S) 4.0 Upgrading Processor/Coprocessor/Disks/Video/CDROM
Q) 4.1 I don't have the money for a new computer or motherboard, what can I
[PC Magazine 11-08-94, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kingston Technology makes upgrades from the 286 to the 386. Some are CPU
replacements, others are daughterboard cards, and the granddaddy is the
MCMaster. The CPU replacements offer very little performance gain but can get
you running 386 or 486 software. The daughterboard 486/NOW! replaces both the
CPU and math coprocessor and performance-wise it is a disappointment. The
MCMaster is MCA architecture in action. Using busmastering it allows the card
to take over CPU functions and make the computer run alot faster using its own
128k L2 cache and up to 32MB of memory. This card shows promise and in most
cases performs better than the daughterboards and CPU plug-ins, however it
lags slightly in DOS video performance and video in general as it must 'cross'
the bus on to the motherboard. Still the MCMaster is probably the fastest in
this list and the only upgrade that can add L2 cache to computers without the
option. [Formats: 486/NOW!: models 70/80 to 33PD3 or 33PS3 (don't know what
the PD3 or PS3 maybe D=DX and S=SX.); MCMaster: for models 55, 56, 57, 65,
70, and 80: to 33MHz or 50MHz...note only 50MHz with 8MB+ boosted performance
and so it did significantly. The price for this level is $1000-1400.][NDP:
built in to the 486 chip.]
Intel has a SnapIn 386 module for PS/2 models 50, 50Z and 60. It features a
20MHz 80386SX, 16K cache and it can utilize an existing 80287 math
co-processor. I have one in a model 60 and have had no problems with it.
IBM offers for the 386 PS/2 Model 70 and 80 with 16 or 20MHz processors a
Power Platform upgrade with a 486DX33 on it. See above IBM PARTS LIST for
features and part numbers. These are expensive ($500-700) and are no longer
made, but can still be obtained esp. from the Boulder Parts Surplus Plant 800-
***NEW*** IBM re-released the Blue Lightning chip for PS/2s again. This time
it is for the 25MHz machines also. It offers 16K internal cache, enhanced
386/486 instruction set, and 33/66MHz performance (though the 33 will be
replaced with whatever your system runs at). Also you can add a math
coprocessor. The L.1 cache design is supposed to be what sets this chip off
from the rest (Hypertec). I talked to a IBM tech who actually had the Cyrix
DRx2-50 and was asked to help test out this new chip. He stated he saw the
same performance jump from going to a Cx486DRx2-50 from his 386DX25 as going
to the BL2 from the Cyrix. I would call that an upgrade worth considering,
esp. at the mere $345 IBM is asking. IBMPN#13H6698 $345.
***NEW*** IBM also has a SLC2-66 chip out for 55SX offering up to 10x the
performance. Features 16K L.1 cache, enhanced instruction set, and allows
existing 387SX usage providing it is a 33MHz chip. IBMPN#13H6694 $259.
Cyrix offers very good options for the 386 to 486 conversion if you are on
a tight budget. Their DRx2 line offers clock doubled performance at a low
price. The chips perform very well and just require removal of the 386 and
poping in the new chip. Pricewise they can't be beat and though not offering
the performance of their $500+ cousins they come close enough for most people
at half the cost or more (This is due to their tiny 1k L.1 caches). [Formats:
386 to 486 only: DX16MHz to 16/32MHZ, DX20MHz to 20/40MHz, 25MHz to
25/50MHz, DX33MHz to 33/66MHz, none for 40MHz yet. DX16MHz and 20MHz systems
can use the 25MHz chip if availible. Some versions for SX models.][NDP: 387,
Cyrix 83D87 rec.]
Evergreen's Rev to DX4 and 486 chips are more expensive and generally faster
than most others at a lower prices. One problem is compatability, many
computers can not run at the clock tripled and quadrupled rates and must
fall back to clock doubled rate negating the extra cost of the upgrade.
Another note is the processor board cards will not work with all systems due
to space constrants, it is best to measure and make sure you got at least 1"
or more room above the processor and can afford to give up peripheral card
space if it is in the way. A processor card may be worth it if it works due
to the fact of a larger L1 cache and the usage of an IBM Blue Lightning CPU
in some formats. [Formats: 386 to 486: DX16/DX20MHz to TI 486SXL2 or Blue
Lightning 16/48 or 20/60, DX25MHz to TI 486SXL2 or Blue Lightning 25/75,
DX33MHz to Blue Lightning 33/66 or 33/99; 486 to 486: SX/DX25MHz to 25/75MHz,
SX/DX33MHz to 33/99MHz, SX/DX50MHz to 50/100MHz. Note the DX4 only clock
triples or doubles not quadruples like a DX4 should.][NDP: various.]
H.Co is offering many chips now from 286 to 486 all the way to a 386 to
DX4/100. I am interested to see how these perform as I have no info other
than formats availible. [Formats: 286 to 486: 6-16MHz to IBM50MHz; 386
to 486: SX/DX16/20MHz to TI40MHz, DX25MHz to TI50MHz, DX25MHz to IBM50MHz,
SX/DX33MHz to IBM66MHz, SX16MHz to IBM48MHz, SX20MHz to IBM60MHz,
to IBM 60MHz, DX25MHz to IBM75MHz, DX33 to IBM99MHz; 486 to 486: 25MHz to
75MHz, 33MHz to 100MHz, 40MHz to 100MHz.][NDP: ?]
A small company called MicroModules System also offers CPU upgrades. They
are at 10500-A Ridgeview Court, Cupertino, CA 95014-0736. 408-864-7437.
Then there are AOX Inc.'s MicroMASTER busmaster boards. From 386-20 to
486/33 with up to 8MB of RAM on board. This is what the Kingston is now.
Kingston bought the rights to manufacture the MicroMaster. The early 286
to 386 versions can utilize 132PGA chips and usually 486DLC and DRx2 chips
will work, but these are no longer made and must be found used or in surplus
warehouses. [Formats: 286 to 386: to 20MHz, 25MHz, 33Mhz][NDP: 387.]
In summary the MCMaster fully configured, ie 486/50 with 8 to 16MB of RAM
offered the best performance, followed closely by Evergreen's DX4, Cyrix and
finally Kingston. H.Co, IBM, Intel, and AOX were not tested.
Also note that adding 8MB of RAM will usually add as much performance as the
CPU upgrades do and add alot more performance if combined with the CPU
upgrade. The addition of RAM, a Video card, faster hard drive, and a new CPU
will make the most improvement and if done over a period of time makes sense,
however if these are going to be bought 'lump sum' it is probably better to
buy a 486 clone if you are looking for speed. If reliability is a big factor
and speed not as important as being able to run the new 386+ software then
with PS/2's usually there are no problems as there are with most clones.
Q) 4.2 What are the Benchmarks for these Processor Upgrades?
Benchmarks are meaningless to give as it would not be the same machine nor
the same variables but below are some 'averages'. Benchmarks are only good
to compare the same settings to the same settings so if you have a machine
listed and have different marks don't post to USENET asking why, as it is
simply because you have a different configuration. The basic outline
discussed above gives you the breakdown in percent a CPU upgrade is worth
36-134%, a daugtherboard is worth 137-681%(681% percent seems high and was
not supported by PC Magazine's data. The 137% seems more real world as these
are very close to direct CPU replacements for the most part), and an MCA
processor card 263% which offered the largest increase, but at a very high
Also note that a 486 is just a enhanced 386 with L1 cache. This L1 cache
is responsable for up to a 500% performance increase. L2 caches can offer at
most a 50% performace increase. Try disabling all caching on a 33MHz 486 and
compare the marks to a 33MHz 386 you will be surprised how close they are.
Winstones are the most quoted benchmark today, so a table of average Winstones
was computed. Keep in mind that this benchmark is a benchmark which rates the
execution of certain popular sequences, scripts, in about ten or so of the
most popular window programs. With this in mind this should give a *very*
real world figure. Also keep in mind that when the processor upgrades were
done, the systems below remained stock which is very crippling especially with
a 486 trying to pull files from a 20ms access hard drive.
The processor quoted benchmarks came from a database of at least 50 different
platforms each for the 25, 33, 2/50, 2/66 with the 33 and 66 MHz numbers being
taken as an average of no less than 50 machines for each. This should give a
good average number as there was no price range or brand criteria only what
was available to the home user (ie no FCC class A or non-FCC tested dynamos).
The 50MHz numbers were for 5 tested machines. The AM40, CxS40, and SLC2
numbers are for two or less machines each and may be bad examples of the
capability of the chips being either superior or inferior to average numbers.
The Pentium numbers came from an average by PC Magazine and should be a good
Processor Winstone Value
386/25MHz Winstone base w/4MB 10.20
386/25MHz Winstone base w/8MB 13.60
CX486DRx2/50 14.20 --
Rev to 486 2/50 15.40 \
Rev to 486 3/75 18.00 Keep in mind these could vary alot
486/Now! 11.20 / depending what system the upgrade
MCMaster 50PD/8 15.00 -- is going into (ie MCMaster was
only tested on a 386SX16 machine
and the rest a Compaq 386DX/25e
with only 4MB and with 8MB the
Rev to 486 2/50 did 23 Winstones
and the 486/33 did 36. So with
more memory and better peripherals
the upgrades should give truer 486
performance despite PC Magazines
slams against them in general.
Q) 4.3 Which Math Co-Processor should I use?
For 286 systems a 287, 386 systems a 387 and for processor upgrades usually
the same unless they perform NDP functions on chip. It may be wise to
purchase an enhanced NDP, such as the 83D87 from Cyrix which is much faster
(5-15% in applications, up to 20% on certain benchmarks) than the Intel part.
Q) 4.4 How can get rid of my slow stock Hard Drive and get a faster and
larger capacity version?
PS/2's are notorious for slow, low capacity hard drives. The Model 50's
20MB drive has 80ms access! The easiest way to go is to add a SCSI or ESDI
card. SCSI in general offers better performance, the ability to add up to 7
peripherals and easy to find drives. ESDI offers more UNIX compatability
(though with new drivers this will change) and was stock on some PS/2's,
most now use SCSI. If you have SCSI or ESDI already you can add at least one
more drive no problem. It is a bad idea in general to try and replace the
MFM type ST506 drives on early PS/2s as buying a SCSI card and new hard drive
is a cheaper and faster and more reliable solution.
[I would like specifics on adding SCSI to the Model 50/60 series as I am
getting some that say it is a matter of just adding a SCSI card and others
saying that you need the card plus your old drive still installed.]
Q) 4.5 How can I add a second floppy drive and what type will work with my
Kits for mounting these drives can be obtained from PS Solutions 214-783-6997.
They sell high quality, complete kits for almost every possible internal drive
3.5" internal for:
25/30, 50Z/70, 50(front bay 50Z/70)
60/65/80 (via a 5.25" internal mount and allow for two half-high
3.5" 'H'-skid type for:
35/40/56/57/76/77(via the 5.25" int. option)
5.25" internal for:
35/40/56/57/76/77(all with 3.5" mount options available)
60/65/80 (vertical mount, also with dual half-high 3.5"/5.25"
90 (for removable media in the 5.25" bay w/ 3.5"HD opt.)
85/95 (for removable media and rails for fixed media)
For systems with 'slide-it-right-in' options the necessary bezels can be
obtained from DakTech 800-325-3238 very cheaply for a high quality product.
also for bezels with missing clear plastic 'windows' which make it hard to see
the drive lights.)
First, we will discuss the 3.5" addition as it is a more common event.
The first thing you need to do is to determine the MB capacity of what you
want to add. There is 720K/1.44MB/2.88MB and they can all read/write at their
level or lower (ie. a 2.88MB can read/write 1.44MB and 720K). Not all systems
can use all 3.5" drives. [I would like to include a list of which systems
CAN'T use the 1.44MB drives and which systems CAN use the 2.88MB drive].
After determining what you need/want to add you can start the installation.
*ADDING A 720K DRIVE:
ADDING A 1.44MB DRIVE:
There are two types of 1.44MB drives and though they do the same thing they
are not interchangeable on the internal level. One has the disk light above
the media slot and the other has it below the media slot (there are other ways
to tell but this is the easiest method). Once you determine this it is simply
a matter of either popping off the faceplate bezel blank sliding in the disk
drive until it 'clicks' and popping on the new bezel. Sometimes the external
case needs to be opened like a model 50 for example, but then the procedure is
*ADDING A 2.88MB DRIVE:
Now we will discuss the addition of a 1.2MB 5.25" drive.
These can be both adding internally or externally. External is the common way
as most PS/2s do not provide a 5.25" floppy bay and those that do usually
require a vertical mounting arrangement.
*The models supporting a direct 5.25" mount internally are:
All other's need to either buy the kits listed above or need to use an
external mounting option.
*The internal 5.25" drive is installed by sliding it into the bay
[someone please contact me with the directions for the direct installs
..do they click into place like the 3.5" drives or do they require
The kit-type installations are completed by following the manufacturers
guidelines for the kit then going to the drive hookup section below.
*Hooking up the drive to the drive card:
Find a place on you desk or area where the likelihood of the drive being
knocked down is low. Then set the drive down and detach the cable if possible
from the drive to prevent it being dragged around in the installation
Now you are ready to set it up:
Open the case of the computer, find an empty MCA slot. Plug in the floppy
controller card and run the cable to it. Now close up the computer and plug
in the 5.25" external drive and you should be all set.
Cristie drive (available only in the UK?):
The drive connects to the B-3.5" floppy connector. The cable then goes inside
the computer, through the slot in the back and finally to the drive.
It doesn't actually use a slot, but looks neater than having a cable run out
the front B: drive bay to the 5.25" drive.
Radio Shack/Tandy's 5.25":
This drive will give you 360 and 1.2mb formats via the parallel port, and
allows you to plug your printer in too -- so you lose neither a drive bay, an
expansion slot, or much money. The drive can be temperamental, usually
requireing a print job before the drive is acknowledged (maybe intialization
of the parallel port is what is required). The print job can be empty also.
This drive is an ideal solution which lets you keep your tape backup and
expansion cards in place, even if requiring an extra step to use the drive.
Its not a very awkward installation. Just pop off the cover. Unplug the
floppy connector. Snap a small board in on supplied post, and re-install
the floppy connector and route the other out the box to the external unit.
It works as drive B in 1.2 meg mode. The IBM's I saw mapped above the last
hard drive, so that floppy came in as D or E. Works fine with SCO Xenix too.
[I have been informed that the IBM drives also require the usage of one of the
3.5" floppy bays for a second drive card, is this the case for all 5 1/4"
Q) 4.6 Is there a SVGA option for my PS/2?
There's XGA and XGA-2 from IBM and the Reply Video Adapter from Reply
Technologies. Both of these have 1MB of unexpandable VRAM and can display 256
colors at 1024x768 NI and go to 1280x1024x16. The IBM card uses a IBM chip
and the Reply the Cirrus Logic CD-GL 5426 chipset which is VESA compatable.
A note about XGA2, it is not VESA compatable at the hardware level...there
are drivers that allow it to be VESA compliant but these drivers freak out
many pieces of commerial software...be advised.
Also on the high end I know of Matrox making some in the $1k + range that
have 1MB+ of VRAM but I have yet to here of the performance or to run into
someone who has purchased one. Also RasterOps Colorboard 1024MC can display
1024x768x16.7M (no modes above 1024x768) with the 3MB of VRAM it has, but it
is slow compared to other video cards and expensive. Also I am curious as to
the specs of the IBM Image I Adapter which is about $2.7k with 3MB VRAM for
1280x1024x256 color support.
ATI has the Ultra Pro 2MB a 2MB VRAM card with a 32bit accelerator. This
card had be found for as low as $250 (retails for ~$500). I am curious to
its performance as the 64bit versions are top in their class, but for just
the ability to get greater color depth the 2MB card is worth it. Be advised
that ATI has the habit of constantly changing its drivers so compatability
issues may arise and a downtime for new drivers may be upon you.
Q) 4.7 How can I add a CD-ROM drive to my PS/2?
Most of the time an external CD-ROM can be added if you have a SCSI card with
no problem. Internal CD-ROMs can be added to any PS/2 with a 5 1/4" bay, some
that have internal 5 1/4" bays (60/65SX/80) can use special bezels to
vertically mount a CD-ROM. In these cases caddy-type drive are manditory.
The drivers needed are usually dependant on which SCSI card you use so contact
the manufacturer if CD drivers were not supplied.
Q) 4.8 How can I build a Multimedia PS/2?
You can build a multimedia PS/2 the same way as a normal PC. The exceptions
are sound cards. As it stands now you must use the SB-pro or clone for DOS
and the Audiovation/A or equivalent for windows. Any SCSI CD-ROM should
work with a SCSI card and any big monitor will work. Reply Technologies,
Matrox, and ATI all make video cards for SVGA, some have up to 3MB of RAM.
Also any speaker setup will work with the soundcards providing they have
they same connectors (usu. RCA or mini RCA). Other than that you will
want a fast hard drive and probably a 33MHz or faster machine.
Here is an example:
PS/2 Model 80-A21
Cyrix Cx486DRx2-50 Processor upgrade with 33D87 NDP.
Mag DX15F Monitor
Plextor 4x CD-ROM (internal mounted)
Piper SB-Pro sound card
Audiovation/A sound card
Seagate ST-3600N SCSI hard drive
Future Domain MCS-600 SCSI controller.
Generic PC joystick
Q) 4.9 How can I get sound effects in DOOM?
[From: email@example.com (Cousin AD)]
Choose all the WRONG settings for the DMA, IRQ and I/O address. Save
settings and play... You may still need to re-boot one time before this
Choose the wrong setting for the I/O Address (use the correct settings for
the IRQ & DMA).
The above worked for me, but I found problems setting-up for modem play...
I figured, hey, you can't have it all... Then I got another suggestion
that really solved the problem...
Choose all the CORRECT settings for the DMA, IRQ and I/O Adress. Exit
set-up and choose yes to "Save settings before exit." Then, before
starting DOOM, open the file DEFAULT.CFG in an ASCII text editor (MS-DOS
"EDIT" for instance). Change the "SND_SBPORT" line from 544 to 220 or
240, depending on your SoundBlaster MCV configuration. Save the
DEFAULT.CFG file and start DOOM...
email:Chris Feeny firstname.lastname@example.org---------------\
Return to PS2 FAQ main menu