Typical PCs Each Year


A New Windows!

In late 1995, Microsoft launched Windows 95, which was supposed to be the end of DOS, although it had DOS 7.0 underneath which ensured Windows still had 100% DOS compatibility. By keeping MS-DOS in memory, Windows 95 could still use DOS device drivers. It provided a much fresher user interface over its predecessor, Windows 3.1, and it also introduced us to "plug & play".

CPUS and Motherboards

Intel launched the Pentium 100 this year, giving about a 15% speed hike on the Pentium 90, but they had problems getting the 100 to run reliably. In most cases the cost of these Pentiums was still too high for the meager performance gains over the 90.

This year, Intel also launched the new ATX power specification, although we'd have AT for at least another year.

On motherboards, both ISA and PCI expansion slots tended to be present as a good mix (lots of ISA slots still), as well as coming with integrated floppy drive and IDE connectors. The common memory type was still the 72-pin SIMM, with sizes from 1 MB up to 32 MB.


Monitors were the same as last year, but prices were falling. Typical screen sizes went from 14" up to 21".

Almost all PCs now came with a CD-ROM drive, as this was now the standard medium for commercial software, as well as computer magazine freebies. The old 5.25" floppy drive is now nowhere to be seen on new build PCs, but the 3.5" 1.44 MB high-density floppy drive is still a standard fit on all PCs.


Enter 3D Graphics

3D graphics acceleration was the buzzword this year. In 1995, the 3D graphics market was gathering momentum. S3 first entered this market with their ViRGE series. ViRGE stood for "Virtual Reality Graphics Engine", and was one of the first GPUs (Graphic Processing Units) to target consumers. Their early ViRGE cards were PCI and came with 4 MB of dedicated RAM and ran their core and memory at up to 66 MHz. These cards also directly supported bilinear and trilinear texture filtering, MIP mapping, alpha blending, video texture mapping, Z-buffering and other 3D texture mapping commands. Unfortunately, performance was poor and didn't find favour with the general public.

Meanwhile, ATI launched the Rage 3D - it had slow EDO RAM, only a 32-bit data bus (the ViRGE was 64-bit), maximum memory onboard was 2 MB, and the core ran at a sluggish 40 MHz.



Cheapest/Clearance PCs

Victor Vicki XT 640 KB RAM, 20 MB HDD, 3.5" 720K floppy, keyboard, 12" mono monitor. With Shinwa dot matrix printer (NLQ) and Lotus Works software suite. £199 exc. VAT.
Leading Edge 386SX-16 1 MB RAM, 80 MB HDD, 14" mono VGA, US keyboard, MS-DOS 5.0. £250 exc. VAT
DTK 486SX-40 4 MB RAM, 170 MB HDD, UMC "Green" 40 MHz CPU, VLB motherboard, 512K SVGA card, 14" VGA colour monitor, enhanced 102-key keyboard, MS-DOS 6. £499 exc. VAT. Upgrade to Windows 3.1 with mouse and ClarisWorks for £50 more.
IBM PS/1 486SX-33 2 MB RAM, 80 MB HDD, 3.5" 1.44MB floppy, PS/1 colour VGA monitor, 102-key UK keyboard, mouse and MS-DOS 6. £499 exc. VAT. For £100 more, upgrade to a 486DX/33 with 4MB and 130MB HDD.

Standard Budget PCs

IBM Blue Lightning 486DX2-66 4 MB RAM, 420 MB HDD, 32-bit VLB motherboard with 2 VESA slots, 1 MB video RAM, 14" low-rad SVGA colour monitor (.28 dot pitch), parallel and two serial ports, 102-key keyboard, mouse, DOS 6, Windows 3.1 and Microsoft Word/Excel/Access. Pentium-upgradable. £699 exc. VAT
Tandon PAC II 486DX2-66 4 MB RAM, 420 MB HDD, 14" low rad SVGA colour monitor (.28 dot pitch), DOS 6, Windows 3.1, MS-Word 2, Excel v4 and Access v1, Mouse, Keyboard. £799 exc. VAT.
DTK 486DX2-66 Multimedia 4 MB RAM, 420 MB HDD, 128 cache RAM, VESA Local bus motherboard, dual-speed internal CD-ROM, 16-bit sound card and quality stereo speakers. 1 MB SVGA video and 14" .28 dot pitch colour SVGA monitor, 102-key keyboard, mouse, DOS 6, Windows 3.1, MS Works 3 CD and MS Encarta 95 CD. £899 exc. VAT.

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.



Cheapest/Clearance PCs

Chicony 386SL-25 2 MB RAM, 80 MB HDD, hi-res colour VGA LCD display, main or NiCad battery, luxury case, MS-DOS 6 and Windows 3.1. £699 exc. VAT. Upgrade to 4 MB RAM for £99.

Standard Budget PCs

Ambra 486SX-25 Sub-notebook. 4 MB RAM, 170 MB HDD, external 3.5" floppy, hi-res VGA LCD display, PCMCIA II slot, integral trackball, parallel and RS232 ports, DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.1. Carry case. £699 exc. VAT
Zenith Z-Lite 425L 486SL CPU, 4 MB RAM, 170 MB HDD, mono VGA display, NiMH battery with 6-hour life, twin PCMCIA II slots, LitePoint detachable trackball, DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.1. £750 exc. VAT. Upgrade to 8 MB RAM for £218. Extra NiMH battery £92. DC Car adapter £74, external 3.5" floppy £49.
Chicony 486DX-33 4 MB RAM, 120 MB HDD, 3.5" 1.44 MB floppy, gas plasma VGA display, external SVGA port (512K video), 2 x serial ports, 1 x parallel port. DOS 6.2 and Windows 3.1. £799 exc. VAT




Math Coprocessor 8087 5, 8 or 10 MHz £15
Math Coprocessor 80287 8, 10, 12 or 16 MHz £25
Math Coprocessor 80387SX 16 or 20 MHz £35
Math Coprocessor 80387DX 20 or 25 MHz £35
CD-ROM Drive Philips CM-205 single-speed, multisession with MS Works 3 CD. £79
CD-ROM (External) Philips CDD462 single speed, multisession with interface card and all cables £79