What About PowerPC Upgrades for the Quadra 700 or LC 475?

1998 – SP writes: It has taken me a long time to find you, but you sound like the answer to my prayers! I have a Quadra 700, with 20 MB RAM, 12x CD-ROM, and a 1 GB hard drive running System 7.5.5. Should I upgrade or trade in?

I have read about PPC cards but have been unable to track one down.

Mac Daniel writes: If you’re looking for more power, my vote is replacement.

Quadra 700The Quadra 700 was one of the first two 68040-based Macs. It was a competent performer, but it’s also a seven-year-old design. If you find you need more power, your only choice is a Power Mac.

Yes, there have been a few PowerPC upgrade cards for the Q700 and other Macs, but they’re as rare as hen’s teeth, and when you can find them, they tend to be priced out of all proportion to their worth.

Thanks to the iMac and predictions that Mac OS X won’t run on pre-G3 models, prices of used Macs have fallen significantly. As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, you may be able to find a used Power Mac 7500 for as little as $550. If it happens to have a slower CD-ROM or a smaller hard drive than your Quadra 700, you might want to consider swapping drives before you sell the Quadra or find another use for your it.

Why the 7500? Because it usually comes with a 100 MHz or 120 MHz 601 processor, which is a decent step up from what you have – and more than the PPC upgrade would offer. It costs about what the PPC upgrade would (!) and can be upgraded with a faster 604 or even a G3 processor when you want even more speed.

The fact that you’ve gone so long on a Quadra 700 leads me to believe that you’ll probably be happy with Mac OS 8.x for quite a while, maybe until the era of 1 GHz computers makes a 400 MHz G3 daughter card seem sluggish. Based on price and expandability, the 7500 represents a best buy in used Power Macs.

BM writes: I have been trying to locate a processor upgrade card for my Performa 475. Do you know if they have this available and where and I purchase one.

Quadra 605Mac Daniel writes: Good luck! Apple only produced these cards for a limited time. By the time most Quadra 605 (a.k.a. LC 474, Performa 475) owners thought the upgrade made sense, it had been discontinued.

It is possible to find the card, mostly on auction sites like eBay, where it often sells for more than a used Power Mac.

But the real question is, “Would the processor upgrade card satisfy you?”

My guess is that it probably won’t. Apple’s Macintosh Processor Upgrade would turn your 25 MHz computer into a 50 MHz Power Mac using the old 601 processor, which is nowhere near the speed of systems based on the PowerPC 603, 604, or G3. (If you can find it, the Daystar PowerCard 601 provides 100 MHz performance, but that’s still far below entry level by today’s standards.)

Besides performance issues, newer Macs come with internal CD-ROM drives, larger hard drives, and more upgrade options.

If you’re looking for a speed boost and prepared to spend $500 or so – which is what the Apple card sometimes goes for on auction sites – consider alternatives like a used Performa 6360 (160 MHz 603e), Power Mac 7500 (100-120 MHz 601, but CPU can be replaces), or a refurbished SuperMac C500 (usually 200-240 MHz 603e). Each is in the same price range, provides a lot more power than the 50 MHz PowerPC upgrade for your 475, and offers faster upgrade options for the future.

Keywords: #powerpcupgrade #quadra700 #lc475

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