Which Is Better, a Power Mac 6100 or a Performa 6300?

1999 – SB writes: I have the opportunity to purchase from a friend either a Power Mac 6100/60 or a Performa 6300/100. I know the 6300 is a Road Apple, but it does have the 603e processor. So should I buy the 6100 and add cache and RAM – or stick with the 6300

I know I’m stuck with the internal modem on the 6300 because of the serial port limitations. I have a 24x CD-ROM drive I can stick in either one.

Neither machine is expected to be a top of the line system, just something for general home use. I do all my really cool stuff at work, of course.

Power Mac 6100Mac Daniel writes: Ouch. Is there a third option?

The 6100/60 was a decent computer in 1994, but it was introduced almost five years ago. It uses slow system memory for video, can’t support video past 832 x 624 resolution without a separate video card, is poorly ventilated, and is simply s-l-o-w by today’s standards. Unless it’s really, really cheap, I’d pass.

Performa 6300The 6300/100 should be about one-third faster than the 6100/60. Although it uses the newer PowerPC 603e processor, there are other design compromises, as noted in your reference to it as a Road Apple. Like the 6100, it has limited video settings, limited expansion options, and is still pretty slow by today’s standards.

I wouldn’t pay more than US$200 for either, although current asking price is usually in the $300 to $400 range.

That said, if you’re able to buy either for $200 or less and know the limitations, either one will make a decent computer for the next year or two. Both can run Mac OS 8.5, take lots of memory, and do all the basic things you want a computer to do.

Reader Feedback

AT writes: As a 6100 user I beg to disagree! Given a choice between a 6100/60 and a 6300/100, I would go for the 6100 flat out.

While the 60 MHz 601 may seem slower than the 100 MHz 603, the bus and motherboard issues discussed in Road Apple make it far less efficient than any other PPC machine.

Without either an AV or HPV card, motherboard video on the 6100 just sucks – however, even that is not much worse than the built-in video of the 6300. Furthermore, with the purchase of a secondhand AV card (quite rare and expensive, $100-150) or an HPV card (much more common and cheap – about $50-80), the video performance will knock the socks off the 6300.

The 6100 also has built-in ethernet, a big plus for future cable modem use.

The 6100 also has full speed serial ports, either of which can support a GeoPort.

Future G3 expandability is also a plus. I know you mentioned that it does not make sense to add this $499 upgrade now, but in a few months when the prices drop and the card should be available either NOS or second hand for around $200, it will be a viable upgrade – and it is good to know that the machine would have the bus and support systems to at least keep up with the G3 upgrade.

SK writes: I’d go with the 6100 for sure. Although the 6300 benchmarks better, the 6100 works better in everyday use. It also is G3 upgradeable, and there’s a really good trade going on right now in used PDS video cards that can be used simultaneously with the G3 upgrade cards from Sonnet and Newer.

I’ve got a page on the 6100 at <http://www.kan.org/6100/>

I use my AV version to make QuickTime VR object movies with my video camera!

AJ writes: You said that the 6100 is just plain slow, which is entirely true. You also said the 6300 is probably a better deal. However, the real killer reason to go 6100 over 6300 is the G3 upgrade path. Spend $150-200 on the 6100, and invest the $200 difference plus $100 on that Sonnet (or Newer Tech) G3 upgrade.

Mac Daniel writes: Although the G3 upgrade makes a fine addition to the 6100, buying the computer for $250-400 and planning $500 more for the upgrade isn’t terribly cost effective. I’d hold off for something more powerful than either.

Keywords: #powermac6100 #powermac6300 #performa6300

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