Cacheless MainStreet PowerBook G3/233, a Road Apple

The WallStreet PowerBook G3 Series was a trio of very capable models replacing the 250 MHz Kanga PowerBook G3 (Apple needs to do something about these names!). The 250 MHz and 292 MHz models were lightning fast, but the 233 MHz version was dog slow.

WallStreet PowerBook G3 SeriesWhy? Because Apple decided to keep the price down by eliminating one seemingly small item that makes a world of difference on G3 Macs – the Level 2 (L2) cache. Under MacBench 4, the 250 MHz model demonstrates nearly twice the performance of the 233 MHz MainStreet!

In the second edition of the PowerBook G3 Series, Apple included a 233 MHz model with a 512 KB L2 cache – that made a world of difference. That 233 MHz PowerBook benchmarked 70% faster than the cacheless version. Seventy percent!

To shave perhaps $200 from its retail price, Apple seriously compromised the performance of this PowerBook. (Don’t confuse it with the next generation 233 MHz PowerBook G3 Series model, despite the fact they both have the same name and CPU speed.)

It’s a real shame that any G3 system should earn a Road Apple rating.

To add insult to injury, one option for this family of PowerBooks was a 13.3″ display that had all sorts of problems. See Caveat Emptor: PowerBook G3 WallStreet 13.3″ Display Issues by Charles W. Moore, who notes, “…the 13.3″ display issues with the Series I G3 PBs are unacceptably common and often take too long to resolve.”

Combining the cacheless 233 MHz G3 MainStreet with the 13.3″ display is something you just don’t want to do.

Second Class Macs are Apple’s somewhat compromised hardware designs. For the most part, they’re not really bad – simply designs that didn’t meet their full potential. (On our rating scale, the more brown apples, the worse the hardware.)


  • introduced 1998.05.04
  • requires Mac OS 8.0 or later, Mac OS 9.2.2 recommended; supports OS X 10.2 Jaguar
  • CPU: 233 MHz PPC 750 (a.k.a. G3)
  • bus: 66 MHz
  • performance: 445 (compare this with 764 for the G3/233 with 512 KB cache)
  • ROM: 4 MB
  • RAM: 32 MB, expandable to 512 MB (officially supported to 192 MB)
  • Level 2 cache: none
  • VRAM: 2 MB
  • displays:
    • 12.1″ 16-bit 800 x 600 color dual-scan passive matrix
    • 13.3″ 24-bit 1024 x 768 color active matrix
    • 14.1″ 24-bit 1024 x 768 color active matrix
  • hard drive: 2, 4, or 8 GB
  • CD-ROM: 20x, removable
  • expansions bays: two
  • ADB: 1 port for keyboard and mouse
  • serial: 1 DIN-8 RS-422 port on back of computer
  • SCSI: HDI30 connector on back of computer
  • ethernet and modem standard
  • PC Card slots: 2
  • weight: 7.2-7.8 pounds with battery

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