same time a CD drive is very convenient  and easy to replace. also a lot of old games were re-released in CD format and a CD drive makes it a lot easier to transfer files if you want to play with CD burning. For the 750CD being a late era 386 I think having a CD drive as opposed to a 1.2 MB floppy was the right decision since at the time the CD was clearly becoming the future of games as well as the fact the 25mhz CPU in the 750CD was not a bottom of the barrel 386.

This would be a rear view of the PC and as you can see its actually a fairly forward thinking design. The only expansion cards I have installed (I’ll get to them in slightly more detail in a minute) are a sound blaster for sound, an ethernet card and those RCA stereo jacks you see are for a CD-ROM IDE interface card so any sound from those jacks would be from a CD playing in the drive. besides the expansion cards the ports are pretty standard which is very nice for a 386 PC. we have built in VGA as well as ps/2 ports for both mouse and keyboard in a time when a lot of PC’s were still offering serial mouse and AT keyboard ports as standard and ps/2 as optional. also a pair of DB9 ports and a printer port.

Here is a shot of the inside (minus the CD-ROM IDE expansion card). As you can see the Motherboard is actually quite small and the 5 16 bit ISA expansion slots are supplied via a riser card in the middle of the board. The setup actually works pretty well except it can be hard to install cards sometimes as the metal tabs press each other if you have cards installed on both sides. It also uses an AT style power connector coming off the side of the board. The motherboard only has 1 IDE connector onboard as well as 1 floppy connector. this would still allow a cd-drive/hard drive combo on one IDE cable plus your 1.44MB floppy drive OR you could pull the CD drive and put the hard drive on the IDE and a 1.44 and 1.2 MB floppy drives on the floppy connector. I have my CD drive and 200MB hard drive (I think, it may be 500MB) on separate IDE ports because mine came with a IDE card pre-installed by the previous owner.

This is the ISA IDE expansion card I have installed, an IDE-16003 V2. this card appears to be primarily focused for giving a PC user an extra IDE connection for a separate CD-Rom drive/drives improving performance rather than have both the CD drive and hard drive on the same cable. This card as well as the other 2 expansion cards I have on the 750CD were added later and did not come factory.

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This is the CPU and a co-processor.  The CPU in the 750CD is an AMD 25mhz 386SX, in the above photo you can see it at the top partially obscured by the floppy drive power cable. This CPU is soldered to the motherboard and is non upgradable unless possibly by a rare and most likely expensive upgrade kit that uses the expansion slots. The 25mhz 386 is a somewhat speedy CPU but I would place it kind of middle of the road, no match for any 486 and outclassed by faster 386 CPU’s like the famous AMD 40mhz 386. It will though in most cases get the job done for games and applications of the era or at least faster than a 16mhz 386 or a 286 CPU. The SX in the CPU title designates that this CPU comes without a built in processor to handle higher mathematical functions such as floating point arithmetic. Early on this was considered an option for processors and many motherboards offered a co processor expansion slot to add higher mathematical abilities (thus speeding up CPU performance). Later DX was used to designate that the coprocessor was built into the CPU and no co processor was needed. we currently take this for granted though since starting with the Pentium era these abilities were always built into the CPU. This particular 750CD has a Cyrix fastmath 387 co processor installed in its expansion slot. This was an upgrade and not factory installed or standard with this PC.

Here we have the opposite side of the inner case with the expansion cards removed. The Alliance 750CD uses 4 32 pin RAM slots and came factory with 2MB installed, mine is upgraded to the full 16MB the PC is capable of handling. For the era this is more than enough RAM as I’ve said before even many 486 era games will run on 8MB RAM with no issues. The on board video of the 750CD uses the Western Digital Paradise WD90C11 chip which was considered a very capable video chip for its time. A faster 16 bit ISA video card could always be added but for the type and era of games this PC plays I think the Paradise chipset is just fine.

For sound this PC only came equipped with the standard PC internal speaker but the previous owner had a sound card installed which I decided to leave. This is a sound Blaster Pro 2.0 which is an 8 bit sound blaster (and thus fully adlib compatible) card. It’s not really my favorite SB card. It uses the Yamaha OPL3 chip like the SB16 but If your going to use an 8 bit sound blaster better to go with a Sound Blaster 1.0, 1.5 or 2.0 which use the OPL2 chip that is more old game compatible and can offer some Creative Music system sound (with optional expansion chips) you could also go with the Sound Blaster pro 1.0 which has duel OPL2 FM chips for stereo sound. There are a few games that only support this or that sound odd when played on a later OPL3 FM chip. It is less “noisy” and offers better sound clarity then most of the SB16 cards that precede it though, except for maybe the Vibra models. Sound Blaster 16 cards are also not 100% backwards sound blaster compatible so it does have use there for older Sound Blaster games. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad card and is fine for the era but not my first choice. Since this is an as is review and not looking at what I would consider an “optimal” setup like in my “anatomy of” series will let it slide.

Overall I like the Wang Alliance 750CD despite its mildly offsetting moniker. It offers good expansion and a sleek low profile case. The CPU although a little underpowered performs adequately and you have the option of a nice amount of RAM and a co processor. The built in VGA, dual ps/2 ports for the mouse/keyboard as well as the factory CD drive make this a very forward thinking PC for its class.

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