Cost Effective Power Mac 7200 Upgrades

1999 – The Power Mac 7200 offered good value, but its only official upgrade path involved replacing the entire logic board. What other options were there?

Power Mac 7500

  1. What 7200 Upgrades Are Cost-Effective?
  2. Upgrading a Power Mac 7200/75

What 7200 Upgrades Are Cost-Effective?

TLO writes: I realize my options are quite limited when considering the options for upgrading my Power Mac 7200. I recently doubled the RAM from 16 to 32 MB, added a 1.2 GB hard drive for back up, and upgraded to Mac OS 8.1. The performance results I saw were astounding!

My question: Can I expect to see a similar performance increase by upgrading to OS 8.5, doubling my RAM again, and increasing my RAM cache from 512 KB to 1 MB? Any recommendations on the most cost effective upgrade given the constraints of this machine?

JM writes: I have a PowerMac 7200/90. As I look around at all of the great upgrade cards and gadgets for Macs, I’ve come to realize that nobody makes anything for my 7200. Am I doomed? Is the only upgrade choice available for my poor 7200 an entire motherboard replacement?

Mac Daniel writes: The best ways to upgrade a 7200 without investing in a new motherboard:

  1. Install a 1 MB Level 2 cache. This can nearly double CPU performance compared with no cache – and increase it about 65% over a 256 KB cache. Cost: about $125.
  2. Make sure you have 2 MB or 4 MB of VRAM. This will improve video performance and make overall performance a bit faster compared with 1 MB of VRAM.
  3. A larger disk cache can make a world of difference. With your next RAM upgrade, seriously consider setting the disk cache to 2 MB.
  4. Speed Doubler provides better caching than Apple’s disk cache, better 68K emulation for older software, and smart copying. At about $55, I consider it a must.

You will see some improvement by going to Mac OS 8.5, but the L2 cache will make the biggest difference, followed by Speed Doubler.

On the other hand, upgrading to a 7500 motherboard will let you use a 1 MB L2 cache (or even a 233-400 MHz G3 with its own cache), Speed Doubler, and lots of memory. It also provide more options for the future.

Upgrading a Power Mac 7200/75

LB writes: I currently own a 7200/75 with 24 MB of RAM and a GeoPort. For the last couple of months it really has been getting on my nerves because it is so slow.

What are my options for upgrading it to a G3? Is their any company that would buy my board if I buy an upgrade card? A quick fix would be to increase the RAM to 64 MB, but it really does not help me six months from now.

What about cache, is that another route to go?

The GeoPort I have also seems to be slowing down, are there any upgrades for this instead of buying a new modem because I really like using the telephone options on it?

Mac Daniel writes: The best way to speed up a 7200 is to drop in a 7500 motherboard and a G3 daughter card. Of course, that’s also the most expensive way to upgrade a 7200, but there are no G3 upgrades for the 7200 motherboard.

We have several of these at work. Here’s what I’d suggest:

  • Drop in a 1 MB L2 cache. If you have no cache, this will nearly double performance. If you have a 256 KB cache, which is quite common, expect it to run about two-thirds faster.
  • If you only have 1 MB of VRAM, add a second megabyte. This interleaves video memory and speeds up performance.
  • If you’re using virtual memory and depend on it to run all your programs, buy real RAM instead. Virtual memory is free – and only worth what you pay for it. It works, but it really slows things down.
  • If you’re still using System 7.x, upgrade to Mac OS 8.1 or 8.5.1. These are much faster on Power Macs.

Finally, dump that GeoPort modem (a Road Apple) and buy a real modem. The GeoPort is the Mac equivalent of a WinModem. Both are cheap imitations of real modems – they tie up your CPU during communication. A real modem will free your CPU to run the computer, not tie it up doing telecommunications.

Or, if you’re not using LocalTalk, consider using the GeoPort for phone features and a real modem to fax and connect to your ISP.

That GeoPort is sucking the power from your computer.

Keywords: #powermac7200

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