|InfoWorld, December 1994|
The Deskpro XL series was released in the summer of 1994 as a replacement for Compaq's high-end Deskpro/M lineup, updating it with Intel Pentium microprocessors, and Compaq's first implementation of the new PCI expansion bus. XLs also included the "Vocalyst" keyboard, which featured an integrated speaker and microphone that plugged into a proprietary connector on the back of the machine.
The 590 is a later iteration of the XL family, introduced in late 1994. While Compaq was one of the last major companies to release a 90 MHz Pentium system, it was still a respectable flagship, with a Pentium 90, 16 MB of RAM, PCI graphics, and a spacious 1.05 GB SCSI hard disk. Those specifications, along with a price tag at or exceeding $4,000, made this machine more suited for the corner office than the cubicle.
The Guide's XL 590:
- Intel Pentium 90 on proprietary CPU card
- 16 MB of RAM soldered to CPU card
- 1.05 GB IBM Deskstar XP SCSI hard drive
- Compaq QVision 1280/P PCI Graphics Card (Motorola XC02 + 1 MB VRAM)
- NEC MultiSpin 6X SCSI CD-ROM
- AMD PCNet SCSI/Ethernet controller
- Analog Devices SoundPort AD1847JP (audio controller)
- MS-DOS 6.22 + Windows for Workgroups 3.11
Setting up the system
Two years of disuse drained the soldered CMOS battery on the mainboard, requiring the machine to be re-configured. While the system will boot without being configured, the 590's default settings will only read 720k floppy disks. If you find yourself unable to read from 1.44 MB disks on an XL, this is likely your problem. The CMOS battery on the motherboard is non-replaceable, and an external battery pack is required to return function to the system. Compaq's setup utility is a set of three bootable floppy disks that will automatically configure your system for you after you enter the date and time, and then reboot with little fuss. With the system completely configured, the real challenge began.
The XL 590's proprietary hardware, particularly its SCSI controller, made installing MS-DOS on this system more of a chore thanks to driver requirements. Luckily, HP still hosts drivers for XL lineup. The AMD PCNet SCSI drivers are a necessity to allow your DOS boot disk to interact with the drive.
For anyone planning to install Windows 3.11, the QVision 1280/P drivers are a necessity to raise the quality level above 640x480 in 16 colors. It's also recommended to download the VESA driver (and add it to your AUTOEXEC.BAT) if you plan on running any games. The video drivers allow for a maximum resolution of 1024x768, with 256 colors, while 800x600, offering 65K colors, is the best choice for overall quality, though some may find a lack of screen real estate disheartening.
|800x600, 65K Colors|
As of yet, I have been unable to find functional drivers for the AD1847JP audio controller in this machine.