I Have Quadra and PowerBook, but I Want a Power Mac

1999 – EK writes: I own a PowerBook 540c and a Quadra 650. I feel as if I got left at Penn Station watching the train of technology zip by.

Here are the details: PowerBook 540c 36/325 and 19.2 kbps internal modem. The Quadra 650 has 24/240 and a 14.4 kbps modem. I am interested in a Power Mac, but with my extremely small budget (I am a teen), I am not sure which to buy, if any.

Umax SuperMac J700Mac Daniel writes: In a house full of Macs, we only have one Power Mac. It’s mine – and it’s the computer everyone wants to use because of its speed (and its ability to play PowerPC-only games). It was just six months ago that I upgraded from a 20 MHz 68LC040-based Centris 610 to a 180 MHz 604e-based SuperMac J700 speedster, so I know the feeling of being left behind.

My oldest sons, both teens, have 68040-based Macs (my old Centris and an LC II with a 68040-based accelerator) and would also love Power Macs. I have a feeling that will be the first major purchase for each.

Power Mac 7500My advice is to buy a Power Mac with the standard CPU card, which gives you the option of dropping in a faster, more efficient CPU in the future. The most widely available and generally least expensive one is the Power Mac 7500, which usually has a 100 MHz 601 processor and sometimes sells for under $600. Good alternatives, if you can find them, are the SuperMac J700 and Power Computing PowerCenter.

Umax SuperMac C500For a bit less money, you may be able to find a SuperMac C500 or C600. Both have ZIF sockets for the CPU, and it is possible to upgrade either to a G3. These were the least expensive Mac clones designed to use processor upgrades, although the upgrades must be specifically designed for their ZIF socket. (The C500 has two PCI slots;  the C600, three.)

There are upgrade options for other Power Macs and Mac clones that were never designed with such upgrades in mind. This means the upgrades won’t be as widely available or affordable as on models that use CPU daughter cards.

One more option should be available soon, the Presto PPC upgrade from Sonnet. Their news release promises 100 MHz PowerPC 601 performance (including a 1 MB cache) for $399. The card should be practically plug-and-play with your Quadra 650, since it plugs right into the processor direct slot (PDS) on the motherboard.

Based on a design by Apple and Daystar, the Presto PPC may be the most practical way to move to a PowerPC and greatly improve performance (up to five times faster) if you’re otherwise satisfied with the capabilities of your Quadra.

The upgrade should be available by the end of the month. I’ve contacted Sonnet in hopes of obtaining one to review. More details if that works out.

Keywords: #powermac7500 #daughter cards

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