View Full Version : Expanding Amiga, which way?

30th November 2009, 19:56
I am on the way back to the Amiga, I got a cd32 and a selection of my favorite games. Getting back playing some of my favorite games was a blast, but I want more. Having everything on CDs instead of floppies are great, but I still want to have a harddrive based system.

There are sometimes sx-1 on ebay, rare times sx-32 and very rarly sx-32 pros. Only common item is the floppy drive which does very little beside beeing a floppy. Right now there is a sx-1 on ebay as well, but at 125 pounds I could buy a a1200 with hard drive.

What I also need is a flickerfixer - the cd32 has svideo output which works well on my dell 24", but it is very noisy and probably not much better than composite would be). So the one at not a very nice price they offer at amigakit would be nice - but it is either a1200 or cd32/a4000. And I'd like to decide on what to get before choosing.

So what would be the most echonomical way to get a useable, internet capeable Amiga? A a1200, tower and so forth? a a4000 and some funky boards? or some kind of kit for the cd32 that adds what it lacks?

30th November 2009, 20:33
....So what would be the most economical way to get a useable, internet capable Amiga?...

Economical really depends on what your definition of economical is. If you are prepared to wait and hunt around for the right price you 'may' eventually get an 'economical' Internet capable Amiga.
However, your budget is really down to what sort of internet experience you want.
If it's FTP and non-graphical based use then that has a much lower cost potential than a 'useable' graphical browsing solution.

A 1200 will benefit from a RAM expansion for the above, but for Graphical browsing an 060 based accelerator is what you really need to aim for. You can just about browse the internet on slower cards, 1230s and 1240s, but it's not really a practical or pleasant experience. Also a Scandoubler/ Flicker fixer is a must for this type of application. Trying to view anything on a resolution lower than 800x600 is just masochistic. For the higher resolutions and a better experience an Indivision SDFF with HighGfx installed is just the ticket.
Cost wise, in total it is not going to be cheap to get online at anywhere near a modern experience. Plus one big downside is the software, or lack thereof. Amiga web browsers are not really upto date *cough*, but as long as you don't expect Facebook or You Tube, basic browsing is just about do able.

All thast said, a 1200 with some expansions is going to be your 'cheapest' route. I would recommend at the very least;

a1200 base unit
PCMCIA Network card (wired or wireless, WEP only for wireless)
Indivision SDFF
Apollo or Blizzard 1240/1260 (1260s for preference)
32Mb Fast RAM

I'm sure you'll be able to price it up in your head, but that little lot is going to set you back a few quid.
You don't have to towerise the 1200 to achive this, but if you do you will need to add the cost of a tower and a right angle PCMCIA adapter to that list as well.

As an aside, I casually added up the cost of my kit not long ago, and was on the phone to the insurance company 5 seconds later to check that it was covered! :wooha:

It was. :D

30th November 2009, 21:35
For an A1200 setup, the killer is going to be the CPU card. Stock A1200s are often reasonably priced, and you can use standard PC 2.5" hard disks and PCMCIA network cards (although you have to get certain models that are compatible) and you can do it all in the standard 'wedge' case.

If you want to go for an all-singing, all-dancing Amiga setup, you're probably best off tracking down an A4000 and starting from that. That gives you a fully 32-bit Amiga with AGA graphics, and you can take that wherever you want to go :-)

30th November 2009, 21:54
an internet amiga is a futile quest, the lack of a descent browser is the tombstone of the project...

1st December 2009, 08:39
an internet amiga is a futile quest, the lack of a descent browser is the tombstone of the project...

I think I got to alter the goal here.

I've understood getting a modernized Amiga is not going to be cheap, but owning both a macbook pro and a mac pro I am familiar with getting what I want cost money. But the economical bit of the question was not to go down a route that is cost more than it solves. Like I feel trying to make something out of the cd32 will be like.

Secondly, it is not a modernized Amiga as in my daily surf machine. But a fun box to both remember the old days, and as a developer I might find the joy of targeting private projects on it. Plus the novelty factor of it - doing todays work (I have my own office) on the Amiga, but then I need an editor capable of syntax highlighting. Even Vim would do. But then I would need network.

So what would be the route for the best Amiga experience, short of buying a fully fledged A4000T which has the unfortunate disadvantage of being rare. Not that the 060 cards looks less rare either.

Locally I see an offer for a rev b 4000/030 with "maxed ram" and 4gb cf priced at 265 usd. Same seller also have mediator with Mediator with "voodoo, tvcard, soundblaster, network card" at 300 usd and a Cyberstorm PPC 060@50/233mhz at 510 usd.

Now that looks like a nice kit, but even subtracting our 24% VAT - the price looks a bit high. Or is that what I should expect price wise?

And what would the difference be between a a1200 in tower with 060 and a a4000 with an 060 in terms of performance? any bottlenecks or lack of expandability?

1st December 2009, 08:54
the prices you get of the A4000 stuff are OK in my book , and always prefer the A4000 if you want to expand an amiga... the a1200 is OK, but you are limited to accelerators that offer less, you are limited to only use some broken zorroII busboards (broken because none has dma) and the pci solution except the g-rex1200 (to some extend that is) are not that great... Not to mention that expanding an A1200 means you need to tower it, and those towers are both ugly and flimsy to assemble :)
the A4000 is an overall better machine with great expanding options out-of-the-box

1st December 2009, 08:55

To answer your question first.

An A4000 has a Zorro 3 backplane, much faster and more configurable than Zorro 2,

An A1200 Tower is limmited to Zorro2, this is also compounded by the 8MB limmit of Zorro 2 cards.

So if you have a 4mb zorro graphics card, you cannot add an 8MB SCSI card,.. only 4mb... and if you have anything in the PCMCIA port the Zorro 2 bus cannot have anymore than 4MB.

By default the A4000 can have upto 16MB of Fast Ram and 2 MB Chip, comes as standard with an 030@25 or an 040@25, the latter is over clockable to 33Mhz with some modification.

Both machines have AGA, and IDE, however although Both IDE's are PIO mode 0, (yes CPU Hammers) the A4000 has a buffered interface as standard unlike the A1200.

Another major difference is the CPU upgrade path, the A4000's 030's and 040's dont cost half as much as the A1200 models.

However the A4000 060 cards can seriously fetch price usually superceeding that of an similar A1200 component.

Realistically the main bottle neck is -, with an A1200 you are stuck to Zorro 2 with NO DMA (thats the big one)

Of course a PCI equiped A1200 does have DMA, so it all depends on where you want to go with your project.

I decided I wasn't going to choose and have the logical extremes of both the A4000 and A1200... =D

when I get time I will build them... got all the bits... busboards you name it.... just that mellifluous subsance known as time that seems to abait me... =(

1st December 2009, 08:58
....And what would the difference be between a a1200 in tower with 060 and a a4000 with an 060 in terms of performance? any bottlenecks or lack of expandability?

In a Tower for more exciting expansions, a 1200 would need Mediator. Once that is fitted, you do have a wider choice of PCI expansions, limited by available drivers of course.

The 1200, I believe, is slightly more flexible and economical than a 4000.

25th December 2009, 10:50
And if you go the A1200-route, get a Mediator SX/TX so you can use OS4.0 (if you want) and a Radeon card without power converter.

25th December 2009, 13:24
Get an Amiga4000 or 3000. Put in an Deneb, and you get access to modern keyboard and mice, usb network and sound + mass storage. Very convenient kit.

25th December 2009, 15:46
I really think a 3000 is better than a 4000 for a few reasons :
SCSI-no CPU hogging, reliable and standard
zorro III- less slots than 4k, but just as configurable
FAST 4000- CPU slot is compatible with 4000
Smaller case
Built in SD/FF
CPU onboard in case ur card fails
And as Arnljot said, you can get a deneb and USB solutions.
The biggest obstacles:
HEAT- small case means more heat per square inch (or centimeter)
Less zorro slots
No place for cd rom (need external solution without case modding

26th December 2009, 11:15

I agree that the A3k is a nice proposition. But I like the AGA and CD Rom possabilities of the A4k.

But the A3k is small and sexy...

26th December 2009, 18:19
Honestly an A4000 is very good for expansion, if you can find one for a decent price. Even better is a A4K Tower, but they are a little more uncommon, at least here in the US it seems. I know someone who has one locally in mint condition, but I cannot afford it. If I could it would be sitting in my computer room right now. Price wise, when you add everything to an A1200 via expandability, it seems that overall both machines cost about the same. It just seems like a little less for the A1200 because the individual pieces are for the most part cheaper. The off set of that is that you have to buy more pieces. A4K has a case and a backplane already. You have to buy both of those for an A1200. From what I understand from other websites, people say there's something different about the bus on the A1200 versus the A4000, I can't remember what that is and I'm no computer genius so I couldn't tell you if it's true or not anyway. A towerised A1200 can sit on the floor or have a smaller desktop footprint than the A4000D though, and the A4000T is a full sized AT Tower, so it's almost 3 feet tall. After typing all of this, it's really six of one, half dozen of the other really. Choose what want, and what fits your criteria really.


26th December 2009, 18:25

I agree that the A3k is a nice proposition. But I like the AGA and CD Rom possabilities of the A4k.

But the A3k is small and sexy...

Who ever said external cd-rom media wasn't a possibility? And AGA is pretty useless besides games for WB 3.1 as it only uses 32 colors max. (without patches/expansions) Otherwise, i'd have gotten a 4k.

26th December 2009, 19:11
Your only real options are an A1200, A3000 or A4000, these models offer the most flexibility and compatibility. If you're going for an Amiga that does everything, I'd say get an A4000. That gives you a 32-bit Zorro III system with AGA graphics. The sky really is the limit with one of those!

Dreamcast makes a good point about the A3000, you get onboard SCSI and Scandoubler, and the A3000 desktop is (IMHO) the best-looking Amiga made (it's a beautiful machine). If you don't need AGA, this is a fine alternative, but remember that you can add SCSI and a scandoubler to an A4000, you can't retrofit AGA to an A3000.

26th December 2009, 19:24
If you don't need AGA, this is a fine alternative, but remember that you can add SCSI and a scandoubler to an A4000, you can't retrofit AGA to an A3000.

Andy, couldn't have said it better. The 4000 is the system to shoot for if you:

Don't mind IDE
Have a suitable monitor solution
Don't mind the crappy SIMM sockets
Don't want an RTG card

I bought a 3000 for these reasons:
Need a fast and reliable interface-SCSI
Want to get an RTG eventually
Don't want to worry about weak sockets- They use ZIP rams
Don't mind a 32-color limit
Will not buy an expensive SD/FF
They are the most beautiful amiga (besides the 1k)

Oh, and the 1200 is good for:
People who need AGA
Want the fastest PPC solution
Like low footprint cases
Would like to take it with them on trips (the 600 is actually better for this, but it is a crippled machine)

26th December 2009, 22:20
Don't want an RTG card

Not sure I get this one? Doesn't the A3000 and A4000 have the same video slots? It's the A2000 which is different.

26th December 2009, 22:28
The reason i said that is AGA is powerful enough that you don't need an RTG card for daily use, ECS, on the other hand, needs an RTG to run OS 3.9 cleanly, who wants a 32 color palette on 3.9?

26th December 2009, 23:40
Aha, well I see now what you mean.

But I still find AGA way to slow with anything with more than 32 colours. Btw, does halfbrite work in WB? :-S

27th December 2009, 00:14
halfbrite? I am not quite sure what that is, rings a bell tho

27th December 2009, 00:20
In deluxepaint you have a mode with 64 colours, where the 32 extra colours over the normal amiga ocs 32 colour mode uses an extra 6th bitplane that extends the palette with the 32 colours all over again in half brightness.