System Upgrade

So you want a better system? Piece of cake. New/faster processor. New motherboard.

Yea, right.

Surprise, Windows 95 is built to resist hardware upgrades.

More Memory

The simplest upgrade of all is to simply add more memory. By itself, dollar for dollar, this is worth more than anything else you can possibly do.

My suggested minimum memory size is 128M.

Unfortunately, most older motherboards won't cache that much memory. It is common for a motherboard to cache only 16M or 32M.

Faster Processor

Piece of cake. Buy a 400 MHz processor and simply plug it into your existing motherboard ... NOT.

Newer processors require different voltages for the microprocessor's core logic (2.0 - 2.4 v) and its I/O drivers (3.3 v). In addition, you need to set the base clock and the clock multiplier to the appropriate values.

Thus, your new 400 MHz processor won't get that much speed from a motherboard which supports only the older slow memories ... or from a new motherboard if you continue to use the old memories. For a 400 Mhz processor, what you need is which requires 100 Mhz memories.

Oh, by the way, did I mention that MS Windows 95 (retail version) contains a design problem which keeps it from running on some processors which run at over 300 MHz. (Oh yes, I spent hours on this one. See AMD and Microsoft for more info.)


You aren't going to believe this one. As a result, you're supposed to reload the operating system!!! Luckily, the documentation which came with my new motherboard suggested an alternative which "might" work. In the registry (i.e. run regedit), remove the NoIDE key from
Then simply reboot the system and see what happens.

Well, I was fortunate. Though the system crashed big time when I shut it down, it booted fine. Now the IDE controllers are running 32-bit drivers and the CD ROM works.

Under My Computer / Properties / Device Manager, my symptoms had been yellow explanation marks on both the Primary and Secondary IDE controllers. In addition, there was no entry for the CD ROM drive.

References: Microsoft, FIC, VIA

Operating System

You got it. If you want to run MS Windows 95 on an AMD processor which runs faster than 300 MHz, you have to buy a new operating system.

Microsoft admits that it is their software problem, but does not offer an upgrade to owners of the original Windows 95.

What I really don't understand is

At any rate, Windows 98 and Windows NT 4.0 do not have the same design problem and, therefore, work "perfectly" with high speed processors. (So I'm told. I'll eventually test Windows 98 on this system.)

By the way, Windows 98 SE and Windows ME have timing problems when shutting down Intel processors faster than 800 Mhz because the software shuts off the power supply before the hard drive has finished saving the cache. The results should have been expected - data loss and system crashes. Related articles

Allowing the software the turn off the processor is always the wrong answer. Unfortunately, M$ no longer gives you the option. (Actually, MS kills power to every thing except the motherboard. By leaving your system always on, hackers can use your machine even though YOU think it is off.)

Network Card

I spent 2 days on this one.
   Network card: SMC 1211TX EZ Card 10/100 (PCI)
   Motherboard:  TYAN S1590S Trinity 100AT
The network card's paper documentation simply says to plug the card into any PCI slot. The TYAN mother board has 4 PCI slots: 2 long and 2 short. My long video card is located in PCI slot 2. Therefore, since the NIC card is a short board, I plugged it into PCI slot 4 which is next to the processor.

My BIOS had no problem finding it.
Windows 95 reports that the interrupt is assigned and memory is allocated.
The DOS diagnostics work fine.

However, under Control Panel / System / Devices, Windows 95 showed a yellow explanation mark and said "Device failure".

The Readme.txt file on the NIC device driver disk very clearly states that the PCI slot must be configured as a Bus Master. Hummm!

The TYAN documentation (paper and 1590_130.pdf) clearly states that my motherboard has 4 Bus Master PCI slots.

I went to the SMC web site and downloaded new drivers. Well, that didn't fix it.

In reading through a variety of news groups, I found a post which said that on some motherboards, the NIC card must be located in the first PCI slot. Interesting! Well, after trying everything else, I tried it ... IT WORKS!!!


So. The simple processor upgrade required Hey, I'm glad that none of the suppliers have a monopoly, otherwise simple upgrades might require buying a whole new system.

Additional Notes

According to AMD, the Via MVP3 chip set has bus-mastering deficiencies. Ref - PC Magazine, April 20, 1999

McAfee avtivirus software loaded as
in autoexec.bat causes Windows 95 to not run on the new system, but it worked fine on the old one. The symtoms were an extremely slow boot (more than 10 minutes) followed by a blank blue screen. When you pressed Alt-Ctrl-Del and killed explorer, then windows would run normally. This 12-2-98 file was installed under Program Files\Network Associates\McAfee VirusScan on 2-25-99.
Author: Robert Clemenzi -
URL: http:// / user / clemenzi / technical / Upgrades / Upgrade.htm