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Summary: This is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers) pertaining to hardware and IBM PC clones. It should be read by anyone who wishes to post to any group in the* hierarchy.

Archive-name: pc-hardware-faq

Last-modified: 1997/06/10
Version: 1.24

This FAQ was compiled and written by Willie Lim and Ralph Valentino with numerous contributions by others. Acknowledgements are listed at end of this FAQ.

Copyright notice:
The* Frequently Asked Questions is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY. No author or distributor accepts responsibility to anyone for the consequences of using it or for whether it serves any particular purpose or works at all, unless he says so in writing. Refer to the GNU General Public License for full details.

Everyone is granted permission to copy, modify and redistribute this FAQ, but only under the conditions described in the GNU General Public

Where section authors are noted, the copyright is held by that author. Where no author is noted, the copyright is held by the FAQ editors Willie Lim and Ralph Valentino

Changes, additions, comments, suggestions and questions to: Ralph

Table of Contents:

==== PART 1 ====
S) 1.0 Introduction
Q) 1.1 What does this FAQ cover?
Q) 1.2 Where can I find the latest copy of this FAQ?
Q) 1.3 Is it ok to (sell/buy/job-offer/advertise) things here?
Q) 1.4 I have a binary that people are asking for, should I post it here?
Q) 1.5 +Where should I post?
Q) 1.6 How come no one answers my questions?
Q) 1.7 What are the going prices for...?
Q) 1.8 Who makes/Where can I find [some obscure piece of hardware]?
Q) 1.9 What is the history of the IBM PC?
S) 2.0 Motherboards
Q) 2.1 ^What are the differences between the 80x86 CPUs?
Q) 2.2 How do I pick the right processor?
Q) 2.3 What is the difference between the 386SX/386DX and 486SX/486DX?
Q) 2.4 What is a ZIF socket?
Q) 2.5 What is over clocking and should I do it?
Q) 2.6 Which is faster, a DX-50 or DX2-66?
Q) 2.7 *What is the P24T/Overdrive?
Q) 2.8 What are the differences between the 80x87 co-processors?
Q) 2.9 Would a math co-processor speed up my machine?
Q) 2.10 Can I use a x387 with my 486?
Q) 2.11 What is the floating point (FDIV) problem with the Pentium?
Q) 2.12 How can I tell if my Pentium has the FDIV bug?
Q) 2.13 How do I get a replacement for my buggy Pentium?
Q) 2.14 Memory terminology, what does it mean?
Q) 2.15 What happened to my 384k?
Q) 2.16 How do I tell how big/fast my SIMMs are?
Q) 2.17 What speed SIMMs do I need?
Q) 2.18 Will 9 chip and 3 chip SIMMs work together?
Q) 2.19 What are "single-sided" and "double-sided" 72-pin SIMMs?
Q) 2.20 What does parity/ECC memory protect the system from?
Q) 2.21 What happens if I get memory error with or without parity/ECC?
Q) 2.22 Do I really need parity/ECC?
Q) 2.23 How do I get a system with parity support?
Q) 2.24 How do you distinguish between parity and non-parity SIMMs?
Q) 2.25 Can I use Mac or PS/2 SIMMs in my PC?
Q) 2.26 What do wait states and burst rates in my BIOS mean?
Q) 2.27 Cache terminology, what does it mean?
Q) 2.28 How do I upgrade the size of my cache?
Q) 2.29 Do I need to fill the "dirty tag" RAM socket on my motherboard?
Q) 2.30 How fast do my cache RAMs have to be?
Q) 2.31 Which is the best cache policy, write-through or "write-back?
Q) 2.32 What about an n-way set associative cache, isn't it better?
Q) 2.33 Which is better, ISA/EISA/VLB/PCI/etc?
Q) 2.34 *What are the (dis)advantages of ISA/VLB/EISA SCSI?
Q) 2.35 Will an ISA card work in an MCA (PS/2) machine?
Q) 2.36 What does the "chip set" do?
Q) 2.37 How do I enter the CMOS configuration menu?
Q) 2.38 What is bus mastering and how do I know if I have it?
Q) 2.39 Can I put an ISA cards in EISA or VLB slots?
Q) 2.40 How should I configure ISA/VLB cards in the EISA config utility?
Q) 2.41 What is the difference between EISA Standard and Enhanced modes?
Q) 2.42 Is there any point in putting more than 16M in an ISA machine?
Q) 2.43 What disadvantages are there to the HiNT EISA chip set?
Q) 2.44 *Should I change the ISA bus speed?
Q) 2.45 +Why is my PC's clock so inaccurate?
Q) 2.46 +How can I automatically set my PC's clock to the correct time?
Q) 2.47 What is the battery for and how do I replace it?
Q) 2.48 Can I use IRQ2 or is it special?
Q) 2.49 Where do all the IRQ's and DMA Channels go?

==== PART 2 ====

S) 3.0 IO controllers/interfaces
Q) 3.1 *How do IDE/MFM/RLL/ESDI/SCSI interfaces work?
Q) 3.2 How can I tell if I have MFM/RLL/ESDI/IDE/SCSI?
Q) 3.3 Do caching controllers really help?
Q) 3.4 Do IDE controllers use DMA?
Q) 3.5 Why won't my two IDE drives work together?
Q) 3.6 Which is better, VLB or ISA IDE?
Q) 3.7 How do I install a second controller?
Q) 3.8 ^What is EIDE/Fast-ATA/ATA-2/ATAPI what advantages do they have?
Q) 3.9 Which is better, SCSI or IDE?
Q) 3.10 Can MFM/RLL/ESDI/IDE and SCSI coexist?
Q) 3.11 What's the difference between SCSI and SCSI-2? Are they compatible?
Q) 3.12 How am I suppose to terminate the SCSI bus?
Q) 3.13 Can I share SCSI devices between computers?
Q) 3.14 What is Thermal Recalibration?
Q) 3.15 Can I mount my hard drive sideways/upside down?
Q) 3.16 How do I swap A: and B:
Q) 3.17 My floppy drive doesn't work and the light remains on, why?
Q) 3.18 What is a 16550 and do I need one?
Q) 3.19 Are there any > 4 channel serial port cards?
Q) 3.20 Should I buy an internal or external modem?
Q) 3.21 What do all of the modem terms mean?
Q) 3.22 Why does my fast modem connect at a lower speed?
Q) 3.23 ^What kinds of sound cards are available?
Q) 3.24 Where can I find EISA/VLB sound and IO cards?
Q) 3.25 Where can I get DOS drivers for my ethernet card?
Q) 3.26 How does the keyboard interface work?
Q) 3.27 Can I fake a keyboard so my computer will boot without it?

==== PART 3 ====

S) 4.0 Storage/Retrieval Devices
Q) 4.1 Why do I lose x Meg on my hard drive?
Q) 4.2 *Should I get an IDE/floppy/SCSI/parallel port tape drive?
Q) 4.3 I have two floppies. Can I add a floppy based tape drive?
Q) 4.4 How fast is a tape drive? Will a dedicated controller improve this?
Q) 4.5 What is QIC80, QIC40?
Q) 4.6 How come I can't fit as much stuff on my tape drive as they claim?
Q) 4.7 Are Colorado/Conner/Archive/... tapes compatible with each other?
Q) 4.8 How does the drive/software know how long the tape is?
Q) 4.9 What are all those QICs?
Q) 4.10 Which QICs are read/write compatible?
Q) 4.11 What is the CMOS/jumper setting for my hard drive?
S) 5.0 ^Video
S) 6.0 Systems
Q) 6.1 *What should I upgrade first?
Q) 6.2 Do I need a CPU fan / heat sink?
Q) 6.3 What does the turbo switch do?
Q) 6.4 How does the front panel LED display measure the system's speed?
Q) 6.5 Should I turn my computer/monitor off?
Q) 6.6 Are there any manufacturers/distributers who read the net?

==== PART 4 ====

S) 7.0 Diagnostics
Q) 7.1 What do the POST beeps mean?
Q) 7.2 What do the POST codes mean?
Q) 7.3 *I think my cache is bad. What's a good diagnostic?
S) 8.0 Misc
Q) 8.1 What is the pin out for ...?
Q) 8.2 *Where are benchmark programs located. What do they mean?
Q) 8.3 What is Plug and Play?
Q) 8.4 What is an OEM product?
Q) 8.5 What size should I set my DOS partitions to be?
Q) 8.6 How do I get DOS to letter my devices the way I want?
Q) 8.7 Why won't my system boot from the hard drive?
Q) 8.8 How do I clean my computer?
Q) 8.9 *What OS's are available for the PC? Which are free?
Q) 8.10 *How can I transfer files between my PC and a Unix system?
Q) 8.11 What tape backup software is available?
Q) 8.12 Why doesn't my new device work as fast as it should?
Q) 8.13 My drive lists a MTBF of 300,000 hours. Will it really last 34 years?
Q) 8.14 How do I find pin 1 on my chip/card/cable/connector?
Q) 8.15 I've run out of power connectors, what can I do?
Q) 8.16 What does FCC approval cover and what needs to be approved?

==== PART 5 ====

S) 9.0 References
Q) 9.1 What other FAQ's are out there?
Q) 9.2 What do the industry acronyms stand for?
Q) 9.3 Where can I get the ISA/EISA/VLB/PCI/etc specs?
Q) 9.4 What books are available for the PC architecture?
Q) 9.5 What books are available on network programming?
Q) 9.6 Which companies have ftp sites?
Q) 9.7 Which companies have WWW sites?
Q) 9.8 What's the phone number for...
S) 10.0 Acknowledgments

* = incomplete
+ = new or significant changes since last post
^ = pointer to one or more other FAQs

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