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Old 11 January 2020, 18:54   #1
dreadnought
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Simplest/cheapest hardware add ons allowing WHDLoad on A500?

Hi folks, first post from a long-time lurker here.

I've been emulating Amiga for quite some time now, but only returned to the real hardware a couple of months ago. Got a 1MB A500 + Gotek. I play a lot of games though and after a while Gotek - great device as it is - stopped being a suffcient solution, the disk swapping is just too much of a hassle, especially coming from a WHDLoad setup.

At first I thought using WHD is only possible on A600/1200 when considering real hardware, but then somebody told me about various add ons which enable it on A500 too. I had a look around and found some but there is not much accessible info about them. I'm currently looking at a Protein board (around 100 quid on an auction with extras) but don't want to buy in the dark in case I miss some caveats.

I'd appreciate any advice regarding this subject. What is the best solution in 2020? For me "best" means not too expensive (~120 pounds max?) and not requiring any soldering while being compatible with most games. Also, would I need anything else for my Amiga? It has 1MB Ram and Kickstart 1.3.

Or would it just be easier and more economical to get A1200?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 11 January 2020, 19:15   #2
Ragnarok
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Individual Computer's ACA500 PLUS card. I don't know about availability, however...
I got one several years ago and it's the best buy I've done for my A500 (and allows to install WHDLOAD) If you have a FAT ANGUS A500 that would be the best configuration possible.
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Old 11 January 2020, 20:42   #3
dreadnought
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Ah, right, it's been recommended to me before. Looks rather interesting, as it seems to be totally plug & play. 150E with postage...hmmm. We are getting not far off A1200 price here (including my A500 etc). Though A1200 probably also needs some extra add ons...

Also, how do the other ones compare, like Protein or Wicher?
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Old 11 January 2020, 20:53   #4
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My TF534 with IDE and 4mb fast ram works well.
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Old 11 January 2020, 22:05   #5
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I recently bought and repaired an A500+. My first though was to aim for a TF530/TF534 and to upgrade the kickstart to v3.1 and setup an IDE/CF hdd. I then discovered the HC508 and HC520. The HC520 really appealed as it would allow easy file transfers from a PC compred to a TF534 plus I'd be able to unplug it and just have a stock A500+ without faff.

Then I came across the ACA500plus and couldn't make up my mind between it and the HC520. In the end I went for the ACA500plus due to features like the included kickstarts, WB3.1 installer, advanced start up options and inbuilt Action Replay. I've not regretted it as the 68000 running at even 21MHz with fast mem is good enough for most OCS/ECS games and is similar to an unexpanded A1200. At 42MHz it's a little quicker than an A1200 with fast mem.

Having said that I will likely pick up an ACA1221LC or 1233n and a X-surf-500 this year when funds allow. It would be nice to get to at least 030 @ 25MHz levels of performance for a few of the 3d games (but I'm not worried about trying to play FPS games).

So; if you have the desk space and like the flexibility, expandability and extra features of the ACA500plus I recommend it. It makes getting WB3.1 with WHDload running a doodle and its easy to add more games as you find them later without opening up the Amiga or faffing with ADF files. If you just want the fastest CPU for the lowest price then the TF534. For something in between probably the HC520.

In each case there probably isn't a wrong decision

EDIT: As Ragnarok suggests, check your mobo revision, if it's rev 6a then you should have the correct Angus that will allow the ACA500plus to get you 1MB of chip ram. There are some WHDLoad games that need this and won't run if you only have 512Kb of chip mem.

Last edited by LezRed; 11 January 2020 at 22:27. Reason: additional point.
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Old 14 January 2020, 10:37   #6
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Hi all, im in a similar situation, looking into getting an ACA500+ for my A500 with fat angus and 512k upgrade via trapdoor. Also using a 32 inch monitor via VGA adaptor.

I already have a Gotek with rotary encoder and would like to know the advantage of installing the ACA500 except to run WHDload from CF making disk swapping obsolete (although its a lot easier using the Gotek)

I understand that I will have extra memory available but what advantage wil this give me if I only want to play games? would being able to install the latest workbench be beneficial for me? Would it open up higher graphics resolutions ect?


£130 odd is a lot to pay out and is almost what I paid for my current setup so need to get as much info before purchase as possible.

Thanks in advance
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Old 14 January 2020, 13:29   #7
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WHDLoad, the games, the system need some more or less memory to work. How much do you need depends on this. Personally, I would suggest an AGA Amiga (i.e. 2 MB chip) and >= 16 MB fastram to be able to play all (I guess so) WHDLoad games. So you don't need to care about. 8 or 4 MB fastram might be enough but that depends on games you want to play (only OCS or also AGA).

Workbench/OS will not bring higher graphics resolutions. It's a hardware thing.
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Old 14 January 2020, 17:02   #8
dreadnought
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keithshaw3 View Post
£130 odd is a lot to pay out and is almost what I paid for my current setup so need to get as much info before purchase as possible.
It ceratinly is not cheap, but I'm about to pull the trigger on that. I'm only interested in games myself. From this angle I suppose the benefits of this add on are:
-WHDLoad ability
-it's also an accelerator but there might be compatibility problems
-Action Replay 3 functions

The thing is, these expansions hardly ever go down in price so I think it's a decent investment even if I decide to sell it at some point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daxb View Post
8 or 4 MB fastram might be enough but that depends on games you want to play (only OCS or also AGA).
ACA has 8MB RAM - do you think it'll be enough for all OCS games?
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Old 14 January 2020, 17:12   #9
keithshaw3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreadnought View Post
It ceratinly is not cheap, but I'm about to pull the trigger on that.
Where are you thinking of getting yours from?

I have seen the one from icomp for 134,97 €
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Old 14 January 2020, 17:20   #10
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Aca 500 plus.

Its everything you need.
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Old 14 January 2020, 17:32   #11
dreadnought
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keithshaw3 View Post
Where are you thinking of getting yours from?

I have seen the one from icomp for 134,97 €
Yes, this one. Best to get it from the horse's mouth, so to speak

I thought about buying A1200 instead, but buying these machines is a bit risky (had couple of duds already) so will just stick to this solution I guess.
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Old 14 January 2020, 21:13   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreadnought View Post
It ceratinly is not cheap, but I'm about to pull the trigger on that. I'm only interested in games myself. From this angle I suppose the benefits of this add on are:
-WHDLoad ability
-it's also an accelerator but there might be compatibility problems
-Action Replay 3 functions

The thing is, these expansions hardly ever go down in price so I think it's a decent investment even if I decide to sell it at some point.



ACA has 8MB RAM - do you think it'll be enough for all OCS games?
It won't be enough to cache the largest games in RAM but that's not a good approach for those anyway, as all the games that large had native HD install and using WHDload's floppy emulation on those is silly -- they'll run *great* from a flash card on the ACA500+. There are no OCS/ECS games that actually require more than 4MB for all features turned on I think, and those are super rare. In reality 1M CHIP and 1M FAST will run 99.9% of OCS/ECS games, except the one or two games that need 2M CHIP or use 68020+ opcodes (and are usually labeled AGA even though they aren't). The extra RAM is just used for cache -- which you can use either via addbuffers or an add-on disk caching program, or with WHDload's floppy emulation cacheing.

The only things it will have trouble with are games that are super CPU-hungry but the ACA has an A1200 trapdoor slot on that to fit a better CPU card if you need to.

Last edited by AmigaHope; 14 January 2020 at 21:28.
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Old 14 January 2020, 21:19   #13
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I can't think of any OCS games that require a faster CPU?

What requires more than 8mb fast?
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Old 14 January 2020, 21:25   #14
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whdload cache files in RAM (or you experience "OS flashes").

8MB CPU allows most of the games to be fully preloaded (not Beneath a steel sky talkie version, though, or some Flight of the Amazon Queen-like multiple diskette games, but they're rare enough)

Quote:
I can't think of any OCS games that require a faster CPU?
No, none of them require a faster CPU, but some flight sims are faster with a faster CPU. There's also Microprose F1GP framerate patch. And the games load/decrunch faster too. Generally, 3D games that were designed with a possible faster CPU in mind will have a higher framerate.
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Old 14 January 2020, 22:12   #15
AmigaHope
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro1234 View Post
I can't think of any OCS games that require a faster CPU?

What requires more than 8mb fast?
There are a number of "AGA" games that work fine on ECS systems as long as you have enough chip RAM + fast RAM, or they use 68020 opcodes, etc. Examples are Primal Rage, Gloom Deluxe, Dungeon Master II.

And of course there are lots of games that need a faster CPU in general to be playable, like Wing Commander, Frontier, etc. They might *run* on a 7Mhz 68000 but they are no fun to play unless you have something faster.

There aren't really any games that need more than 4M or so for all effects to be turned on, but the extra memory goes toward disk cacheing so you don't have to wait for disk loads.
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Old 14 January 2020, 22:27   #16
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Your cheapest bet is probably the IDE68K + RAM68K combo which gives you IDE + 8MB Fast RAM on a CPU riser. This will get you running the vast majority of games built for the 500, and is available pre-built for 85 Euro on Amibay (http://www.amibay.com/showthread.php...600-CF-adapter)

+ Cheapest way to add HDD support and 8MB to an A500
+ Includes a 10Mhz 68000 giving you a *slight* processing bump
- The 68000 doesn't fully support the WHDLoad quit function (which I believe requires a 68010 or above to work 100%?). You can always fit a 68010.
- Doesn't give you the extra speed for games like Frontier, Microprose GP, Wing Commander as jotd and AmigaHope have referenced. As you currently don't have this, you aren't worse off, but if that's something you'd like, it might be worth spending the extra 50 Euro on an accelerator.
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Old 14 January 2020, 22:33   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dreadnought View Post
ACA has 8MB RAM - do you think it'll be enough for all OCS games?
Not for all but at least 99,9% will work fine as already mentioned by others. Monkey Island 2 needs about 9 MB for preload on my system.

And as far as I know (not sure) WHDLoad save chip memory to fast ram and after quit the game it will restore chip memory. This need to take into account. Some system stuff like buffers for partitions/floppy drive too.
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Old 14 January 2020, 22:43   #18
Retro1234
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O yeah those two games need 2mb chip not 68020

Dungeon Master 2 never knew that.

and if you want to run those 3D Space games faster than they were originally, but thats it.

Just pointing out as a fairly common misconception is WHDload needs an accelerator which obviously you dont.

and as AmigaHope says Monkey Islands etc have there own native Hard drive installs so WHDload is not needed.

Last edited by Retro1234; 14 January 2020 at 22:53.
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Old 14 January 2020, 22:49   #19
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Thanks for the info all, the ACA500+ seems the best bet on reflection, certainly something to think about
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Old 14 January 2020, 23:19   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psoma View Post
Your cheapest bet is probably the IDE68K + RAM68K combo which gives you IDE + 8MB Fast RAM on a CPU riser. This will get you running the vast majority of games built for the 500, and is available pre-built for 85 Euro on Amibay (http://www.amibay.com/showthread.php...600-CF-adapter)

+ Cheapest way to add HDD support and 8MB to an A500
+ Includes a 10Mhz 68000 giving you a *slight* processing bump
- The 68000 doesn't fully support the WHDLoad quit function (which I believe requires a 68010 or above to work 100%?). You can always fit a 68010.
- Doesn't give you the extra speed for games like Frontier, Microprose GP, Wing Commander as jotd and AmigaHope have referenced. As you currently don't have this, you aren't worse off, but if that's something you'd like, it might be worth spending the extra 50 Euro on an accelerator.

These are the best value for money out there I think.


Just remember to mod your A500 for 1meg chip (easy enough on a rev 5 or rev 6).
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