LGR – Amiga 500 Computer System Review


[theme music] The year is 1985. Marty McFly has
returned from the future, Ronald Reagan is sworn
in for a second term, and Commodore is about to
release a new 16-bit computer right after Atari has done the same. And how it got to this point
is rather impressive. In the early 1980s, Commodore and
Atari were at each other’s throats. Both had spectacular 8-bit computers and
things were getting hairy at both companies. Through a series of rather spectacular events
that are best suited to a video of their own, Atari and Commodore developed 16-bit
successors to their earlier machines. While Atari released the ST, Commodore’s
entry to the war was the Amiga, a very capable system with
color graphics and great sound. But at about 1,600 US dollars, it was a bit expensive
for the average user, so a low-cost machine codenamed
“Rock Lobster” was in the works. Then at CES in January of 1987, the so-called home version
of the Amiga was announced, the Commodore Amiga 500, with the earlier machine retroactively
being labeled the Amiga 1000. At almost half the price, and
also being sold in retail stores, instead of just computer shops, the A500 quickly became one of the
iconic home computers of the time period. Let’s take a step back, though. The Amiga 1000 was the first machine and was a slim-line desktop computer
with a cool keyboard garage underneath. Like the recently released Macintosh,
it had a graphical user interface but it was in color with great
graphics and sound capabilities, as well as several coprocessors
which really made it quite efficient. It was way ahead of its time, and is considered by many as the first
multimedia, multitasking home computer. However, it was still somewhat high-priced and the very capable budget
Amigas were what ruled the day and are what this review will focus on. Namely, the Amiga 500 from 1987. This was the best-selling model
and is very similar to the 1000, except that it has a built-in
keyboard and Kickstart in ROM. There is also the short-lived 500 Plus, which included the enhanced chipset
and a new operating system, as well as the 600 and 1200 from 1992, with the former being basically a
cut-down 500 Plus with a PCMCIA port, and the latter being an advanced 32-bit home
machine with high backwards compatibility. There were tons more Amiga machines,
but they’re not in the scope of this review. I got my Amiga 500 for the cost of shipping, as it was generously
donated by Borin81. Thank you again.
I seriously appreciate it. This is actually my second Amiga,
but my first one I sold a couple years back since it was an American NTSC machine. The vast majority of the games
that I want come from Europe and are made to work
with PAL machines. This one’s from Sweden,
so it fits the bill nicely, and it even has those nifty Swedish
characters on the keyboard that the kids are so into these
days and are completely metal. The Amiga 500 originally came with 512K of RAM,
but this one’s been upgraded to 1MB, which is a really common upgrade
and is really a necessity, in my opinion. You can expect to pay between
$50-80 for a complete system, depending on what it comes
with and where you buy it. Most of the specs are the
same as the original 1000, a 16-bit Motorola 68K CPU
running at 7.09MHz, an 880KB floppy drive, and the original chipset, or OCS, with an 8-bit four-channel
stereo sound chip and six bits per pixel graphics, at up to
640 x 512 resolution without overscan. For 1985, and even 1987,
those specs are freaking crazy, especially in comparison to
the crappy PCs of the time. And at the lower price point,
it really made the system a no-brainer, even in competition with some
of the other machines from the day. Aesthetically, I find the
system very attractive. Although, mine really needs some
Retro Bright, especially on the keys, because in its original luster, it’s amazing. The keyboard itself isn’t too bad. It’s pretty typical of the time for home computers,
with just enough tactile support to be acceptable. I like that it has arrow keys,
but you’ll probably never use them, since most games use the
joystick ports in the back. There are your standard DB9
ports which will take anything from Atari-style
joysticks to Amiga mice. The mouse itself is pretty much “meh.” I’m not a big fan of the buttons,
but the shape is kind of comfortable and the precision is just fine. On the back, you also have
left and right RCA audio output, ports for a disk drive,
serial and parallel devices, a proprietary power supply port, RGB video output and monochrome
composite video output. There’s also a built-in floppy drive on the side which uses Amiga-formatted 3.5″ floppies only. You can attach and daisy chain
more drives if you want, even just one more helps
tons with disk swapping, but you can attach up to
three, if you’re crazy. On the left side, you have an expansion which can
be used for CPU, fast RAM and hard drive upgrades, and underneath is the trap door expansion, which is where the extra 512K
of slow RAM is installed and sometimes these come with a
battery-powered clock installed as well. There is no built-in PSU, so you
will need an external power brick similar to what the C64 uses. Since this one’s Swedish, it does
have a Euro plug and runs at 220 volts. I use a step-up power
converter for UK devices and one of these nifty universal
plug adapters. It works just fine. The power switch is actually on the brick
itself, which I find a bit inconvenient. Now, although there is a composite
output port on the rear, it only displays in monochrome. So if you want color, and you do, you’ll need an RGB monitor
like the Commodore 1084. But I don’t have one, or even
have access to a SCART display, so instead I use the A520 modulator,
which outputs to RF and color composite video. It works well but it’s honestly
a hassle to use. It’s just awkward. It looks like somebody stuck
a stick up the Amiga’s butt. And I also have a Sony KV-1311CR monitor,
which has a proprietary port for the Amiga, but I don’t have the cable for it.
It’s pretty hard to find. Once again, this machine
is a PAL computer, so if you’re in America, you’ll either need an NTSC
machine, which doesn’t run as many of the games, or you’ll need some kind of
setup for running PAL machines. The Amiga uses and operating
environment called Workbench, and in my case,
it uses version 1.3. Unlike the 1000, the 500
has Kickstart in ROM, so you just need the
Workbench disk to start the OS. Now you can call me weird,
but I really like AmigaOS and the blue, white and
orange color scheme is pleasing. It’s simple to use and has multitasking, with
calculator, notepad, printer options, the works. I mean, what more could you ask for in 1987? And the text-to-speech tool is always fun. [computer voice]
“Moogity boo doo.” For the most part, games themselves don’t require
booting of a Workbench disk before starting, so you’ll just need to pop in the game,
boot the machine and let it do its thing. There are hundreds, if not thousands,
of games for the Amiga computers, and the vast majority
will work on an A500, even games made well into the ’90s. While the machine did have
some success in America, it was nowhere near the amount that it enjoyed
in the UK, Germany and elsewhere in Europe. As such, most games will come from overseas, and be tucked away in these neat little non-conformist
boxes that were so commonly used there. I won’t even pretend to be able to cover the
massive breadth of games for the machines, so here are just a few of my favorites. Regarding the PAL A500 in America, the biggest downside is the fact that most
games were and are popular in Europe. This makes acquiring them a pain, and even then, there’s no guarantee
that it will work on an NTSC machine. This is exactly why I waited
for a PAL machine, and it’s great, but shipping everything is
always a pain in the friggin’ butt. You can always download the games,
and they’re super easy to find, but you’ll need a null
modem serial cable, blank Amiga floppies, a PC
and the software to use it, like Amiga Explorer. And although it works very well,
it’s very slow, and takes about three to four
minutes to write each disk. There are also plenty of other options for using
compact flash cards and other such devices, but mostly these are easier to use
in the later machines like the A1200, as the 500 doesn’t have
a built-in PCMCIA port. So with the 500, you are
rather limited in your options. And of course, there are lots of great
emulation packages for the Amiga, like the amazing WinUAE. I love it. It does a great job and using it
made me decide that I needed an Amiga. So, is the Amiga worth buying or not in today’s retro gaming market? Well, I have to say
it’s a resounding “yes,” at least if you get a PAL Amiga. Now, I have to reiterate one last time the bad experience that I had
with an NTSC Amiga 500. I had it for a few months. I tried about 20 or 30
games for the thing and maybe half of those worked. And of course, almost all
of them are from Europe because it just wasn’t as popular
here in America, or North America. I don’t know why. I guess it really did have to do
with the dominance of the PC, which is unfortunate
because the Amiga for its time is an amazing computer, and it’s still something that’s
completely awesome to use today. It’s just a lot of fun. There’s tons of games for it. It’s got great graphics,
it’s got great sound. You can use pretty much all of
your regular peripherals with it. And it’s easy to hack
if you want to. So… I– I really don’t see many downsides. Now, how is it in comparison to
something like the Atari ST? Well that’s… that’s a theological argument
that I’m not gonna get into. But the Amiga 500 or one
of its compatible variants? Yes. Get one.

100 comments

  • You should definitely shoot an updated video focused on the 1200 🙂

  • ah fuck, this is old…

  • I was 5 in 1987 and i can still remember getting one of these, seeing that O/S again gave me flashbacks, LOL. I can still remember playing "Stunt Car" every day after school. I thought it was the best game ever.

  • Nice Boards Of Canada T-shirt

  • Just got 1 for 20$

  • Miss my Amiga 500 plus, loved playing the Simpson’s and more, remember zool lol

  • I had a Commodore 64 back in the 80's, and thanks to the ego of my arrogant asshole of a stepfather at the time, there was no way I could have gotten my hands on an Amiga.

    Don't get me wrong: the C-64 was glorious, and I was happy with it. But the A500 just seemed so much more "grown up". It was on par with 386s and Macs that wouldn't even come out for at least five years yet. I'd get an Amiga 500 today if I had any place to put it 😀

  • ahhh, the nostalgia. This was the first ever computer/console I ever had.

  • I'm sure someone has mentioned this, but newer Amiga 500s and later models let you switch between PAL and NTSC in software. With newer Kickstart ROMs, you can hold down both mouse buttons at boot time to get to a handy boot menu that includes a PAL/NTSC switch option. Otherwise, there's a freeware app called Degrader that lets you reboot into PAL (or NTSC) mode, and additionally to disable cache memory and other features of the newer models that caused compatibility problems with poorly-written games, so you can boot to Workbench (or a command prompt) to run Degrader and then reboot into the game.

    There are also patch tools like WHDLoad and JST which let you copy original games from floppy to hard drive, and run them from the Workbench with whatever slowdown or PAL options may be needed. I'll stop here because I could do my own YouTube video about all of this stuff (and probably will). Very interesting to see a PC gamer's take on my favorite machine from that era. I think you got the strengths and weaknesses absolutely right.

  • STUNT CAR RACER!

  • In norway it costs anything between 100$ – 400$.

  • Marcin Plays Games

    This was my first computer, my dad got it used form someone and it had 300 FLOPPY DISCS SO AROUND 150 GAMES INCLUDED. Needless to say I was in heaven. I was 10 years old.

  • i remember a time when I was sittin alone playing my "AMIGA"

  • Just repurchased a boxed great condition batman pack in the UK. I paid rrp…..the original rrp.

  • LOL this was posted in 2010, but it looks like it was filmed in 1985.

  • Still have my A500 with an internal hard drive I had installed where the floppy was. Still have my C128D as well (mostly used in C64 mode) and it all works. Fun times indeed.

  • Which is more powerful an Amigia or an Atari Falcon (based on their fastest models). Thanks.

  • @7:56 The scrapey music in Lemmings there is an emulation artefact — It doesn't sound like that on a real Amiga.

  • I had the amega 500+ and it was the best thing I owned as teenager the stuff it could do was amazing at the time

  • Amiga was great for video editing. Never played a game on it.

  • background song sounds extremely familiar — its that forza?

  • i just came from atari st boren1 is all over the place

  • If you live in a PAL region to begin with, it's really a no-brainer, isn't it?

  • this needs a LGR revisited thing, as it's a bit dated for such as great machine…. and cant fault your content thou

  • Garfield Vikernes

    >50-80$
    Ahahaha..

  • Great review!!! Aquired an old A500 recently. My first Amiga was the A1000 – that was the actual name; it was not retroactively named the Amiga 1000 as stated here after the Amiga 500 came out.

  • 8:00 Lemmings = absolute classic game. I wonder if the Amiga was more popular in Europe because games consoles were not that popular here before the Playstation. How many kids told their parents they needed a computer to help with their homework 🙂 Try that argument with a Megadrive

  • nice vid

  • I wanted one since ever and stil looking for A500

  • You showed a few classic games for Amiga but no Alien Breed or Cannon Fodder….

  • It wasn't a rock. It was a Rock Lobster

  • I enjoy these older videos, Clint. It's awesome to see how far you've come and the video quality. On a side note, I never ever seen a reason to subscribe to a channel on YouTube until I discovered LGR a few years ago. My son and I make an effort to start our Sunday mornings watching your channel. Keep up the great work and look forward to seeing more LGR. P.s. the Nick camera thing you just released is pretty awesome hahaha

  • subliminalvibes

    Heck yeah. 👍😎
    I'm 41 this year and the Amiga 500 was my jam from 1990-96. This video was awesome, thanks!

  • I know this is really late, but I just saw this video. There is a VERY easy way to switch an Amiga 500 from NTSC to PAL. There is a jumper next to the Agnes chip that either needs to be connected for one mode and open for the other. I can't remember the exact spot (it's been 25+ years since I did the conversion), but it should be easy to find. You can add a switch to the case attached to that jumper and all you have to do is switch that and restart to switch modes.

  • José Ignacio Silva

    This video looks like if it was made in 1981

  • While ECS is most common chipset of amigas and it has the most games support, I prefer the most grpahics and capability-rich AGA-chipset. Games for it looks and sounds so freaking cool even today. Amiga CD32 was even better but it have a compatibility issues with some games that not specially made for CD32.

  • thepirategamerboy12

    Honestly, I think it's a pretty extreme exaggeration when some say that an NTSC A500 will only play 50% of the games or whatever. The majority of games I've played on my NTSC A500 have worked perfectly fine.

  • The price is a lot more now in 2019

  • still a cool video, I remember another world on Macintosh… bring back memories

  • The specs seem comparable to that of a Genesis. It's a shame game space is so limited on floppys. Had CD's of been possible to implement it might have been able to compete with Saturn/PSX games.

  • At the time, Commodore AND Atari were making cheaper and more powerful computers than Apple or Wintel makers.

  • The Wii emulates this machine perfectly, complete with floppy sounds on UAEWii. I'm impressed. Been playing battletech, runs much better and looks far nicer than it did on DOS.

  • Amiga had the "video toaster" which digitized video and could edit photos .it was super awesome for its time

  • I had a 500 and spent like $500 more on the 1mb of RAM.

  • "expect to pay 50-80 dollars for a complete example" -2010
    Cut to 2019
    "Expect to pay anywhere from 200-700 dollars for an Amiga 500 or for that matter any old computer nowadays"

  • I have 3 amigas. 1 a600 and 2 a500. Are still great computers.

  • Your swedish model says made in germany, my german model says made in china… hmmmm
    edit: sure yours isnt a german model?

  • Amiga was king back in the uk before the genesis dropped.

  • Claudia Calienes

    Can this run the original Doom?

  • Roger Gustafsson

    Oh the memories. Again. Still have mine and tons of games. Swedish.

  • Oh man good times. games. demo disks. hacking Agnes. massive BBS arguments about amiga vs PC. I was briefly an Amiga Tech for a shop and still have my very hacked up 2000 with video toaster and 1084S monitor hidden away in my storage

  • Instant Spokesperson

    $50-80?!?!? WHERE!?? I'll take 10 of them 🙂

  • i have no idea what model it is… but theres an amiga buried in a friends landlords shed thats got my name on it. better drag it out soon.

    gotta love the manual! like a damn phone book! hyuuuuuge!

  • Mine works fine and he is complete with his monitor

  • A lot of people not of the time don't understand how 'game changing these computers were.

  • All these years I've always wondered which Amiga model did my father buy for our home use. Now I know…

  • Oh from Sweden, I'm created there too but lets not go into that stuff. I wish I didn't sell my Amiga 500 but I will def bring it back some day I mean, I still have my Commodore 64 intact since 1982 and still works, have a special place in my retro room 🙂

  • Amiga amiga amiga amiga amiga

  • The special effects graphics in Robocop (1987) was done on an Amiga system. It looked good then and has held up to today's standards.

  • Ha! 8 years later & it finally pops up in my recommended list!

  • Who's watching in 2019 ?

  • I still have my 500 that I got in high school. @90-91 ish I pull it out every few years and play with it a bit before it goes back in to its original box.

  • Boards of Canada t-shirt 5/7.

  • That sounds like a lot of fun

  • The Atari ST and Amiga excelled at different things. The Atari ruled in music software because of the built-in MIDI, and was popular in publishing because the monochrome display was cheap and incredibly sharp. The Amiga had much better games and built-in sound, and ruled for graphic work and video development. Amigas were used on TV and film effects well into the 1990's, replacing Silicon Graphics workstations that cost ten times as much. But for home users, they cost a bit more than the ST.
    If you're a gamer, I'd go for the Amiga, and PCs and Macs are better now for Music work. But both are interesting systems and were much better value for money than contemporary Macs. And even more competent in some respects.

  • nice neo-paganism reference

  • This was posted in 2010. Why does it look like it was filmed in the '80s on VHS?

  • Svein Arne Nesøy

    The Demo scene alone is a reason to have one.

  • RobinOfLocksley102

    1a Computer mit AGA Chipsatz, der kein Strobbingeffekt hatte, im Gegensatz zum PC und den hat er noch heute.

    Übrigens ist das Symbol hier das Symbol von Commodore und nicht von Amiga.

    Übrigens war der C 64 der erste Internet fähige Computer und man beachte, dass es den schon vor den Zeiten des Internet für alle gab.

    Ich habe selbst an diesem Systemen programmiert und sie auch von innen auseinander und neu zusammen gebaut, inklusive dem Löten auf der Platine und dem Wechseln ist ergänzen von Bausteinen.

    Der Amiga wurde damals auch viel für Grafik, Musik und Film eingesetzt. Babylon 5 wurde mit dem Amiga 4000 im Verbund und einem PC als Steuerrechner gerendert.

    Wäre schön wenn ein zeitgemäßer Amiga zum guten Preis das Licht der Welt wieder sehen würde.

  • @9:53 Well with the introduction of the Vampire 500 card options for the A500 just got a whole a lot bigger (IDE,SD card, RTG GFX,128 MB RAM, [email protected] and the possibility to network it trough SD net)

  • DELUX PAINT.. 📺..+..COMPUTER…🎮..
    🎧…💾..AMIGA 500..SUPER..1990..👍👍..CREATION …GRAPHISMES..👏

  • Nice boards of canada shirt….you should check out Proem.

  • I like using old comouters as telnet terminals for UNIX machines.
    Does a Amiga have a good terminal program?

  • Agony was incredible shoot'em all ! Beautiful.

  • Fun fact, Sonic 1 was planned for the Amiga

  • Charlotte Dashwood

    Oh my gosh. LGR is so young in this. Aww Cute.

  • AMIGAs are a lot more expensive now

  • I always hated the look of Amiga games

  • So many great memories playing games on the Amiga.

  • NTSC amiga works very well with pal as long as you have a fatter agnus chip and on the motherboard you have to put a switch on the jumper next to the agnus chip or find a ntsc to pal switch disk. That’s what I used back in the day. Most of my games came from the UK and I had no problems running them like I said as long as you bought the fatter agnus chip and put a switch on jumper next to the agnus and also I had a cool disk which would install pal boot in the boot sector of the floppy which when I inserted the disk it automatically booted into pal.

  • Can someone send me a free Amiga 1200 😊pretty please!

  • Legendary computer!

  • The Amiga could also support analogue joysticks. Handy for a flight sim although amiga analogue joysticks were very expensive. You could buy an adapter to use PC analogue joysticks but they had a lower sensitivity.

  • A kid was happily playing games on his A1200. What a great machine. Wing Commander and all kinds of shooters and platformers with great graphics and sound. But then he saw his friend playing Wolfenstein 3D on his 386 PC and there wasn't anything like that for Amiga. Suddenly Amiga wasn't enough for this kid and he wanted PC too. So he sold his Amiga to get money for PC. Stupid kid. But maybe he wasn't alone and Wolf3d, Doom etc. were partially reason why Amiga was traded for PC in many homes.

  • If you have an NTSC Amiga 500 you can get something called an "indivision ECS" it'll give you a VGA output and play the games in pal, but convert the output before it hits your computer monitor. Looks great. Works great.

  • I just bought a cheap like new been in the attic 30 yrs A500, 60 uk pounds but do not be fooled, I`m over 200 pounds down now after uprades, extra 2mb memory gotek drive with oled encoder and cables, usb 128gb, hd video adaptor comp pro joystick but I`m happy 🙂

  • Nice old review of a great computer. Really popular here in Finland!

  • When I was a little boy we had an Amiga 500.
    We used it almost every day, and we had like 100 games.
    But then slowly it started to malfunction, and then in 1998 [I think], it stopped working.
    We tried everything to make it work again, but it was all dead. But we had it for about 8 years, which I think is great. I can still remember the smell it had – sort of a warm old plastic smell. Different, but definitely not a bad smell – and I still miss having one.
    If I ever find one at a reasonable price, I'll get one.
    So many great memories. 😊

  • Some of the graphics were better than some of the crap on Steam these days!

  • Fortunately after almost a decade since this video is made there are much more options for easy loading of games! 🙂
    The most easy way ,is to use a usb floppy drive emualtor ( https://www.ebay.ie/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2047675.m570.l1313.TR6.TRC1.A0.H0.Xusb+floppy+drive+emulator.TRS0&_nkw=usb+floppy+drive+emulator&_sacat=0 )flashed with free open source firmware, Flash floppy: https://github.com/keirf/FlashFloppy/wiki/Initial-Setup
    Then there is adtwin: http://m1web.de/ADTWin/
    It's a method of connecting a disk drive through parallel port and transfer an adf image to disk in ~40 seconds(!!), although it has some drawbacks and compatibility issues.
    There is also a much faster (and easier) way to directly transfer adf images to floppy disks from the PC using parallel port instead of serial (btw using amiga explorer and a serial cable, you will need ~8 minutes ,and not 4 mentioned, for each adf transfer! And that's if you only be able to achieve the "Amazing" speed of 19200bps, which is not always possible…. ):
    https://www.ebay.ie/itm/272363110828?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1558.l2649
    This is actually a method i developed ~2012 ,it utilizes a pre existed old DOS utility , can be used with windows xp/7/8/10, and can transfer an adf image in ~1.5minutes!

  • Now we see why the Genesis was so special

  • You're soooo young here!

  • 2019 pricing in Netherlands about 125 euro for a recapped A500.

  • Ray The Video Guy - Video Marketing For All

    The NTSC version will play almost all of the PAL games

  • An os with windows and graphic interface in the 80's? And a mouse?! My gaming from that age was so primitive in comparison.

  • Commodore had a really crappy marketing team. The C64 here in the US out sold Apple in the consumer market mostly by price, abundance of software piracy and word-of-mouth. They didn't improve their marketing much at all when the Amiga line of computers hit the market. Everyone I knew wanted an Amiga but just stuck wither their C64. I got an Amiga 500 and ended up with allot of games for it, but there were only two others that I knew of back in 1990 that had one.

  • Commodore in the US had a very clumsy marketing campaign, so the Japanese games consoles filled the gap. They tried to position the Amiga as a serious computer, no big retailer presence, retained a competing old Commodore line of budget home computers and were obsessed with becoming a major PC vendor (hence the lack of Amiga R&D), while Commodore UK pushed it as a game machine with exiciting games bundles and a wide high street presence. The Amiga eco system was a huge hit in the US TV industry for titling and special effects though but that required the more expensive "big box" models and 3rd party add-ons like the Video Toaster.
    Watch and weep: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhTNR6XZJd0

  • That song for agony is probably the most painful sound from a game I've heard in a long time

  • Nowadays, you can use a hotel drive in the Amiga or St to move time too them and play them on legit hardware

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