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Intel 386DX 33

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Daddyjaxx

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2005
Location
Ormond Beach, FL.
I'm thinking about building an old system with an Intel 386DX from parts on ebay, not AMD or Cyrix, or TI. The parts seem pretty cheap....maybe 200-400 in total.

What do I need?

385DX CPU 20-33 MHz passive cooling HS
Motherboard
2-4 MB RAM
ISA Video Card
100-200MB IDE Hard drive
Win 3.1 or 95. I'm pretty sure it can run 95.
AT 200w PSU
Floppy drive
Case


I'd like to see SuperPi 32m take 4 days to compute instead of 18 minutes. :) My first real computer was a 386DX 25 with an 80MB hard drive. It will be kind of nostalgic. I could show people my PC and say you think your PC is slow. Look what I have been using for 30 years.

Wait a minute, I'd bet 50% of the audience here isn't old enough to remember these.
 
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trents

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Would the motherboards in that era even be able to accept that much RAM? I'm not even sure they made sticks in those amounts. After all, you're talking about pre DDR days.
 

mackerel

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2008
4MB of ram... :D such a long time ago... I can't remember full spec but first PC I used was a 386SX16. My first personal system was 486 DX/2 66 initially with 4MB of ram, later upgraded to 8MB. I don't have that any more, but I did save someone else's similar system from the skip with the intention of converting it to a retro gaming system. Never happened...
 
OP
Daddyjaxx

Daddyjaxx

Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2005
Location
Ormond Beach, FL.
Would the motherboards in that era even be able to accept that much RAM? I'm not even sure they made sticks in those amounts. After all, you're talking about pre DDR days.

Yep.

Intel 80386 DX
Code name P3
Date released 1985
Architecture 32 bits
Data bus 32 bits
Address bus 32 bits
Maximum memory 4096 MB
L1 cache 0 KB (controller sometimes present)
L2 cache no
Clock frequency 16-33 MHz
FSB same as clock frequency
FPU 80387
SIMD no
Fabrication process 1,500-1,000 nm
Number of transistors 275,000
Power consumption 2 W @ 33 MHz
Voltage 5 V
Die surface area 42 mm² @ 1µ
Connector 132 pins

I think there is only 1 of RAM stick, 512KB, 1, 2, or 4 MB or it may be 2 x 256, 2 x 512kb, 2 x 1MB, 2 x 2mb. I can't remember. I know it was the scariest thing in my life when I upgraded the RAM and modem on my system. I remember my ex wife telling me to be careful. I think we paid close to 300.00 for 4 mb of RAM. It was brand new stuff back then. I know we bought the system at Circuit City for like 800.00.

Intel actually just stopped making them in 2007. They were still in use for NASA and other electronics. Apparently Blackberry also had a variant if it. 1500m to 14nm. 2w to 140w. Amazing. Dang, I don't think it probably needs even a heat sink at 2w.

I don't know about that chip above. I'd bet it's really an SX that came much later.

I'd pay money to take it to Geek Squad and complain that my PC is really slow and see their explanation.
 
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trents

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
Yep.

Intel 80386 DX
Code name P3
Date released 1985
Architecture 32 bits
Data bus 32 bits
Address bus 32 bits
Maximum memory 4096 MB
L1 cache 0 KB (controller sometimes present)
L2 cache no
Clock frequency 16-33 MHz
FSB same as clock frequency
FPU 80387
SIMD no
Fabrication process 1,500-1,000 nm
Number of transistors 275,000
Power consumption 2 W @ 33 MHz
Voltage 5 V
Die surface area 42 mm² @ 1µ
Connector 132 pins

I think there is only 1 of RAM stick, 512KB, 1, 2, or 4 MB or it may be 2 x 256, 2 x 512kb, 2 x 1MB, 2 x 2mb. I can't remember. I know it was the scariest thing in my life when I upgraded the RAM and modem on my system. I remember my ex wife telling me to be careful. I think we paid close to 300.00 for 4 mb of RAM. It was brand new stuff back then. I know we bought the system at Circuit City for like 800.00.

Intel actually just stopped making them in 2007. They were still in use for NASA and other electronics. Apparently Blackberry also had a variant if it. 1500m to 14nm. 2w to 140w. Amazing. Dang, I don't think it probably needs even a heat sink at 2w.

I don't know about that chip above. I'd bet it's really an SX that came much later.

I'd pay money to take it to Geek Squad and complain that my PC is really slow and see their explanation.

Those kids would have no clue what they were looking at.

- - - Updated - - -

I find it fascinating that computers have now been around long enough for techie types like us to develop this kind of nostalgia like people do with vintage cars.
 

Kenrou

Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2014
I find it fascinating that computers have now been around long enough for techie types like us to develop this kind of nostalgia like people do with vintage cars.

I'm 36 (a newborn i know) and i still occasionally pine for my oldie 1987 Commodore Amiga 500 (so many good games) :p
 

trents

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2008
I remember how Windows 3.1 was not a standalone OS. You had to have MS DOS 6.x installed first to be able to put Windows on. It was just a shell. And a big hard drive was 10 gb.

Our first computer was a Tandy 1000 that ran OS and programs off of 360k floppy disks. We were really upscale and our Tandy had dual floppy drives.

Kenrou, you are my son's age. When we had that Tandy 1000 back in the mid 1980s I remember how he would play DigDug on that machine - or hours if we would have let him.
 
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Kenrou

Member
Joined
Aug 14, 2014
Kenrou, you are my son's age. When we had that Tandy 1000 back in the mid 1980s I remember how he would play DigDug on that machine - or hours if we would have let him.

My dad taught me to program C/C+ (rogue dungeon games) on a Casio that looked something like this some 25y ago :

b62deb618e995641a9c192c01274a657.jpg
 
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Alaric

New Member
Joined
Dec 4, 2011
Location
Satan's Colon, US
Geez, I thought my first XP rig was old (512 kb RAM and a 60 GB HDD). I put a 120 GB HDD in it with 1 GB of RAM and thought I was the King of Binary Hot Rodding! LMAO!
 

benbaked

Folding/SETI/Rosetta Team Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Location
WA
Yeah you don't need to bother with a heatsink for a 386. Even AMD's 386DX-40 didn't have a heatsink.

If you go ahead with this nostalgia project please post pics, I like the old stuff like this. The last time I did a retro build was building up an old 486DX4-100 from a friend's spare parts about 15 years ago. I thought it would be fun to build an old DOS gaming machine and after the first day I never touched it again. I sold it for way too little amount of money on eBay and I kind of miss it, but DOSbox is just so much easier whenever I have that retro DOS gaming itch.

Windows 95 will run on a 386 with only 4 MB of RAM but it won't be enjoyable. Back in high school I had a Toshiba 386SX-16 laptop with 5 MB RAM that I had installed 95 on and it literally took almost five minutes of booting to get past the splash screen. Windows for Workgroups 3.11 or even just 3.1 would be a better match for that class of system, you can dress up 3.1 to look and feel like Windows 95 with the free Calmira shell.
 

knoober

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
Geez, I thought my first XP rig was old (512 kb RAM and a 60 GB HDD). I put a 120 GB HDD in it with 1 GB of RAM and thought I was the King of Binary Hot Rodding! LMAO!
I fit in this category very nicely :D
 

Robert17

Premium Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2011
Location
Republic of Texas
Toss a fan or two in there for sure; that chip takes 5v..............yikes!

My 286-12's board could only take 2MB RAM, and I could only afford 1MB.....it was a deal with the MB included, ran $100. That thing ran HOT.