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Upgrading from ST to Falcon - what's the experience today?

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For those who either have an Atari Falcon or are knowledgeable, what is using one today like compared to an ST or Mega STE?


I'm asking in the context of a casual classic computer user.   For example, going from a regular ST to a Mega STE:


- The 16 mhz upgrade is nice to make some 3D games run better, and TOS/GEM is even snappier

- The blitter chip makes TOS snappier, and enables better scrolling on some games

- TOS 2.04 has more features than 1.x

- You gain some the ability to run some STE-only games, and better sound/performance for some STE-enhanced games

- access to the STE specific demoscene

- You get a slightly better serial port, or at least a serial port stable at higher speeds thanks to 16 MHz (= fun for modem emulation, or copying files to/from the MegaSTE)

- Better compile times if you're writing software for the ST, or faster interpretative langauges

- 1.44 MB floppy support


Getting a Falcon I imagine:


- Less compatible on ST applications (noticeable)

- More RAM better for bigger RAM drives, etc

- Ability to run more modern OSes

- Access to additional software that requires a Falcon (can you run TT specific stuff?) (not that the library is huge)

- Growing Falcon demo scene

- Even faster on 3D software (i.e. Frontier:Elite 2)

- Higher resolutions in color make the desktop much more usable

- Desktop runs faster


I'd like to play around with a Falcon some day to learn the machine a little more... 


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As Mega STE is mentioned, I would compare some things of it with Falcon:

Falcon is actually not much faster than Mega STE. Both have 16 MHz CPU and 16-bit data bus. Surely, 68030 performs some instructions faster, but it's cache is smaller than Mega STE cache. In some cases Falcon might be even little slower - depends from code.

The real benefits of Falcon are more RAM possible without special upgrades, more graphic modes, colors and something not mentioned: DSP .

Today, with fast mass storage RAM drive (RAMdisk) is not interesting, I guess.

Falcon can run Mint better than ST, indeed, but is still slow for real pleasant usage.

And maybe worst thing: if you set so called true color mode (65K colors) it will become slower significantly, so Desktop will not run faster.

The bottleneck is RAM speed. When Falcon was designed RAM was still slow and expensive.


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I agree that without DSP Falcon is not that much faster. But DSP chip really makes the difference here. It makes Falcon to perform many things Mega STe would never able to do (16bit multichannel sound, texture mapping, hicolor imageprocessing if you're not in a hurry, amazing demos compared to ST and a few nice games).


The soundsystem in Falcon armed with ACE tracker for example, is a piece of art compared to other machines at the time. If you set desktop to 256 colours it's still pretty snappy, and you can create larger screen resolutions than STe monochrome with software like blow-up. So it's good for document processing or DTP. Also let's not forget a possible FPU which speeds up some graphics apps, esp. rendering considerably. Mega STe also can have one, but the support is very limited. 


As an owner of both machines i would say that if you enjoy painting, doing tracker music, listen to MP3 files or watching some ancient video clips, or having other serious software which depends on having colour, Falcon is way to go.


If you want to play ST games with Ultra Satan or similar hard disk solution, listen to the MOD files or go for MIDI sequencing, Mega STe is pretty much ST gamers dream, only missing an ability to use JagPad. 

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