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Tag Archives: Pentium 1

pav31002

When I think of Pavilions I think of those wooden roofed buildings found at the park. It hardly evokes images of high speed computing or technology. Apparently one definition is also “lower surface of a brilliant-cut gem” so maybe that’s what they were going for with the HP Pavilion line. Anyways this is the HP Pavilion 3100. I received this machine as part of a lot of three PC’s I picked up. Its actually the second time I’ve had this models as strangely enough that last one was also from a lot of three machines I grabbed although that one didn’t work and when I tried booting it up it sparked and caught fire. This machine though worked fine. As you can see there is one 5 1/4 bay for a CD drive as well as a spot for a 3 1/2 floppy underneath. there’s a power button to the left and LED’s for power and HDD activity but no reset button. This is a no frills machine.

pav31001

Mine still had the sticker attached with what were the factory specs, 166mhz MMX Pentium, 16MB SDRAM, 2GB HDD, 16x CD drive, 1MB video RAM, etc… The machine I acquired was upgraded by the previous owner and I’ll get to that.

pav31003

On the rear of the computer we have a assortment of the usual suspect ports. Serial and printer ports with an interestingly placed gameport above them for a joystick or gamepad. Next to that we have two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse, two audio jacks for microphone and speakers, two USB port and finally the VGA port. Its not a bad assortment of ports for such a small machine and all your basics are covered. The expansion card options are very limited with only two slots available. One slot here being taken by an ethernet card  (its removable). This computer is very compact and light which is a nice plus.

pav31004

The case top slides off after removing three rear screws. Still has what I believe is the original WD Caviar 22000 2GB hard drive. It uses a riser card for the two expansion slots with 1 PCI and two ISA so you can have either one of each type or two ISA cards. The most logical setup if you don’t care about networking and are going for pure gaming would be a PCI video card and an ISA sound card for DOS compatibility.

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I guess the lack of expansion slots is the tradeoff for the extremely slim case but it is very limiting.

pav31006

First off there is no l2 cache on this motherboard.

1) CMOS battery

2) Two IDE connectors and one floppy connector

3) S3 Trio64V+ with 1MB of video RAM. A classic stand by for DOS. The nice thing about this chip for on board video is you may not need to bother with adding a video card if your primary concern is DOS since the Trio is pretty much the standard and compatible with just about everything.

4) The on board audio chip from Crystal. there’s no true OPL chip on this machine. It does adequate job but if your serious about sound I would recommend adding an ISA sound blaster or clone.

5) gameport connector

6) Piezo speaker, despite not being a true cone speaker the piezo does a pretty decent job and mine was fairly loud.

pav31007

On the other side of the riser card you have your AT power connector as well as

7) CPU – the 3100 came stock with a 166mhz Pentium MMX chip but mine has been upgraded to a 200Mhz chip. I *think* this may be the top CPU upgrade for this machine as the jumpers only allow for 3x at 66mhz fsb. I did try installing a 233mhz P1 but it was only detected and running at 200mhz. *EDIT* I have been informed that you indeed can get the machine to post to 233mhz with the correct jumper configuration.

8) RAM – This machine came stock with 16MB of SDRAM but mine has been upgraded to the full 64MB

So my thoughts on this machine. On the plus side its a very compact and light machine. If you lack a lot of space or want an old desktop for DOS or early Windows LAN parties or something this one should work. It has all the basics and could be made into a serviceable DOS/Windows machine. adding a voodoo I/II to compliment the S3 trio would help or just placing an all-in-one solution card like a voodoo 3 or a Nvidia or Matrox card would also help. I would say adding an ISA sound blaster 16 or AWE would also be a must for gaming. That said there seems to be better options out there and the expansion possibilities with this machine are just to limited. Windows 95/98 run fine on the machine but later games would seriously choke on it from the CPU bottleneck. no L2 cache always sucks and hinders overall speed. if you want something compact a Compaq EN is a much better option, especially with its speedier CPU options and ability in BIOS to disable all cache to seriously cut speeds and help with old game compatibility. The 3100’s BIOS options are like the rest of this machine, very limited. It does a good job cramming as much as it does into such a light and slim case and as I said DOES play DOS games and early Windows stuff OK but its hard to take seriously as a gaming machine.

Benchmarks for DOS were decent

200mhz Pentium MMX, 64MB SDRAM, NO L2 Cache, S3 Trio64V+

3DBENCH – 152.9

PCPBENCH – 41.9

DOOM – 72.44

Quake – 38.9

It actually barely beat my main Pentium DOS PC under 3dbench by .7 FPS but then that could be a fluke since that machine beat it by several FPS in all the other tests. Or 3dBench may rely more on the video card and I’m starting to suspect the 2d core of the Trio may be ever so slightly more efficient then in the Virge even though there supposedly are exactly the same.

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Apparently I haven’t learned my lesson because I came across another Pentium 1 machine that I couldn’t pass up. The Compaq Deskpro 5120 which actually is pretty much the Compaq version of last months article on the Gateway 2000 P5-120. So much so I’m going to directly compare them at the end of this article. Despite them being very similar machines built around the same CPU from the same time frame the Compaq machine has some interesting and uncommon features that make it stand out and in my opinion is superior to the very well built Gateway machine.

comdp1201

And here we see the front of the machine in question. Now compared to the Gateway it a lot plainer looking. Its also a bit smaller and only sports two 5 1/4 expansion bays.  My machine seemed pretty stock and did not come with a CD drive. There’s three things I don’t care for on this system from that start.

1) I don’t like when the floppy drive uses that molded into the faceplate thing. So you have to find drives that are missing the faceplate and have to usually attach a button extender thing. it just annoys me.

2) both the power and hard drive activity LED’s on this model are green. usually the HDD activity light is red or orange but no, all the LED’s are the same green including the floppy drive light. Its a super minor thing and I guess one can change this themselves but still, annoys me.

3) no reset button. If its there its REALLY well camouflaged cause I couldn’t find one. sure you can just use the keyboard command but really? no reset button?

When removing the face plates though to add anything like a CD drive they do have a nice little latch.

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It seems a little fancier then the standard prongs that hold them in place.

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The back is pretty simple. You can tell right off from the expansion brackets this machine uses a riser card. You have a serial port, two color coded PS/2 ports for keyboard/mouse a parallel port and a built in VGA port. A nice touch is the two tool-less screws on the left and right used to remove the case top.

comdp1203

Here’s the machine after removing the case cover. Looks to be mostly stock and original from what I can tell. Of special interest is if you look over on the left in the 5 1/4 bays we see the uncommon “Bigfoot” style hard drive. These were large cheap and fairly slow hard drives that were semi popular with companies like Compaq. This drive is screwed to the base and is not actually taking up one of the two 5 1/4 bays. At the time these drives weren’t really a good investment because although cheaper then a standard 3 1/2 inch hard drive they were fairly slow in comparison and sometimes they weren’t even that much cheaper. This is the first one I’ve seen in some time.

800px-525HDDn35HDD

here’s a public domain image I swiped to save me the effort of removing my own drive for comparison purposes. my Bigfoot drive is a 1.2GB model. I think they produced them up to about 10GB.

Next is the riser card

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Image is of both sides of the riser card and as you can see it sports both ISA and PCI ports as standard with several slots being “shared”

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Here’s the motherboard with most obstructions out of the way. This motherboard uses the Intel 82430hx Triton II chipset which is a improvement over the old Triton I chipset my Gateway has supporting more features. it also has a nice switch with instructions printed on the board to set your CPU type making upgrading or downgrading the CPU fairly easy. Like the Gateway this is a socket 5 motherboard.

1) The CPU is again the Pentium 120mhz just like the Gateway model I looked at previously. I do like the massively long heatsink for this CPU that extends well over the space of the CPU. Maybe it was intended to act as cooling for adjacent chips as well? The motherboard is socket 5 so the Pentium 120 is the end of the line unless you use a Pentium overdrive or Pentium overdrive MMX for a boost of up to 180mhz maybe 200mhz

2) Slot for the riser card

3) The CMOS battery, uses an older style flimsy battery holder so replacing the battery may require soldering

4) For video this machine uses the Cirrus Logic CL-GD5434 chip with 1MB of RAM soldered onto the board. I don’t know a whole lot about it but it seems to be a very middle of the road chip. CL was found in a lot of systems at this time and its not a not horrible chip with good compatability. There’s a VESA feature connector next to the chip which is for some sort of add-on I’m not sure about. The ram for the video can be increased from 1MB to 2 MB with a probably fairly uncommon expansion card. You can see the two connectors for it as it installs right above the 1mb of soldered chips. Like most PC’s of this time adding a ISA or PCI video card via the expansion slots automatically disabled the on-board video.

5) Ram sockets. This machine takes 72 pin RAM. Like the Gateway machine it accepts FPM or EDO RAM. My machine already had 8MB of EDO RAM installed so I added 8 more for a total of 16MB of EDO RAM. This board is capable of supporting 192MB of RAM

6) A neat feature of this board and also this Compaqs big advantage over the Gateway is the COASt (Cache On A Stick) slot. The Gateway PC I had has no L2 cache on the motherboard or a way to add it besides a major soldering job and even then I’m not sure it was supported in BIOS. COASt slots let you install L2 cache sticks much like you would with traditional RAM. This was very common in 90’s Macintosh machines but an uncommon feature on early Pentiums. This stick is a 256kb stick which is the max for this model.

7) two standard IDE connectors for your IDE devices. Interestingly the primary connector has a plastic guide around it and the secondary does not.

8) Floppy drive connector

On booting this machine up it did not boot to Windows 95 as I had expected but instead into DOS and then a Compaq version of Windows 3.1

compdp1207

Its really just an OEM version of win 3.1. Exactly the same but with some extra Compaq utilities like a diagnostic tool and what not. Kinda handy.

Comparison with my 120mhz Gateway p5-120

comvsgat

Since their so similar and I’m writing about them back to back I decided to make a quick comparison with a few speed utilities. Keep in mind I only did this once, so its a quick maybe not 100% comparison. Optimally you want to run the test several times after restarts and take an average but I think it gives an overall idea of the two. I used speedsys which is a well know DOS utility for checking specs and also PCPBench which looks more at video FPS (frames per second). I used the same video card for both machines, my 2mb Matrox Mystique.

compdp1208

Here’s the Compaq with my Matrox card and the sound blaster32 transferred over. Also there is a RAM difference. the Gateway is running 64MB of slower FPM RAM while my Compaq is running 16MB of faster EDO RAM.

Speedsys results

Gateway 2000 P5-120

100_7558

Compaq Deskpro 5120

100_7564

On CPU the Compaq scores slightly lower, 89.33 as opposed to 89.40. the difference is negligible and could be due to many things. you can see the memory speed is a little better on the Compaq due to the EDO RAM. In the hard drive performance though you can really see how that slow Bigfoot drive in the Compaq is really dragging down overall system performance. of course this is easily fixable by replacing the drive with a faster 3 1/4 hard drive.

lastly lets see how the L2 cache helps the Compaq score in a battery of tests.

I recently became aware of a neat little collection of benchmarking tools for DOS conveniently put together by Mau1wurf1977, a member over at the Vogons forum, so I wanted to do another comparison of these two machines. Before I was able to do so though half of my EDO RAM on the Compaq stopped being detected no matter how many times I reseated it. In the end I just decided to add a total of 32MB of FPM ram. Slower then the EDO that was in it but twice as much. Still half as much as the 64MB in the Gateway. So here is the results. I also used an older program Land Mark 2.0 because its weird and uses an outdated “AT rating” but it was interesting and later it may help in comparisons to really old 286 and 8088 machines.

Gateway 2000 P5-120

3DBENCH – 104.2FPS

PCPBENCH – 24.9 FPS

DOOM – 51.55 FPS

Quake – 22.9 FPS

Land Mark 2.0 – equivalent to a 691mhz AT system and a 202mhz 287 coprocessor

Compaq Deskpro 5120

3DBENCH – 110.5 FPS

PCPBENCH – 32.8 FPS

DOOM – 57.41 FPS

Quake – 27.6 FPS

Land Mark 2.0 – equivalent to a 691mhz AT system and a 202mhz 287 coprocessor

So, as expected, despite the same CPU and video card the Compaq scores a little higher on every test due to the L2 cache and possibly the slightly newer chipset.

Overall I like the Compaq model. Its a little generic looking and maybe not as easily expandable but its a bit more compact (no pun intended) and inside I think its a slightly superior machine due to the addition of L2 cache and slightly newer chipset. A P5-120 with l2 cache may be a different story although that cache would be soldered on the board so if it failed replacing it may be difficult.

I really didn’t need another Pentium 1 system but I have a soft spot for the Gateway 2000 especially when they come with matching monitor and keyboard.  Gateway 2000 is what Gateway used to call themselves up until the late 1990’s and they made some pretty quality Pentium 1 and 486 machines. The one I picked up here is from the middle of the 90’s. This is a solid machine that I received from a family and from what I was told had seen much use and still was almost stock with almost all the parts coming from about 1995 with the exception of the CD-Rom drive and some added RAM. The machine still booted up fine from what appeared to be the original hard drive and ran like a champ without having to do anything.

g2k1201

The version I have is a desktop case. I think most of their models also came in a tower configuration as well. Its a nice sturdy case and is nice and high to allow for 3 5 1/4 bays which is really nice. I’m not a huge fan of the vertical orientation slots for the floppy drives but its okay. Its good for saving space but this case is large enough that I don’t think a traditional horizontal orientation would of made any difference except maybe interfering with the gentle aesthetic  “bump” the left side of the case that protrudes. Unlike the Packard Bell machines Gateway had a sane model naming scheme.  P5 I assume designates  a Pentium Processor inside and the 120 after that should designate the CPU speed or mhz. So unless someone has changed CPU’s this machine should sport a Pentium 120mhz CPU. Power button is on the right and we have a big round reset button on the left next to the never used case lock. Below that you have your standard power and HDD light but there is also a turbo light but there’s no turbo button on the case and no keyboard combo I can find that initiates the turbo (slows the computer down). So until I discover otherwise I assume this is just because they used the same case with a different badge for the 486 line.

g2k1202

The rear of the machine is pretty standard. We have two ps/2 ports for the keyboard and mouse though the ports are not color coded on this machine. Above them are two serial and one parallel port. We have 7 expansion ports on the back. A few are specifically labeled for video, joystick/sound and network but you don’t have to put those cards in those slots but I have for looks reasons.

g2k1203

This is actually how the board looked when I first opened it. Covered with years of dust. At least there were no dead insects or mice.

g2k1204

And here is the board after removing most of the dust.

1) CPU – The motherboard uses socket 5 as well as a Pentium 120 which is just as well as that’s the fastest commonly available CPU for that socket. The Pentium 120 is a solid CPU being fast enough for earlier Windows stuff and more then sufficient for most DOS applications without being to overkill. As you can see mine did not come with a fan on the heatsink which though I wouldn’t recommend is apparently fine since this thing ran for a long long time without. I suppose if you had one lying around you could toss in a uncommon Pentium overdrive or Pentium overdrive MMX for a boost of up to 180mhz maybe 200mhz. This motherboard uses the Intel 82430fx chipset.

2) RAM – my machine came with some odd amount of RAM, I want to say 40 something but originally from what I found they came factory with 8 or 16 mb of RAM. I have expanded mine to 64MB but the total the board can take is 128mb. This machine can accept FPM or faster EDO. I went with FPM because I have so much of it here.

3) CMOS battery to keep Bios settings

4) connectors for the serial/parallel ports

5) AT power supply connector

6) floppy drive connector

7) Two IDE connectors

as for L2 cache my particular board came with none and no sockets to add any. There are some vacant suspicious spots right above the CPU that looks like cache chips may belong there but running cachechk program confirms no l2 cache is present on the board.

The board also sports three PCI and four 16 bit ISA slots which is nice for DOS/Win 9x expansion options.

g2k1205

Here are the expansion cards that originally came with this machine. I highly suspect these are also what came factory with this machine. Top left is the modem and to the right of that is the video card which is a PCI S3 Trio64V+ which is an earlier s3 trio card but still very compatible for DOS games but offers no 3D acceleration. On the bottom is the sound card that was installed which is a Sound Blaster 16 CT2800 that uses the less noisy Vibra chip and has a OPL chip for FM. Its a good DOS sound card and adequate for Windows 9x.

I did end up doing some upgrading. I added a fan to the CPU heatsink. I replaced the SB16 with an AWE32 since I have a few of them lying around. I originally switched the tri64V+ with a tri64v2 thinking the same drivers would work for both but I was wrong. In the end I stuck in a Matrox Mystique I had left over from my vintage 3d article to give the machine a nice graphical boost (while hurting the DOS compatibility somewhat) and add some 3d acceleration capability. I also transferred the original HDD which was still running the origional Windows 95 that came packaged with the machine (I think it was about 1.5GB) to a removable bay. so the new loaded motherboard now looks more like this.

g2k1207

Its a nice sturdy system. Personally I like the classic G2K machines and this Pentium 120mhz rig has potential to be a great DOS box for someone.

g2k1208

Here we have another Packard Bell in the form of the Legend 2440. I found this particular PC on Craigslist for $10 in a lot with two other computers. At first it was completely nonfunctional but with a little work I’ve managed to get it up and running as well as adding a few minor upgrades. Its a nice little desktop style PC that with a little work makes a good Pentium based DOS machine.

pb24401

Here you can see the 2440 uses a pretty standard desktop look but still uses that Packard Bell lower case styling. You have your two standard power and reset switches as well as three bays. if I ever run across a spare 5 1/4 floppy drive (which this machine as factory did not come with) I may decide to drop it into this unit but a CD ROM drive and 1.44MB 3 1/2 drive is sufficient for the game time frame of this machine.

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Here we have a shot of the rear of the unit which is also pretty standard. you have a serial and a printer port as well as two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse and finally a VGA port for the built in video.

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Here is a shot of the the riser card with its expansion ports after the case is removed. two PCI and 3 16 bit ISA slots though one PCI/ISA slot is shared. As for RAM the unit has 8MB built into the board and has 4 kind of oddly spaced slots for 72 pin RAM. My PC came with 16MB total (8 on board and 8 more via two 4MB SIMMS). I later upgraded the RAM to 72MB total (8MB on board and 4 16MB DIMMS). The motherboard is capable of handling up to 136MB of RAM max. The CPU in this PC is a 75mhz Pentium. considered a little slow this was one of the first true Pentiums and when paired with the right motherboard can be quite speedy. Some of the highest end 486 CPU’s can like the AMD 133mhz 486 can match and at times slightly exceed the P75 in speed but the Pentium can do floating point calculations faster then any 486. Overall the P75 is a good DOS and win 3.1 CPU, its fast but not to fast and is reliable. The CPU on this machine did not come with a cpu fan and I don’t believe it came standard with one, the case fan to the right of the CPU acts as a cooler for the CPU. On the lower left hand is the chip for the on board video. The chip is a Cirrus Logic GD5430 which should play many DOS and windows 95 games and applications just fine. Its not a speed demon of a video chip but its reasonably fast. There is no jumper is disable on board video. On board video should disable when you add a video card to one of the expansion slot but I’ve had some issues doing such.

Like most Packard Bell systems and cheap OEM PC’s of the time there is NO L2 cache on this system though there is a space where it would go and I assume you could solder on your own chips if you have them. Its a shame though this model doesn’t even have sockets for them to make things easy though I have read reports of versions of this model indeed being sold with the L2 cache on the motherboard.

pb24405

Here is a shot of the board with all obstructions out of the way. You can also see the RAM I have replaced and filled the four slots. Over in the upper right corner next to the AT power connector are a floppy drive connector and two IDE connections built into the motherboard.

Now a little about the repairs I made and some things I learned about this computer while doing them. As far as I can tell I bought this computer pretty much in its original factory condition. This included a 1 gig hard drive, a network card and a aztech sound card. Windows 95 was preloaded on the hard drive. On receiving this computer I could not get it to boot at all. I replaced the AT power supply and still no power. I discovered that the network card was the source of my troubles. For some reason if the network card was installed the PC would not boot. I’m guessing the card was bad or was drawing to much power and shutting the PSU down. Since I really have no need for a network card my solution was just to remove the card. Getting into the unit to replace the switch on the power supply is somewhat tricky and requires removing the front faceplate which of course has fragile plastic tabs pron to snapping off if your not gentile. I also had some issues getting the power switch in as the screw holes on my switch were not lined up with the case. In this case I trimmed down the switch and used a hot glue gun to hold the switch in place. Usually I would not suggest this method but I only plan to lightly use this PC for testing so I doubt the switch will get heavy use. The case fan was also completely dead but the housing for it easily pops off via 4 plastic tabs and I was able to replace the fan.

On removing the expansion cards, reformatting the hard drive and installing a sound blaster 32 and a S3 Virge video card I ran across several errors. First off here is the sound card that came factory as far as I know with this system.

pb24406

Its an okay Aztech Sound Blaster 16 clone with a real Yamaha opl3 chip really meant for a windows environment. If your installing a different sound card like I was make sure you erase all the drivers for this card first or you will get a slew of errors. Of course reformatting the hard drive will get rid of those drivers.

After reformatting I installed DOS 6.22, Windows 3.1 and finally IBM OS/2 just so I could play around a bit with that operating system.

The second issue I came across was the video card. Unfortunately OS/2 refused to load with the Virge card installed. This most likely an issue with OS/2 that could be resolved with some effort but I decided to just go with the on board video. For my purposes the on board video really isn’t much of an issue so I simply decided to abandon the Virge and stick with the on board Cirrus Logic chip. (UPDATE) The Virge card I had was actually bad so no fault of the PC or OS/2.

Finally I had an issue with the factory CD-ROM drive from PB. Apparently this drive is somewhat picky about what drivers it uses and since I didn’t have the original drivers that came with this machine I had to use the generic ATAPI IDE CD-ROM drivers that I always use. Unfortunately the Packard bell drive does not work well with most generic drivers like mine and could not detect the drive upon booting DOS. A very easy and actually desired fix for this is to just find a cheap newer CD ROM drive to replace the most likely dying original drive.

The Packard Bell Legend 2440 is a decent DOS computer or even windows 95 machine though it will run a little slow on windows depending on what your doing and the amount of RAM. though it can be a bit of a pain to take apart and get running.

*after some searching the motherboard layout is available here

It seems that for a time during the early and mid 1990’s PC manufacturers felt they needed to do a lot of experimenting with PC case design. These days when you buy a PC you generally know what the inside will look like. Sure there is some variation here and there but in general it’s fairly standardized, not so much in the early and mid 90’s. Some PC’s case designs were downright odd and some were like figuring out a Chinese puzzle box to open up. One mild example that I covered earlier was the Packard Bell S605 and its somewhat unorthodox case. The Compaq Presario 9546 much like the PB S605 is also a Pentium 1 based PC and coming from the same era it also is an interesting experiment in internal case design.

from the outside it looks pretty standard and yes it could use a good scrubbing. We have the standard 1.44MB floppy drive and that is the CD-ROM drive that was installed when I purchased it and I assume its not the factory drive. I do kind of like the blue rectangle power button on the right. it also sports some legs that spout out at the bottom presumably to help prevent your tower from randomly toppling over. I suppose that’s a little handy and they don’t really interfere with the operation of the computer

and from the back its pretty standard looking. as you can see if you look at the expansion slots I have installed a video and sound card due to the fact I could not get either of the onboard video or sound working after I reformatted the hard drive and installed a different OS but I’ll get to that in a moment. The ports are all labeled nicely and one thing I do really like are the large tabs on each side that easily unscrew and allow access to the left and right sides of the PC. I kinda hate always breaking out a screwdriver and unscrewing a ton of screws to open a PC and the easy tabs are kind of nice. I should also note the top comes off as a separate piece to give access to the upper drives as well as the PSU. The PSU also seems to be a propitiatory design.

and here is where you may notice the non standard internal design. See, rather than the motherboard laying flat against one side of the case there is a metal divider that goes through the center with the motherboard on one side and the expansion slots on the other and to be honest it’s not really a bad design in some respects and at least on this side it feels like you have plenty of room to get to things. The 9546 uses the AT power connector which was standard for the time as well as a 100mhtz Pentium 1 CPU which is an excellent performer for a fast DOS based PC  or for windows 3.1 and 95. Mine came with 57MB of RAM installed but the 9546 can take up to 136MB according to the spec sheet I found online and this should be more than enough to run anything from the period. The expansion card in the lower right corner is a standard modem I believe of the 14.4kb variety. The onboard video is the ubiquitous S3 Trio64V2, the DOS era video standard which has 1MB of video ram expandable to 2MB. The onboard sound is powered by the Ensoniq chip, same as in the Ensoniq AudioPCI card which is a PCI card that actually offers pretty good DOS sound capability and commendable Windows sound. This computer originally came with Windows 95 pre-installed on its 1GB hard drive and also sported a special Compaq BIOS. Throwing caution to the wind I decided to format the hard drive and install DOS 6.22. which has had some odd affects first of which is this on boot up.

After hitting F1 and booting into DOS everything works fine except I cant get the on-board sound or video running. I’m completely aware this is possibly a driver and hardware conflict but it’s not really a huge problem and there is probably a way around this issue if I played with the BIOS but again, not really a priority since it works fine with the other cards I have installed under DOS.

This would be the opposite side of the case where we have our expansion slots (2 PCI, 4 ISA 16 bit) as well as the IDE connections for the various drives.  despite the seeming openness and space on this side it’s actually a lot more restrictive than a regular PC case as far as securing the expansion cards. The problem is that a standard screwdriver is to tall and will not fit to screw in the screws that secure the cards to the case so you have to use a smaller screwdriver like I have in the picture laying next to a regular sized screwdriver.

This is the Video card I had lying around to replace the Trio64V2. It is a 4MB PCI Trident Providia 9685. I don’t really like Trident cards, they tend to be low end and well…low end. This card is kind of so/so and seems a little better than most Trident video card offerings. Other than VGA it also has a composite as well as S-video connection allowing use of  TV in the case you don’t have a VGA monitor around which is actually pretty useful if you don’t mind taking a substantial video quality hit. Also according to the writing on the top center section of this card it is “stuffed for EDO RAM”, nice.

For sound I’m using a Creative Sound Blaster 16? the model is CT4520 which would make it a AWE64 value but DOS detects it as a sound blaster 16 though I would assume it would see it as a AWE32 or even as it is, an AWE64. Not really the optimal card to stick in this machine but again all I want for it is basic sound and this is what I have lying around, I’ll save the good sound cards for machines I’ll be using.

Conclusion: The Compaq Presario isn’t a bad machine. The Pentium 1 100mhz is a solid CPU and the RAM amount is enough for the time. The case design is actually pretty convenient except for the screwdriver length issue. My biggest problem is the Compaq BIOS that gave me issues when I tried to reformat and install pure DOS. As a windows 95 PC it’s quite passable but there are better more powerful choices.

Packard Bell computers or “Packard Hell” as some refer to them may not have attained a very high reputation for value during their heyday in the USA during the 90’s. perhaps its a well deserved bad reputation. I never owned one as a child so I can’t personally attest to them. (though I did have a horrible AST PC). despite this they were a significant PC manufacturer for the time and turned out quite a few models in the early Pentium era and prior. This is more of a short review or overlook since I’ve noticed there isn’t alot of specific information on a lot of these models online. I picked up this Packard Bell S605 Multimedia PC at a thrift shop for under $20. On hooking it  up the machine fired right up and besides perhaps a dying original CD-ROM drive and some issues with the original sound card the machine has worked fine after all these years.

It uses the typical weird case design that Packard Bell was fond of in the 90’s with the weird grey bordering at the base. I suppose this did help it stand out a little from an aesthetic point of view and defiantly gives the machine some personality. This particular model still has all the retail stickers attached proclaiming its vast technological features for the time. This is a 233mhz Pentium 1 model on a socket 7 MB. the Intel 233mhz MMX is the last of the Pentium 1 line of CPU’s and its actually a great CPU I use in most of my Windows 95 PC’s which is also the operating system this machine had preloaded. nothing else very special, it originally came with 24MB of RAM, mine was upgraded to 64MB but the max that can be installed is 128. I suspect you need to use 2 PC66 64MB RAM DIMMS to achieve the 128 though since when I tried installing a single 128MB stick the PC booted up but gave me odd memory errors and upon booting Win95 was extremely slow and only registered 32MB RAM in the system properties. The built in video is the S3 Trio64V2 chipset which is really the standard for DOS gaming and is a great video device for compatibility. It is a little lacking for Windows95 though so I tossed in a spare S3 Virge PCI video card I had to at least give the machine some 3D ability while keeping the excellent 2D since the Virge uses basically the same 2d core as the Trio64V2. It also came loaded with a little 3.2GB hard drive that booted right up

Here’s the case opened. Again its an odd case as usual for PB. instead of the top and sides coming off as one piece or a simple side panel coming off the side and bottom come off, though the reasons for this become quickly apparent.

This is the case on its side laying down. notice it? Well it doesn’t really effect anything but the slots for any expansion cards ( 3 16 bit ISA and 2 PCI ) are on a riser card inserted into the motherboard so to insert a new expansion card you have to flip the PC upside down and stall them. so as you can see they are installed upside down comparatively to the PC tower. this effects nothing but I just find it weird like a lot of these old computers. The pre installed sound card does not take up a slot, its just kind of screwed into a bracket but has no connection to any expansion slot. it is connected to the motherboard by what appears to be a IDE cable. It appears to be a standard SB compatible crystal semiconductor sound card common on Windows 95 systems but no matter how many times I reinstall the drivers I just cant get sound. the card is being detected by windows but has a conflict so its possibly defective. I do plan to install some older spare sound card when I come across one since I just cant seem to get this onboard sound to work.  also the fan on the CPU is loud, very very loud.

100_5085

Conclusion: its not a bad computer despite being a infamous Packard Bell. with RAM maxed and a decent sound/video card for the era it would make a pretty good Windows 95 machine. The CPU is excellent and what I use in my Win95 setups and you get both mouse and keyboard PS/2 ports plus a USB port built in. I seriously considered making this machine my main Win95 PC but it has its drawbacks. Win95 can support up to 480MB of RAM and even though for almost all programs 128MB is more then enough I like the option of being able to throw in a little more if needed. Also being limited to only 2 PCI slots can be an issue especially if you want to add a Voodoo 1 or 2 3d card or a PCI audio card like the DOS compatible Ensoniq PCIaudio.

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