Cacheless MainStreet PowerBook G3, a Road Apple

Second Class Macs are Apple’s somewhat compromised hardware designs. For the most part, they’re not really bad – simply designs that didn’t meet their full potential. The PowerBook G3 Series was a trio of very capable models replacing the 250 MHz Kanga PowerBook G3. The 250 MHz and 292 MHz models were lightning fast, but the 233 MHz version was dog slow.

WallStreet PowerBook G3 SeriesWhy? Because Apple decided to keep the price down on the entry-level model by eliminating one small item that makes a world of difference on G3 systems – the level 2 cache. Under MacBench 4, the 250 MHz model shows nearly twice the performance of the 233 MHz one!

In the second edition of the PowerBook G3 Series, Apple introduced a 233 MHz model with a 512 KB L2 cache – and that made a world of difference. The newer 233 MHz PowerBook benchmarked 70% faster than its cacheless predecessor. Seventy percent!

To shave maybe $200 from retail, Apple seriously compromised the performance of this PowerBook. (Don’t confuse it with its successor, despite the fact they both have the same name and CPU speed.)

It’s a real shame that any G3 system should earn the Road Apple rating.


  • introduced May 4, 1998
  • requires System 8.0 or later
  • CPU: 233 MHz PPC 750 (a.k.a. G3)
  • Bus: 66 MHz
  • Performance: 445 (compare this with 764 for the G3/233 with 512 KB cache)
  • ROM: 4 MB
  • RAM: 32 MB, expandable to 192 MB
  • Level 2 cache: none
  • VRAM: 2 MB
  • displays:
    • 12.1″ 16-bit 800 x 600 color dual-scan passive matrix
    • 13.3″ 24-bit 1024 x 768 color active matrix
    • 14.1″ 24-bit 1024 x 768 color active matrix
  • Hard drive: 2, 4, or 8 GB
  • CD-ROM: 20x, removable
  • expansions bays: two
  • ADB: 1 port for keyboard and mouse
  • serial: 1 DIN-8 RS-422 port on back of computer
  • SCSI: HDI30 connector on back of computer
  • ethernet and modem standard
  • PC Card slots: 2
  • Weight: 7.2-7.8 pounds with battery

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