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I recently decided to look into purchasing an Atari 8 bit computer system. I have watched a few videos on YouTube about the various models.  It seems the 800 is the desire able model.  I missed the chance to buy one recently.  I don’t want to look to eBay. 

I see that best Electronics has the 65 XE unit available for 185.00

I included the description on below. 
I really only want it to play some of the old cartridges.  

is this a good unit to buy for a beginner user? 


Reconditioned Atari U.S. / NTSC 65XE Computer U.S. rebuildable Power supply, Atari R.F. Cable, Atari TV Switch Box with Coax in and out adapters and US 65XE Owners Manual.  Optional Atari Composite Video cable to newer TFT, LCD or Plasma displays with  Composite Video and Audio inputs.  Best Atari Tech tip on installing your Atari Composite Video Cable for first time installer.  If you opt for the Best Atari 2nd gen. Composite Video cable, we will notinclude the Atari TV switch box with Coax adapters and RF cable (which we are getting very low on) unless you specifically ask for it.   That way another old Atari owner will be able to purchase the very old / new Atari TV switch box in the future before we run out of them



Edited by dsullo
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Just a quick break down of the various common models:


800 - Best build quality,  but limited to 48K RAM and the original OS

800XL - Intermediate build quality,  has 64K RAM and the modified OS

65XE - mostly the same capabilities as the 800XL, but lower build quality, some 65XEs lack the expansion port.

130XE - same as 65XE but with 128K RAM and expansion port


Mostly they will all play the same games.   There are some games that have compatibility issues between the 400/800 OS  and XL/XE.     XL/XE can run "translator" disks that load the OS and fixes most of these issues.   Likewise, the 800 can't run any games requiring 64K or more RAM.


So in your case it comes down to what is most important to you: compatibility or build quality?   The 65XE will have high compatibility. 

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Just now, carlsson said:

Surely there exists 3rd party expansions that will overcome this, if one is really determined? But yes, as factory default it doesn't.

As far as I am aware,  there are memory upgrades for 800, but they are not compatible with the bank-switching scheme used by the XL/XE.


A 6502 processor can only see 64K of RAM/ROM at a time,   the extra 16K the XL/XE have is the same address space used by the OS ROM.   XL/XE have the ability to switch off/on the OS Rom and access the RAM at that address.   I think the 800 lacks this ability or surely someone would have made an XL compatible 64K upgrade.

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20 minutes ago, carlsson said:

Aha, so a larger program would need to be specifically programmed to run on a such expanded 800.

Exactly.   It's similar to how the 130XE does things,  swap memory banks in and out of main memory as needed.   Since these 8-bit computers are so memory constrained, you don't get nice drivers that abstract the details of memory management,  allowing different schemes to appear compatible to the programmer.

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The "build quality" is a somewhat meaningless yardstick when it comes to old hardware. After 30+ years, it's more about what the machine has been through, and this is usually hard to tell (apart from obvious cases). So the important thing is who you are buying from and how trustworthy their description of the machine's current state and/or history is.


Best Electronics is a rather well known and trusted seller, so if you want peace of mind I'd say go with that 65XE - especially if he's giving some sort of warranty on these units (though he is also said to be difficult to do business with, so you'll need to follow his rules to a T). If you just want to play some games then this machine's only real drawback is the cartridge slot in the back, instead of on top like in 800XL. It's not really that a big deal though, I'd say.

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Just a quick update. I was able to order  from best electronics an 800xl system with new power supply, composite cables , manual -185.00

loderunner game cart and a Jaguar cable that lets you use your Jaguar comtroller on the system.  

There was a few other games that I wanted like one on one basketball but they limit the orders to 3 items only.  It’s their rule.  Anyway the guy was nice on the phone and said I could place another order in 2 weeks.   

I am excited to get back into some 80s computer gaming. 
I would like the disk drive but he sells it for more than the actual system.  I’ll keep looking on eBay and the for sale forum here at Atari age


anyway that’s the update. Thanks for all the advice



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  • 4 weeks later...

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