Using the same case as the Power Mac 8100, the 8500 (a.k.a. 8515) was the first Mac minitower with a replaceable CPU daughter card. Unlike the first generation of Power Macs, the 8500 has PCI slots and uses the PowerPC 604 processor, a significantly improved, second-generation PPC design.
The 8500 also has audio, S-video, and composite video ports on the rear. Thanks to its daughter card CPU design, it can be upgraded with a faster PowerPC 604, 604e, G3, or even G4 processor.
This model was also available as the Workgroup Server 8550.
- Got a PCI Power Mac? Join our PCI PowerMacs Group.
- Our Mac OS 9 Group is for anyone using Mac OS 9, either natively or in Classic Mode.
- 8500/120 introduced 1995.08.08 at $4,000; discontinued
- 8515/120 introduced 1996.01.11; discontinued
- 8500/150 introduced 1996.04.22; discontinued
- 8500/180 introduced 1996.08.05; discontinued
- requires System 7.5.2 through 9.1; Mac OS 9.2.x requires a G3 or G4 upgrade
- CPU: 120 MHz or faster PPC 604, 180 MHz 604e
- Bus: 40-50 MHz, controlled by CPU card
- Performance: 5.3/5.7/6.1 (120/132/150 MHz, relative to Centris 650); 57,200 (120 MHz), 68,650 (150 MHz), 87,464 (180 MHz) Whetstones
- ROM: 4 MB
- RAM: 16 MB, expandable to 512 MB using 70ns 168-pin DIMMs (8 sockets), Apple notes “128 MB DIMMs can be used, but have not been tested” – this would bring total RAM to 1 GB.
- VRAM: 2 MB, expandable to 4 MB
- Video: supports resolutions to 1280 x 1024
- L2 cache: 256 KB standard, can be expanded to 1 MB
- SCSI: internal fast SCSI bus (to 10 MBps), external SCSI bus (to 5 Mbps)
- CD-ROM: 4x
- PCI slots: 3
- Microphone: standard 3.5mm minijack, compatible with line-level input including Apple’s PlainTalk microphone
- ADB: 1 port for keyboard and mouse
- serial: 2 DIN-8 GeoPorts on back of computer
- SCSI: DB-25 connector on back of computer
- Ethernet: AAUI and 10Base-T connectors on back of computer
- upgrade path: CPU daughter card
- Power supply: 225W
- Height: 14.0 in
- Width: 7.7 in
- Depth: 15.75 in
- Weight: 25.0 lb
- PRAM battery: 3.6V half-AA
- Gestalt ID: 69
Accelerators & Upgrades
- New Type of G3 Daughter Card, Mac Daniel, 1999.05.20
- CPU daughter cards. See our Guide to G3 Daughter Cards and Guide to G4 Daughter Cards
- Low End Mac’s GeoPort Guide, Tommy Yune, 2018.03.21
- Low End Mac’s Compleat Guide to Mac OS 9, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.05.12. Mac OS 9 remains fast and stable, but Classic software hasn’t kept up with the changing internet. Which Macs support OS 9, where to buy it, and how to update to 9.2.2.
- Environmentally Responsible Retirement for Old Macs, Rick Lawson, Pioneers in Mac Development, 2008.06.13. After you’ve scavenged what useful parts you can from your old Mac, what’s the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of the rest?
- Know Your Mac’s Upgrade Options, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. Any Mac can be upgraded, but it’s a question of what can be upgraded – RAM, hard drive, video, CPU – and how far it can be upgraded.
- Leopard on Pre-AGP, MacTech, 2008.09.03. How to get OS X 10.5 running on a Yikes! Power Mac G4, G4-upgraded Blue & White or Beige Power Mac G3, or PCI Power Mac (or clone) with a G4 daughter card.
- Why You Should Partition Your Mac’s Hard Drive, Dan Knight, Mac Musings, 2008.12.11. “At the very least, it makes sense to have a second partition with a bootable version of the Mac OS, so if you have problems with your work partition, you can boot from the ’emergency’ partition to run Disk Utility and other diagnostics.”
- Purposeful reincarnation for old Macs, Phil Herlihy, The Usefulness Equation, 2008.08.26. The key is to avoid spending more on upgrades than the final use of the machine can justify.
- Creating Classic Mac Boot Floppies in OS X, Paul Brierley, The ‘Book Beat, 2008.08.07. Yes, it is possible to create a boot floppy for the Classic Mac OS using an OS X Mac that doesn’t have Classic. Here’s how.
- Non-Intel Mac rumors, G5 iMac power supply failure, Leopard on a 700 MHz eMac, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.07.31. Also no 8 GB partition problem for clamshell iBooks, presentations in ClarisWorks, and watching DVDs on an upgraded Power Mac 7600.
- The Compressed Air Keyboard Repair, Charles W Moore, Miscellaneous Ramblings, 2008.07.24. If your keyboard isn’t working as well as it once did, blasting under the keys with compressed air may be the cure.
- MacBook Air and the future of FireWire, crippled by iTunes 7.6, Panther on an 8600, and more, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2008.01.28. Also problems with GainSaver, who’s on first?, inflated Power Mac benchmarks, and Leopard on an 800 MHz iBook G4.
- Vintage Mac Video and Monitor Mania, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.17. Vintage Macs and monitors didn’t use VGA connectors. Tips on making modern monitors work with old Macs.
- Getting Inside Vintage Macs and Swapping Out Bad Parts, Adam Rosen, Adam’s Apple, 2007.12.14. When an old Mac dies, the best source of parts is usually another dead Mac with different failed parts.
- Better and Safer Surfing with Internet Explorer and the Classic Mac OS, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.11.06. Tips on which browsers work best with different Mac OS versions plus extra software to clean cookies and caches, detect viruses, handle downloads, etc.
- PCI Power Macs great for Mac OS X 10.2 and 10.3, Jonathan Haack, My Turn, 2007.10.30. Thanks to XPostFacto, you don’t need a modern Mac to run OS X, just a Power Mac with a G3 daughter card.
- Hacking Mac OS 7.6.1 so many Mac OS 8 apps will run, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.10.30. With a little ResEdit work and a second copy of your System Folder, you can run a lot of OS 8 apps with Mac OS 7.6.1.
- Interchangeabilty and Compatibility of Apple 1.4 MB Floppy SuperDrives, Sonic Purity, Mac Daniel, 2007.09.26. Apple used two kinds of high-density floppy drives on Macs, auto-inject and manual inject. Can they be swapped?
- Mac System 7.5.5 Can Do Anything Mac OS 7.6.1 Can, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.06.04. Yes, it is possible to run Internet Explorer 5.1.7 and SoundJam with System 7.5.5. You just need to have all the updates – and make one modification for SoundJam.
- Appearance Manager Allows Internet Explorer 5.1.7 to Work with Mac OS 7.6.1, Max Wallgren, Mac Daniel, 2007.05.23. Want a fairly modern browser with an old, fast operating system? Mac OS 7.6.1 plus the Appearance Manager and Internet Explorer may be just what you want.
- Format Any Drive for Older Macs with Patched Apple Tools, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2007.04.25. Apple HD SC Setup and Drive Setup only work with Apple branded hard drives – until you apply the patches linked to this article.
- SATA and PCI Power Macs: No OS X joy, but you can boot OS 9, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.11.17. Weeks of experimention find that while you can’t seem to boot a pre-G3 Power Mac into OS X from a SATA hard drive, you can at least boot OS 9 from it.
- Musings on low-end SATA cards in PCI Power Macs, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.11.06. Thoughts on why the inexpensive SATA card might almost work in a pre-G3 PCI Power Mac.
- Old Power Macs and SATA not a marriage made in heaven, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.11.03. The PCI SATA card said blue & white G3 or newer and Mac OS 8.6 or later, but maybe it would work in an older pre-G3 Power Mac….
- System 7 Today, advocates of Apple’s ‘orphan’ Mac OS 7.6.1, Tommy Thomas, Welcome to Macintosh, 2006.10.26. Why Mac OS 7.6.1 is far better for 68040 and PowerPC Macs than System 7.5.x.
- Mac OS 8 and 8.1: Maximum Size, Maximum Convenience, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.09.11. Mac OS 8 and 8.1 add some useful new features and tools, and it can even be practical on 68030-based Macs.
- Installing Linux on a PCI Power Mac, Part 1, Larry Stotler, Linux on the Low End, 2006.09.05. Preparing your PCI Power Mac (or clone) for Linux and getting openSUSE Linux installed.
- Preparing your Mac’s hard drive for Linux, Larry Stotler, Linux on the Low End, 2006.08.09. Before you install Linux, you have to partition your hard drive. A look at three different hard drive strategies for Mac Linux.
- Customizing Mac OS 9, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.08.01. Fiddling with themes, picking a browser, and making the Classic Mac OS work just the way you want it to.
- The ins and outs of booting Linux on the Mac, Larry Stotler, Linux on the Low End, 2006.07.31. “Old World” Macs can’t boot directly into Linux. They need to boot the Classic Mac OS first, then pass control over to Linux.
- Preparing your PCI Power Mac for Linux, Larry Stotler, Linux on the Low End, 2006.07.26. How powerful a CPU do you need? How much memory? Do you need a faster drive controller? Are some video cards better than others?
- Floppy drive observations: A compleat guide to Mac floppy drives and disk formats, Scott Baret, Online Tech Journal, 2006.06.29. A history of the Mac floppy from the 400K drive in the Mac 128K through the manual-inject 1.4M SuperDrives used in the late 1990s.
- ATI Radeon 7000 Driver for Mac OS 7.6.1, System 7 Today, 2006.05.29. ATI’s installers don’t support System 7.6.1, but System 7 Today’s does, making this the fastest video card to work with Mac OS 7.6.1
- Getting the Mac digital jukebox up and running, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.05.08. Connecting your PowerPC Mac to your rstereo and remote control options for running a headless digital audio jukebox.
- System 7.6.1 is perfect for many older Macs, John Martorana, That Old Mac Magic, 2006.03.24. Want the best speed from your old Mac? System 7.6.1 can give you that with a fairly small memory footprint – also helpful on older Macs.
- System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6: The beginning and end of an era, Tyler Sable, Classic Restorations, 2006.02.15. System 7.5 and Mac OS 7.6 introduced many new features and greater modernity while staying within reach of most early Macintosh models.
- Web browser tips for the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2006.01.03. Tips on getting the most out of WaMCom, Mozilla, Internet Explorer, iCab, Opera, and WannaBe using the classic Mac OS.
- The best browsers for PowerPC Macs and the classic Mac OS, Nathan Thompson, Embracing Obsolescence, 2005.12.16. Two browsers stand out from the pack: iCab 3 is modern and remains under development, and WaMCom brings Mozilla to older Macs.
- Why you should use Mac OS 7.6 to get the most out of vintage Macs, Thomas Ahart, The Productive Mac, 2005.12.12. Although you may be able to run OS 8 or 9 on your old Mac, you’ll generally find better performance using Mac OS 7.6.
- Sonata SD, Sonnet Tech, 2004.06.01. First new PCI video card for the Mac in ages sells for just US$99, supports OS 7.5.3 and later plus OS X 10.1.5 and later, works with VGA or old Mac monitors, 16 MB VRAM.
- Getting to the Power Mac 8500 motherboard, Dan Knight, Low End Mac Mailbag, 2003.05.28. “It’s been a few years since I’ve been inside one of these, but I can pretty much walk you through it from memory.”
- Review: Sonnet Tempo Ultra ATA66 Macintosh PCI Host Adapter, Dan Knight, 2000.07.28. The most economical way to put IDE support in a PCI Power Mac.
- Upgrading the Power Mac 7500, Chris Lawson, 2000.07.18
- Mac Daniel: Upgrading a Power Mac 7200 and 7500
- Guide to G3 Daughter Cards
- Apple Specs for Power Mac 8500/120, 8500/132, 8500/150, 8500/180, 8515/120 (Japanese)
- Apple discontinued support and parts orders for this model on 2001.10.15 (2001.10.22 in Canada), except in California. You may be able to find dealers with parts inventory either locally or on our parts and service list.
- Apple Computer will consider this computer vintage as of 2001.07.16 in the United States and 2001.07.23 in Canada. As of that date, service parts will only be available for units purchased in California and being serviced within California.
- G3 upgrade cards unstable?, MacWeek
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