Solved Best PC available today for Windows 3.11

July 3, 2013 at 13:40:04
Specs: Windows 3.11
What PC would be recommended that is available today for running Windows 3.11 programs and ISA slot hardware ?

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July 3, 2013 at 14:04:17
Something about 20 years old off eBay. An old Dell, something like that.

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July 3, 2013 at 14:50:03
✔ Best Answer
There is nothing available today for running Windows 3.11 exclusively. However, any of today's computers can run it virtually. Some people have it installed on their phones (check youtube) running virtually! There are several other ways. I myself simply use DOSBOX to run it with a special video driver for at least 8 bit (256) color - though they can go beyond that.

Other choices:

You can paritition a DOS sized drive (2048MB - no higher) and put it there if you want.

You can seek out virtual software for doing the job. There are several software packages available.

An old PC as mentioned above. Getting harder to find, but they are out there.


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July 3, 2013 at 20:13:52
While there may be issues running Windows 3.1/3.11 on "today's hardware", the bigger problem you'll have is finding any "current" hardware that will support ISA cards (which you mention). Nothing that is recent has "legacy" slots available---so as with the above, it'd be best to find something used that's pretty reliable. It'd also be best to find a fast 486 or early Pentium which is ISA only or ISA/PCI, and have at least 16 to 24MB of RAM. Also--best to change the CMOS battery in it as soon as you get it (since the likelihood that it would be dead or die soon would be high). Running virtually would work, but you wouldn't have the support of any ISA hardware. Also Windows 3.1 (actually MS-DOS) would support a drive up to 8.4GB, but the partitions would have to be divided into 2.1GB or smaller sizes.

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

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Related Solutions

July 4, 2013 at 13:22:28
Your best option is to find a Pentium II based machine from 1998, or a Pentium machine from 1997 or older. These were generally the last machines that have Windows 3.1 drivers available. After Windows 95 took off, support for Windows 3.1 ended quickly with most vendors.

Basically, go on eBay and find Etherlink III networking card, a Sound Blaster 16 compatible sound card, and and older ATI or Tseng video card. Windows 3.1 will *usually* have the drivers for the Etherlink III and the Creative Sound Blaster, providing it is old enough, which it should be if it is ISA. It may also have the Tseng drivers if it is the ET4000/ET6000 based.

You also would have to use 64MB RAM or less, this is generally the most RAM Windows 3.1 will use.

Many IBM machines were made until 2001 with Windows 3.1 drivers available as well.

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July 4, 2013 at 14:18:30
Only built one machine faster than a 486. It was a P133 and booted 6.22/WFW3.11/NT4.0/W2K with 196Mb RAM installed.

It worked fine after a few months of swapping ISA cards (mostly sound and network) to be able to find drivers for those OS's.

It was a useable machine 5 or 6 years ago. Probably only good for a DOS gaming rig now.

Audares Juvo

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July 4, 2013 at 18:59:45
An old machine does work and you can have ethernet too.

I have an excellent ethernet card for this and I have not been able to find another one:

TRENDware TE-PCI/TE-100PCI Ethernet Adapter

This old card supports many old platforms including WFW drivers. It runs so well and seamlessly. Easy to load and unload the packet driver for DOS internet stuff as well.

I like it better than D-Link and 3Com as I have had some trouble with the drivers of these cards on certain hardware.

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August 14, 2013 at 07:43:29
Thanks for the replies. Much appreciated.
When running 3.11 in a Virtual Machine can you get proper control of the cards that are plugged into ISO slots ?
I have found motherboards with ISO slots that run 3.11 successfully with most software - that I have tested, but the BIOS and Win 3.11 do not seem to run 100% as some programs that are using W32S in Win 3.11 do not run properly.

Any other comments are welcome.

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August 15, 2013 at 15:55:24
Think you mean "ISA" slots. That's another thing altogether. Almost no machine currently made uses ISA slots (commonly referred to as "legacy"). Most virtual machines don't control hardware either...they emulate some functions of hardware through software. If you're needing to control I/O ports or other things with DOS/Win3.1, then you need to stick with an older machine (i.e.---early Pentium or 486).

"Channeling the spirit of jboy..."

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May 21, 2014 at 02:58:25
Yes thanks I did mean ISA.

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November 1, 2014 at 15:29:54
Avoid using isa cards as they are slow,only for the sound card you might have to, for the rest use agp and pci

message edited by Montana7

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January 8, 2015 at 01:16:34
If you absolutely need ISA it's going to be difficult to find anything even remotely recent. But this company still makes computers with ISA slots, whether Windows 3.1 will run on them is not certain and the company won't support it.
But you may not need ISA, it depends what you want to do. There are some PCI sound cards that are DOS and Windows 3.1 compatible and for which you can find drivers. Ensoniq PCI ES1370 is the one I use and it's decent.
For display I use an AGP card, the nVidia TNT2 Ultra. It's probably the fastest you can find and it runs Windows 3.1 in high resolution. Not great for video though, driver issue. Another one is the AGP Matrox Millenium G400. Matrox still has the Windows 3.1 drivers on its web site! If you go that route, mind the voltage: only model 4A is fully AGP 4x compliant.
With AGP you can go up to a Pentium 4 and I don't think that Windows 3.1 has a problem with that. I use one with Windows 3.11, which can't be that different.
There are still other issues to pay attention to, like what kind of hard drive. I use SCSI, completely compatible, no need for drivers, very fast.
Also how much RAM should you use. Windows 3.1 will become unstable above 768MB but you don't even need a tenth of that so you'll have to limit the amount it sees if there is more RAM in your computer.
Be prepared to get your hands dirty, finding the right slot for each card, dredging up old drivers on the Internet, fiddling with IRQ's, DMA's, memory settings, etc. It's old stuff, time consuming but fun, if you like that sort of thing.

message edited by Lheair

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