Getting Organized, Finally

After years of looking for a good storage solution for 386 chips, I accidentally stumbled upon it:

A slightly repurposed CPU tray

This is a relatively modern CPU tray, designed for—I believe—Socket G processors, It turns out that old ceramic PGA 386s fit in the tray rather well.

386 CPUs in stacked trays.

It is not a perfect fit. The 386s are slightly thicker than the PGA988 processors that the tray was designed for. That means when the trays are stacked, the upper tray sits on top of the CPUs rather than on the lower tray, but that is a minor problem. And it’s not like the ceramic is going to break.

Non-Intel 386 CPUs

What really matters is that I can finally keep 386s in nice trays where the CPUs are well protected (bye bye, bent pins!) and easy to locate.

Similar and much less unusual tray reuse has been suggested for other situations, such as this:

Socket 775 tray with Socket 478 CPUs

Those are Socket 478 Pentium 4 processors stored in a tray designed for Socket 775/771 CPUs. It’s again not ideal because the CPUs sit on their pins rather than just the edges of the package, but it’s not a problem because the trays stack properly and the CPUs have quite enough pins that they won’t get bent by the weight of the CPU alone.

In related news… does anyone know where to get CPU trays suitable for 486s? I have enough storage for Socket 5/7/370 CPUs, not enough socket 4 and 8 CPUs to need trays, and finally found a 386 storage solution. But I have enough 486s that they are a pain to store without a tray.

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11 Responses to Getting Organized, Finally

  1. GL1zdA says:

    I haven’t yet received mine (trying to get more things into one shipment), but I’ve ordered these (you have to register on the forum to see the picture):

  2. Michal Necasek says:

    Very interesting, thanks for the pointer.

    There’s this stuff too, but I don’t really want 100 trays. 5-10 would be more than enough.

  3. Lazaro Millo says:

    MOAR! 😉

  4. Michal Necasek says:

    If you mean more photos of old junk then I can probably come up with something…

  5. Lazaro Millo says:

    That is almost what I mean, except I’d phrase it as “more photos of classic computing items” as there is no “junk” in any of these images, at least not in my mind.

    That reminds me: I have an old Pentium Pro laying around somewhere. I believe its a 200Mhz model. Do you have one in your collection?

    Lastly: As someone who used a 286 longer than anyone else I knew, ran a 486 well into the original Pentium era, kept a two-Celeron rig for a very long time, and ran a Core 2 Quad until this year, I’d really enjoy a “mash-up” of competitive benchmarks between not-too-dissimilar CPUs in and just outside of a generation. For example: all those 386’s run against a few 286’s and a few 486′, concentrating strictly on cpu number crunching performance metrics, to accompany those pics.

  6. Michal Necasek says:

    Yes, I have a 200 MHz PPro (several, but probably not all L2 cache size variants). And I certainly plan to post more photos of vintage hardware 🙂

    Benchmarks would be interesting, but what sort? For my own purposes, I have been collecting Norton Sysinfo figures for all “not too fast” processors (up to 400 MHz or so). One problem is that there are very few benchmarks which measure pure CPU performance, and then everything depends on the board used, cache, memory type, etc. etc. I have also been collecting memtest86 bandwidth figures which do not measure CPU performance exactly, but are an indicator of overall system performance.

  7. Richard Wells says:

    One could go to Vogons.ORG and find a number of forum threads devoted to comparison of related processor system. A bit heavily focused on gaming but does include some CPU number crunching benches as well. The two I remember involve a comparison on many different 486s and Pentiums with all the myriad cache options and a more detailed 286 versus 386DX versus 386SX all running at 25 MHz. Might prove to be a starting point in terms of defining what sets of benchmarks are necessary.

  8. Lazaro Millo says:

    I finally found the PPro 200Mhz. Its an SY013, with 256K. I also found some interesting tidbits: an Intel “686” a Celeron on a Pentium 3 style adapter board, and a few other less interesting but still noteworthy CPUs.

    When I get some time I will compile a list.

    Over the last week I’ve also given the benchmark idea some more thought, and I would lean more towards “general use” system benchmarks, not specific to gaming. Perhaps an “office use” type of score. This is where I think faster and/or equivalently clocked prior generation CPUs are more competitive with newer / slower / less efficient clock-for-clock CPUs. The Pentium 4 definitely comes to mind, as do motherboards with “cache memory” slots.

    Lets put that collection to “work” (yes, in quotes) … 🙂

  9. Lazaro Millo says:


    I meant to type: … “an IBM “686”, an Intel Celeron on a…

  10. Michal Necasek says:

    Many system/business benchmarks measure “real world” performance which also stresses video, storage, etc. But we are probably interested in as pure CPU performance as we can get. Some classics like dhrystone or whetstone could be useful too.

    The other (and maybe bigger) problem is finding a benchmark that can actually run on stuff from a 386 to Pentium 4 or later.

    Now I remember that Sysbench has a pretty good coverage of roughly 386 to 2 GHz CPUs.

  11. Kogias ilias says:

    I think you should design modular cpu trays and 3d print as many as you like. On thingiverse there are some examples.

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