For retrocomputing fans, emulators are convenient and easy to use. However, nothing beats running old software on a PC with era-appropriate components. Vintage PC gamers may have a difficult time with this, because old PCs and monitors can be large and bulky, filling up even a small home. But there is an alternative. [The Eric Experiment] In his latest video, demonstrates. He designed and constructed a 3D-printed Mini PC that runs an actual 486 CPU.
The case for a desktop motherboard was already quite large. [Eric] His project began with the purchase of an industrial PC board. This device has all the main motherboard components and the processor on an ISA-card, which is connected to other ISA-cards through a backplane. So, even the smallest desktop PCs could be made smaller by using expansion cards. An SD-card-to-IDE converter makes for an extremely slim hard drive replacement, while a Gotek floppy emulator allows the system to boot as if there’s actually a floppy drive present.
Tiny 486 is a pretty cool project, but the enclosures it uses are what really make it stand out. [Eric] The PC and monitor are designed to work together. Both were modelled off real-world examples and are accurate down to the smallest details: the tilting stand that clips onto the base of the monitor for instance, or the moving latch on the faux 5.25″ floppy drive. This latch opens a cleverly concealed door to reveal the USB connector of the floppy simulator. The compulsory seven-segment LED display on the mini tower’s front panel now finally serves a useful purpose – indicating which floppy image is currently active.
With an Intel DX4 486 100 MHz processor and 32 MB of memory, a Tseng video card, an ESS audiodrive, as well as a Tseng video card, this tiny 486 PC can run Windows 95 or DOS, though performance is a little limited in the latter due to the absence of a Local-Bus video card. It’s perfectly fine for most DOS games though, and a lot more practical than a full-sized desktop PC.
You can make a small game PC in a variety of ways, such as using PC/104 standard board or repurposing older network equipment. Sound cards are the most important part to make it a gaming PC. If needed, you can build your own sound card. Thank you for the tip. [Nathan]!