Should I Replace My Umax SuperMac J700 or S900 with an iMac?

1998 – KW writes: Hi. You must get thousands of emails! If you have the time, I wonder if you’d comment on the following: I have two Umax J700s with 56 MB RAM running Mac OS 8.5, Optiquest 17″ monitors, and networked with a 266 MHz Power Mac G3 with 64 MB RAM and an Optiquest monitor.

I was considering replacing the two Umaxes with iMacs. I figured any SCSI or drive backup issues could be dealt with by over the network to the G3.

Or should I upgrade the Umaxes with a G3 processor? (That’s why I bought them in the first place – they were processor upgradeable).

Umax SuperMac J700Mac Daniel writes: I don’t get thousands of emails, but I do get more than I expected. I’ve fallen weeks behind on reading and responding – but it gives me great material for future columns (I’m probably two weeks ahead in that category).

As for the Umax J700s – or any Umax SuperMac for that matter – if you want to sell them, I could probably help find buyers. When I bought my J700, I discovered no unofficial website or support group, so I created the SuperMacs email list. We’ve grown to about 250 members, including some folk who once worked for Umax on the SuperMac team. My collection now includes a SuperMac C500, C600, and S900 in addition to the J700. (The S900 is a tower version of the J700 with even more PCI slots and drive bays – and it has a second CPU slot for turning it into a dual-processor machine. Everything I say about the J700 applies to the S900 as well.)

Or, if you decide to keep the SuperMacs, you might want to join our list.

Bondi iMacIn my opinion, the iMac would be a downgrade from your J700s. The iMac has a great 15″ screen – but it’s only a 15″ screen. It’ll seem cramped after using a 17″ monitor.

Besides, the SuperMacs have a lot more upgrade options: CPU upgrades as fast as 400 MHz G3, RAM to 1,040 MB, and more drive bays than you’ll find in the minitower designs from Apple. The ixMicro Twin Turbo is an excellent video card, although the Rage Pro in the iMac will be better for games. (Keep your eye out for the MacMagic Pro card, which promises 2D, 3D, and game accelerated video with 16 MB VRAM for $299.)

For as little as $350 each, you can make the J700 as fast as the iMac. Or for the same $1,299 you’d pay for the iMac, you could pick up a G3 card at 300 MHz or faster (see Guide to G3 Daughter Cards for more information).

My advice is to stick with the SuperMacs, add any memory you need, and invest in as fast a G3 upgrade as you can justify.

Keywords: #suprmacj700 #supermacs900

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