SGI Indy Buyer's Guide

 General Information


The SGI Indy is a perfect starters system as it is really cheap nowadays and you can install a decent IRIX version to play with. Although an Indy has not much graphics power, it is perfect for surfing, webdesign or other leight-weight stuff. And you should not underestimate an Indy with a R5000 processor!

1. CPUs

There are plenty of CPU options available for the Indy:

Processor Speed L2 Cache Part Number
R4000PC 100 Mhz none 030-8100-002
R4000SC 100 Mhz 1MB 030-8101-004
R4400SC 100 Mhz
150 Mhz
175 Mhz
200 Mhz
1MB 030-8260-002
R4600PC 100 Mhz
133 Mhz
none 030-8236-001
R4600SC 133 Mhz 512KB 030-8252-004
R5000PC 150 Mhz none 030-0991-002
R5000SC 150 Mhz
180 Mhz
512KB 030-0986-002

When buying an Indy, you should either get a R4400SC, R4600SC or R5000 processor. Don't buy an R4000PC or R4600PC Indy, as it does not have an L2 cache! When buying a R5000 Indy, you should also try to get one with L2 cache, but here it is not that important (although it does matter a bit).

Generally the R5000 systems are a lot faster than R4x00 based systems - the R5000 is the small brother of the big R10000 used in Octanes and servers.

Theoretically you can also update any R4x00 Indy to a R5000 Indy, but you need to get a new PROM first (the correct part number of the PROM is 070-9101-011)

2. Graphics

The Indy does not have that many graphic options as many other SGI systems - they are exactly three, no more and not less:

Name Features HW Tranformation
Entry 8bit colour no
XL24 24bit colour no
XZ 24bit colour yes

You really should try to get an XL24 graphics adaptor, or if you have a R4x00 processor even better an XZ graphics option. But if you have a R5000 Indy, you should prefer an XL24 option to an XZ option, as the main CPU can do the transformations much faster than the graphics card, so an XZ option even slows down the graphics performance of an R5000 Indy!

Note that there is no option available for the Indy with hardware accelerated textures - if you need these, you have to get an Indigo² or Octane with hardware texturing or an O2.

3. Memory

Your Indy should have at least 64MB of memory - if you want to use IRIX 6.5 it is strongly recommended that you have 128MB.

As the Indigo R4000 and the Indigo², the Indy uses standard PS/2 FPM memory with parity, so it should not be a big deal to find some upgrades in the second hand market.

4. Disc Drives

One harddisc should be enough for your system. The size depends on the IRIX version you plan to install. Up to Version 5.3, a 1.2GB harddisc should be enough, for IRIX 6.5 you really should install at least a 2GB harddisc, better a 4GB harddisc. Especially if you want to capture movies using the A/V connectors of the Indy or install much of the freeware available at sgi, you need at least a 9GB drive.

There are also some Indys with a floptical drive, but normally you won't need such a drive.

5. Power Supply

There exist two power supplies for the Indy: The older Nidec power supply and the newer Sony power supply. The main difference is that the Sony PSU is much more silent.

6. Other Details of Interest

There are some other items you should check before buying a specific Octane:

  • What is the general cosmetic condition?
  • Are keyboard and mouse included? Of course, you can also use normal PS/2 styled keyboards and mice.
  • Is IRIX installed, which version? Is it a clean install? Do you also get the installation CDs?
  • Is the famous IndyCam included? And the small microphone for the IndyCam?


  • none