Typical PCs Each Year

1994

CPUs and Motherboards

The 486 was reaching its peak as the new Intel Pentium (P5) was now out, which used a Socket 5 motherboard instead of 486s which used Socket 3 (Socket 4 was very shortlived and never commercially used).


Intel Pentium logo (1994)

These new Pentium motherboards spelled the beginning of the end for VESA Local Bus, which had been architected around the 80486 processor, and would never play nicely with a Pentium, although a few manufacturers such as OPTi did create a chipset to support VLB, PCI and Pentium, probably as a way to entice 486 owners to upgrade for a cheaper price and retain their VLB cards.

This gave rise to PCI which had been introduced a couple of years earlier but until now wasn't commonly available on retail/consumer motherboards. ISA slots were still the stalwart for most expansion cards.

Entry-level PCs continued on with low-end 486 CPUs like the very popular 486SX-25 or 33. Despite being low-end, these PCs still came bundled with a 14" SVGA monitor, 4 MB of RAM and a 120 MB hard disk.

Mid-range PCs typically came with a clock-doubled 486DX2-50 or DX2-66, 4 or 8 MB of RAM, and a 320 MB hard disk. These would have VESA Local Bus slots, and would often come with a 1 MB "graphics accelerator" video card in one of these slots such as a Diamond SpeedStar 24.


Intel 486DX4-100 (1994)

At the premium end of the market, PCs featured the brand new clock-tripled 486DX4-100, or if you went all-out you could get a Pentium 60, 75 or 90. The Pentium 60 was essentially a 66 that couldn't run reliably at that speed, so Intel marked them down to a 60 MHz clock. Depending on what applications and games you ran, there wasn't much performance benefit going for a Pentium 60 over a 486DX4-100. Despite the 486s higher internal clock speed it still ran on the traditional 33 MHz bus, whereas the Pentium ran on a 60 or 66 MHz bus.

Software

Most PCs came bundled with MS-DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.11 (Windows for Workgroups), though others were available too.



Your choices of operating system in 1994

MS-DOS 6.22 was launched in April of this year, and would be the final standalone version released by Microsoft as all their development effort was shifting to Windows. On the Windows front, Windows for Workgroups (aka Windows 3.11) was released in November 1993, and with its 32-bit TCP/IP networking capabilities would take over from Windows 3.1 as the bundled OS of choice for OEMs such as Dell, HP and Gateway 2000.

On the gaming scene, 1994 saw the release of such seminal titles as Doom II, Beneath a Steel Sky, Star Wars: TIE Fighter, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, and The Need for Speed.


Graphics Cards

Competition in the consumer graphics chipset market was hotter than ever in 1994. Tseng Labs had their ET4000/W32P, ATI introduced Mach64, S3 had Vision864 and Vision964, and Number Nine introduced Imagine 128, the world's first 128-bit graphics processor.

All were moving to the PCI architecture. Tseng Labs' ET4000/W32P was considered the fastest for DOS performance, with S3's Vision964 and ATI's Mach64 running a close 2nd. There was still a good market for VESA Local Bus cards in 1994, as nearly everyone still had a 486. As such, it was common for graphics card manufacturers to release cards in both VLB and PCI variants.

FDIV Bug

1994 closed with the discovery of the FDIV bug in certain Pentium processors. This caused inaccurate results when performing floating point operations. Byte magazine estimated that 1 in 9 billion floating point divides with random parameters would produce inaccurate results, so it was unlikely you could cause it to happen randomly. Intel offered a recall to anyone who had a faulty processor, though most chose not to.

UK DESKTOP PC PricES

Cheapest/Clearance PCs

Commodore XT 8088-10 5.25" 360K floppy, 20 MB HDD, 12" mono VGA, 102-key keyboard, DOS 5. £199 exc. VAT
Goldstar 386SX-20 1 MB RAM, 20 MB HDD, 1.2MB floppy, 12" mono VGA, US keyboard and DOS 4. £299 exc. VAT
IBM PS/1 386SX-16 2 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, mono VGA, parallel and RS232 serial ports, 3.5" 1.44MB floppy, PS/2 mouse port, DOS 5 and Windows 3 and mouse. £350 exc. VAT. Upgrade to 4 MB RAM for £135 more. Upgrade to 386SX-20 and colour VGA for £100 more.
Packard Bell CSX 386SX-16 1 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, floppy drive, 14" colour VGA monitor, keyboard. £399 exc. VAT.
Tiny Computers 386DX-33 1 MB RAM, 40 MB HDD, floppy drive, 14" colour SVGA monitor, keyboard. £419 exc. VAT.
Zenith Slimline LS-20 386SX-20, 2 MB RAM, 80 MB (15ms) HDD, 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy, slim case, 14" low-radiation Apple VGA colour monitor, 102-key keyboard and MS-DOS 5, Windows, Lotus Ami and mouse. £499 exc. VAT.
Tiny Computers 486SX-25 4 MB RAM, 130 MB HDD, floppy drive, 14" colour SVGA monitor, keyboard. £589 exc. VAT.
Tandon 486SLC-33 2 MB RAM, 100 MB HDD, 14" colour VGA monitor, 102-key keyboard, DOS 5, Windows 3.0, mouse. £599 (or £674 with 4 MB RAM). Upgrade to SVGA colour for £50 more, or downgrade to 14" hi-res mono monitor for £49 less.

Standard Budget PCs

CompuAdd ValueLine 486SX-25 4 MB RAM, 200 MB HDD, Windows-accelerated VLB graphics, 14" colour display, DOS 6.2, Windows 3.1, Mouse, Keyboard. £849.
Elonex PC-425XM 486SX-25 4 MB RAM, 210 MB HDD, 512K local bus video, 14" SVGA monitor, mouse, keyboard. £935.
Gateway 2000 4SX-33 486SX-33 4 MB RAM, 340 MB HDD, 1 MB VESA Local Bus graphics card, 14" SVGA monitor, 5 x 16-bit ISA slots, 102-key keyboard, Microsoft mouse, MS DOS 6.2, Windows for Workgroups 3.11, Microsoft Works for Windows 3.0. £899 for 486SX, £999 for 486DX.
Opus Technology Multimedia 486SX-33 4 MB RAM, 170 MB HDD, VLB graphics, 5 slots (3x32-bit VLB slots), 14" SVGA monitor, Dual-speed Multi-session CD-ROM drive, 16-bit Sound Blaster-compatible card, MS-DOS 6.2, Windows 3.1, Mouse, Keyboard, Stereo speakers. £949 exc. VAT.
Tandon MCS-Pro 486DX-33 4 MB RAM, 425 MB HDD, 3.5" 1.44MB floppy, Tandon MCS upgradeable processor system slots, 512 KB SVGA card, Tandon 14" hi-res SVGA colour monitor (1024x768 res, .28 dot pitch), 102-key keyboard, MS-DOS 5 and Windows 3 with mouse. £999 exc. VAT
Dan Technology Vantage 486DX2-66 256K L2 cache, 4 MB RAM, 210 MB HDD, 2 VLB slots, 1 MB Windows accelerator graphics card, IDE hard disk controller, 14" SVGA monitor. £1,155.
AST Premmia 486DX2-50 8 MB RAM, 173 MB HDD, 14" mono VGA with 1 MB VLB SVGA card (built-in). Incl. 102-key keyboard, DOS 6, Windows 3.1 and mouse. £1,199. For colour SVGA add £100.
Tiny Computers 486DX-66 w/ 128K cache, 8MB RAM, 340 MB HDD, 1 MB VLB Windows accelerator card, 17" SVGA monitor, Pentium upgradable, keyboard, 3 VLB slots. £1,299.
Dell Dimension 450si 486SX2-50 128K L2 cache, 4 MB RAM, 260 MB HDD, double-speed CD-ROM, 16-bit sound card, 14" SVGA monitor, 1 MB VESA Local Bus graphics. £1,526.
Opus Technology P5-60 Pentium 60 MHz 4 MB RAM, 425 MB HDD, 14" SVGA monitor, 1 MB Windows accelerator card, keyboard, mouse, MS-DOS 6.2, Windows 3.1. £1,599 exc. VAT.
Gateway 2000 P4D-66 486DX2-66 8 MB RAM, 540 MB HDD, 15" SVGA monitor, 4 ISA, 3 PCI slots, MS-DOS 6.2, Windows for Workgroups 3.11. £1,699 for 486DX2-66 or £1,599 for 486DX2-50.

Premium PCs

Olivetti M4-82 Modulo Pentium 60 MHz, 8 MB RAM, 210 MB HDD, ISA SVGA card, 14" SVGA display. £1,879 exc. VAT.
Gateway 2000 Pentium 60 MHz 8 MB RAM, 540 MB HDD, 1 MB PCI Local Bus graphics, 15" SVGA monitor. £1,799 for P60, £1,999 for P90.
Opus Technology Pentium 90 MHz 8 MB RAM, 425 MB HDD, 1 MB PCI Windows accelerator, 14" SVGA monitor, MS-DOS 6.2, Windows 3.1, mouse. £,1999 exc. VAT.
Dell Optiplex 466/L 486DX2-66 (upgradable to Pentium Overdrive), 8 MB RAM, 320 MB HDD, 2 MB video memory, 14" SVGA monitor, mouse, keyboard. £2,164 exc. VAT.
Gateway 2000 P5-90 Pentium 90 MHz 16 MB RAM, 540 MB HDD, 2 MB High performance VLB graphics card, 16-bit sound card with premium speakers, 17" SVGA monitor, MS-DOS 6.22, WFWG 3.11, Microsoft Office. £2,999.
Dell Dimension XPS P90 Pentium 90 MHz PCI bus, 256K L2 cache, 16 MB RAM, 430 MB HDD, Number Nine PCI graphics accelerator with 3 MB video memory supporting 2048x1024 virtual screen, 17" colour monitor. £3,147.

UK NOTEBOOK PC Prices

Sanyo 486SLC-33 3 MB RAM, 60 MB HDD, 10" backlit VGA display (mono), MS-DOS 5, Windows 3.0. £799 exc. VAT (or £699 for 386SX-20, 3 MB RAM, 60 MB HDD version).
AJP 3510 486SX-25 4 MB RAM, 245 MB HDD, mono VGA display. £899 (or £1,349 for dual-scan colour display).
Gateway 2000 HandBook 4SX-25 486SX-25 4 MB RAM, 80 MB IDE HDD, 7.9" backlit greyscale VGA display, MS-DOS 6.2, WFWG 3.11. £999
Twinhead 486SX-33 4 MB RAM, 120 MB HDD, 10" 64-greyscale backlit display. £1,349.
AJP 3560, 486DX2-66, 4 MB RAM, 245 MB HDD, mono VGA display. £1,199 (or £1,649 for dual-scan colour display).
IBM Thinkpad Model 360 486SX-33 4 MB RAM, 170 MB HDD, 9.4" mono display, IBM PC DOS 6.3, Windows 3.1, Lotus Organizer. £1,655 exc. VAT.
Twinhead 486DX-33 4 MB RAM, 200 MB HDD, 10" passive scan colour display. £2,139.
Gateway 2000 ColorBook DX4-75, 486DX4-75, 8 MB RAM, 250 MB removable HDD, 10.3" backlit colour VGA STN display, MS-DOS 6.2, WFWG 3.11, Microsoft Works. £2,299.
IBM Thinkpad Model 360C 486SX-33 4 MB RAM, 170 MB HDD, 8.4" colour TFT display, IBM PC DOS 6.3, Windows 3.1, Lotus Organizer. £2,795 exc. VAT.

UK COMPONENT Prices

CD-ROM drives are usually "dual-speed" (2x), and sell for ~£135 for AT interface or £300 for SCSI.
Philips CM205 (single-speed, multisession) drive only £79 or with card+cable £99.
Philips CM215 (single-speed, multisession) drive only £99 or with card+cable £120.
Floppy drives are about £33 for 3.5" 1.44 MB or 5.25" 1.2 MB, or £64 for the new 3.5" 2.88 MB drive,
Hard disks range from 170 MB (£144), to 250 MB (£175), to 540 MB (£340), up to 1 GB (£630).
Memory is £35 for 1 MB of SIMMs, or £135 for 4 MB of SIMMs.
Motherboards with CPUs installed - budget ISA-only 386SX-40 = £55. 256K VESA Local Bus range from £133 - £383 depending on what 486 CPU is included (486SX-25 up to AMD 486DX2-66). PCI motherboards are very expensive with the cheapest going for £427 (486DX-33), going up to £1,098 for a PCI Pentium 90 one. Motherboards without CPU - 486 VLB with 256K cache = £69. 486 PCI motherboard = £225.
CPUs 486SX-25 = £59, 486SX-33 = £75, 486SX2-50 = £168, 486DX-40 = £185, 486DX-33 = £202, 486DX2-50 = £220, 486DX-50 = £304, DX4-100 = £498. Overdrive chips:- 486SX2-50 = £179, 486DX2-40 = £228, 486SX2-50 = £235, 486DX2-66 = £325.
ISA VGA cards 2 MB Hercules Graphite Pro = £369. VideoSeven-Mirage 1MB = £118, ATI Graphics Ultra Pro (1MB) = £279, Diamond Speedstar Pro (1MB) = £92, Diamond Stealth 24 (1MB) = £118, Diamond Stealth Pro 2MB = £258, Orchid Fahrenheit (1MB) = £119, Tseng Labs ET4000 (1MB) = £69, S3 WD924 windows accelerator 1MB = £105.
VLB Graphics Cards MediaVision 4MB Pro Graphics 1280 = £549, Diamond Viper VLB (2MB) = £275, Diamond Stealth 24 (1MB) = £118, Matrox MGA Ultima (2MB) = £349, Paradise 90C33 (1MB) = £139.
PCI Graphics Cards 2MB Diamond Viper = £339, 1MB Orchid Kelvin 64 = £165, Taxan 2MB GTS1024+ = £230.
Monitors go from 14" up to 21". A budget Philips 14" mono monitor is now £95. A colour SVGA interlaced 14" monitor is around £169, with non-interlaced more like £209. 15" monitors start from ~£300. 17" monitors start from £600. 20" monitors are over £1,000.

 

US DESKTOP PC PricES

Mid-Range PCs

Gateway 2000 4DX2-66 486DX2/66 8 MB RAM, 730 MB 13ms HDD, 1 MB Local Bus graphics, Double-speed CD-ROM drive, 16-bit sound card with Altec Speakers, TelePath II 14.4Kbps fax/modem, 14" CrystalScan monitor, mini desktop case, 101-key keyboard, MS-DOS 6.22 & WFW 3.11, MS Works, Encarta '95, Money, Cinemania '95, Golf and Fine Artist. $1,899.

 

UK SOFTWARE PRICES

Lotus Improv Release 2.0 £49
Lotus Ami Pro Release 3.0 £99 (£49 for Release 2.0)
Lotus 1-2-3 Release 3.1 £99
Lotus 1-2-3 Go Release 1 £15
Central Point PC Tools Version 7 £25
Norton Utilities Version 6.01 £29
R:Base Release 1.0 £25