Low End Mac's Best Deals

Best PowerBook G3 Prices

2012.02.16

The G3 PowerBooks were Apple's first PowerBooks to offer performance that rivaled their desktop siblings. Except for the rare original PowerBook G3 (a.k.a. Kanga, only on the market for six months), all G3 PowerBooks are supported under some version of OS X.

The WallStreet G3 is not officially supported under OS X 10.3 Panther or later, but it is supported with 10.2.x and earlier. Panther can sometimes be installed using XPostFacto, and even the slower WallStreets can be excellent Classic Mac OS machines.

WallStreet and Lombard are 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. XPostFacto supports WallStreet and Lombard, and Tiger will install on Pismo. Note that 10.4 normally ships on DVD-ROM, so you will need a DVD-capable drive, need to locate a CD install set, or, if you have Pismo, use another Mac that can read DVDs and supports FireWire Target Disk Mode (see Installing OS X 10.4 Tiger on DVD-challenged Macs using FireWire Target Disk Mode for more on this option).

G3 Macs are not supported at all under Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, although we have had several reports of Leopard running on G4-upgraded Pismos. For more on that subject, we recommend reading The Future of G3 PowerBooks in the Age of Leopard. (It's theoretically possible that OS X 10.5 could run on a WallStreet or Lombard with a G4 upgrade, but we've received no such reports.)

All of these PowerBooks use IDE/Ultra ATA hard drives. On WallStreet, the first partition must be smaller than 8 GB (we recommend 7 GB to play it safe), and all of these 'Books support drives up to 128 GB in size. They can all support 512 MB of RAM, and Pismo goes as high as 1 GB.

To get the most out of OS X, Lombard is superior to WallStreet, and Pismo is better yet.

Laptop batteries lose much of their capacity after 2-3 years, and while you may be able to restore some capacity using Battery Amnesia (requires the Classic Mac OS), you really should plan to buy a new battery for these old PowerBooks.

WallStreet/PDQ

Apple offered the original WallStreet PowerBook G3 Series with 12", 13", and 14" screens and 233, 250, and 292 MHz CPUs. Series 2 (a.k.a. PDQ) normally shipped with a 14" display, although there was a special edition with a 12" screen. Speeds were 233, 266, and 300 MHz. The biggest difference between the 233 MHz models is the lack of a level 2 (L2) cache in the Series 1 version, sometimes called the MainStreet model; this earns it a Road Apple warning.

WallStreetThe WallStreet model has two expansion bays, two PC Card slots, plus ADB and SCSI ports, and it can support 512 MB of RAM. This was the last PowerBook with ADB. There are no FireWire or USB ports, although PC Cards can add that capability. These are the oldest Mac notebooks to support Mac OS X, and they only support through version 10.2.8 Jaguar. Weight is just under 8 pounds. To learn more, see Low End Mac's Compleat Guide to the WallStreet PowerBook G3.

The original battery could run a WallStreet for up to 3 hours when new and fully charged, 6 hours with a battery in each expansion bay. We've been very happy with Newer Tech batteries, available from Other World Computing.

  • NuPower 4500 mAh/65 Watt-Hour battery (25% more capacity than original), $99.95
  • PRAM battery, $24.99

Best WallStreet Prices

  • 14" 233 with floppy but no CD, $100, Wegener Media
  • 14" 233 CD, no floppy, $120, Wegener Media
  • 14" 266 CD, no floppy, $160, Wegener Media
  • Recent RAM prices: 256 MB low profile (not all 256 MB modules are fully recognized in WallStreet PowerBooks; some are only recognized as 128 MB, so be sure to buy the right kind, which OWC sells), $28.99 ($58 for maximum RAM)

Lombard

PowerBook G3Also known as the 'Bronze Keyboard' model, Lombard is thinner and lighter than WallStreet. It has a single expansion bay and one PC Card slot. It was the first PowerBook with USB ports and the last with SCSI. DVD is available and requires a special decoder card (included on models that shipped with DVD). Lombard is the oldest Power Mac to support Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

A 14" 1024 x 768 display is standard. There is no ADB port on Lombard, nor FireWire, although that can be added with a PC Card. Weight is about 6 pounds, and maximum RAM is 512 MB. G4 upgrades are available from Wegener Media. To learn more, see Low End Mac's Compleat Guide to the Lombard PowerBook G3.

We've been very happy with Newer Tech batteries, available from Other World Computing. Both Lombard and Pismo can use two batteries for up to 10 hours of field work.

  • NuPower 6600 mAh/71 Watt-Hour battery (42% more capacity than original), $79.99
  • NuPower 6600 mAh/84 Watt-Hour battery (87% more capacity than original), $99.97
  • PRAM battery, $27.99

FastMac sells its TruePower 6600 mAh/71 Watt-Hour battery (41% more capacity than original) for $109.95.

Best Lombard Prices

  • 400 DVD, $220, Wegener Media
  • 500 DVD, $300, Wegener Media
  • Recent RAM prices: 256 MB low profile, $28.99 ($58 for maximum RAM)

Pismo

The same size and weight as Lombard, the 2000 Pismo is faster and was the first PowerBook with a FireWire port. It shipped with a DVD drive and has a slot for an AirPort card. There is no SCSI port.

This is one of the most upgradable PowerBooks ever, and the CPU can be replaced with a 550 MHz G4, which makes it possible to run Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, although you have to work around installer limitations. Best of all, Pismo is the only G3 PowerBook to support 1 GB of RAM, which really unleashes OS X. To learn more, see Low End Mac's Compleat Guide to the Pismo PowerBook. (With 1 GB of RAM, you cannot use Virtual Memory with the Classic Mac OS, and some installers may not work with more than 512 MB of RAM - the solution is to remove one module, install the OS or app, and then replace the pulled module.)

G4 upgrades are still available from Wegener Media. Daystar Technology, PowerLogix, and NewerTech no longer make G4 upgrades for Pismo.

Pismo takes the same batteries and drive bay modules as Lombard (prices above).

The best prices are marked in bold type in the full listings below. Full listings note RAM/hard drive size/optical or Zip drive. Used Macs usually inclulde a 90 day warranty.

Best Pismo Prices

Mac OS X and OS X Server Prices

Be sure to factor in shipping costs (typically $20-25 for ground shipping) and possible sales tax. Your best value depends on whether you need/want extra RAM, a bigger hard drive, etc.

Unless otherwise noted, there is no surcharge for credit card purchases, and shipping is not included. Vendors are listed in alphabetical order. Be sure to visit their sites for full details.

Prices may be limited to quantity on hand. Not responsible for typos. For current deals on older 'Books, see The 'Book Review.

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

Mac-Pro

Shipping may 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!

Wegener Media

WallStreet

Lombard

Pismo

Can't afford a PowerBook G3 or need something a bit smaller with more speed? Check out our latest iBook G3 Deals. Want G4 power? See our G4 Deals and PowerBook G4 Deals.

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