The aim of this guide is to settle if Amiga is a computer or a console. As you can see in this guide the big-box Amiga computers had graphics cards for a long time. However, low-end Amigas also have several options for making that possible. Amiga computers aren’t limited by their custom chipset at all. It never was!
In this guide, I want to focus on giving you the correct information about the various Amiga models that both Commodore and ESCOM made. So this one is not for the nextgen systems such as AmigaOS 4, MorphOS, and AROS.
It is important to know that graphics cards been part of Amiga home computers since 1990. It was that time when graphics cards started to have functions that the custom chipsets of Amiga didn’t have. They all add improvements to the AmigaOS feel. To run AmigaOS in 24bit screen modes such as 800×600, 1024×767, 1280×720 or even 1920×1080 is fully possible today since the early days with RTG card systems such as Cybergraphics and Picasso96. The Amiga market got PCI expansion possibilities.
Today I would recommend getting a Zorro 3, PCI, or a CPU graphics card such as the Vampire 68080 which is more than just that. But your Vampirized Amigas can show RTG screens up to 1280×720 at the moment. Soon also Warp project will release their Warp1260 for Amiga 1200 and more. Amitopia Amiga Magazine will keep you informed.
What sort of Graphics Card Upgrades do the various Amiga models support?
|AMIGA||CPU socket||CPU slot||Zorro II||Zorro III||Zorro IV||PCI|
The reason why I put a checkmark on the CPU slot for Amiga 2000 in this list is that there are CPU riser cards that allow you to connect the Vampire 68080 accelerator with HDMI out onto it or you can use the CPU socket. There are also extra cards that do these things easier too. When it comes to Zorro IV both Micronik and Elbox made solutions for it. Amiga 1300 from Micronik got them as standard but Amiga 1200 needs to upgrade to use them.
The Zorro IV upgrades for Amiga 1200 allows users of that Amiga to use Zorro graphics cards. But that is an expensive way to go. My tip is to go for PCI. Either way, you need to transform your Amiga 1200 to a Tower machine as there simply no room inside the tiny Amiga 1200 case. But now with Vampire V1200 for Amiga 1200 and soon Warp1260 you get fantastic HDMI screenmodes out too. Those are much cheaper ways of getting fantastic 24bit AmigaOS screenmodes. AmigaOS looks amazing in 24bit. Everything feels modern and the OS looks really neat. You will have a nice feeling of your Amiga and at the same time, you can use other monitors for playing or using software that requires a regular PAL or NTSC monitor.
For the low-end Amiga 500, there are also Zorro II possibilities. To use the new ZZ9000 RTG card with Amiga 500, you need a Zorro II adapter like Rob Cranley’s Z-500 or the Checkmate 1500 Zorro adapter.
What sort of Graphics Cards does exists and works on Amiga since the dawn of time?
|1990||X-Pert Computer Services||Visiona||Germany||4MB||Zorro III|
|1992||Ameristar Technologies||1600GX||USA||2MB||Zorro III|
|1992||GVP||EGS 110/24||USA||8MB||Zorro III|
|1992||Digital Micronics||Vivid 24||USA||16MB||Zorro III|
|1992||X-Pert Computer Services||Domino||Germany||1MB||Zorro III|
|1993||X-Pert Computer Services||Merlin||Germany||4MB||Zorro III|
|1993||Village Tronic||Picasso II||Germany||2MB||Zorro III|
|1993||GVP||EGS 28/24 Spectrum||USA||2MB||Zorro III|
|1993||Ingenieurbüro Helfrich||Piccolo||Germany||2MB||Zorro III|
|1994||MacroSystem||Retina BLT Z3||Germany||4MB||Zorro III|
|1994||Ingenieurbüro Helfrich||Rainbow III||Germany||4MB||Zorro III|
|1995||Ingenieurbüro Helfrich||Piccolo SD64||Germany||4MB||Zorro III|
|1995||Phase 5||Cybervision 64||Germany||4MB||Zorro III|
|1995||HP *||S3 Virge *||USA||8MB||PCI *|
|1996||Village Tronic||Picasso II+||Germany||2MB||Zorro III|
|1996||Village Tronic||Picasso IV||Germany||4MB||Zorro III|
|1996||Phase 5||Cybervision 64 3D||Germany||4MB||Zorro III|
|1997||Atéo Concepts||Pixel 64||France||3MB||AtéoBus ISA|
|1998||Phase 5||BlizzardVision PPC||Germany||8MB||PCI|
|1998||Phase 5||CyberVision PPC||Germany||8MB||PCI|
|1998||3DFX *||Voodoo Banshee *||USA||16MB||PCI *|
|1999||3DFX *||Voodoo 3||USA||16MB||PCI *|
|2000||3DFX||Voodoo 4||USA||32MB||PCI *|
|2014||Apollo Team *||Vampire V600 *||Germany||64MB *||CPU|
|2017||Apollo Team *||Vampire V500 V2+ *||Germany||CPU socket|
|2019||Apollo Team *||Vampire V1200 *||Germany||64MB *||CPU slot|
This list is not complete. It will be filled up when I get more info. The * in this list is there because PCI expansions for Amiga didn’t happen before 2000. There are no 3D drivers for Voodoo Banshee, but for Voodoo 3, Voodoo 4, etc it is. There is also support for ATI Radeon cards. This info will be added to this guide also. For all the graphics cards and 3D graphics cards that are supported today, then check out this list on Elbox website.
The Vampire V2 cards (which also includes V1200 for Amiga 1200) that are available for the Amigas got 128MB RAM onboard. You can set the VRAM in Picasso96 settings. I recommend it to be set to 64MB then rest goes to the other Fast Mem. If you don’t use the RTG mode you have 128MB RAM. Also, these cards are more than just graphics cards. But they do add 24bit HDMI out which is neat.
ZZ9000 for Amiga’s with Zorro
When you thought that a new Zorro graphics card would never become a reality. A genius from Germany released ZZ9000 is the successor to the VA2000 Amiga graphics card. That one uses 4MB of Zorro II address space or 32MB of Zorro III for graphics memory, the most on any Amiga graphics card ever it seems. But the newest ZZ9000 one is based on the Xilinx ZYNQ XC7Z020 chip, it features not only a powerful 7-series FPGA but also 2 ARM Cortex-A9 cores and DDR3 memory.
- RTG: Up to 1920×1080 FHD screen resolution at 8bit 256-colors “Chunky”, 16bit or 32bit color depths. (1920×1080 at 16 bit, all other resolutions up to 32 bit).
- Enhanced VA2000CX Amiga native video passthrough functionality with AGA support (scandoubler with interlace flicker-fixer)
- Dual 666MHz ARM Cortex A9 coprocessors to offload computing tasks like JPEG, MP3 decoding and graphics acceleration
- 1GB DDR3 RAM
- Ethernet interface: Get your Amiga online
- The USB port supports USB mass storage devices. The driver allows you to access USB sticks from workbench
- SD Card interface (for firmware updates, not currently usable from AmigaOS)
- For Amiga 500, 2000, 3000 and 4000 (Zorro 2 and 3 compatible)
- Drivers, firmware, and schematics are open-sourced: https://source.mntmn.com/MNT
- Includes ZZ9000CX video slot capture card with cable
- Includes metal slot bracket
- Includes a minimal SDK with C examples for running ARM code from AmigaOS
AmigaOS applications such as IBrowse, Netsurf, MysticView, PPaint, TVPaint, Frogger (Video player), and games like ADoom, Abuse, ScummVM (play Full Throttle on your Amiga!) will all look much better with a graphics card. Amiga is computers and so both big-box and low-end have several options to chose from.