Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Axcel 39CDT


Say what you want about the quality of Packard Bell but you have to admit they did use some pretty interesting and unique cases for their computers. The example I have today is the Packard Bell Axcel 39CDT. From what information Ive gathered this is a rather uncommon model and I’ve been told is somewhat sought after by Packard Bell enthusiasts so I’m guessing it didn’t sell very well.


This machine is a 486 PC as you may be able to guess by the turbo button on the front that is accompanying the reset button. On the to is a keyboard lockout keyhole. setting this to lockout mode will prevent the machine from registering key presses from the keyboard pretty much making it useless. If you don’t have a key and its set to lock don’t worry. They weren’t built to keep out anybody with anything but the most rudimentary picking skills and I was able to change the position on mine with a Xacto knife. The power button is located on the bottom of this case but what is interesting is the panel that opens up to your drives.


The door is actually kind of slick looking but personally I don’t see much need. There is one 3 1/2 bay as well as two 5 1/4 drive bays. This machine did come with a double speed CD-ROM drive according to advertisements I’ve seen but this drive mine came with is a CDR drive added by the previous owner. There is actually two internal bays under the 1.2MB floppy drive you see here that you could fit a hard drive or two into with a 5 1/4 adapter. Specs and adds claim the 39CDT came with a 420MB IDE hard drive but when I picked mine up the hard drive had been removed but more on that later.


You can tell right off front looking at the rear of this PC that the power supply is located at the bottom of the case, a somewhat uncommon location of the time. There are five expansion slots and along the right side we have  our various ports. Two PS2 ports for keyboard and mouse followed by a built in VGA port. below those we have a common parallel port and a serial port.

After unscrewing the four rear screws the case on this machine slides forward taking the front face along with it as one piece. It took me a minute to figure this out as I kept trying to remove the case cover in a more traditional manner by pulling to back and toward myself.


There is also a spot as you can see above the power supply for a 3 1/2 hard drive. The power supply is mostly standard except instead of a mounted switch there is an internal button that is pressed in by that long plastic arm that lines up with the power button on the front of the case. This may force some inventive solutions should the power supply fail.

My machine thankfully had the motherboard and jumper configuration chart on the inside of my case. Here it is for any of you that may be missing and need it.



Ok, now lets take a look at the motherboard.


First thing I need to point out is that is NOT the original stock CPU but is what the previous owner upgraded this machine to.

1) CPU – This model originally came stock with an Intel 50mhz SX2 chip. This isn’t to surprising from Packard Bell as this was a cheaper part. The SX designates no built in math coprocessor. Being a DX2 that means the chip ran on a 25mhz front side bus. Overall the 50mhz SX2 running on a 25mhz FSB wasn’t all that much faster then a 33mhz DX chip. I downgraded this machine to a 50mhz DX2 to bring it closer to stock while giving it a math copro and freeing the Intel Overdrive CPU for other projects of mine.



2) RAM – The 39CDT has 4MB of RAM built into the motherboard so if you don’t have any spare 72 pin sticks of RAM lying around it will still run. Mine came with 24MB total RAM but according to advertisements as well as the specs sticker on the bay door RAM is upgradeable to a full 64MB


3) Video – The video is a Cirrus Logic GD-CL-GD5424 running on the VLB or Local Bus. It comes with 512kb of VRAM stock but is able to be upgraded to a full 1MB. Unfortunately from looking at the motherboard it appears that upgrading requires a 512kn VRAM ZIP socket chip. I’m not sure those are to common. As for the CL chip, there isn’t much to say and not much turned up but it appears to be a decent mid range chip and one of CL’s earlier VLB offerings being a VLB version of their ISA GD5422 chip. Overall not bad and likely decent speed/compatibility wise.


4) L2 cache – My SRAM sockets are currently empty but according to the jumper chart the motherboard supports 32, 128 and 512kb of L2 cache via 16 pin and 14 pin chips. This is very similar to my Packard Bell Legend 115. I don’t care that there is no option to use the more common 256kb l2 cache amount though as this seems to be the L2 “sweet spot” for the era.


5) ISA riser card – This is the slot for the ISA riser card that allows for up to five ISA expansion cards.


My machine came with a pretty generic modem and extra parallel port card but it did also come with a Crystal based sound card. Likely a Sound Blaster 16 clone but I do believe it is original to this machine with the PB stickers on the chips.


6) Modem – This appears to be a built in internal fax/modem but for whatever reason the port in the rear is covered up. My guess is the former user added the ISA modem card and covered the rear port to avoid confusion.



7) I/0 connectors – This is the connections for the built in floppy and IDE controller. The floppy controller seems to work just fine but for all my efforts I could not get the built in IDE controller to “see” any hard drive I tried. For that matter I also couldn’t get either of the discrete ISA I/0 controller cards I tried to work either. I tried several hard drives, new and from the era but I could not get this machine to see any of them. My best guess would be it’s an issue caused by not having a CMOS battery present. The original barrel battery was long dead and beginning to leak so I removed it. There is a connector for an external battery but I haven’t tried it yet.

*update* I finally did get the built in IDE controller to work but I was forced to use a old 300mb hard drive. all my efforts to get a ISA controller running failed.

So…the Axcel 39CDT. Again this machine like all but one of the Packard Bells I’ve come across booted and posted just fine. not bad for a twenty some year old machine coming from a very poorly regarded company. The case design is pretty interesting and doesn’t really compromise anything because of it. Three external bays isn’t a lot for a tower but is pretty standard for the era and OEM machines. I don’t like the lack of a 256kb L2 cache option and I would prefer a more conventional sockets for expanding VRAM but still, not a terrible machine.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


A place for the pc collector

I ❤ Old Games!

Probabilmente il miglior blog bilingue al mondo*

Waltorious Writes About Games

Game-related ramblings.

NekoJonez's Gaming Blog

My Gaming Timeline

Evelynn Star

Lynn talks about video games, records and books ...

Retro Megabit

Sharing My Retro Video Game Collection.

133MHz's Junk Box

Random electronics and gaming crap


Chronogaming project featuring reviews, screenshots, and videos of the entire Super Nintendo library in release order.

Retrocosm's Vintage Computing, Tech & Scale RC Blog

Random mutterings on retro computing, old technology, some new, plus radio controlled scale modelling.

The PewPew Diaries.

Work(s) in Progress!


1001 video games and beyond

retro computing and gaming plus a little more


retro computers and stuff


Stay Jispy!

%d bloggers like this: