Review: CT60 First Impressions

I've had my CT60 accelerator for my Falcon for a few weeks now and I believe I am only scratching the surface at what I can now do with my Falcon. Thus I feel that only now am I truly able to write just a first impressions review of the CT60 both in terms of hardware design and speed.

Installation: My Falcon has been in a tower case for approximately 1 and a half years. Believe it or not the tower casing job was done in preparation for the CT60. However in order to do such a thing before it came I had to butcher the ATX power supply as well as case LED's and switches. I simply got all these back to "factory" settings and plugged everything in. Sure enough the CT60 has all the leads and switch settings designed to hook up to modern hardware and LED's in a typical ATX case. The guide recommends all sorts of extreme care be taken, and normally I wouldn't so strictly follow such care guidelines but in this case I decided to. Carefully I installed my CT60 and checked my wiring twice (rewired the ATX case stuff back to factory), installed my stick of SD-RAM, and powered it on. Sure enough I get a gorgeous splash screen and whala, my Falcon is now accelerated. But honestly, for someone who tinkers with computers at all, the CT60 could NOT be easier to install. I think Atari ST-Ram and TT-RAM boards for the TT involve two screws, the Ct60 is next to nothing.

General Operation:
This is a tough one. When it comes to describing speed it's difficult. Because there are certain things that seem to matter to some people and other things that matter to others. While I may play the occaisional game or two, honestly if I want to play a good game of Quake, I'll press my scroll lock key and switch the KVM to my Linux box. As such the videos circulating that illustrate Quake operating at 15 frames per second and being completely playable may be cool, but don't really tell the average person much. All I can say is this. Get a 1GHz PC of some sort. A decent processor, Pentium 3 or Athlon. Install Linux on it and install aranym and then run easymint or some other MiNT distribution. The speed is comparable. Is this impressive? Heh. Yeah! Okay - before on my Falcon MiNT was intolerably slow. In an AES, be it XaAES, N.AES, etc it was just simply unbearable. Most times I would boot up into MiNT upon leaving the house that way I could access the Falcon from remote. I would run in MagiC because of the great speeds of the AES and other parts. Things are quite different now. Instead of playing mp2's I play mp3's. They only eat up 4% cpu time, this in MiNT with an AES. At the same time I'll IRC, browse the web in highwire, and have a large project compiling in the background with gcc. I'll still have over 200 megs of TT-RAM free, because that's just how Atari machines are.

Compatibility:
A quick overview of the CT60 software compatibility site illustrates some problems people have with caches on some applications. Quite simply, I don't see any of these problems. In addition with a 68060 FULL processor at 60MHz, overclocked to 66MHz, my processor runs at only 13 degrees Celsius - plenty of room for overclocking if timing issues were to be solved in the future.

Verdict:
The verdict is simple. If you have a fascination for Atari machines at all and have a Falcon. And you're willing to invest a good 2 hours or so for installation and $300 for the board and processor. This is a purchase you will not ever in your life regret. A fantastic piece of hardware by the remaining brilliant Atari hardware engineer, Rodolphe Czuba. I am truly impressed!

Related Link: Czuba-Tech.

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