Let's look at some options for 68040 based computers. If you do
not have one, I will discuss which model might be right for
I didn't get into these machines until I got my Quadra 610 earlier this year. Before that,
I always figured Quadra as being too highly valued for what they
offered. Now that their prices are dropping, I was able to get my
Quadra 610 (for only $25!), and joined the world of computing
The 68040 machines are 68K class computers, but they were a
great deal faster than the earlier 68030-based machines - and some
are even as fast as early PowerPC models. (I found that my Quadra
610 felt faster than my Power Mac
6100/60, and the 610 only has a 25/50 MHz processor!*) When the
Quadra 700 was introduced in 1991,
Apple coined the phrase "The Most Powerful Macintosh Ever." The
Quadra is the most powerful of the 68K class of machines.
- * You'll often find '040s specified with two speeds. The lower
one (in this case, 25 MHz) is the speed at which the CPU talks to
the system board. The higher one (50 MHz) is the internal speed of
the CPU. Intel did something similar with clock doubled '486
processors. This also paved the way for today's CPUs running at
many times the speed of the system board.
If you do not have a 68040 or 68LC040 based machine and would
like one, take a look at these options. If you are on a limited
budget, and want a cool Quadra to play around with, go for a 25 MHz
Quadra 605, or LC or Performa 47X
series. They have good performance, take up little room, are still
very upgradeable and usable, but by far the best thing about them
is the price. You can get them for next to nothing! ($20-$30 for a
4/80 or 4/160) They can also be upgraded to PowerPC via the
Macintosh Processor Upgrade card, which was made for the low
profile Quadra 605, LC 475, and Performa 47X, and the all-in one
LC 575 and Performa 57X. These
typically sell for around $100.
If you have some more money, and want a better machine, go for a
Quadra 650 or 800. They both run a 33 MHz 68040
processor, can accept over 200 MB of memory, and have 3 NuBus
slots. They both can be upgraded to PowerPC with the Apple Power
Macintosh Card, which was made in 1994 for the Quadra/Centris 610
and 650, Quadra 800, 700, 900, and 950. It plugs into the PDS slot,
giving you twice your 68040 processor's speed in PowerPC 601
performance! I use one in my Quadra 800, and it is a very nice
product. However, the ability to upgrade your Quadra or Centris
comes at a price. Expect to pay over $150 for the card.
You can also upgrade some Quadras with Power Mac logic boards
that fit in the case you have (7100
for the 650, 8100 for the 800) Be
prepared to cut bits away from the case, as the ports will not line
up with the holes in the back of the case. If you choose to upgrade
them with a Power Mac logic board, they can be upped to G3 and G4
power (see Cheap Power Macs: The $500
G3 and $750 G4).
Another option is the Quadra 630. It has a speedy 33 MHz 68040
processor, a nice small case, a good built in speaker, and
(usually) a CD-ROM drive. It also gives you the option of a TV
tuner card, so you can watch TV on your Mac! It comes in a case
shared by the Power Mac and Performa 62XX and 63XX family. This
means that you can swap out the logic board for a board in a
6200, 6300, or 6360 (the 6200 and 6300 have some
serious design flaws. See Road
Apples. The 6360 is an excellent
machine, and still quite valuable to those who have them. For those
who want them, they are a bit harder to get. It is even harder to
find motherboards for them.)
To speed up your LC 630, Performa 63X series, LC 475, LC 575, or
Performa 57X series, you can upgrade the processor to a full 68040
chip. These Macs shipped with 68LC040 chips, which are a variety of
68040 which is lacking the FPU. Adding a full 68040 will improve
performance in applications that make use of the FPU, and if you
are using the Internet, it will speed that up as well. If you deal
with photographs, the FPU will help you - you will notice that the
pictures will show up on the screen faster.
If you have some spare money floating around, and want to buy a
really cool computer, take a peak at the Quadra/Centris 660AV or Quadra 840AV. The 660AV and 840AV can do
all sorts of AV tasks, from simply viewing an image on a TV screen
to importing and exporting video. They come with built in AT&T
3210 digital signal processors, which also supports GeoPort
telecommunications. The Quadra and Centris 660AV run on a 25 MHz
68040. The Quadra 840AV runs at a blazing 40 MHz! It was the
fastest Macintosh before the PowerPC, and it even rivaled some of
them! The only way to upgrade these to PowerPC is via logic board.
Pull the old one, install the new one.
However, my advice for those needing a PowerPC upgrade is to
just go out and buy a first-generation Power Mac, like the 6100/60,
7100/66, or 8100/80. You can get a Power Mac 6100 for as little as
$50, put the hard drive from your Quadra into it, and buy some
extra memory. If you need information about those, you can read my
articles about them and look on Low End Mac's list of many resellers of used equipment.
If you can use Mac OS 8, why use System 7? There are some good
reasons to stick with a version of System 7 on 68040 based Macs;
there are also some tempting reasons to go to 8. I use System 7.5.3
Update 2.0 on my Quadra 660AV, and I use Mac OS 8.0 on my Quadra
610. The 660AV is definitely faster, but it is not as stable as the
610 running 8.0. I don't think the 610 has crashed once, during the
year I have owned it. However, the 660AV has crashed a few times,
and I got that more recently.
System 7 has some good points: it is much faster than 8, which
means if you want your Mac to feel fast while in the Finder or
starting up, you should probably stick with a version of 7. It also
lets you use some of the older (System 6-era) programs with fewer
system errors (OK, you may still get them, but if you insist on
using those apps, don't expect your computer to be
System 7 also has some bad points. It is missing many features,
such as popup windows, spring loaded folders, desktop pictures
(which is not really a big deal), Appearance support (which is not
a big deal as well, only a few applications require it, and, if you
can find it, you can download it on the internet; it's called
"Appearance SDK"), and a few other features that have been taken
for granted by Mac OS 8 users.
Mac OS 8 has so many tempting features, I can't even list them
all! Some of my favourites include the popup windows and
spring-loaded folders, the control strip with a whole bunch of
enhancements (it comes with 7.5 as well, but you have to do a
custom install), and the option to view everything by name in icon
It also has a lot of bad points. It slows down your system and
hogs RAM. You will experience a much longer startup time, things
will be slower for you in the Finder, and you will have less memory
to work with (Mac OS 8 can use 8 MB or more, depending what is
installed). You also really need to have at least 16 MB or more
memory to run Mac OS 8.
My advice: Go with 7.6.1. It's fast, stable, and still quite
compatible with older software.
Your Quadra (Performa, LC, or Centris) will be your best friend
if you treat it to some memory. If you have a Quadra 605, Performa
47X, or LC 475, try to upgrade memory to at least 20 MB (that
requires one 16 MB 72-pin SIMM on these models). If it is your main
computer, or you have a bit more cash, go for the full 36 MB (with
a 32 MB SIMM). Your computer will thank you for it.
If you have a 610 or 660AV, upgrade the RAM to at least 36 MB if
you can afford it. You can do it two ways, you can use two 16 MB
72-pin SIMMs, or one 32 MB SIMM (both models have 4 MB built in). I
would suggest the 32 MB SIMM path, in case you want to upgrade the
RAM in the future.
If you have a Quadra 650 or 800, you can upgrade it way up to
136 MB. I recommend an upgrade to 40 MB, using either one 32 MB
72-pin SIMM (recommended), or two 16 MB 72-pin SIMMs. If you can
afford to upgrade it to 136 MB, by all means do so!
If you have a Quadra 700, you will be using 30 pin SIMMs for
your upgrading. You can upgrade it all the way to 68 MB. However,
half that should be sufficient.
If you have a Quadra 900 or 950, you can upgrade the RAM, using
30 pin SIMMs, up to 256 MB!
The Quadra 650, 800, 700, 900, and 950 all come with NuBus
slots. There are an endless amount of cards to fill up these slots:
video cards, ethernet cards (you won't need these with your Quadra
or Centris if it is a 650, 800, 700, 900, 950, 610, or 660AV, they
have built in ethernet), DOS compatibility cards, fast SCSI cards,
and much more.
Until then, for all you new Quadra-users, I hope your experience
with the "Most Powerful Macintosh Ever" is worthwhile. For all
those who are hoping to upgrade their machines, I hope your upgrade
goes well. For those who don't have a Quadra, and never knew a
thing about Quadras until you looked at Low End Mac, I hope my
article has convinced you to look into one.
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