Question Really old ISA GPU not working

stormman34

Reputable
Dec 17, 2018
46
3
4,545
2
So, in my school, me and my teacher are working on a really old model PC. It would be all open and could be taken apart for teaching purposes. We have this Trident graphics card in there but it isn't outputting any video. So my question is: Can this GPU be still functioning and the only problem is the compatibility and wrongly configured jumpers or is it 100% dead?

If it will be needed I could offer complete names of the card, mobo and CPU tomorrow.
 

Eximo

Titan
Ambassador
That would be a good start. I'm a little curious how old a system you are putting together. 386 at most I would guess.

CPU not really important I would think. Just the bus type and what the jumpers are actually for.

That said, capacitors dry out and other components fail. I remember Trident cards, but ISA graphics cards is going back a long long way. I don't think there is a whole lot of relevance for that type of system beyond more than a 'look at that' sort of way. You are not likely to encounter computers quite that old in the field any longer. Even in manufacturing environments where they keep things forever they probably moved on to industrial embedded PCs to run disk operated equipment.

Even when I was in school around 2007 the hands on (for disassembly) computers had AGP graphics which was rapidly replaced with the current PCIe standard that we have today. Heck my first (used) machine in 1994 had a PCI graphics card.

If you guys are in need of computers to show off for teaching purposes, hit up the classifieds and your local thrift shops. Usually not too hard to track down 7-10 year old desktops for under $20.
 

stormman34

Reputable
Dec 17, 2018
46
3
4,545
2
GPU - Trident TVGA 9000b
CPU - Intel Pentium MMX tech FV80503166
MOBO - I don't have the box from it so I don't know the name but there's a VIA VT82C586A chipset if that helps.

I'm guessing that that 586 in the chipset name means that it is a 586 system? I don't know much about these old PCs.
 

stormman34

Reputable
Dec 17, 2018
46
3
4,545
2
I looked at the picture of the graphics card on Google and it would seem that I don't have the Quadtel chip installed so that's probably why it's not working. Bummer.
 

Eximo

Titan
Ambassador
Those seem mismatched. Image for the graphics card I found claims a 1991 manufacture date. That CPU was released in 1997. That motherboard should have more PCI slots than ISA, at least going by the average. I would try and track down a newer PCI graphics card.

There are a few electrolytic capacitors on at least one revision of the board. Though others seemed to used thin-film caps. Luckily this is the type of board that still uses full size components. So you could go around replacing resistors, capacitors. Even the memory chips if you were feeling confident. And things like the BIOS and maybe the VGA output? itself are socketed chips, you can try removing and reseating those and checking for corrosion. You can also try cleaning the ISA connector, enough corrosion and you wouldn't get voltage through them.

Remember this was back in an era where almost every computer upgrade was more than a doubling in performance. So a 1997 CPU with a 1991 graphics card would be quite limited.

I had an AMD equivalent K6 (1997) which was contemporary with Pentium MMX and was already running a 16MB graphics card with 3D for my games. Previously I had a 1MB PCI graphics card and at one point a pair of dedicated 3D accelerators with a 486/586 Pentium 83Mhz overdrive chip.

That weird period where Intel and AMD shared a CPU socket and chipsets were made by third parties. And I think Cyrix might have still been kicking around. I know I had a Cyrix 150Mhz at around that time as well.
 

Eximo

Titan
Ambassador
I looked at the picture of the graphics card on Google and it would seem that I don't have the Quadtel chip installed so that's probably why it's not working. Bummer.
Oops, missed that before posting. Oh well history lesson is free.

You could try and locate that BIOS chip on some retro computer forums. Or someone might be able to make you one with a modern EEPROM. (Assuming they had a working chip to copy from)
 

mgallo848

Commendable
Apr 4, 2018
1,551
35
1,790
149
Don't forget to install the VIA chipset also. I'm assuming Windows 95 or 98? You had to manually install them back then. I don't think I ever remember getting chipset drivers through windows updates for 95 or 98.
 

stormman34

Reputable
Dec 17, 2018
46
3
4,545
2
Those seem mismatched. Image for the graphics card I found claims a 1991 manufacture date. That CPU was released in 1997. That motherboard should have more PCI slots than ISA, at least going by the average. I would try and track down a newer PCI graphics card.
Everything that's going into that PC is mismatched and just somehow put together to look good. We're building it in the higher half of Advance 86 case without the lid. We had to make a hole for the psu in the case, had to put in custom standoffs, will have to drill in holes for the power buttons and led and so on. We're using mobo that has integrated IDE controller but we still put a ISA IDE controller just to fill up the space. We have slots for SDRAM but we don't have any so we just put in 2 DDR modules so it looks good. I hope that you now get an idea about what this PC is.

You could try and locate that BIOS chip
I actually think that I saw it laying around somewhere.

I'm assuming Windows 95 or 98?
The PC is not working.
 

RobCrezz

Titan
Ambassador
If its old enough that it has ISA slots, DDR or DDR2 memory wont work, it wont even post with that, so that could be your problem.

If I has PCI slots then I would suggest getting a PCI video card (matrox cards of this era were good).
 

stormman34

Reputable
Dec 17, 2018
46
3
4,545
2
so you have no idea what OS is on it then?
We basically built it ourselves and we're gonna use some random HDD that we found in the classroom. There isn't any OS so far on it.

If its old enough that it has ISA slots, DDR or DDR2 memory wont work
We didn't use DDR, we just put DDR memory into SDRAM slot so it kinda looks like it's supposed to be there. It's not making any contact with the SDRAM slot.

If I has PCI slots then I would suggest getting a PCI video card
We don't wanna spend any money on it. We basically made it from scrap parts that teacher had saved from past years.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY