Should I Get a Vimage G3 Upgrade for My 6400 or 6500?

1998 – Two readers write in with questions about their Performa 6400/Power Mac 6500 G3 upgrade options.

Should I Upgrade My Performa 6400 or Buy a G3?

MT writes: Here’s the skinny: I’ve got a Performa 6400 with a Avid video card running at 200 MHz. It has no Zip drive, only 1 MB of video RAM, and a 28.8 modem.

Should I (a) upgrade using a Vimage card, purchase a Zip drive and a video card or (b) sell it/stash it away and get a G3?

Performa 6400 with displayMac Daniel writes: Let’s look at the cost of upgrading: the Vpower PF 54xx/64xx G3 240 MHz upgrade card sells for about $500 and nearly doubles computer performance. A refurbished Zip drive (get the SCSI version, not the Zip Plus, which is troublesome on Macs) sells for about $100. PCI video cards – oh, let’s say $150 as a rough figure.

Total cost to upgrade your 6400 is about $750.

On the used market, I’m thinking around $700 for what you’ve got. So if you sold your system, you’d have about $1,500 for a new Power Mac G3.

That very comfortably buys an iMac with a 233 MHz G3 plus a USB Zip drive (twice as fast as the Imation SuperDisk drive, according to Bare Feats). Shop around and you can probably get that with 64 MB or 96 MB of memory, not just the 32 MB that Apple installs, for the same price. You’ve got the Rage Pro graphics with 6 MB VRAM, an excellent 15″ screen, and the sharpest looking Mac this side of the PowerBook G3 Series.

If you’re looking for a G3 desktop, try to locate a G3/233 while there are still a few out there. Prices have dropped below the iMac level – and it’ll work with your current monitor. You might even score one with an internal Zip drive, but otherwise you can add a refurbished SCSI Zip for about $100.

Both the G3 and iMac will have faster CPU upgrade options than an accelerated 6400.

Looking at all that, I’d say you might see if you can sell your 6400 in the $700 range. If not, hold on for a while. New computer prices keep dropping – even faster than used computer values. So do the prices of accelerators, so the Vimage card may drop in price in the coming months.

What G3 Options Does My Power Mac 6500 Have?

MD writes: I have a 6500/250 with 128 MB of RAM. I need the power of the G3 to increase my production in video. I read that an upgrade will soon be available from Vimage. The card will plug into my L2 cache slot. Is this the only possibility that is available? Are there any compatibility issues with my AV system regarding video in and out?

Mac Daniel writes: Yes, the Vimage card looks like the only upgrade for a “non-upgradable” Mac like your 6500. Pretty clever bunch at Vimage!

The card is too new to know anything about compatibility issues, but early benchmarks are very encouraging. I haven’t seen any reports of incompatibilities, but your best bet is to check sites like Macs Only!, Accelerate Your Mac, MacFixIt, and MacInTouch for information on compatibility.


A reader noted that MacCPU sells a 225-240 MHz G3 card with 2:1 512 KB backside cache for US$529. MacBench 4 score is 729.

Reader Feedback

BP writes: Your upgrade prices mentioned for the 6400 add-ons are a tad on the high side, which shifts the balance somewhat.

NOTE: Because I often write these columns weeks before they are published, I tend to use ballpark figures. Most of the time you can probably do better. Mac Daniel

For instance. The Vimage card has been in the hands of distributors, who have cut prices on it. Last week it was seen on for $469. Also, I’ve seen new conventional Zip drives several times for as low as $79, and quite frequently under $100. No need to buy used/rebuilt unless one is in a hurry. Besides, it’s a good idea to have an external drive in any event. Keep an eye on dealmac and do searches on Cnet Shopper <>.

We’ve had the Zip and a LaCie-branded Jaz drive with our 6400/200 since we bought it. I dropped an Xclaim VR Pro into it when it came out last winter. I’m giving strong consideration to the Vimage card, too. Of course, I only paid $700 for the Mac and a 15AV monitor during Office Max’s Apple close-out last December.

But even with the graphic card, I still have one slot more than is available on the iMac, so how is it that you say the iMac is more expandable? It does hold more RAM, if one can afford the 128 MB RAM cards.

But the G3/233 desktop would be hard to beat.

Mac Daniel writes: I should have written, “the iMac and Power Mac G3 will have faster CPU upgrade options” – not more upgrade options. I have updated the article to reflect this.

Keywords: #perform6400 #powermac6500 #powermacg3 #g3upgrade

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