Should I Push My Mac IIci Any Further?

1998 – GM writes: I have an old Mac IIci which I have already upgraded with a 2.1 GB hard drive, 32 MB RAM, and System 7.5.5. It however is too slow to support the graphics and word applications I’m using! Also most new programs now will not run on this 68030 processor!

Should I upgrade and further . . . and if so, how, and how much $$$, or is it just a case of Power Mac or bust. Is it really worthwhile to upgrade?


macintosh-IIciMac Daniel writes: This question really resounds with me. Over the past year, we’ve had to make the same decision at work – upgrade each IIci or slowly replace them. For my employer, the advantage of accelerating was that all eight Macs could be upgraded for about the cost of two Power Macs.

If you’re satisfied with the memory and drive size, you can drop in a 68LC040, such as the Sonnet Presto, for $200 ($300 for 68040 with FPU) – a lot less than you’ll pay for any readily upgradable Power Mac. (If you do buy a Power Mac, at the very least choose one where you can upgrade the CPU.) Of course, you can probably score a Quadra 650 for about the same price as the Sonnet card, so there are a lot of factors to consider.

We have not found a single program incompatible with the Presto card. Best of all, it improves FileMaker Pro (which had been a real bottleneck for us) at least threefold. A good 68040 accelerator takes your IIci as far as it can go – after that, the next stop will be a Power Mac.

So I’d say it comes down to budget. You can go all out and spend $300 to push your IIci to Quadra 650 level – or spend over twice that for a nice used Power Mac 7500.

Or, if you know you’ll be happy with Quadra 650 performance, you can search the used Mac dealers for a Quadra 650, which may even include a CD-ROM drive. (Downside: it won’t be able to use the memory from your IIci.)

I was pleasantly surprised to find used Centris 650 and Quadra 650 starting at less than the price of the Sonnet Presto, so I solved one of my upgrade problems by ordering a used Quadra 650. (My problem was unusual. I use a Mac IIfx as a Web and mail server, for which it is perfectly adequate. However, unlike the IIsi or Quadra 650, the IIfx cannot automatically restart after a power outage – and the hardware that can add that capability costs more than a used Quadra 650!)

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