Amstrad Mega PC
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||This article possibly contains original research. (January 2015)|
|Manufacturer||Amstrad (licensed by Sega)|
|Type||Video game console / Personal computer|
|Generation||Fourth generation (16-bit era)|
|Retail availability||Europe 1993
|CPU||32-bit Intel 80386SX|
|Storage||Hard Drive, Floppy Disk|
The Mega PC was manufactured and released by Amstrad in 1993 under licence from Sega. It was similar, but unrelated to the Sega TeraDrive. Essentially just a standard Amstrad PC with Sega Mega Drive hardware bundled inside, the system was wired to share the dual-sync monitor and speakers, with the Mega Drive on a separate circuit board.
Initially released in PAL areas such as Europe and Australia in 1993, its success was very short-lived due to its very high retail price of £999.99 (later reduced to £599), with the CPU also being outdated by the time of the system's release. It is slightly easier to acquire an Amstrad Mega PC than the Sega TeraDrive system, due to more units being manufactured. However, in recent years both systems have become increasingly difficult to come by as they are often purchased as collector's items.
|Processor||Intel 80386SX @ 25 MHz
Motorola 68000 @ 7.14 MHz
|Memory||1MB SIMM RAM (expandable to 16MB)|
|Storage||3.5" FDD, 40MB HDD|
|Video||SVGA Graphics with 256KB RAM|
|Operating System||MS-DOS 5.0 with Amstrad Desktop|
|Dimensions||325 mm(w) x 78 mm(h) x 292 mm(d)|
In general, the Mega PC was seen as a nicer build than that of Sega's TeraDrive, as the unit itself was more robust and managed air circulation more efficiently than the TeraDrive.
Although it boasted a higher specification than the Sega TeraDrive (having more RAM and a faster processor), the specification of the CPU, similarly to Sega's TeraDrive, was a generation behind its time, with the newer Intel 80486 on the market and the first Pentium processors being released the same year as the Mega PC was. The system was unable to act as a Software Development Kit due to the inability to simultaneously use the PC and the Mega Drive hardware. A cover on the front of the unit prevented the insertion of a Mega Drive game cartridge while using the PC hardware.
The machine's rear housed several I/O ports. These included two serial ports, a 25-pin parallel port, a VGA port with combined signals for a standard VGA monitor and sound (Amstrad monitor only), a speaker/headphone jack, and a 15 pin game port for a joystick.
The motherboard included a 16 bit ISA slot with a riser card connected to it, providing a total of two 16 bit ISA slots. One of these was populated with an ISA card which provided connections for sound at the rear of the machine, and a connection for the Mega Drive cartridge at the front. The other slot was left free for expansion (such as a modem or Network Interface Card).
Whereas the Sega TeraDrive included stereo RCA jacks and composite NTSC video output for connection to a TV, the Mega PC lacked this feature, but it could still be connected to a PAL TV through SCART. Outputs from both the PC and Mega Drive units are available from a shared VGA connector, but since video-output from the Mega Drive is still 15kHz RGB it works fine when connected to a TV through the SCART-input. When using the PC, only a Multisync or VGA monitor can be used as it then outputs the video in 31kHz.
The system shipped with an Amstrad branded controller which was internally identical to Sega's, allowing them to be used on either system.
Amstrad bundled several peripherals with its Mega PC; these included:
- Dual sync 15 kHz/31 kHz Amstrad branded 14" white monitor with internal speakers
- Standard Mega Drive white control pad with Amstrad branding
- Amstrad white joystick
- Standard Amstrad keyboard and mouse using PS/2 interface
Amstrad later released a second system as the successor to the Mega PC, by the name of the Amstrad Mega Plus. This boasted a slightly higher specification with an upgraded processor to an Cyrix Cx486SLC running at 33 MHz, along with a RAM upgrade of 4× 1MB SIMM modules to 4MB.
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