I have both a beige VIC-20 styled VIC-1541 disk drive and the later brown C64 1541 drive. Is there a difference between them (besides how they look)?

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    Per this, they had different defects that prevented them from using the serial bus at full speed.
    – Mark
    Apr 27, 2016 at 20:47
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    Just for clarity the drives didn't have different defects, the VIC and C64 did. The VIC-1540 and VIC-1541 disk drives are different drives. The OP is asking only about the VIC-1541 and the regular 1541. Apr 28, 2016 at 1:52

1 Answer 1


Functionally there is no difference between the VIC-1541 and 1541. Internally, there may be lots of differences due to production variation and component variation. The thing to remember is that both drives have modes to directly support the VIC-20 and C64. The VIC-20 is actually faster reading data when the drive is in 1540 mode instead of 1541 mode, but ANY 1541 drive supports 1540 mode.

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    Can a C64 be made to load data using the 1540 mode?
    – cbmeeks
    May 15, 2017 at 14:21
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    @cbmeeks a C64 can tell a 1541 to use 1540 mode, but you have to blank the screen while using it. The issue is that the VIC-20 always had the CPU running to listen to the data coming from the disk over the serial bus, but the VIC-II chip in the C64 stole about 40 CPU cycles for every scanline thus making it that the C64 would miss a little data here and there because it wasn't listening. If you temporarily disable the VIC-II it will no longer steal CPU cycles and thus 1540 mode will work. I'm guessing some loaders used this, but we're talking a VERY SMALL speed improvement in reality.
    – bjb
    May 8, 2018 at 17:33

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