Motorola StarMax FAQ

Motorola StarMax computers were only on the market for a few years, and their five-year warrantees have long since expired. Motorola no longer offers any support for this hardware.

How can I call Motorola?

Motorola phone numbers: 800-551-1016, 800-222-5640, 800-551-1017 (Phone support $60 minimum!)

Where can I find more StarMax information?

Here are some good StarMax links (updated 2014.09.16)

How to reduce the number of freezes/lockups/crashes: 

  1. Empty some of your hard drive (minimum 200 MB unfragmented)
  2. Run Disk Warrior and NortonSystemWorks
  3. Trash your “Finder Prefs”
  4. Rebuild your desktop
  5. Try a different internet browser (the internet is crashy-get used to it)
  6. Reduce the number of CDEVs and extensions and look for conflicts
  7. Add memory (50-100% extra) to each your crashing applications
  8. Update all of your software. Go to: or
  9. Turn virtual memory on or off (change its current setting)
  10. Buy more RAM – $25 buys a 64 meg DIMM.

How do I add more RAM?

StarMax computers have three slots for memory modules (DIMMs). The computer will work with a minimum of 16 MB to a maximum of 160 MB.

  • Slots can accept 16, 32, and 64 MB DIMMS
  • DIMMS must be 168-pin, 3.3V unbuffered Extended Data Out (EDO), 60 nanosecond RAM access time or faster
  • The slot marked “single bank” can accept a 16 MB or 32 MB single bank DIMM, as installed at the factory. Single banked DIMMs often appear to be double banked, when they are really single banked. Note: This slot accepts a “dual bank” DIMM but will waste half of it.
  • The remaining DIMM slots, marked “dual bank”, can accept single or dual bank 16 MB, 32 MB, or 64 MB DIMMs (Note: 64 MB DIMMs must use 11-bit row address, 2 KB refresh) – see Motorola technical info-page 12.

How to add ethernet:

Most StarMax came from the factory without ethernet. You can add an ethernet card in any open PCI slot in your StarMax. Any OHCI Mac-compatible ethernet card will work. Note: Be sure to make sure that your card already has Mac specific extensions (a.k.a. drivers) before you buy it. Then pop in your new card and be sure all the Apple Ethernet extensions and the card specific software are installed.

Warning: Mac compatible cards cost a bit more than the $5 Windows cheapies. You’ll probably have to pop for the $20 OHCI model. We Love Macs has a selection of $20-30 PCI ethernet cards for Macs, and you may find some good deals on eBay as well. At Low End Mac, we have had the best luck with Farallon cards. Newer cards may not be supported using the Classic Mac OS, an StarMax models do not run OS X.

Replace your old battery (when the computer suddenly won’t start up or stops keeping preferences).

You really don’t need a new power supply (your $5 battery probably died)! You must read about PRAM (Parameter RAM) batteries:

See the photos at:

StarMaxes call for Ray-O-Vac 840s, which are scarce (Rayovac stopped making them). 841 and 844s are available in computer stores and do work. They come with the right plug and a new piece of Velcro. They’re twice as long and more powerful! Replacement requires partial removal of the motherboard.

Ray-O-Vac 840 equivalent batteries are available for purchase through the following links. Shipping is additional.

If you still want more info about a new power supply, talk to these people:

Can I add a third ATA/IDE drive?

No and yes! Original StarMax can only use two ATA/IDE devices. Most StarMax came from the factory with one ATA CD and one IDE hard drive, so we are full. No matter how many times we’ve changed the Master/Slave settings, our maximum is two IDE/ATA drives. We have tried and failed with major frustration. Drives with jumpers set to “slave” can’t be recognized by StarMax under Mac OS, because the built-in Apple ROM doesn’t support them.

Most of us have simply replaced our original hard drives with larger and faster drives. (Hint: Unplug the CD during this process to copy the contents of the old drive to the new drive, then re-plug the CD.) To get around this limitation, some of us have chosen to open up a port by replacing our original ATA CD with a SCSI CD (Note: Some StarMax machines came this way. Use “Apple System Profiler” to find out exactly what you have.) Some choose to buy the more expensive SCSI hard drives.

Others have added ATA PCI expansion cards, a more expensive solution that adds drive ports and delivers faster speed.

Why won’t my new ATA 100 hard drive work?

ATA100 drives don’t always work (as the startup drive) with the stock StarMax IDE cable; you probably need a genuine ATA100 cable.

How to load OS 8.6 via CD when computer won’t boot using CD via the ‘C’ key nor the Apple menu ‘Startup Disk’ 

Not all CD-ROM drives are compatible with StarMax computers. See Low End Mac’s Motorola StarMax Bootable CD-ROM Guide for more details.

  1. Read the CD’s Read Me file to determine if your CD is a retail-full-install, machine-specific, or update-CD – a retail full OS 8.6 CD is a very rare item. You probably have either a machine-specific CD (many of us have failed using iMac CDs) or an upgrade CD that requires OS 8.5 to be installed already.
  2. Can your StarMax CD boot from OS 8.x CDs without an extra driver? If your CD is not bootable, an easy way to deal with it is to install a bootable SCSI CD drive (only $12.95 at OWC). An extra CD also makes other things easier later.

Adapted from

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