Here is an email from a regular customer, regarding interest in SGI Indy, Indigo, and Indigo 2 systems in the United States around late 2001. Contact me if you want to contact the author. - Herb Johnson

Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001 18:39:29 -0400
From: Netdiablo...
To: hjohnson...
Subject: Re: SGI stuff available again

Herbert R Johnson wrote:
> My local source seems to be producing a number of Indy, Indigo
> and Indigo 2 stations....
> Any clues as to current interest and prices? Most of the for sale
> chat in the Newsgroups seems to be from overseas. Any interest
> in these for yourself? Any clues about what a "bad power supply"
> problem is most likely to be? I have a few Indys and Indigo 2's,
> I can proabably get more.
> By the way, I picked up a Logan lathe recently. Do you know anything
> about the machine tool business around Kalamazoo?
> Herb Johnson


Good to hear from you again. 
Market prices on some of these systems are kind of a deep subject,
especially for Indigo2 machines (because they have so many options).
I'll try to explain as best I can.


A base (or very lightly loaded) Indy system (motherboard, case, and
power supply, with perhaps a R4000/100 processor, light memory, and
eight bit graphics) is probably worth around $50. Additions would modify
price as so:

1. R4600/133, R4400/150, R4400/175 processors.

Add around perhaps $25 to $45 for a system with one of these processor
modules. These are about the minimum processor required for "reasonable"
performance running a somewhat modern version of IRIX with some real
world applications (things like Netscape, etc).

2. R4400/200 or R5000 processors (with secondary cache).

Add around $50-75 for a system with one of these processor modules. The
R4400/200 processor is reasonably high-end on the Indy, and provides
pretty nice performance. The R5000 processors are even nicer, and make
the Indy somewhat modern as SGIs go (O2 machines are newer and nicer,
but more expensive as well). There is one R5000 processor module with no
secondary cache (R5000PC/150) which I feel falls somewhere between
categories 1 and 2, as it does not offer quite the performance of the
R4400/200 (in general application performance, in my opinion) or R5000
processors with secondary cache, but it is still faster than many lower
end R4400 processor modules.

3. Upgraded video cards.

There were three video cards available for the Indy. The NG-8 board is
the most common, and is rather undesirable, as it only offers 8 bit
colour. There was a NG-24 board which was a NG-8 with additional video
RAM as to support 24-bit colour, which is very nice. There was also an
XZ video board, which supported 24-bit colour and some 3D acceleration.
It is similar to Elan graphics on the Indigo or Indigo2. Add perhaps $30
for NG-24 graphics, $50 for XZ graphics.

NOTE: Because the R5000 processor is faster at accelerating 3D graphics
than the geometry engines on the XZ card, R5000 systems should contain
NG-24 cards for best performance. XZ cards should primarily be used in
R4x00 based systems.

4. Nifty option boards.

Believe it or not, some people actually used those GIO slots every once
in a while. On very rare occasions, you may find Ethernet, SCSI, FDDI,
or various video cards in them. It's hard to judge the value of these.
Perhaps add $25 for any Ethernet, SCSI, or FDDI cards.

If you happen to come across an NTSC video-in card (Galileo Video for
Indy) or a video compression card (Cosmo Compress), you might want to
note that these are actually worth quite a bit. The set often seems to
sell on eBay in the price range of around $200+.

5. Lots of RAM or hard disk.

Gobs of RAM and large hard disk drives increase the value of the
machine, of course. I'm not really going to comment on these, as you've
probably got a good idea on what you think certain amounts of memory and
hard drive are worth.

6. Other goodies.

Other things could probably raise the value of an Indy system by small
amounts, such as floptical drives (novel, but not very useful, and
failure prone), IndyCams, original SGI keyboards and mice, additional
drive sleds, etc. I wouldn't increase the price noticibly for them, but
they help to round out a package or something.


There are two different sorts of Indigo2 systems. The original systems
were produced in Teal cases, and a base instance of this system
(chassis, power supply, and motherboard) is probably worth around $50.
Later systems came in a Purple chassis and supported the more modern
Extreme graphics options. A base instance of one of these is probably
worth around $75-100.

There is a LOT of diversity in Indigo2 computers. There are two distinct
types of computer, three different processor options, and probably
around seven graphics options. I'll try to lay them all out here.

System types: Non-IMPACT, Impact
Processors: R4x00, R8000, R10000
Graphics: XL, XZ, Elan, Extreme, SolidImpact, HighImpact, MaxImpact


Non-IMPACT Indigo2 systems come in Teal. They are older than IMPACT
systems, and typically contain R4x00 or R8000 processors. These systems
are only capable of taking non-IMPACT graphics options as well.


There were a number of processor options available for the Indigo2. They
are roughly worth the following amounts.

R4000/100, R4400/100: Nothing
R4600/133: Nearly nothing, perhaps $10-20
R4400/150: A little more than nothing, maybe $25
R4400/200: This is getting realistic. Perhaps $35-40
R4400/250: The top end of R4400 processors. Somewhere around $50
R8000/75: Worth next to nothing, but it's not deserved. See discussion.

In my opinion, Indigo2 processors don't really get interesting until
they hit around 200 MHz when it comes to R4400s. Anything below that
doesn't really deliver much in the way of performance.

R8000 processors are rather interesting chips. They were clocked slow,
but because of the design of the chip, they get a LOT of work done for
the clock speed. These were sold as thoroughbred machines for heavy
floating point work (rougly 300 MFLOPS/processor) and also implement the
newer MIPS IV instruction set. I consider them to fall somewhere between
the R4400/200 and R4400/250 in terms of general application performance.
I've got one and I love it, but most people are turned off by the belief
that clock speed is everything in determining processor performance.


There were lots of graphics options available for the older Indigo2
computers, as follows.

XL: CPU-accelerated 24-bit graphics. Not really too interesting
performance-wise, but due to their single slot design, you can stick
three of them in one computer and run it with three monitors. This quirk
makes them worth a little bit more than even some of the low-end
accelerated options, perhaps $25. Then again, to a buyer that doesn't
care about that quirk, it's probably worth nothing.

XZ: 2GE accelerated 24-bit graphics. Roughly half the performance of the
Elan graphics system. Two-board. Not worth much.

Elan: SGI quietly replaced the XZ board with the Elan board. Same board,
only they stuck 4GEs on it rather than two. Equivelent to Indigo Elan
graphics. Not worth a whole lot either. Maybe $20.

Extreme: Highest end non-Impact graphics card. Three boards and looks
impressive. 24 bit with 8GEs. It's worth perhaps $40-50. I have Extreme
graphics boards in all my Indigo2s.

Because of their age, older Indigo2 graphics boards are screamingly fast
at rendering non-textured solids, but due to the fact that the hardware
does not support texture mapping, texture mapping either cannot be done
at all, or it must be done in software. This makes older Indigo2
graphics boards not particularly good for things like playing first
person games or rendering textured solids.


Around the 1994-5 timeframe, I believe, SGI updated the graphics options
of the Indigo2 series. These are known as the IMPACT graphics options.
Indigo2 computers that can accept IMPACT graphics boards are denoted by
their Purple chassis. They also have a modified power supply and riser
card to support the increased power consumption of the new graphics cards.


Because of their more modern lineage, IMPACT grade Indigo2 system
shipped with different, and less processor options, as follows.

R4400/200: Sometimes these turned up on IMPACT systems. Value carries
over from the NON-IMPACT section.

R4400/250: Rather common on IMPACT systems. Once again, value carries
over from the NON-IMPACT section.

R10000/175: The R10000 processor is very modern as MIPS processors go,
and offers top-of-the-line performance. I'd say this processor module is
probably worth $100 or so, perhaps a little more.

R10000/195: The most powerful processor module available for the Indigo2
series of computers. Worth perhaps $150.

R8000/75: These will turn up on IMPACT systems VERY rarely, and usually
only with SolidImpact configurations. Value carries over from the
NON-IMPACT section.


A few less graphics options were available for IMPACT ready systems, but
they offer magnitudes higher performance.

SolidImpact: 24-bit 3D accelerated video, roughly twice the performance
of Extreme. Still no texture mapping. Worth perhaps $50.

HighImpact: 24-bit 3D accelerated video, equivelent performance to
SolidImpact with non-textured solids, plus adds hardware texturing
support.  With 1M of texture memory, worth perhaps $100, with 4M, worth
perhaps $150...

MaxImpact: 24-bit 3D accelerated video, twice the performance of
HighImpact with non-textured solids, and also (roughly) two times the
pixel fill rate and texture speed. With 2M of texture memory, worth
perhaps $200, 8M, perhaps $250-300...

Of course, you can stick Non-IMPACT graphics options in an IMPACT ready
system, but why would you want to?


You will want to keep in mind that there are three different
motherboards for the three different types of processor. They are not
interchangable. This means that an R4000 processor can only go on a
R4000 motherboard, and so on.

Drive sleds add lots of extra value. A hard drive sled is worth around
$50 on the open market, and CD-ROM sleds are worth around $75. Indigo2
systems with not only an internal hard drive, but also internal CD-ROM,
DAT, and Floptical drives are VERY nice.

Lots of RAM and big hard drives also add value.

A system with all the plastic parts (including the drive door) intact is
worth more than systems with broken plastic parts. Nobody wants a SGI
that looks like it's falling apart if they can help it.

EISA and/or GIO expansion cards add different amounts of value. Galileo
Video and IMPACT Video (analogue video in/out) are very nice, and
probably add between $75-100 (Galileo Video) to $200-300 (IMPACT Video).
FDDI cards are probably worth around $50. Phobos Fast Ethernet EISA
cards are worth around $75-100. I think there may have been a
CosmoCompress board for Indigo2 as well, which is probably worth around $200.

Other miscellaneous things probably add little value, but they're nice,
such as SGI matching keyboards and mice, the feet that allow the Indigo2
to be stood on its side as a tower, etc.


Evaluating the price of Silicon Graphics computers is somewhat hard for
me. On one hand, I believe the hardware to be of the highest caliber,
and as a result, it is worth a bit to me. On the other hand, although
they're nifty, things like Indigo2s and Indys are really no longer
modern computers, and thus, in order to actually sell them, I wouldn't
recommend charging more than $200-250 for an Indy, around the same for a
non-IMPACT Indigo2, or $500 for an IMPACT Indigo2. In coming up with my
costing estimates, I took into consideration my own personal preference,
as well as eBay "typical going rates" and costs from a number of popular resellers.

I hope this might be of some use to you. I tried to nail down most, if
not all of the factors that would influence the cost of these particular
computers. If you have any questions about them, feel free to ask, and
once you get everything sorted out, please let me know what you've come across!

Thanks and regards,

Sean C.