The Power Mac 5500 was the second PCI-bus Power Mac with an integrated monitor; it replaced the slower 5400. It shipped in 225, 250, and 275 MHz versions. Xemplar distributed a 225 MHz educational version in the UK as the Power Macintosh One. A black 275 MHz “Director’s Edition” was available in Australia. The 5500 was the direct predecessor to the Beige Power Mac G3 All-in-One.
A reader notes: “Many PM 5500s sold in Australia in 1998 did not have any Level 2 cache fitted. This seriously hampered the performance.” Adding a 256 KB or 512 KB L2 cache makes these much better performers.
The logic board of the 5500 is based on the “Gazelle” architecture, which is shared by the 20th Anniversary Mac and the Power Mac 6500, the latter being essentially the same computer without a built-in display.
- 5500/225 introduced 1997.02.17, discontinued
5500/250 introduced 1997.09.01, discontinued
5500/275 introduced 1997.03.01, discontinued
- requires System 7.5.5 through 9.1
- CPU: 225, 250, or 275 MHz PPC 603e or 603ev
- Bus: 50 MHz
- Performance: not measured
- RAM: 32 MB, expandable to 128 MB using two 64 MB 60ns 168-pin EDO DIMMs. Supports 4, 8, 16, 32, and 64 MB DIMMs.
- video: ATI 3D Rage II chip set
- VRAM: 2 MB SGRAM
- resolution: 15″ screen, millions of colors at up to 832 x 624, thousands at up to 1024 x 768
- L2 cache: 256 KB (apparently not present in some 5500s sold in Australia)
- Hard drive: 2 GB IDE
- CD-ROM: 12x or 24x max.
- Microphone: standard 3.5mm minijack, compatible with line-level input including Apple’s PlainTalk microphone
- ADB: 1 port for keyboard and mouse
- serial: 2 DIN-8 GeoPorts on back of computer
- SCSI: DB-25 connector on back of computer
- bay for Apple TV/FM Radio System
- video slot
- PCI-based comm slot
- one PCI slot
Accelerators & Upgrades
- Low End Mac’s GeoPort Guide, Tommy Yune, 2018.03.21
- Low End Mac’s Compleat Guide to Mac OS 9, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.05.12. Mac OS 9 remains fast and stable, but Classic software hasn’t kept up with the changing internet. Which Macs support OS 9, where to buy it, and how to update to 9.2.2.
- Environmentally Responsible Retirement for Old Macs, Rick Lawson, Pioneers in Mac Development, 2008.06.13. After you’ve scavenged what useful parts you can from your old Mac, what’s the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of the rest?
- Know Your Mac’s Upgrade Options, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. Any Mac can be upgraded, but it’s a question of what can be upgraded – RAM, hard drive, video, CPU – and how far it can be upgraded.
- Low End Mac’s Comm Slot FAQ, Tommy Yune, 2018.03.20
- Why You Should Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ’emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Creating Classic Mac Boot Floppies in OS X, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2008.08.07. Yes, it is possible to create a boot floppy for the Classic Mac OS using an OS X Mac that doesn’t have Classic. Here’s how.
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- Powerful classic Macs: Performa 5400 and Blue and White G3, Carl Nygren, Classic Macs in the Intel Age, 2008.06.11. Two useful old desktop Macs, a Performa 5400 and a Blue and White Power Mac G3, are a great complement to the Vintage Mac Network.
- Skip 867 MHz 12″ PowerBook, iBook sleeps when touched, Netscape 7.0.2 keeps crashing, and more, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.06.11. Also getting a copy of the Mac OS for a Power Mac ONE, and whether it can run Linux.
- More G4 upgrade advice, secure disk wipes, 500 MHz iMacs with Tiger in action, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.05.09. The importance of securely clearing your hard drive before you pass on your Mac, Pismo and closed lid mode, G3 iMacs in the classroom, and more thoughts on upgrading G4 Power Macs.
- More crumbling Macs, good news about MacBook Air storage, WiFi options for Classic Mac OS, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.01.23. Also reconsidering the MacBook Air, sometimes USB 2.0 cables are better, Mac switcher mistakes, Intel Mac mini or PowerBook G4, and more.
- Better and Safer Surfing with Internet Explorer and the Classic Mac OS, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.11.06. Tips on which browsers work best with different Mac OS versions plus extra software to clean cookies and caches, detect viruses, handle downloads, etc.
- Hacking Mac OS 7.6.1 so many Mac OS 8 apps will run, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.10.30. With a little ResEdit work and a second copy of your System Folder, you can run a lot of OS 8 apps with Mac OS 7.6.1.
- Interchangeabilty and Compatibility of Apple 1.4 MB Floppy SuperDrives, Sonic Purity, Mac Daniel, 2007.09.26. Apple used two kinds of high-density floppy drives on Macs, auto-inject and manual inject. Can they be swapped?
- Mac System 7.5.5 Can Do Anything Mac OS 7.6.1 Can, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.06.04. Yes, it is possible to run Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and SoundJam with System 7.5.5. You just need to have all the updates – and make one modification for SoundJam.
- Appearance Manager Allows Internet Explorer 5.1.7 to Work with Mac OS 7.6.1, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.05.23. Want a fairly modern browser with an old, fast operating system? Mac OS 7.6.1 plus the Appearance Manager and Internet Explorer may be just what you want.
- Format Any Drive for Older Macs with Patched Apple Tools, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.04.25. Apple HD SC Setup and Drive Setup only work with Apple branded hard drives – until you apply the patches linked to this article.
- System 7 Today, advocates of Apple’s ‘orphan’ Mac OS 7.6.1, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.10.26. Why Mac OS 7.6.1 is far better for 68040 and PowerPC Macs than System 7.5.x.
- Mac OS 8 and 8.1: Maximum Size, Maximum Convenience, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.09.11. Mac OS 8 and 8.1 add some useful new features and tools, and it can even be practical on 68030-based Macs.
- Installing Linux on a PCI Power Mac, Part 1, Larry Stotler, Linux on the Low End, 2006.09.05. Preparing your PCI Power Mac (or clone) for Linux and getting openSUSE Linux installed.
- Preparing your Mac’s hard drive for Linux, Larry Stotler, Linux on the Low End, 2006.08.09. Before you install Linux, you have to partition your hard drive. A look at three different hard drive strategies for Mac Linux.
- Customizing Mac OS 9, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.08.01. Fiddling with themes, picking a browser, and making the Classic Mac OS work just the way you want it to.
- The ins and outs of booting Linux on the Mac, Larry Stotler, Linux on the Low End, 2006.07.31. “Old World” Macs can’t boot directly into Linux. They need to boot the Classic Mac OS first, then pass control over to Linux.
- Preparing your PCI Power Mac for Linux, Larry Stotler, Linux on the Low End, 2006.07.26. How powerful a CPU do you need? How much memory? Do you need a faster drive controller? Are some video cards better than others?
- Floppy drive observations: A compleat guide to Mac floppy drives and disk formats, Scott Baret, Online Tech Journal, 2006.06.29. A history of the Mac floppy from the 400K drive in the Mac 128K through the manual-inject 1.4M SuperDrives used in the late 1990s.
- ATI Radeon 7000 Driver for Mac OS 7.6.1, System 7 Today, 2006.05.29. ATI’s installers don’t support System 7.6.1, but System 7 Today’s does, making this the fastest video card to work with Mac OS 7.6.1
- System 7.6.1 is perfect for many older Macs, John Martorana, That Old Mac Magic, 2006.03.24. Want the best speed from your old Mac? System 7.6.1 can give you that with a fairly small memory footprint – also helpful on older Macs.
- System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6: The beginning and end of an era, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.02.15. System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6 introduced many new features and greater modernity while staying within reach of most early Macintosh models.
- Web browser tips for the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.01.03. Tips on getting the most out of WaMCom, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, iCab, Opera, and WannaBe using the classic Mac OS.
- The best browsers for PowerPC Macs and the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2005.12.16. Two browsers stand out from the pack: iCab 3 is modern and remains under development, and WaMCom brings Mozilla to older Macs.
- Why you should use Mac OS 7.6 to get the most out of vintage Macs, Thomas Ahart, The Productive Mac, 2005.12.12. Although you may be able to run OS 8 or 9 on your old Mac, you’ll generally find better performance using Mac OS 7.6.
- Sonata SD, Sonnet Tech, 2004.06.01. First new PCI video card for the Mac in ages sells for just US$99, supports OS 7.5.3 and later plus OS X 10.1.5 and later, works with VGA or old Mac monitors, 16 MB VRAM.
- Is a 5400 worth buying or upgrading?, Evan Kleiman, Mac Daniel, 2003.05.12. Does the Power Mac or Performa 5400 have enough power to justify its current price? Once I have one, how can I upgrade it?
- OS X on the 6500 a reality!, 6400 Zone, 2003.02.13. You can install and run Mac OS X 10.1 on a Power Mac 6500 – but do you really want to?
- The 6400 Zone, covers the Performa 6400 and Power Mac 6500.
- What About a Vimage G3 for My 6400 or 6500?, Mac Daniel, 2000.10.27
- Review: Vimage G3/225 MHz upgrade for Power Macintosh 6500, My Mac, 1998.12
- Apple Specs: Power Macintosh 5500/225, 5500/250
- Macs with IDE hard drive do not provide SCSI termination power, depending on external SCSI devices to provide it. For more details, see SCSI Termination Power.
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