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In today’s article, we will be looking at the Packard Bell Legend 605, an 80486 class computer from Packard Bell.

The Legend 605 is a fairly small and compact desktop machine. On the left of the case, we have a keylock as well as LEDs for HDD activity and power/turbo. Next to the LEDs are two buttons for reset as well as an actual turbo button. The buttons are more like loose plastic cut on three sides that when pressed bend inward and press on a real button.

On the right side of the front of this case, we have dual 5.25 inch bays and a single 3.5 inch bay in the vertical position. For a small 486 class PC, this is perfect as it gives you room for two floppy drives, 1.44MB as well as a 1.2MB 5.25 inch drive as well as leaving a single 5.25 inch bay open for a CD-ROM drive if you wish.

Below the bottom 5.25 inch bay is the power button which is connected to a long plastic rod that physically switches on the power.

On the left of the rear of the case, we have standard power connectors. To the right, the Legend 605 has four expansion slots in a horizontal configuration and several built-in I/O below.

From left to right we have a serial port, parallel port, and thirdly a gameport for attaching a joystick or something like a Gravis Gamepad. Usually, these are included in conjunction with some form of built-in audio but the 605 offers no audio abilities. Next to the gameport is a standard VGA port followed by dual PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, a nice addition to find on any 486 class PC.

The cover is removed by removing two screws in the rear of the case and sliding the case top forward.

A sticker with jumper settings and board layout should be on the inside of the top cover but I’ve added it here for reference.

case open with cards and HDD bay removed.

In the image above the HDD caddy is already removed but a metal caddy that holds the hard drive fastens onto the dual 5.25 inch bays and can hold a hard drive in a vertical position.

My machine came to me with a 425MB WD HDD loaded with DOS 6.22.

clear view of motherboard

1 ) CPU – The 25MHz 486SX seemed to be the go-to CPU for lower end OEM PCs. The 25MHz 486SX lacks a math coprocessor and does fall at the lower end of the 80486 power spectrum running on a 25MHz front side bus. The CPU on the Legend 605 is soldered to the motherboard. Thankfully the Legend 605 does offer a fairly good upgrade path for CPUs.

2) CPU upgrade socket – fortunately the 605 does have a secondary “upgrade” CPU socket to allow for relatively easily upgrades to your CPU. Unfortunately, this socket is a LIF (low insertion force) socket as opposed to a ZIF socket which has a lever mechanism to assist in easily swapping CPUs. Installing a CPU in this socket is fairly easy but without the correct tools, it can be tricky to remove.

The upgrade socket can support a wide array of 5 volt 486 class CPUs such as the 66MHz DX2 which will give your PC a very noticeable boost in performance. Installing a new CPU and then jumpering jumper JCPUP (as well as adjusting for front side bus if applicable) will let the PC know a CPU is installed in the upgrade socket and deactivate the soldered on 486-25 SX while enabling the CPU installed in the upgrade socket. My machine has been upgraded with an Overdrive chip. The overdrive chip has a built-in voltage regulator and runs with a x3 multiplier on a 33MHz bus giving it a speed of 100MHz. This is a huge speed upgrade over the CPU the Legend 605 comes stock with. Note that the Legend 605 does not seem to support the Pentium Overdrive CPU.

3) L2 Cache – The Legend 605 supports 64k, 128k, and 256k of L2 cache memory on the motherboard. Mine has been upgraded to the full 256k of L2 cache. Anything over 256k of cache on a 486 class PC usually results in small speed increases with diminishing returns so having 256k on this board is a good amount and I’d say is the general standard for a machine like this one.

4 ) RAM – The memory configuration on the Legend 605 is slightly unusual as it has a maximum memory amount of 20MB with 4MB of memory being soldered onto the motherboard. You can upgrade to a full 20MB by adding four 4MB memory sticks as I have. In my experience with PCs of this age, usually there is no memory soldered onto the board and usually, they at least allow up to 32MB maximum.

5 ) Video – The built-in video chip is from Oak Technologies and uses the OTI077 VGA chip. There is 512K of VRAM soldered onto the board with empty sockets next to these allowing for upgrading to a full 1MB of VRAM. The video on the Legend 605 is supposedly on the VLB bus and not ISA but I haven’t been able to verify this.

I don’t have much experience with Oak Technologies but from my research, they seem to be pretty middle-of-the-road type chips offering mediocre to adequate video but nothing extraordinary.

6 ) Riser Connector – slot for the riser card which has four 16-bit ISA slots for expansion cards.

7) Floppy connector and single built-in IDE connector for supporting two IDE devices

8) AT power connector (note the battery in the image below is a replacement, the old battery was removed and a new one soldered in its place by the previous owner)

The Packard Bell Legend 605 has the potential to make a really nice retro DOS or Win 3.1 build. In its stock configuration with the 25MHz 486SX it is a bit on the weak side for a 486 but it can easily be made to be as powerful as a 486 as you want with the CPU upgrade slot. adding an Overdrive CPU or even a AMD 5×86 at 133MHz makes quite a powerful machine. Although most later 486 PCs can accept at least 32MB of memory the 20MB limit shouldn’t be much of a hindrance as many games did not require such a large amount. Adding a fast ISA video card and a sound card along with a CPU upgrade makes the Legend 605 a quite capable machine.

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9 Comments

  1. Nice machine!
    You might want to correct the multiplier: it’s x3, not x4.
    Great analysis of this piece of history, thanks!

  2. Nice little system, might wanna do something about the barrel battery though, those things are a time bomb.
    The 486sx is an interesting beast, when they first came out they were as good as the other 486 chips because software didn’t use the FPU typically, but as time went on more software made use of it and the SX became comparatively slower. It’s good this machine has an upgrade slot, would make a decent DOS gaming PC with a good sound card.

    • It’s probably hard to tell from the image and I should have mentioned it, but the battery had been replaced so it should be good for a little while.

  3. I came to say the same thing as sparcie…I would get rid of that battery for sure. I have a number of 486-era (and even a couple 386’s) machines in storage with batteries like that which have leaked and damaged the motherboards…

    • The battery is fairly new as the old one was removed and a new one soldered on, I just neglected to mention it.

  4. I think what you do is interesting — I have some vintage parts I just want to go to someone who actually wants them- rather than throw them in the eRecycling
    such as a Powerleap iP3/T – let me know if you have any interest

  5. The 486 Overdrive chips came in two varieties – a 168-pin “ODPR” and a 169-pin “ODP”; the “R” standing for “replacement”. The R’s were intended to be installed in the same socket as the original CPU (which would be removed), and in this sense the DX2 versions were really nothing special except for the cute heatsink. The DX4 versions have a built-in voltage regulator to convert the typical socket 1, socket 2, or non-spec socket 3 that doesn’t have a 3.3v VRM 5v to the 3.3v the DX4’s needed thanks to their smaller 0.6 micron manufacturing process. The non-R’s were intended for the “upgrade” socket 1 or socket 2 featured on many boards with soldered CPU’s. The special 169-pin configuration would disable the onboard soldered CPU automatically. In this system, an ODPR is installed which is why a separate jumper is needed to tell the board which CPU to use (a non-R wouldn’t need the jumper to be set). Lucky that jumper is available; I had an IBM PS/1 that could only be upgraded with a non-R ODP.


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