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IIfx incomplete system - complete it or pass it on?

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I have a IIfx in my possession; I've had it long enough that I'm not sure exactly where it came from. I just took a peek inside to check for battery or capacitor leakage, and I saw no signs of either. (And yes, I pulled the batteries - ancient, ancient Tadirans, but still perfectly intact.)


Trouble is, it's not a complete system.

  • It has no RAM whatsoever, and 64-pin RAM is not the easiest thing to come by.
  • It has no video card. (Though it does have an Ethernet card in it...)
  • It has no hard drive or SCSI cabling, and I know that the IIfx's SCSI bus is even trickier than normal SCSI.

I guess the question I'm grappling with is: do I try to complete it into a working system, or do I pass it on to someone else and use the space for a more standard machine? I'd welcome any input.

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It is missing the black SCSI terminator and that can make external SCSI difficulty. This can be difficult to find.

As for the rest of it, it's up to you. Personally, I'd keep it and complete it, but then I am very positively disposed to the end-of-the-Eighties King-of-the-Hill.


With 8MB it will already be maxxed out for its original spec. If you want to run a fast System 6 machine, then 8MB is perfect.

32MB is not unattainable for a reasonable price (say, $50). With 32MB, you can stick Mac OS 8.1 on to it, run RAM-Disks and so on. I wouldn't go any higher than 32MB. Prices for 8MB and 16MB pairs gets very pricey very quickly.


An accelerated NuBus graphics card, preferably one than can support 1024x768 and 256 colours is nice and, again, shouldn't cost more than $50, if you look around and watch eBay and Craigslist diligently. Indeed, some good member may even help you along.


Next, I would recommend a U320 drive (you may have to look around for one that supports 8-bit SCSI - again there is experience here), a 50-pin SCSI to 80-pin SCSI adaptor *that allows termination* and finally an internal SCSI cable. Then end of each physical SCSI bus is required to be terminated.


The HD isn't really necessary if you get lots of RAM. Use your floppy drives and create a RAM- Disk. RAM-Disks are very fast but volatile. You will have to save what needs saving over the network or on floppy then.


If you're lucky, $150 will get you a nice IIfx up and running. Finding a good home for it is also laudable.


On a final note, I can't promise anything, but I may have spare IIfx RAM and a spare graphics card (but not accelerated), I'd have to go look.

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Had similar problems with SCSI on my iifx, but an SCSI2SD seems to work fine (better termination) and now I can connect ext SCSI devices or not without any issues and she's fast, even without an accelerated video card.


Btw any recommendations for an accelerated video card that are regularly available or are they very rare?

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Only the early systems needed the black terminator. The IIfx case, board, and power supply are the hardest to find. I have extra RAM, video cards, HD, and probably floppy drives for IIfx units (I have 2 complete and an empty case).


It all depends on how much time and money you want to spend tracking down parts to finish the unit and hope what you have actually works. Trading it for another system is a good option as well.

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I have the SuperMac Thunder/24 too in my IIfx and it's a nice card.

As an aside, I had to get my IIfx motherboard recapped because I lost the use of the internal SCSI.

As for NuBus cards, any card really that supports 1024x768 up to at least 256 colours is fine.

There are more desirable cards like the Radius Thunder series, RasterOps Horizon/32, Radius LeMans but these are probably better appreciated in a Quadra 840Av or PM8100.

The Quickdraw acceleration is nice to have but only really necessary for PhotoShop et al. and who uses a IIfx for Photoshop anymore?

Most games will be at 640x480 and 16 or 256 colours anyway.

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I think the consensus is to complete it. It's not too hard to get the ram, there is some on eBay now (I myself have 4x 1mb I'm not using), there are numerous nubus video card options on eBay you can grab, and you can through a SCSI2SD in there.


Now yes, you will need that special black terminator if you want to use a CD-ROM, but floppy is fine for basic installs.


If it has good bones keep it

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  • 4 weeks later...

RAM primarily, as far as I know. And perceived coolness.

The Radius Thunder IV cards (and the Thunder/24 card) have between 2MB and 8MB RAM.

All allow for 1600x1200 screen display with varying support for between 8-bit and 24-bit colour.

They may even faster at screen redraws, but I have no direct experience with them (except both Thunder/24s which seem pretty much the same)

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Yes, the end of the Nubus era saw three or four primary video card companies, E-Machines, SuperMac, Radius and Raster Ops consolidate into two. Raster Ops continued to do its thing so it leaves our story at this point.


First SuperMac purchased E-Machines. This generated some fantastic deals on the last E-Machines cards, the Futura II(SX, LX and MX), as old stock was liquidated. What was once a $500 card became a $200 card. Then, some time later, Radius bought SuperMac. I didn't notice any great deals from this but I wasn't really looking at the time as SuperMac's cards tended to be high end professional, rather than high end consumer, and I was definitely in the consumer camp.


Finally, Radius (mostly) ceased operations. This opened a brief window during which great deals were available on their old stock, until they sold the old stock and responsibility for support and warranty service to Radius Vintage, at which point prices went through the roof.


Radius Vintage was based in Waco, TX as is macmetex, so I suspect he ended up with their old stock ultimately, but I'm not certain and have no idea how it (may have) finally came to rest with him.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Were there any NuBus video cards that supported multisync monitors and/or didn't require sync-on-green?


Yes, MultiSync would be the ticket as most, if not all NuBus VidCards will work with one. It's the other way around, it would be fixed sync monitors that prove problematic. That's why old school Mac video output won't work with a large majority of modern LCDs. They're mostly limited to just 60Hz VGA input and traditional Mac resolutions were mostly above that mark so they'd be "flicker free," which was a concern back in the day for one reason or other.


My personal favorite is the Radius PrecisionColor Pro 24AC. Here's a link to the rebadged Apple version: Macintosh Display Card 24AC (OEM'd by Radius) and you can follow the links there to lowendmac's NuBus Video Card Tech Specs, everymac has the same kind of data with a few less errors. Neither site comes close to having data on all NuBus VidCards.



*** A good MultiSync CRT should be part of any serious Mac collector's kit, it gives the genuine experience and multiple resolutions are native by definition. MultiSync LCDs work well, but multiple resolution interpolations of their native resolution can leave something to be desired..

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They're mostly limited to just 60Hz VGA input and traditional Mac resolutions were mostly above that mark so they'd be "flicker free," which was a concern back in the day for one reason or other.



Not to derail the thread but the way I remember it was this... because of the way CRTs work (scanning each line left to right, top to bottom) a refresh rate of 60 Hz, which is not necessarily terrible for smoothness, the subtle changes in brightness from the electron beam caused a not too noticeable flicker leading to eye strain and headaches etc. Lower the refresh rate and it becomes more noticable. Higher refresh rates are less noticeable.


The problem usually comes (in my experience) from working on a 60 Hz refresh CRT for long periods of time because most offices were lit by inexpensive fluorescent lighting which also flickers at 60 Hz (in countries where the electricity also cycles at 60 Hz.) This can aggravate the eyestrain and headaches some people experience and is mitigated somewhat by higher refresh rates. An 85 Hz refresh rate was nice (to me, anyway).


IIRC most mac monitors used 67 Hz or higher.


So why are LCD panels for computers at 60 Hz usually? Well, LCDs work much differently than CRTs. They don't flicker due to scan lines. A pixel usually stays at it's color and brightness value as long as it's refreshed quickly enough and 60 Hz is plenty quick enough.



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  • 1 month later...

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