best atari 8-bit to buy

All discussions about the Atari 8bit range of machines.

Moderators: Mug UK, Silver Surfer, Moderator Team

Post Reply
Captain Atari
Captain Atari
Posts: 362
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 10:33 pm

best atari 8-bit to buy

Post by mlynn1974 »

With the price of old computers increasing at the moment I was wondering which Atari 8-bit would be the best to buy and how much I would expect to pay? On eBay prices are about £80-120 including a tape deck and cables.

I never had an Atari 8-bit but I always liked the look of the 130XE because it looked like a mini ST.
The games I would like include KickStart and 180 by Mastertronic which was always available in Littlewoods and maybe a manual to do some BASIC programming. An emulator is OK but sometimes it's nice to have the real hardware.
Still got, still working: Atari 4Mb STe, 520STFM, 2.5Mb STF.
Hardware: Cumana CSA 354, Ultimate Ripper, Blitz Turbo, Synchro Express II (US and UK Versions).
User avatar
Captain Atari
Captain Atari
Posts: 327
Joined: Wed Aug 21, 2013 8:44 am

Re: best atari 8-bit to buy

Post by AdamK »

There is no real diffrence, from the point of view of the user, between XL/XE models. The only change, is extra memory in 130XE, but I'd suggest You to upgrade your 8bit Atari with U1MB extension, which gives you 1MB of memory (current demoscene standard).

There is one caveat in XE models. Depending on date of production it may have or have not the Expansion slot. It is not that important, but some extensions require Expansion slot (but most of them don't, U1MB mentioned above goes inside the computer).
Atari: FireBee, Falcon030 + CT60e + SuperVidel + SvEthlana, TT, 520ST + 4MB ST RAM + 8MB TT RAM + CosmosEx + SC1435, 1040STFM + UltraSatan + SM124, 1040STE 4MB ST RAM + 8MB TT RAM + CosmosEx + NetUSBee + SM144 + SC1224, 65XE + U1MB + VBXE + SIDE2, Jaguar, Lynx II, 2 x Portfolio (HPC-006)

Adam Klobukowski []
Posts: 19
Joined: Mon Jul 07, 2014 3:56 pm

Re: best atari 8-bit to buy

Post by brenski »

here's some pros/cons of each model

800XL - the most common - almost ALL software will work on a 64k XL...some 1990s (and onwards) demos and games require more ram. almost ALL Taiwan 800XLs are soldered - which makes upgrading harder. 50% of Hong Kong 800XLs have socketed ram.

1200XL - the easiest to upgrade, but easier to buy in the USA than europe. most ICs are socketed which makes installing a 256k wizztronics clone, Ultimate 1mb or the newer Antonia 4mb upgrades much easier. almost all 1200XLs will need a clear pic, UAV or similar upgarde to make video reasonable.

65XE - an XL with ST styling - many do not have the ECI port - as mentioned by poster above.

130XE - again, an XL with ST styling, but with 128k ram.

800XE - eastern european crossover from XL to XE range - some (about 30%) of these have a buggy GTIA chip, but if you strike lucky you get a nice "XL" with freddie chip and ECI.

All of XE range are compatible with a 320/576XE ECI slot-in ram upgrade made by Ctriad.

Lastly, most of the software out there is available as XEX (program files) or ATR (disk images) - best way to work with these is either thru an emulator; Atari800win, Rainbow, Xformer, XL-It etc, or better still invest in a real Atari 1050 disk drive and an Atarimax SIO2PC-usb

have fun
Posts: 6
Joined: Sat Dec 23, 2017 4:56 am

Re: best atari 8-bit to buy

Post by Skarg »

If you get an Atari 800 (not XL nor XE), you get four joystick ports and so you can play 4-plays Asteroids ... :-)
And you won't ever need to use an Atari Translator disk to run older software.
Captain Atari
Captain Atari
Posts: 311
Joined: Sun May 15, 2016 3:44 pm

Re: best atari 8-bit to buy

Post by seastalker »

Yes, if you get the Lotharek ultimate 1 meg upgrade, it levels the playing field on all of them. THEN it is down to the desired functionality and look that you want.

The 400 is cool because it is the FIRST. You will want a UAV and audio mod by Bryan on the forums.
The 800 is cool because it is the FIRST but with a normal keyboard. You will want a UAV and (maybe if applicable) audio mod by Bryan on the forums.
The 600xl was my first and is the smallest footprint. It is virtually the same as the 800xl if you get the Lotharek memory upgrade.
The 800xl was my first upgrade when I was little. Again, whatever you get, the Lotharek memory upgrade is key.
Get any of the others if you like the look better. You may also want to just get the cheapest.
One other note is to consider a FPGA clone. The MIst, MIster and Firebee are all great options and you can play many other systems too.
Post Reply

Return to “The Atari 8bit corner”