1999: In my previous article I stated that I would use a Macintosh full time for my day-to-day tasks. One thing that is preventing me from doing so is that my Quadra 605 just doesn’t give me the power that I need.
“Let there be PowerPC,” my home network screams, and I now find myself in the market to buy a Power Mac. The hardest task is finding a Power Macintosh that suits all my needs for a good price. Several models have intrigued me, and I thought I would share my thoughts on them with all of you. 99.9% of my research has been done here on Low End Mac, with its in-depth database of all Macintosh models.
I would consider this model the best bang for your buck. The 7500 was made in 1995 and is currently one of the most wanted used models on the market. The first thing that caught my attention was that I could upgrade the CPU to G3 or G4 via its daughter card slot. The 7500 also has 8 DIMM slots.
I don’t know if the engineer who designed the motherboard for the 7500 should be hailed as a genius or locked away as a nut case. In 1995 who was really going to fill 8 DIMM slots? But that’s Apple thinking ahead for you because I would use all of them now.
One requirement, which I have right now, is the ability to run Mac OS X Server* (it does not officially support the 7500), which I hear the 7500 does quite well. A 7500/G3 combo is considered extremely powerful – and almost deadly.
The one problem I have with the 7500 is that it only has 3 PCI slots. My Power Mac will have a PCI Ultra2 SCSI controller, PCI video, and PCI 10/100 Ethernet (if it’is not built in). That leaves me no room to add more PCI devices. Sure, I could live without 100Base-T Ethernet, but I don’t want to. Perhaps I could learn to accept life without having a spare PCI slot, but I want my first PowerPC to be perfect.
The 9500 scares me. It has 6 PCI slots, 12 DIMM slots, and can also be upgraded with a G3 or G4. This is all housed in the biggest tower case I have ever seen. The 9500 sells currently for around $1,300. It was made for power users. Unofficially it can also support Mac OS X Server.
The Power Macintosh 9500 is perfect for a person such as me but is a little pricey. For $1,300 I could buy a Blue & White G3 from Small Dog Electronics. Productivity is also an issue. Am I really going to use 12 DIMM slots and fill 6 PCI slots? I would be better off buying a 7500.
Low End Mac’s own Dan Knight brought this model to my attention a few weeks ago. Small Dog Electronics is currently selling a bare-bones S900 for $299. The S900 has 6 PCI slots, 8 DIMM slots, and can also be upgraded to a G3 or G4. Essentially the S900 is a cross between a Power Mac 8500 and 9500.
The one thing that really caught my attention with the S900 is that it can do multiprocessing (but not with G3 G4 processors). I can just imagine putting in two 233 MHz 604e processors and loading up Mac OS. So far I have only found one flaw with the S900, and that is no one has been able to get Mac OS X Server running on it. Running Mac OS X Server is very important to me, and I cannot willingly buy a PowerPC that can’t run it. Should someone get Mac OS X Server running on an S900, I would gladly purchase one.
4 PCI slots, 4 DIMM slots, USB, FireWire, Mac OS X Server support, and a really cool case. What more can I ask for?
A lower price and AGP graphics.
As noted earlier, Small Dog Electronics is selling a Blue & White G3/350 for $1,300, but I can get a G4/350 with AGP for $1,600 from the Apple Store.
Prices need to come down quite a bit before I could consider buying a Blue & White G3. AGP graphics are also very important to me. If I am going to get an S900 for $300, it’s not that important. But if I am spending $1,300 on a PowerPC, AGP is very important.
Each of the models I have listed is an extremely good computer, and I would be proud to own any one of them at this time. However, I am looking towards the future and don’t want to be left out in the cold with Mac OS X Server and Client. Mac OS X is the perfect marriage of Unix and the Macintosh interface (although I do wish it were POSIX complaint). It would have been nice if Apple officially supported G3-upgraded Power Macs and clones. As I’ve said before you can’t please all the people all the time.
I am still unsure which model I will purchase, but we will see in the weeks ahead.
* This was the original version of Mac OS X Server that came out March 1999 – two years before the first consumer version of Mac OS X shipped.