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The 1600SW is a widescreen flat panel video monitor from Silicon Graphics introduced in 1998. It won many awards after release and sold 54,000 units. It is notable for longevity, with used models still actively traded on eBay a decade later, despite the difficulty of adapting the monitor to run with modern video cards, due to the 1600SW's OpenLDI video interface.

Formac sold the same monitor bundled with its own OpenLDI graphics adapter as Formac ProVitron 18/500. Radius sold the monitor as the Article which differed mainly in having a translucent white case and a conventional mount. SGI sold the monitor primarily under Model #AM173Y01.

The 1600SW was revolutionary for its time, featuring a 17.3 inch diagonal wide screen panel in a market then dominated by CRT monitors. The 1600SW had a 16:10 aspect ratio (referred to by SGI as SuperWide) with a resolution of 1600 x 1024 pixels. The refresh rate was 60 Hz in 24-bit color and 110 dpi (which makes for a smaller dot pitch than most competitive monitors). The 1600SW shared the same styling motif as the SGI Visual Workstation 320, 540 and O2, with a unique (and troublesome) off-center mount. The display won a dozen international awards and despite its age, it still compares well to modern displays produced a decade later. At introduction the 1600SW cost in the neighborhood of $2500.


Complete list of PCI Video Cards with an 1600SW connector

  • Formac ProFormance 3 (special version with OpenLDI)
  • Number Nine Revolution IV (special version with OpenLDI)
  • 3D Labs Oxygen VX1-1600SW

Monitor switches for OpenLDI

There is a 4-way monitor switch by Dr. Bott called MoniSwitch Pro LDI that allows sharing OpenLDI display among 4 computers, each of which must be equipped with an OpenLDI graphics adapter.

Adapting the 1600SW to Modern Video Cards

OpenLDI is rarely used today, as all popular home and office LCD panel monitors use a Digital Visual Interface (DVI) or VGA standard connector. There are several companies that make adapter boxes which allow continued use of these older displays. All of these adapters were developed for the 1600SW monitor:

  • SGI Multilink Adapter (VGA or DVI) (discontinued)
  • Dr. Bott SGI-Saver (DVI) (discontinued)
  • PIXsolution PIX-Link 1600SW (DVI) (discontinued)
  • GFX-1600SW sold by Niktec (DVI adapter, in passive PCI form factor, also sold built in to 1600SW monitors)

SGI referred to video cards that support the 1600SW's 1600 x 1024 resolution as Super Wide Savvy. Most modern cards have no trouble with this resolution, but on PC based machines, problems and screen distortion can exist during system boot. Apple Macintoshes boot directly into the proper resolution. Thus, with a little work, the 1600SW can be adapted to almost any modern computer.

Multilink Adapter

Main article MLA

Multi-Link Adapter (for 1600SW)


Opening a MLA from packaging:

SGI Product description on MLAs


Post on replacing capacitors http://forums.nekochan.net/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=16725932 The MLA I bought was generating hissing noise from one of capacitors, and I saw distortion lines on the screen, replacing capacitors solved both issues.


Reporting full success, the capacitors are: Sanyo OS-CON 6SVP220M and 16SVP100M, I had no trouble ordering perfectly matching ones from http://www.logic-d.net/ (Japanese), it cost me some 147 and 273 JPY respectively a piece (ordered 3 of each just in case). Datasheets (in Japanese) are here: http://www.edc.sanyo.com/pdf/oscon/J32_33.pdf (the form factor matching the ones from MLA is F8).

Replaced them just now and the monitor works flawlessly, no hissing noise, and no noise lines in the picture either.

Looking at the board closely, it seems it may be possible to mod the MLA to accept ordinary 5V (with enough current) and simply get rid of all those capacitors, voltage regulators etc. I'm pretty sure there's no special reason for those other than being able to use the same power supply as in 1600SW...

It also makes me wonder what is the second power socket for - it's not soldered anywhere, but I checked and the respective pins are short with the same pins in the working one... (for a moment I thought that may have been direct 5V input - but it doesn't seem so).

One important point - my cheapo (sparkfun) 30W soldering iron was not really able to melt the existing solder - it's very likely SGI used lead-free solder with some relatively high melting point (could be even 20C above ordinary). So even though my soldering works I will need to resolder them again with better iron to ensure good contact (I have Weller stashed somewhere in my office so this won't take long). Also, the original capacitors are soldered ALL THE WAY along the contact pins (underneath too), so depending on your iron you may simply end up ripping part of it away from the board - and with an ordinary soldering method you will not be able to resolder it in exact same way (unless you have SMD kit).. The original capacitors have this little (red in my case) glue which holds them during manufacturing process - this one can be scraped off easily with any sharp object, you don't really need to apply any new glue, but it is helpful if the capacitor doesn't move while you solder

External links

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