GPSmap 60CSX chipsets
I have used a Garmin GPSmap 60CSX for a number of years and I was very happy with the performance of the unit, I used it as a handheld unit for hiking and I also used it in a vehicle by connecting it to a laptop via the GPS USB port. On the laptop I used nRoute and Mobile PC as a navigation tool. I had developed a preference to using nRoute.

A few month ago while hiking the GPS started to act up. The unit would lockup and none of the buttons would operate. The only way to restore operation was to pull the battery and restart the GPS. Everything appeared to operate normal again until the problem happened again.

I decide to buy a new GPSmap 60CSX and found they were no longer being manufactured but there was some in stock in the REI stores in the US and the bargain price of US$219. So I had my daughter in the US buy one for me. I received it a few weeks later and did some comparisons between the old and new units. They should be the same, they are identical model number right? I have found out a lot of interesting things because they are not totally the same unit. Here is what I found out:

I noticed initially that there were some software difference as follows:
new / old
Software ver. 4.20 / 4.00
GPS SW ver. 2.40m / 3.00s

You can get this info from your 60CSX by entering MENU>MENU>SETUP>SYSTEM>MENU. Choose "Software Version".

After doing some research on the internet I discovered that the new unit with the "m" in the GPS SW ver. utilizes a MediaTek chip while the old unit has a SiRF III chipset designated by the "s". The SiRF III has an excellent reputation for sensitivity, fast satellite acquisition and ability to stay locked on even in heavy over growth.

Doing a Side by side test with the two units using identical mapsets on the microSD card I found the following:

The old unit appeared to start up much faster. That is on start up it took only a few seconds on the old unit to allow you to go from the start page to other pages in the GPS. When I moved to the satellite page it appears the old chipset allows you to go map page and the satellite page even though a satellite lock had not been fully acquired yet.

On the new unit the GPS stayed on the start page a longer time than the old unit.The difference here was considerable 07 sec. for the old unit and 58 sec for the new unit. The delay appeared related to the mapset size. As the mapset used got larger (2-3.5 GB) the GPS with the new chip took longer time to load the mapset than the old chip.

On a performance basis the old unit acquired satellites much faster than the new unit and the satellite signal strength on the satellite page was much stronger with the old unit. This was done outdoors with the units side by side. If you Google it, others with more knowledge of the different chipsets than me state the SiRF III chip has a higher sensitivity than the MediaTek chip. This basically translates into getting a satellite signal faster and keeping it under obstructed conditions.

The new Garmin 60CSX with new MediaTek chip also does NOT work with nRoute. This was confirmed with Garmin when I contacted them. They appeared very aware of it when I gave them the Software versions.
They state that the new software is not compatible with the old nRoute. They do not acknowledge they changed the chipset. That apparently is Proprietary Information.

Map transfers appear to work correctly. Other functions appear to be the same. This could explain why the 4.20 Software version is not available for the GPSmap 60CSX on the Garmin website. Version 4.20 is a software patch to get the units with the MediaTek chip out the door but one could easily conclude that the software/chipset upgrade broke the USB output if you needed to use it with nRoute.

The discussion with Garmin was lengthy, Initially they said they could do nothing about it and it was just a problem with old unsupported nRoute software and new GPS software upgrades. They had difficulty addressing the fact that the old 60CSX with the 4.00 software version worked without problem. Garmin finally agreed in exchange to take my new 60CSX and give me a "like new" 60CSX with the 4.00 software version and the SiRF III chipset.

Related to this, Garmin also offers an Exchange/Repair of the 60CSX. All Exchange/Repair units returned to the customer will be GPS SW ver. 2.40m MediaTek chip. A quote from Garmin "There will be no way in the future to get a device of that type unless you are able to buy from a store that somehow still has an old version." My own tests later after my discussion with Garmin indicated that the new 60CSX appears to work with Mobile PC.

On a less important note, the old GPS had the Americas Recreational Basemap V4 installed while the new unit had installed AMR Standard Autoroute Basemap NR 3.00. The old basemap had considerably more detail than the new one. More roads and non business points of interest. I recognize that this essentially gets overwritten by the installed maps but I, with my more detail is better attitude preferred the old basemap. In an earlier discussion with Garmin they stated that I was stuck with the new less detailed basemap and it could not be changed even though the new Garmin Instruction Manual makes mention of the presence of the Americas Recreational Basemap.

This information may be useful to other GPSmap 60CSX owners who may be experiencing performance problems. It is not often you get to compare two versions of the same unit side by side. Look after your 60CSX GPS with high performing the SiRF III chipset you may not be able to get another one. If you research it on the internet you will find others who are less than happy with there repair exchange unit once it has been returned with the MediaTek chip. I understand Garmin in their wisdom are using these new chips in the newer handheld GPSs so they are not getting any better.
mullerh, I have a newer 60csx and use GpsGate software to create a virtual port and it works great with nRoute.

I do not use GPSgate. I go straight from the USB port of the GPS to the laptop with nRoute. There is no need to use GPSgate. What GPS SW ver. is in your new 60CSX. That is really the determining factor of how it performs.
If your only concern is how the 60 performs as an adjunct to nRoute, get a BU-353 GPS for that purpose. It is equipped with the tested and true SirfStar III chipset. I think there are better, more sensitive chipsets on the market as that one is getting a little long in the tooth. However, I suspect Garmin uses the MediaTek one more based on price than performance.

I think you got bad advice from Garmin about using the 60csx with nRoute and MobilePC. What possible difference could the GPS chipset make?

The switch in chips on the 60csx happened two and a half years ago and is discussed here as well as on other sites: 60csx no longer uses SiRF chips - Garmin Handheld GPS and Fitness GPS Forum

Are you saying you can't access any menus or perform any functions on your new 60csx until you get a satellite lock? I have an old 60csx, so I can't try this myself. But something doesn't sound quite right. I have never seen any Garmin product behave like that. As soon as the boot sequence completes you can access the map and menus while the unit searches for satellites.

I wonder if something is wrong with the unit they sent you. Seems to me we would have seen other reports of these problems otherwise. You might want to join in the discussion at the link I posted above, since that forum is dedicated to handheld units.
The summary of what I was attempting to outline was as follows:
1. The GPS with SW ver. 2.40m Mediatek chip appears to have some communcation issues if you use nRoute and appears not work. This was acknowledged by Garmin.
2. In side by side comparisons with identical mapsets the GPS C performed in my opinion very differently than the GPS SW ver. 3.00s SiRF III chipset, The detail of these differences are outline in my original email. Garmin could make no comment on these differences (not necessarily good) and just ignored them.The simply agreed to send me a like new 60CSX GPS with SW ver. 3.00s SiRF III chipset in exchange for the new 60CSX GPS SW ver. 2.40m Mediatek chip.
Although others forums have eluded to the change to the SW ver. 2.40m Mediatek chip in the last of the 60CSX production run I was not aware of any others that had a chance to do a side by side comparison of two 60CSX units on with the Mediatek chipset the other with the SirF III chip as I did.
Thank for the link to the other forum. I will have a look at it.
Got it. But this is the part I still don't understand. There are two types of firmware for Garmin handheld devices. One of them handles the low level programming of the gps receiver itself. The other is the unit software that provides the user interface and functions.

2.40m is the gps firmware. I don't see how that could affect anything with nRoute. I would think the problem you describe would be related to the unit software (4.2 in your previous post). I didn't realize there was a version 4.2 of the unit software, I thought that 4.00 was the newest version. When I connect my 60csx and run webupdater, it tells me this is the newest version. But maybe that's because I have an old 60csx: https://buy.garmin.com/shop/store/downloadsDetails.jsp?id=1245&product=010-00422-00&cID=167&pID=310

One of the bug fixes listed with version 4.0 is interesting

Changes made from version 3.90 to 4.00:

Fixed several errors in NMEA statements introduced in 3.90.
That might have an adverse effect on MobilePC if you were running 3.90.
As far as I can see unit software ver 4.2 is only applicable to the Mediatek chip.
It was the version they had to load in the last production run of the 60CSX (with the MediaTek chip) to get them out the door. That is why it is not available on the Garmin site.
You can probably use the program GPSgate to smooth out the communication issue to run nRoute. I won't bother.I will just wait for the like new exchange 60CSX with the SiRFIII chipset to arrive from Garmin USA.
I think I will get another opportunity to do a side by side comparison of the two chipsets in April when I get back to Calgary. I am currently in Mexico.
Other performance issues with the MediaTek chip might be more of a concern to me such as lower sensitivity and slowness in loading mapsets.
Another issue if I send my first/old 60CSX with the SiRF III chipset back to Raytek/Garmin ib Canada for an exchange/repair I will get back a 60CSX with the MediaTek chip.
laptopgpsworld.com About