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Old 19 October 2014, 12:59   #41
Zetr0
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This is an interesting and loaded question as each experience is different for different people.

The Amiga A500

By far the cheapest (and I would say entry level) would be a 1MB CHIP A500 with Gotek Floppy Drive emulator.

With this you should be able to play 90% of Amiga Games that are available.

You would need
  • A 512KB A500
  • A 512KB RAM expansion
  • Modify the Motherboard to use the expansion as CHIP RAM (for a total of 1MB)
  • Modify the 8520 Even CIA to enable DF0 to be re-routed externally
  • A firmware flashed Gotek FDD

The Gotek uses a USB pen for storage of ADF (amiga disk files) images, you then cycle and select these with use of the boot menu and the buttons available on the device.

AmiBay will be getting a couple of these systems up and running for shows and events - mainly because it allows the use of very limited inexpensive Amiga systems with the ability to play about 90% of available software!

You should be able to source the lot for about 50 pending where you live and market saturation.

As a worthy upgrade you can buy the Kipper K508+IDE, you will need to modify the motherboard to source two signals, but it will give you 8MB of FAST RAM + an internal Compact Flash adaptor for Mass Storage for the addition of 46.


________________________________________

The Amiga A600

The A600 is quite a nice little machine, with lots going for it in todays market, pending your investment.

A stock A600 can do what the A500 can do, however it is harder to modify for use with a Gotek FDD as it requires cutting traces on the motherboard to use DF0: externally. Of course you can install the drive internally but its difficult to get at the buttons.

The A600 has a very cheap upgrade path compared to some, mainly the A1200 or even A500. for about 40 you can up to 8MB of FAST RAM, for a further 30 you can an additional 1MB of CHIP RAM giving you 10MB in total with 2MB of precious CHIP RAM and 8MB of FAST RAM

You would need
  • Kipper K608 8MB FAST RAM adaptor
  • 1MB CHIP RAM Upgrade
  • IDE Hard Disk Device (hard drive or CF Card)

That lot will set you back about 90 including the cost of the A600 - but prices fluctuate pending on where you are and the market saturation - not to mention lucky deals at local auctions and free adds - so look around!

The above will play a good 95% of software from hard disk as well as allow you that delightful "clunk clunk whirr whirr" of the Floppy Drive.

Additionally instead of buying a K608 upgrade for 30 you could invest a little more into the ACA620 for 80 - this little upgrade gives you a 17Mhz 020 with 9.5MB of useable FAST RAM. Takes the output from 0.7MIP's to 3.7MISP (over 5 times faster!!)

This adaptor has additional features such as MAPROM as well as loading a Kickstart image from HardDisk.

________________________________________

The Amiga A1200

This is quite often the most sought after platform, with 2MB of CHIP RAM, AGA Graphics and a cheap abundant upgrade path.

Chuck a Hard Disk Device on the IDE and you are arguably ready to go. There are a few small game launchers out there "Tiny Launcher" and "AGLaunch" that use a very small amount of memory to give you a list of installed WHDLoad games - making it VERY usable on a stock A1200.

But with all things, a little more money can go a long way.

I would suggest the ACA1220 accelerator. It costs about 80 but gives you a massive 128MB of FAST RAM, alongside a 50% faster CPU boost - these together take a stock A1200 from 1.1MIPS to 3.7MIPS - over 300% performance increase!

It also has a MAP ROM feature to either copy the boot Kickstart into FAST RAM or load a Kickstart from the Hard Disk Device.

With one of these you will be able to run 99% of Amiga software, including CD32 / CDTV titles - you don't even need a CDROM.
  • A1200 PAL
  • ACA1220
  • 8GB CF or 20GB 2.5" Hard Drive.

That lot is a bit of an investment, about 125 should get you that, however prices will fluctuate and depending on local markets you may get it cheaper.

I hope that helps.


Some notes to consider

WHDLoad
Registering WHDLoad - its only 15 and really opens up a lot of choice for hard-disk-device equipped Amiga's

Kickstart 3.1
I would humbly suggest, if you are using a hard-disk-device to upgrade your chosen Amiga with the latest Kickstart 3.1

Amigakit offer a cheap upgrade for the A1200 at 14.50 or for the A500 a 13 upgrade. They also have a 13 option for the A600 as well.
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Old 21 October 2014, 00:35   #42
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Amigas are computers with a shared architecture, not consoles where each successive model may be completely different in hardware.

The only real divide between Amiga models is the graphics chipset (ie. OCS/ECS or AGA). Everything else can be obtained as peripherals.

Any non-AGA game will run on any Amiga and all games will run on an A1200 or A4000 (some patches may be needed to smooth out minor incompatibilities, this is where WHDLoad excels). Of course you need to have the required amount of memory and CPU power etc. that the game is designed for, but that is not specific to a particular Amiga model.
This is your theoretical guess how it "should" work...?

Games aren't compatible across Amiga models, and when run in WHDLoad, they require the specs for WHDLoad, not the A500+512K fast they were made for.

Edit: Hehe, Zetr0. Great big post But I would say entry level cost also suggests entry level skills, or at least to let them have their stock Amiga+a little something booting before modding inside Certainly soldering extra chipmem, modding and adding special RAM boards, or upgrading kickstart isn't necessary to get tons of games going! That can come later.

Last edited by Photon; 21 October 2014 at 00:43.
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Old 21 October 2014, 02:53   #43
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I have recently been looking for Amiga 1200's with 4 or 8gb CF for sale here in Australia and it seems people want too much for it anywhere from 4, to 5 hundred Australian Dollars not to mention shipping costs. I think I will make do with my A500+ and preserver with it until a cheaper a1200 comes along one day?
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Old 21 October 2014, 08:53   #44
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@Photon

A guess? It's simplified, of course, but what other true divide is there between the Amiga models than OCS/ECS and AGA?

If a game doesn't directly work on another Amiga model, it's generally because the developer has not known/cared/been able to test their game with that system. Not because of any major hardware incompatibility (the CDTV/CD32 are exceptions here but they have very few original titles). Emulation is not needed, as the original poster was worried.

WHDLoad does increase the memory requirements a little, but it's not the only way to patch games - and anyway it's reasonably easy to meet those requirements these days.

Zetr0 has provided a nice break-down of the features. Personally I'd only consider the A600 if the small physical size is an advantage, otherwise one might as well save towards an A1200.

If the goal is to be able to run as many game titles as possible, I would consider two options:

- either a cheap A500 for running floppy-only, non-AGA games (from actual floppies or a Gotek or such)
- or a middle-priced A1200 with some extra RAM and perhaps an accelerator for running pretty much everything

Other models don't make financial sense most of the time, though naturally sometimes you can come across a good deal.

However, if one wishes to tinker, any model can be upgraded to meet almost any specs (except, again, from OCS/ECS to AGA) and run almost any games. Just be prepared to open your wallet
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Old 21 October 2014, 19:44   #45
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It's just that... nobody sits and wades through 100 games and tries out if some non-WHDLoad patches work or not on their machine. And nobody just shrugs their shoulders if 9/10 of their favorites are unpatched and guru on A1200. They want to play the games, not discern wherein lies the Amiga model differences causing the gurus.

I would recommend a stock A600+ACA620 as a cheap and competent WHDLoad machine actually, if I knew more of the accelerator's compatibility with WHDLoad. It does have the potential leaking caps issue of the A1200, which can be hard to deal with for an Amiga-lover at entry level, and you have to get the right A600 revision for the ACA620.

The way things are with issues we know about but entry level fans are new to, that the best chances of success (and fastest route from purchase to joystick-wrestling!) must be an A500+512k and Gotek (or HxC). Even getting a CF card formatted and the right software installed is a hassle we maybe sometimes forget when giving recommendations.

Last edited by Photon; 21 October 2014 at 19:50.
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Old 21 October 2014, 20:36   #46
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Get two A1200s and two more just to be safe.
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Old 21 October 2014, 21:54   #47
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@Photon

The A600 can be pretty cool, I've got one with an ACA630 myself, but I still feel that by the time you start adding extra RAM and accelerators to it, you might as well have put that money towards an A1200 and gain the ability to run a few more games (=AGA) in the process. Particularly so if you already have an A500.

Anyway, I didn't mean to dissuade anyone from any particular model. My point was just that you only really need one Amiga to run all games, as long as you get one with appropriate specs. Patches will often be needed when moving anywhere from an A500, but it won't turn into emulation, the games will still be running genuinely on the hardware
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Old 21 October 2014, 22:18   #48
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Problem with the 600 is the terrible build quality to be honest. You'll never know why that keyboard membrane had to die at that exact moment. Also look at that mangled keyboard, just look at it.
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Old 22 October 2014, 13:54   #49
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Problem with the 600 is the terrible build quality to be honest. You'll never know why that keyboard membrane had to die at that exact moment. Also look at that mangled keyboard, just look at it.
Never had I experienced any keyboard membrane issues. You just need to remember about unplugging the keyboard properly each time you tinker inside computer. Do not use brute force! The only weakpoint I can point out is hinges of the case.
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Old 22 October 2014, 14:50   #50
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Never seen an issue with any of my 600's keyboards either. Seems to me like they (the green A600 membranes) are the same build quality as 1200 keyboards. I like the small 600 keyboard as I rarely use the numeric keyboard anyway.

The hinges are often broken in 600's but I think if you are aware of it when you open the machine, they should not break. None of my 600s have any broken hinges although they have been opened many times.
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Old 23 October 2014, 20:25   #51
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Regarding A600 keyboard membrane build quality.

My opinion is that they are pretty terrible and fail easily. I've had two A600 membranes die on me in the space of a year, both blue ones. I'm not heavy handed with them or anything. Keys just starting failing and once one goes others follow. Cleaning the membrane or connector does not help.

Agree on the A600 case hinges being pretty weak. I'm sure there are many second hand ones with snapped hinges.

It's best to avoid the A600, for a few pounds more you can have the AGA chipset, a Numpad and 2mb chip ram. They are cute machines, but limited in their usefulness.
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Old 24 October 2014, 09:56   #52
Lobotomika
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Never had I experienced any keyboard membrane issues. You just need to remember about unplugging the keyboard properly each time you tinker inside computer. Do not use brute force! The only weakpoint I can point out is hinges of the case.
Might be because I've always owned (at least) second hand A600s and the previous owners were un/plugging the keyboard with brute force but then again none of the 1200s I own have this problem and some other amiga user I know was so annoyed with this problem that he removed that membrane and directly soldered an IDE cable between the board and the keyboard then covered the contacts with silicone and duct tape. It looked terrible but it worked perfectly. Actually I have it now, it probably works fine.

Also I agree about the hinge problem. Never owned an A600 with its hinges intact. It's harder than finding a commodore 1080 monitor with an intact lid.
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Old 24 October 2014, 18:56   #53
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Yeah, obviously in retrospect "someone got a bright idea" and it was a bad and unusual decision, especially for a computer. Absolutely nothing wrong with doing it with screws like for the front...
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Old 10 November 2014, 17:47   #54
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SNIP

I would also go for the 1200 + Whdload + CF card way. Okay it's not as purist as I would like but it's a decent compromise for convenience.
Indeed , that's what I've done , works fine !
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