Mac Daniel's Advice

Power Mac 6360 or 7500

- 2001.07.20

Q. I have the chance to purchase a Power Mac 6360 (160 MHz 603e) with 32 MB RAM, 1.2 GB hard drive, 8x CD, OS 8.6) for $150 with free shipping or a Power Mac 7500/100 (100 MHz 601) with 8 MB RAM, 500 MB HD, 4x CD, OS 7.5.2 from a flea market computer shop for $100. I need to be able to run OS 8.5 or better for the software I plan to use on this Macintosh. Which is the best value?

A. It depends on how important a computer's upgrade path is to you. Straight out of the gate, the 6360 will pretty much do what you want. I'd buy as much RAM as you can afford (the 6360 tops out at 136 MB using two 64 MB 168-pin DIMMs) and an OS 8.6 CD-ROM (they're running between $20-$30 on eBay). Then you're pretty much set. A bigger hard drive would be nice, but if you manage your space well, it certainly wouldn't be required. The 6360 also has one PCI slot in case you'd like to add a better video card, a USB/FireWire card, or some other upgrade later. G3 upgrade cards are also available for the 6360's Level 2 Cache slot.

On to the 7500/100. Personally, I would go with this system, and here's why:* It has 3 PCI slots. Why compromise with one when you can have your cake and eat it too with three? I can add a nice video card, a USB/FireWire card, and have one left over for a high-end SCSI card or maybe a second video card.

  • The 7500/100 has a 50 MHz system bus, where the 6360's bus is only 40 MHz. With the faster bus you will see increased system performance with any G3 upgrades you eventually add.
  • RAM capacity. The 7500 can be upgraded to a whopping 1 GB of RAM, whereas the 6360 tops out at 136 MB.
  • The 7500's case is a dream to open up and work in. Getting into a 6300 series Macintosh is a bit more of a hassle.
  • Onboard 10Base-T and AAUI ethernet in the 7500. The 6360 has no built-in ethernet, so if you wanted to use high-speed Internet access you would either need to surrender your PCI slot to an ethernet card or begin the potentially arduous search for a Comm II slot ethernet card.

Of course, once you add up all the money you could potentially spend on upgrades, you may find yourself scouring the Net for a good deal on a used G4 Cube or iMac. Make sure you're getting the best deal - it may be worth your while to wait until you can afford the "top of the line" rather than upgrading an old machine. The 7500 is a very upgradeable workhorse, though, so it's definitely worth your consideration.

* Hey, the 7500 is listed as a Low End Mac Best Buy. Are you going to argue with Dan Knight? ;-)

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