Low End Mac's Best iBook G3 Deals


How'd you like a nice little OS X machine to go for under $200? This week you can buy a 500 MHz dual USB iBook with a CD-ROM drive for $170, add 256 MB of RAM for $18, and be ready to comfortably run that copy of OS X 10.2 or 10.3 you may already have. (For 10.4, you really want a 512 MB upgrade, which costs $59.)

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 (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. It's enough to let you run Tiger - but not to unleash it to its full potential.

It's almost certain that Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard" will not be supported on any G3 iBook. For our perspective on G3 iBooks and Leopard, see The future of G3 iBooks in the Age of Leopard.

And, of course, every G3 iBook ever made can run the Classic Mac OS.

The clamshell iBook was Apple's first consumer/education notebook - and the first Mac to support AirPort wireless networking. For most users, it provides plenty of power for the classic Mac OS - but just enough for OS X (10.4 is pushing things). Users may find the 800 x 600 display constricting under OS X. If that's the case, look into the all-white dual-USB iBooks, which have higher resolution 1024 x 768 displays.

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. Ryan Rempel's XPostFacto 4 supports "Tiger" on clamshell iBooks. Note that Tiger normally ships on DVD-ROM, so you will either need a bootable DVD-capable drive or exchange your DVD for a CD install set through Apple. (For another option on FireWire-equipped iBooks, see Installing OS X 10.4 "Tiger" on DVD-challenged Macs using FireWire Target Disk Mode.)

Further Reading on Clamshells

For those looking forward, there's a fair chance that at least the slower G3 iBooks won't be supported at all in Leopard (OS X 10.5) - and possibly no G3 models at all.

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.

Both the 12" and 14" white models have 1024 x 768 pixel displays. 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.

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 PowerBook G4 Deals.

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 .

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

Best Clamshell iBook Prices

Best 12" CD Prices

Best 12" Combo Prices

Best 14" Combo Prices

Batteries may be old and worn down. We've had great results with NuPower batteries from OWC:

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.

Recent Memory Prices

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.

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.

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.

Dual USB G3 iBook Profiles

US Dealers



Custom Macs

D V Warehouse

Laptop Rescue

pink covered iBookVinyl stickers can be removed.

Mac of All Trades

Mac of All Trades has the highest product turnover of any used Mac dealer we track.

The MacPac


PowerBook Guy

PowerBook Guy returns systems to their factory specifications as close as possible. This includes reinstalling the Mac OS as it originally shipped from the factory, replacing any failed parts, cleaning the system and performing various tests to ensure that it functions correctly.

clamshell iBooks

dual-USB iBooks


Wegener Media

clamshell iBooks

dual-USB iBooks

UK Dealers

Prices to not include VAT.

Forever Mac

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

PowerMax - 12" / 14"



TechRestore offers a $25 discount to 'Book Review readers off any PowerBook or iBook in stock. Just enter the code CWM during checkout when ordering online. This coupon code is valid from now through 2007.12.31.

Canadian Dealers


2nd Chance PCs