PowerBook 5300

The PowerBook 5300 was Apple’s first PowerBook based on a PowerPC CPU. Due to fire problems with the original LithIon battery (which was recalled before it reached the consumer market), plastic chipping from the case, and poor performance (among other things), we label it a Compromised Mac. (It was also the butt of a lot of jokes.)

PowerBook 5300Still, despite some limitations, the 5300 is a nice portable, as is its 68040-based twin, the PowerBook 190. Upgrading to Mac OS 8.1 or later makes it rock solid – and it’s a lot smaller than the PowerBook G3 Series (a.k.a. WallStreet).

PowerBook 5300 had a role in My Best Friend's Wedding

Apple went all out getting product placement for the 5300, and it appeared in several movies, including Independence Day (1996, below), Ransom (1996), Jingle All the Way (1996), My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997, left), The Saint (1997), Free Willy 3 (1997), and Home Alone 3 (1997), and Volcano (1997).

PowerBook 5300 in Independence Day

The top-end $6,500 5300ce was the first PowerBook with an 800 x 600 pixel display. Earlier PowerBooks had been limited by 640 x 400 and 640 x 480 displays. The entry-level 5300 had a 16-shade 640 x 480 grayscale display, and the two intermediate models had 640 x 480 color screens.

By modern standards, its biggest drawback is probably the 64 MB memory ceiling, which can be overcome using RAM Doubler or Virtual Memory.

PowerBook Hard Drives: The Essential Upgrade notes that there may be compatibility issues with EIDE drives larger than 8.2 GB, although this may be resolved by partitioning or using Mac OS 8.6 or later.


According to the Road Warrior and Other World Computing, the drive controller in pre-G4 PowerBooks is incompatible with ATA-6/Ultra ATA-100 hard drives.


  • introduced 1995.08.25 at $6,500 (5300ce); discontinued 1996.08.03
  • requires System 7.5.2 (with PowerBook 5300 Enabler) through 9.1
  • CPU: 100 or 117 MHz PPC 603e
  • ROM: 4 MB
  • RAM: 8-32 MB standard, expandable to 64 MB
  • Level 2 cache: none
  • displays:
    • 640 x 480 9.5″ 85 ppi grayscale active matrix with 16 shades
    • 640 x 480 10.4″ 77 ppi color dual scan with 16-bit color
    • 800 x 600 10.4″ 96 ppi color active matrix with 16-bit color
  • Video out: VID-14, requires cable (Apple P/N M3927LL/A), 512 KB VRAM (1 MB on some models, which provides 16-bit video), supports 8-bit video at 640 x 480 and 832 x 624, 4-bit video at 640 x 870 and 1024 x 768
  • Hard drive: 500 MB, 750 MB, or 1.1GB EIDE
  • expansion bay: same as PowerBook 190
  • ADB: 1 port for keyboard and mouse
  • serial: 1 DIN-8 RS-422 port on back of computer
  • PC Card slots: 2
  • SCSI: HDI30 connector on back of computer
  • PC Card slots: 2 Type II (accepts one Type III card)
  • infrared: only supports Apple’s IRtalk
  • size: 2.0-2.2 x 11.5 x 8.5″
  • Weight: 5.9-6.2 pounds
  • Gestalt ID: 128
  • family number: M3135
  • power supply: M3747 or M3037

Online Resources


  • From Apple Knowledge Base Archive Article 19358: There is a known issue with the password security feature on the PowerBook 5300 and 190 series computers. This issue is resolved by installing the System 7.5 Update 2.0 which includes the Password Security 1.0.3 control panel.
  • PowerBooks with EDI hard drives do not provide SCSI termination power, depending on external SCSI devices to provide it. For more details, see SCSI Termination Power.

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