FS-A1ST vs FS-A1GT vs MSX2+ (Advice Needed)

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By ren

Paragon (1183)

ren's picture

06-04-2018, 15:52

Do note that there's a(n always growing) number of game patches (thanks guys Wink) that allow games to profit from the R800 and/or the Panasonic MSX2+ turbo.

edit- oh, ToriHino basically said that already.. But you can expect the number to be growing, just recently (see news) sd_snatcher (who's done some nice patches already) released a patch for Valis II.

By Meits

Scribe (5239)

Meits's picture

06-04-2018, 16:43

The stick in the wheels of the Panasonic MSX2+ models' turbo mode is that the PSG's pitch will go up, while FM/SCC won't. There you have it, a reason to turn off the audio.

By dr.slump

Rookie (18)

dr.slump's picture

07-04-2018, 07:09

Thanks very much for all your answers, everyone! Really appreciate it.

I didn't realise that the TurboR used two different processors. So kinda like SMS and Megadrive.
So basically, it'll only run games any differently if they're designed to do so, and the same deal with MSX2+. I thought it was more like a PC.

I'll probably go with a FS-A1ST. I'm not planning on buying any software so a relatively high one-off price (still half that of the GT...) and lack of tape support doesn't bother me. The improvement patches sound really interesting too (thanks for clarifying that, ren - I initially thought ToriHino was referring to original releases that support but don't require TurboR)

A couple of things I'm still confused about...

Meits wrote:

The stick in the wheels of the Panasonic MSX2+ models' turbo mode is that the PSG's pitch will go up, while FM/SCC won't. There you have it, a reason to turn off the audio.

alexito wrote:

Hi, for me a Turbo R with GR8NET is the best combination specially because in Turbo Mode the Internal FM fail to run in sync with R800 CPU . I made my own hack installing a switch disabling the Internal FM Audio Chip (YM2413) because GR8NET set the clock for the integrated YM2413 Emulation at 3.5mhz and games using FM Music sound great at R800 Turbo Mode.

Presuming that you're talking about the same issue here - is this when forcing turbo mode, or with games designed for turbo mode? (Installing a switch is probably beyond my abilities, by the way.)

Also, alexito, are you recommending GR8NET instead of MFR, or in addition to it?
I presumed MFR was the best choice, so if there are better options I'm definitely open to suggestions.

alexito wrote:

if you get a Turbo R with broken FDD I recommend to install a HXC Floppy Emulator or Gotek with HXC Firmware and forget the not reliable floppy disk media and start using Virtual Images through SDCARD.

Wolverine_nl wrote:

Sofarun anyone? You can use it to run Disk images of games on a MFR-SCC-SD and it creates a userdisk image where it writes the savegames. Problem solved.

Any advantage to using a floppy emulator drive vs Sofarun? Is it just a case of setting it up once and then it's good to go?

alexito wrote:

3.- Very important. I have Turbo-R ST with 512k but I'm craving to do the mod for 1mb someday.

Would you mind explaining your reason for this? Or is it not relevant to games?
Other people seem to be saying that even 512k will be overkill, and from what I read online it seems like games can't access more RAM than they're designed for anyway.

By alexito

Champion (275)

alexito's picture

07-04-2018, 08:24

"dr slump wrote: Presuming that you're talking about the same issue here - is this when forcing turbo mode, or with games designed for turbo mode?"

When I force a MSX/MSX2/MSX2+ game to run in R800 Mode (HACKING IT or using MMCSD Ver3 from Sharksym) almost always I get disappoint because the PSG/FM is out of sync but when I connect my GR8NET at least the FM Music run in good sync with the R800 CPU.

This is the picture of my Internal FM disable switch for Turbo R A1ST:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1pKMHuRBF0l_eBiDWWS6cGls3OA...

"dr slump wrote: Any advantage to using a floppy emulator drive vs Sofarun? Is it just a case of setting it up once and then it's good to go?"

I have tested HXC Emulator on many MSX computers since 2007 I'm very confident it works flawless READING/WRITING without issues is like using real floppy disk but with more easy access to your Software Library.

"dr slump wrote: Also, alexito, are you recommending GR8NET instead of MFR, or in addition to it?
I presumed MFR was the best choice, so if there are better options I'm definitely open to suggestions."

Well, GR8NET run Videos at full screen also play WAV/MP3 music and have Y8950 Emulation with DAC/ADPCM Samples Support, have Network Interface and Cloud support and have almost all the features of MFR.

"dr slump wrote: Would you mind explaining your reason for this? Or is it not relevant to games?
Other people seem to be saying that even 512k will be overkill, and from what I read online it seems like games can't access more RAM than they're designed for anyway. "

My mistake here because like other people say 256kb/512kb is Ok when you're running MSX/MSX2/MSX2+ Software.

By ToriHino

Champion (262)

ToriHino's picture

07-04-2018, 10:38

Although the GR8NET does indeed offer almost all features of the MFR (and a number of addtional ones), it is also a lot more compex to use. If you just want to run games i would always go for the MFR. Together with for example SofaRun you can basically just take any rom or disk image and launch it without any trouble.

By Meits

Scribe (5239)

Meits's picture

07-04-2018, 11:14

@dr.slump
About the PSG pitch. alexito and I are probably not talking about the same here.
The turbo R's audio is completely fine in both z80 and r800 mode, eventhough the r800 mode is considerably faster.
The MSX2+ machines by Panasonic have a turbo mode (by software switch) that makes the computer 1.5 times faster. Since the PSG is not a seperate chip in these machines, the only thing they can do is sing 1.5 times higher. Halve an octave. That won't match with any original chord harmony. However, they managed to keep the internal FM play on its original frequency. This is probably done by putting a 3.5MHz crystal in its circuit. While it plays the correct pitch, it will skip (part of) a tone once in a while.

Gr8net doesn't have a PSG onboard, but FM and some other chips. alexito prefers the sound of the Gr8net and does not want to hear Gr8net's and the computer's FM at the same time. I wouldn't want that either since they sound a bit different, there's always a bit delay between one and the other, and there will always be clashes when two exact same sounds are played on the exact same moment.
I do prefer external FM over internal FM as well, but I use every cartridges' own jack outputs for that instead of putting switches inside the computers.

You do have me triggered to do some tests concerning internal and external audio, mixed and seperate in 3.5MHz and turbo mode.

By Grauw

Enlighted (7790)

Grauw's picture

07-04-2018, 14:45

dr.slump wrote:

Presuming that you're talking about the same issue here - is this when forcing turbo mode, or with games designed for turbo mode? (Installing a switch is probably beyond my abilities, by the way.)

I only know of one game which actually natively supports the Panasonic MSX2+ turbo mode, which is the SMW game in development, and that one automatically plays the PSG at the correct pitch. But if you force enable the turbo mode then you will indeed get a pitch difference. Software needs to either support it natively or patched for it including the PSG.

Note this applies to Panasonic MSX2+ computers only, the turboR has no such problem, although some games access the FM too fast in turbo mode. But again this is only if you run games in turbo mode that weren’t designed for it. The Z80 processor is there with a reason, it’s for backwards compatibility.

dr.slump wrote:

I presumed MFR was the best choice, so if there are better options I'm definitely open to suggestions.

For a novice to the system I would definitely recommend the MFR, it’s very user friendly with the software essentials built in and set up to run out of the box. For advanced users I would still recommend the MFR btw Big smile, but the GR8NET is also cool hardware with a lot of capabilities.

dr.slump wrote:

Any advantage to using a floppy emulator drive vs Sofarun? Is it just a case of setting it up once and then it's good to go?

If you have a MFR I don’t see a reason to get a floppy emulator. IMO they’re mostly useful for other systems where software directly accesses the disk controller, but on MSX software always uses the DiskROM BIOS, so in principle everything can be emulated.

And the MFR supports two different methods to emulate disks too (Nextor and FlashROM), so if you happen to have issues with one then the other will probably work.

p.s. Often if a disk drive doesn’t work, it’s just the drive belt that needs replacement.

By Meits

Scribe (5239)

Meits's picture

07-04-2018, 17:58

I hardly ever use my diskdrives. Heck, I almost forgot I got them. But I do have several games that can not be flashed. Maybe I've to do some updates or try sofarun. But until I've checked that I do not consider a diskdrive obsolute... yet...

By dr.slump

Rookie (18)

dr.slump's picture

08-04-2018, 02:56

Thanks for all the replies again, everyone!

Sounds like I'll be good with a MFR to start with, at least.

Grauw wrote:

p.s. Often if a disk drive doesn’t work, it’s just the drive belt that needs replacement.

Yeah, I figured - seems Panasonic still make the part as well! Would rather not have to mess about with floppies anyway if possible, though.

Just need to find a system now...

By wyrdwad

Paladin (727)

wyrdwad's picture

08-04-2018, 06:59

I think the A1ST has at least 128kb base RAM, right? Because if not, you might want to go for a system that does -- 64kb is plenty to play all Japanese games, but a lot of European games require 128, and the MFR's extended RAM isn't actually supported by every game. I hear this is a problem unique to Panasonic MSX2+es, so I'm not sure if it also applies to turboRs, but there are definitely a handful of European games that require 128kb RAM and simply won't run on my system even with a memory-expansion cartridge boosting me all the way up to 1088kb, as the location of that memory isn't where the game expects it to be.

So the one thing I can add to this discussion is: try to get a system with at least 128kb base RAM to ensure maximum compatibility with European software, as the MFR won't always be a sufficient substitute.

-Tom

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