Low End Mac's Best Deals

Best iBook G3 and AirPort Card Prices

2012.04.20

At today's prices, G3 iBooks are practically disposable computers. Great low-cost field machines, first portables, student notebooks, etc.

How'd you like a nice little OS X field machine for $160? You can buy a 500 MHz dual USB iBook with a CD-ROM drive for $123 shipped, add 512 MB of RAM for $24, and run the copy of OS X 10.3 that's installed - or install that old copy of 10.4 Tiger that you may already have. (Okay, that's not easy to do on an iBook that can't read DVDs, but there are ways to work around the problem if you also have a newer Mac.)

For most purposes, a G3 provides plenty of power under Mac OS X 10.3.x and earlier, but if you want more power or want to get the most out of Tiger (Mac OS X 10.4.x), check out our Best iBook G4 Deals and Best PowerBook G4 Deals. G3 iBooks can only be expanded by 512 MB beyond what's on the motherboard; these other 'Books can go past 1 GB. 512 MB is enough to let you run Tiger decently, but 1 GB or more will unleash its full potential.

Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard is not supported on any G3 iBook. For our perspective on G3 iBooks nowadays, see The Future of G3 iBooks in the Age of Leopard, and for a good overview of the "white" G3 iBooks, see Low End Mac's Compleat Guide to the Dual USB iBook G3.

Every "white" G3 iBook can boot the Classic Mac OS, is supported through Mac OS X 10.4.11, includes a 1024 x 768 display (whether 12" or 14"), and has two USB 1.1 ports. 500 MHz and some 600 MHz iBooks have 8 MB of video memory, other 600 MHz and 700 MHz have 16 MB, and some 700 MHz and all 800-900 MHz models have 32 MB.

All G3 iBooks support the original 802.11b AirPort Card for wireless networking, but a better WiFi choice might be a USB dongle (Operator Headgap has an 802.11g one for $25 shipped).

The original 300 MHz iBook is not officially supported under OS X 10.4 (Tiger), which "requires" a built-in FireWire port, 256 MB of RAM, and 3 GB of available hard drive space. Besides, you'll probably find the 800 x 600 display restrictive. Ryan Rempel's XPostFacto 4 supports Tiger on clamshell iBooks.

Further Reading on Clamshells

MacInTouch has called the "dual USB" G3 iBooks Apple's most unreliable notebooks ever. According to their survey of iBook and PowerBook Reliability:

...by affected percentage of models, the G3 iBooks were the worst by far, with more than half requiring logic board replacements. Apple created a warranty extension program for some versions, but not all. (MacInTouch readers are still reporting newly failed iBook G3s, and the warranty extension program has ended.)

The white 12" iBook G3 series became much less reliable through its first five revisions, reaching a 73% failure percentage! The last revision dropped to a 49% failure percentage - much improved over the previous model, but still unconscionably high. The problems appear to have been solved, for the most part, in the newer iBook G4 series.

If white iBooks are a bit rich for your budget, look at our Best PowerBook G3 Deals. And if you want G4 power, check out our Best iBook G4 Deals and Best Titanium PowerBook G4 Deals.

Be sure to factor in shipping costs and possible sales tax. Your best value depends on whether you need/want a color printer, extra RAM, etc. If you plan on using OS X, we strongly recommend bumping total memory to at least 384 MB, and Apple suggests no less than 512 MB for Tiger.

Used Macs usually include a 90 day warranty. Prices may be limited to quantity on hand. Not responsible for typos. Please email any corrections or additional sources with competitive prices to Dan Knight .

Unless otherwise noted, there is no surcharge for credit card purchases, and shipping is not included. Ground shipping may add $15 to 40 to your final price. Vendors are listed in alphabetical order. Be sure to visit their sites for full details.

This week's standout deals (marked in bold below):

Best Clamshell Prices

Best 12" CD Prices

Best 12" Combo Prices

Best 14" Prices

Recent Memory Prices

Mac OS Prices

Batteries may be old and worn down, and even "new" Apple batteries that have been on the shelf for years will have less capacity then they did when new. We've had great results with NuPower batteries, available from site sponsor Other World Computing:

Some dealers have a much wider selection than we list here. We just look for the lowest cost configuration of each model. You may find iBooks with more RAM, bigger hard drives, and AirPort cards.

Listings note screen size, speed, optical drive, RAM/hard drive size, price. Bear in mind that laptop batteries to degrade over time, so you might want to consider replacement battery cost for any iBook over 3 years old.

Except for some early 500 MHz iBooks, which have 64 MB, all dual USB models have 128 MB on the motherboard. All G3 iBooks have a single memory expansion slot.

Listings sorted by screen size first, then CPU speed.

Buying through some of these links benefits Low End Mac. Buying at these prices benefits you.

Clamshell iBook Profiles

Dual USB G3 iBook Profiles

BetaMacs

Ground shipping can add $23 or more.

DV Warehouse

Ground shipping can add $20 or more.

Midwest Notebooks

Ground shipping can add $20 or more.

Operator Headgap

Prices include ground shipping. Operator Headgap thoroughly refurbishes and tests every Mac they sell. When entering your shipping information, please let them know you heard about them on Low End Mac. Thanks!

Teksale.com

Ground shipping can add $15 or more.

UsedMac

UsedMac is located in Sherman Oaks, CA and collect sales tax on California orders. Shipping can add $45 or more. Fresh OS X install (10.4 unless noted). 60 day store warranty.

Wegener Media - clamshell - dual USB

Ground shipping can add $35 or more. 60 day warranty.

Ground shipping can add $25 or more. 60 day warranty.

Need more power than a G3 iBook offers? Check out our iBook G4 Deals and Titanium PowerBook G4 Deals. Want something less expensive? Look at our PowerBook G3 Deals.

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