Netscape 3.0 on the 486 PC: collected responses

Laura B. Cohen LCOHEN at
Fri Nov 8 13:19:10 EST 1996

The following is the collection of responses I received to my query
about running Netscape 3.0 on a 486 PC. Lots of interesting
material here. Many thanks to all who replied.

 -- Laura Cohen

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 10:32:10 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Netscape 3.0 on a 486 under Windows 3.11
To: lcohen at

Hi Laura,

I've been running Netscape 3.0 on that platform for
a couple of months now and have had no problems.
In fact, I've found its performance far improved from
Netscape 2.0x

Good luck.


Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 10:42:57 -0500
From: Randy Dykhuis <dykhuisr at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

After our last discussion, Laura B. Cohen wrote:

> We are testing Netscape 3.0 on 486 PC machines under Windows 3.11.
> Does anyone have any data about the performance of this program on a
> 486, either good or bad? We are gathering our ideas at the
> University at Albany libraries, but would be very interested in
> information from the wider world.

I am running using Netscape 3.0 under Win95 on a 75 mhz 486. I also
ran it under Win 3.1 before our network was upgraded last fall. I had
no problems & performance isn't noticably worse than on a 90 mhz
Pentium that I have also used.
At home I have it on a 66 mhz 486 & on that machine I do notice that
it takes longer to load the program. Once it's up & running, however,
everything functions the same as on the faster machines.

Randy Dykhuis                   Phone:  517/694-4242
Executive Director                      800/530-9019
Michigan Library Consortium     Fax:    517/694-9303
6810 South Cedar St.            E-mail: dykhuisr at
Lansing, MI 48911-6909          Web:

Date: Tue, 5 Nov 1996 10:37:49 EST5EDT
From: Cynthia Leive <CYNTHIAL at 550SHERB.Lan.McGill.CA>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

Depends on the memory you have but in our ex. it's pretty slow going.


Cynthia A. Leive
Music Librarian
Marvin Duchow Music Library
McGill University
550 Sherbrooke St. W., East tower, 11th floor
Montreal, Quebec H3A 1B9

(514) 398-4694
(514) 398-8276 - fax
cynthial at

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 11:16:05 -0500
From: George Jenkins <gjenkins at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486


In the library research area suuporting the faculty, we run v3 of Netscape
on several staff (not patron) 486 PC's with Win v3.11.  Actually, Netscape
runs from the Novell Netware server v3.12 on many of the workstations.
Others run Netscape from the hard drive.  The PC's are 486's at 50 Mhz or
faster and hard drive from 250 MB and up.  Things seem to be going well.
I've received no complaints since installing Netscape v3.  On some of the
PC's we added some command lines in the autoexec.bat file to clean out every
morning at boot up time, the cached files from C:\temp

In addition to being a professional searcher, I double as the Novell LAN
administrator.  Aside from the above, I don't have any hard statistics.  We
don't run Adobe currently.  HTML page development is done in Netscape v3.
500 Business Publications in Full-Text on the Web!
George Jenkins                617.495.6837 (voice)
Business Information Analyst  617.496.3725 (fax)
Research Services             GJenkins at
Baker Library # 215 
Harvard Business School

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 11:19:04 -0500
From: Eric Schnell <ehschnel at>
Subject: Netscape 3.0 on 486 PC


     We have several 486's running 3.0. There are two key
configurations issues: speed of the CPU and memory.

   If you are trying to run it on a 33mHz with 8 mbs memory,
it will be very slow starting up but it will run. A 66 mHz with
16 mbs of memory will provide you with much better
performance. To provide more headroom, we have no 486
with less than 20 mbs.

    The problem with 3.0 is all the extras. I hope 4.0 (code
name "Communicator") allows us to install just the browser so

we don't have to start the Mail and Newsgroup readers
like in previous versions.


Eric Schnell, Head of Automation Services
Prior Health Sciences Library, Ohio State
  schnell.9 at      614-292-4870

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 10:55:42 -0500 (EST)
From: Andy Boze <ABOZE at VMA.CC.ND.EDU>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486
To: "Laura B. Cohen" <LCOHEN at>

I don't have any hard data, except for some timings of how long it takes
to start the program. I can give you some other information, though,
from some of our experiences. We're also using Windows 3.11.
We run Netscape 3.0 from a server, which seems to add an extra 3 to 5
seconds to the start-up time for Netscape than it would if it were
loaded from a hard drive. The start-up time is the time it takes to
completely start Netscape, without automatically loading a page.

On a 486-33DX with 8MB RAM, it takes 55 seconds to start.
On a 486-50DX2 with 12MB RAM, it takes 30 seconds to start.
On a 486-100DX4 with 16 MB RAM, it takes 20 seconds to start (Note that
Netscape is installed on this PCs hard drive, not on the server.)

Netscape seems to run acceptably well in 8 MB RAM. If you want to use
Netscape simultaneously with some other program, say an HTML editor,
the PC may become unacceplably slow. Our systems department is
recommending using 16 MB RAM to run Netscape 3.0. Our other
alternative, since most of our 486 PCs only have 8 MB RAM, is to
continue using Netscape 2.0.

Our public workstations, which are 486-33DX, are still running Netscape
1.1N, partly for performance reasons and partly for security.

One other thing that we've noticed that can have a significant effect
on performance is the ethernet card you use. Some of our older 486s
had David ethernet cards. When we replaced them with 3Com cards, the
performance dramatically improved.

Andy Boze, PC/Network Coordinator                 Internet: Boze.1 at
University Libraries of Notre Dame                BITnet: ABOZE at IRISHVMA
221 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN  46556-5629  Voice: (219) 631-8708
                                                  Fax:   (219) 631-6772
Visit my homepage at:

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 08:42:29 -0800
From: Peter Farris <pfarris at>
Subject: Re: Desktop publishing and HTML/PDF conversion


Also, as far as your earlier post about Netscape 3.0 on 486es running Win
3.1, it should run okay. Make sure you have enough RAM, though, because 3.0
is a bit of a memory hog, and make certain your 486 is fast enough. If
you're going to be installing Netscape for public consumption, you may want
to consider editing out some of the features; you can do this with the
Borland C++ Resource Editor (Borland has educational pricing of C++ for
about $150). If you're interested, there are several links to information
about public access computer security at

Hope this helps. Having spent four years in Albany (working for NYS, of
course), I figured it was my duty ;). Good luck, and email me if I can be of
any help.

Peter Farris / pfarris at
Information Services Librarian
Barnett-Briggs Medical Library
1001 Potrero Ave., Building 30
San Francisco, CA 94110

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 09:56:57 -0700 (MST)
From: loo at (Jackie Loop)
Subject: re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

Laura -
I've had Netscape 3.0 on my IBM PS/2 486 running under Windows 3.1
for a couple of months now - well, since it was released in August.
I've been pretty much satisfied with the operation & response times,
although I'm not some high-powered user, I'm just a librarian!!
The only frustration I have with it is that every so often, it will
say that it is done loading a page, but the screen remains blank.
If I click on the back arrow to a previous page, then click again on
the forward arrow, the page pops right in.  I've got my suspicions
that this happens when the cache directory gets too full - it seems
to run better again after I clean out the cache.  (These things always
happen when I'm in a hurry so I'm not at my scientific best about
collecting data!)
Anyway, I certainly don't think Netscape 3.0 would be a bad choice.

Jackie Loop
loo at

ate: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 11:58:05 -0500 (EST)
From: Michael Watson <mwatso at>

>We are testing Netscape 3.0 on 486 PC machines under Windows 3.11.
>Does anyone have any data about the performance of this program
>on a 486, either good or bad? We are gathering our ideas at the
>University at Albany libraries, but would be very interested in
>information from the wider world.


        I have several library faculty running Netscape 3.0 on
486SX/25's (Windows 3.1, not 3.11). A real "minimalist" 486.
I haven't done any formal benchmarks, but 3.0 doesn't *seem*
to be significantly slower than 2.0 or even 1.22. Boosting
RAM up to 8 megs did improve performance somewhat--though
we had to pay more for memory for these older machines than
we liked, as they use 30-pin SIMMs.
        Of course, performance is still very slow. My
impression is that it's the slower hard disks on these
computers that's the main culprit. We've turn off auto
loading of inline graphics to speed things up a bit.
But if the alternative to a "slow" netscape is telneting
to a UNIX box & running Lynx, most people have been willing
to live with the slow netscape--at least so far.

* Michael Watson                   *
* mwatso at *

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 11:58:36 -0500
From: ipercelli at
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486
To: "Laura B. Cohen" <LCOHEN at>

          Hi Laura,

          The only problem we've encountered is if you download to a floppy
          diskette and then go back to print something, your system looks for
          the floppy drive.  If you reboot the problem goes away but reoccurs
          when you download again.  Someone suggested this might be a bug.

                                        Irene Percelli

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 11:05:25 -0600
From: "Peter C. Gorman" <pcgorman at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

laura -

>We are testing Netscape 3.0 on 486 PC machines under Windows 3.11.
>Does anyone have any data about the performance of this program
>on a 486, either good or bad?

We're running Netscape 3.0 on several hundred 486 machines and a lesser
number of pentiums. The performance is noticably faster on the pentiums, of
course, but it's acceptible on the 486s. The main difference is in the time
it takes to start up and the time it takes to display an image. You'll want
to have as much RAM as possible; 8 at a minimum. Our biggest problems have
been with Netscape's various bugs, not with its performance on 486s.
Hope this helps,

Peter C. Gorman
University of Wisconsin
General Library System
Automation Services
pcgorman at

Date: Tue, 5 Nov 1996 18:20:27 GMT+1
From: "Heinrich C. Kuhn" <kuhn at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

Dear Ms Cohen,

   you wrote on Web4Lib:
> We are testing Netscape 3.0 on 486 PC machines under Windows 3.11.
> Does anyone have any data about the performance of this program
> on a 486, either good or bad?

We started testing it here even on a *3*86 with MS-Win 3.1:
Performance is good, but there are apparently conflicts
with other Programs using WinSockets or something like
that running at the same time.

Heinrich C. Kuhn
*  Dr. Heinrich C. Kuhn   (coordinator libraries)
*  Max-Planck-Gesellschaft / Generalverwaltung IIb3
*  Postfach 10 10 62
*  D-80084 Muenchen
*  voice: +49-89-2108 1563
*  fax:   +49-89-2108 1565
*  eMail: hck at   or
*          kuhn at

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 09:34:28 -0800 (PST)
From: bobbi <rkluge at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486
To: "Laura B. Cohen" <LCOHEN at>


I work in a computer lab setting where we run Netscape 3.0 on WFW 3.11,
and on Windows 3.1. We have fewer problems on the WFW 3.11.
All the pc's are 486's with 8 MB of ram.

bbi kluge             voice: 619.945.6248
rkluge at     fax: 619.945.6397

Date: Tue,  5 Nov 96 11:44:17
From: Chuck Bearden <cbearden at>
Subject: RE: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

I would suggest that the performance of Netscape depends on many
factors besides the CPU chip.  Most especially, how much RAM will
the machines have?  With 16MB, or even 12MB, I suspect a 486 would
be quite usable.  8MB might even be okay.  Our public access
workstations are 486/66s with 8MB RAM, running Mosaic 2.0 in kiosk
mode, and they do okay.

Next most critical factor is the speed of your network connections,
which is of course unrelated to your workstation's CPU chip.  A Pentium
133 with 16MB of RAM on a 28.8 dialup PPP connection will probably be no
match for a 486/66 with 8MB of RAM on a decent Ethernet routed to a T1
line to your ISP.

There's also the speed of the hard drive, the clock speed of the chip
(probably a substantial difference between a 486/25 and a 486/100, all
other things being equal), the speed of the motherboard/bus, amount
of video memory and type of video bus & accelerator card.  Each of
these points can become a bottleneck, though much depends on how a
machine is used.  I would say that amount of memory  and speed of
network connection are much more important for this kind of
application than 486 vs. Pentium.  On the other hand, how much will
you really save by going with 486 over Pentium, and will it restrict
you with applications other than Netscape (e.g. graphics-intensive

I hope this helps.  Please forgive me if it is stuff you already

Best wishes,

Chuck Bearden                   email: cbearden at
Catalog Department              voice: 713/247-3499
Houston Public Library          fax:   713/247-3158
500 McKinney Ave.
Houston, TX  77002              -=> NOT SPEAKING FOR HPL <=-

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 13:05:29 -0500
From: Howard HH Hume <HUMEH at NDU.EDU>
Subject: Netscape 3.0 on a 486 -Reply

We recently switched to novell network Netscape 3.0 (novell network)
from Netscape 2.? novell network).  I am using windows 3.11 and a 486
dx33.  The only thing I've notices so far is that Netscape opens up to the
home page much slower than version 2; by my count (1001, 1002, etc) it
takes about 40 seconds to open.

Howard Hume
Collection Development Librarian (& Library Web Page owner)
National Defense University

Date: Tue, 05 Nov 1996 10:31:27 -0800
From: Karen Oberst <koberst at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486
To: "Laura B. Cohen" <LCOHEN at>

Laura B. Cohen wrote:

> Well, we have mny 33 mz 486 computers here. My main concern is
> that a) the program loads successfully and in a reasonable
> amount of time

My experience with this tells me that speed of Netscape depends
to a large part on how the computer is configured, e.g., how high
the resolution is set, and how large the RAM is.  I have a 486-66
with 16 MG of RAM, connected to a T1 line.  Most things load pretty
quickly, although not larger graphics.  Also, although I much
prefer Netscape over Explorer, I have found that it can take more tries
to get something loaded with Netscape--it times out more often
>  b) sites load successfully, without leaving
> graphics behind.

For me, this seems to depend on the time of day, or, I suppose
really, how busy the 'Net is.  Graphics load quickly on a Sunday,
or at 7:30 AM Pacific time.  3 PM can bring a real slowdown on
graphics intensive sites.

> My tests so far have been pretty favorable on one machines,
> and poor on another. I think we've got a machine problem,
> rather than a problem with teh 3.0 software!

That's been my experience too--it depends on the computer.

    |Karen L. Oberst                                 koberst at  |
    |Head of Technical Services/Systems Librarian     (206) 281-2735  |
    |Seattle Pacific Univ., Seattle, WA |
    |                                                                 |
    |It may not seem like much, but think of the consequences.  One   |
    |overdue library book today, the collapse of the universe by the  |
    |end of the week.--Gareth Roberts (The English Way of Death)      |

Date: Wed, 06 Nov 1996 07:37:28 +1200
From: Grant White <ulgw at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

Hi there,

I am currently Netscape3 and Netscape 3gold on a DEC Venturis with 486
processor with 16meg of ram under Win 3.11 and my experience has been sweet
to say the least. 3 is a big improvement over 2.02, in fact my extensive web
habit hasn't crashed it once since installed. The IRC has another 25 or so
similar machines to mine which are all running the same  version and it has
been trouble free to date.

Hope this is helpful,

Grant White
Multimedia & Special Collections Librarian/WWW Editor
University of Newcastle
Central Coast Campus Information Resource Centre
ulgw at
Ph: 043-484022
Fax: 043-484215

Date: Wed, 06 Nov 1996 10:21:11 +0000
From: Beppe Pavoletti <beppe.pavoletti at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

I at home use Netscape 3.0 with a 80486 SX 40MHz Cyrux CPU.
It's rather slow, but works

Beppe Pavoletti

beppe.pavoletti at
Date: Wed, 06 Nov 1996 03:51:52 -0700 (MST)
From: Elisabeth Roche <ace at Opus1.COM>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

I've been running Netscape 3.0 on my 386 with great success, stable, for
months now. Ever since it came out. I ran the 3.04 beta okay too, but the
3.05b I couldn't. That's when I just put the 3.0 on, the day it came out as
standard not beta.

Hope this helps...
Elisabeth Roche ace at
serendipity RULES!

Date: Wed, 06 Nov 1996 09:20:58 -0500 (EST)
From: Lesley A Kowalski <lak at ACSU.Buffalo.EDU>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486
To: "Laura B. Cohen" <LCOHEN at>

Netscape 3.0 on a 486 will run adequately, but it's speed will be on the
slow side. Netscape makes a modem work very hard, so expect an even slower
speed.  If your machines are hooked up to a LAN, this will help speed
things up (but 486s still run Netscape at a slower rate).

Les Kowalski

Date: Wed, 06 Nov 1996 06:59:57 -0800 (PST)
From: Linda Hyman <lhyman at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

I have been using Netscape 3.0 (betas and full release) on a 486 (66mhz, 24
mb RAM) for some time with no trouble.  I frequently work at home, so I have
a SLIP connection, Netscape open, Eudora open, and use Director, Adobe
Photoshop and Word at the same time.

I have not had the same success on a PowerMac 7100 at work with 16 mb RAM.
Netscape crashed continually, so I dropped back down to Netscape 2.02 on the
Linda Woods Hyman
Education First Initiative
San Diego State University
and Pacific Bell (619)594-4414

ate: Wed, 06 Nov 1996 18:43:44 -0500 (EST)
From: Unknown <ssansenb at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486
To: "Laura B. Cohen" <LCOHEN at>

We have used Netscape 3.0 on various 486/66 with 3.11 for as long as it
has been in final release.  I have had some reports of the "stop" button
not working and the machine then freezing, but otherwise I have not had
any problems, and even those reports are few and far between.

S.M. Sansenbaugher
System Operator
Westerville Public Library
Westerville, OH

Date: Fri, 08 Nov 1996 12:48:50 -0500
From: Sheila Good <goods at>
Subject: Re: Netscape 3.0 on a 486

There have been a few of our member libraries who loaded Netscape 3.0 on
a 486 75MHZ 8MB RAM computer with 28.8 modems.

The program blanked out on them while "surfing" and the machine would
have to be reset.

I played with one of these computers and could not figure out the
problem.  I finally added a US Robotic 33.6 Speedster modem (not the
WINmodem) and 8 more MB of RAM.  I reloaded the dialing software
(Netscape PE) and Netscape 3.0.  The machine works great now.  The US
Robotics modem also will be upgradeable in January 1997 to a 56K speed.
The coupon said that it will work on standard analog phone lines, is
supported by more than 30 service providers, and works twice as fast as
an ordinary v.34 modem.  We'll see.

I'm not sure if the problem was Netscape 3.0 or if it was the quality of
the original modem???

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