The X68000 is an unheard-of gem from Japan. Released around the same time as the Amiga and Atari ST, it was leagues ahead of them both in terms of design and capability. Originally released in 1987 with a 10MHz 68000 CPU and 1MB RAM, the series finished six years later with a 25MHz 68030, 4MB RAM and a 80MB HD. Earlier models used SASI (Shugart Associates System Interface) which was a forerunner to SCSI, and is almost pin compatible with early SCSI drives. Later models used real SCSI. The series favoured (And this is cool) soft-eject 5.25" floppies though there were a few "Compact" releases with 3.25" drives and smaller cases.

One of the most striking things about the system was the case - a two-halved tower bisected by a click-in/out carrying handle, reminiscent more of a mainframe computer than a PC. It was one of the first computers to feature soft-on power, where the main power supply was always on and the front-mounted power switch would only signal the machine to shut down, giving software time to save, shutdown and usually fade out the sound and the screen. Two expansion slots closely related to the ISA standard, and a host of ports as standard: 2 MSX compatible joystick ports, parallel, serial, external floppy (It could run 4 drives, two were built-in) port, 3D goggles port, as well as TV/monitor control,SASI, headphone, microphone, RGB in and out... Very advanced for the time, and in terms of design it's nearly unmatched (in my mind) to this day.

On this page you'll find all the details and differences between units, a list of some of the better games released for the system, tech specs, screenshots, and maybe more! Also, if you'd like to see what the boxes look like, you can check out the Sales page.

  This article is translated to Serbo-Croatian language
  by Jovana Milutinovich from

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X68000 Gallery 1
X68000 Gallery 2
X68000 Floppy Sleeve Gallery
X68000 Power Supply Repair

The actual specs of the X68000 series changed very little over the life of the system. Aside from upgrading capabilities, such as replacing the antiquated SASI with SCSI, and two different form factors (The Compact and Pro models) the specs remained the same. Clock speeds were boosted on the XVI and the X68030 was faster with a beefier processor, but things like graphic and sound hardware remained the same. This was obviously better for compatability, but without a significant upgrade path the series was doomed to extinction. Sure the new units were faster, but without new capabilities the rest of the computing universe was bound to catch up. Where the first X68000 systems were far ahead of the competition of the time, by the end of the system's lifespan it was merely the equal of other systems. The sexy case could only carry it so far.

The X68000 series spanned 20 different models, with three different form factors and one slight case redesign. The original model, Expert, Ace + Super all shared the same dual-tower cray-like design. The XVI used the same design with a slight cosmetic modification. The pro was a horizontal desktop model, with more room internally and four expansion ports. The Compact models were single-tower vertical models approximately two thirds as wide and a little shorter than the normal towers.

All units shared the same connectors, except for the Compact units which used high-density connectors to save space. The connector for the SASI and SCSI ports is the same.

Wherever possible try and get a 2MB unit. Many games require 2MB to run, but only a tiny handful (Super Street Fighter 2 is the only one that comes to mind) require more than 2MB.

A HardDrive is not important, since all games run from floppy. If you expect to play a lot of Street Fighter or Fatal Fury, or some of the RPG games which can have up to thirteen floppies, then a HD would be wise. Keep in mind this will drastically increase the complexity of the system, as well as the amount of Japanese you'll need to know to operate it.

Like most computers of the time custom chips in the X68000 series were given fanciful names. In the below chart you can see how these chips were changed from model to model, sometimes to fix bugs or add new features, other times to combine functions into fewer parts.

The X68000 series contained a lot of off-the-shelf parts as well, components similar to DOS PCs and other computers at the time. Chips from Zilog, Motorola, Hitachi and NEC all made their way inside. The Okidata ADPCM sound chip was also used in at least one other game console, and Yamaha was essentially the only soundchip manufacturer of any import back in the day. As was the norm back then every chip that had extra pins was put into service for another device. The printer controller also handled joystick input, the serial controller handled the mouse and the MFP had its fingers in nearly every input or output port available.

Here are two images of the mainboard and IO board of an XVI system:

So what's the end result? Check out these screenshots from the arcade + X68000 versions of Strider, Ghouls n Ghosts, Street Fighter. Compare them to the Genesis versions for Extra Shame! There are some more Ghouls shots here.