Amiga 1200 – ACA1233n accelerator board review

Amiga, Amiga1200, ACA1233n, commodore amiga, workbench, ACA 1233, ACA

After around one year having acquired back an Amiga 1200 on second hand market I have decided to buy also a memory + accelerator card to profit 100% of WHDLoad games and, in general, to have a better experience of the full machine usage.

My choice fallen on ACA1233n 40 Mhz, produced by Individual Computers, bought on AmigaKit website. Together with the ACA1233n I bought also an RTC module.

The box arrived 4 days after my purchase, and the package looked at first glance well done and professional (the same level as previous experience purchase on AmigaKit).

The board was well boxed and protected, the package was functional but at the same time professional and elegant. The RTC module was already connected to the board (the red part on the picture below). Package was completed by 2 A4 printed manuals: 1 for the ACA1233n and the other one for the RTC module.

My configuration is the following:

  • Amiga 1200 – motherboard REV: B
  • Kickstart 3.1
  • Compact Flash hard drive (4GB)
  • PCMCIA Compact Flash adapter

ACA1233n features:

  • Compatibility with Amiga 1200 and Amiga 500 (with ACA 500)
  • Full 68030 with MMU running at 40MHz
  • 127MB Fast Memory (32-bit) with burstmode support
  • 1MB reserved for MapROM feature
  • Dynamic clocking for power-saving
  • card enable/disable in software
  • memory available to onboard CPU if accelerator is switched off (not ACA 500)
  • faster clockport for RapidRoad gives 55% speed increase
  • new software compatibility settings
  • improved A1200 compatibility
  • PCMCIA compatible
  • Optional Real Time Clock module

ACA1233n manual clearly informs that the Amiga 1200 is an “old computer” and thus some specific attentions may be requested to install the board, especially in case of worn-out Amiga 1200 CPU module contacts. For the rest the installation is simple and normally does not need more than the access to Amiga 1200 trapdoor module expansion and a small pressure to have the board fitting the port.

Memory of the ACA1233n is auto-configuring. This means that all memory is available from a power-up without installing any software on the computer. The clockport of the ACA1233n can either take an RTC module, or the RapidRoad USB host controller. Operation of RapidRoad is 55% faster than with the internal clock port of the A1200 computer.

Here are some screen grab from sysInfo and the current Amiga1200 base configuration (GrabScreenDL was used to take these screenshots).

Disk Access (HD0 over compact flash, CF0 over PCMCIA compact adaptor, DF0)

I must admit I worked a bit for the installation of the board: the Amiga 1200 was in fact not booting at all. A dark screen and a small continuous click on the power supply was all my result at the beginning.

So I had to unscrew the full motherboard and try the solution the board manual proposes: clean A1200 motherboard contacts with a pencil eraser. I have finally solved to boot by not inserting completely the board.

Stability was not the best, and the system was useful only for a bit of testing: sometimes I had freezes on boot, sometimes some corruption on the screen graphics, sometimes else 8000 0003 software failures.

The motherboard required then the famous hardware fix: thanks to Tristan Zondag (meet on The Belgium Amiga Facebook group) my computer was finally fully working.

Finally I could experience the difference of a bare Amiga 1200 and a 030 40Mhz processor with Fast Ram: something not new for old amiga user but always a good sensation in the general usability of Workbench and games.

Everything not having first mapped original kickstart ROM in Fast Ram, as strongly recommended in ACA readMe files. The operation increases performances (especially workbench operations) thanks to the fact kickstart will be located on a much faster location in Fast Ram than the original amiga motherboard chip.

There is a command for this called ACAMapROM you can install with the other utilities shipped with board disk or downloadable from wiki page at:
http://wiki.icomp.de/wiki/ACA1233n (download section)

You have to add as first line in S:Startup-Sequence the following command:
C:ACAMapROM I >NIL:

I for internal Rom (other options are available should you need to load a custom kickstart file)

command may vary depends on where ACAMapROM file has been installed on your system

And here again some sysInfo results: overall speed changed radically.

Here’s are information about boards and memory:

As visible 512 kilobytes are reserved for slow memory, to increase compatibility on some games and old software (this option can be disabled)

Here is the speed of drives: cf0, df0, dh0 and dh2 (with a small difference despite is the same logic device).

As you may have understood the board is fully compatible with PCMCIA slot and any peripheral attached there. In the picture an example with Compact Flash reader perfectly working.

And finally some fun with AmigaOS and WHDLoad!!!

Configuration:
Amiga 1200 – Kickstart 3.1
ACA1233n 40Mhz – 128MB + Real Time Clock Module
4GB HD over CompactFlash Adaptor card
EasyADF PCMCIA Compact Flash Transfer Kit – 512Mb Compact Flash
Amiga Easy1541 Cable – for connecting a Commodore 1541, 1571 or 1581 disk drive to your Amiga’s parallel port

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