Charles Moore's Mailbag

Replacing or Upgrading a Performa 5320 and Connecting an SGI Monitor to a Mac

Charles Moore - 2003.12.17 - Tip Jar

re Performa 5320CD Replacement

From Pete Tyler

You had suggested to Pablo [in Replacing a Performa 5320CD] that he go for an iMac or G3 Power Mac. I'd differ from that slightly. I'd tell him to buy 7300 or 7600 series Power Mac with a G3 upgrade and a cheap generic PCI USB card. These are cheap, highly reliable, and easily upgradeable boxes. You can't go wrong with 'em.

Hi Pete,

There are any number of upgradable PCI Macs or clones that would do the job. I was thinking of something with built-in USB and ethernet.However, my son and I both have Umax S900s upgraded with USB and FireWire cards, and they work great. Baucom Computers has 200 MHz S900s for $55 plus shipping.


About the 5320 Upgrade

From Carlos Bragatto

Hello LEM-mates

About the 5320 upgrade, the user can do the following quite cheaply:

Get a complete 5400/5500 motherboard (by complete I mean complete with PRAM battery, PCI slots riser and memory), a cheap Realtek 8139C based PCI ethernet card, and a cheap USB PCI card. Getting a 5500/250 motherboard would be pretty nice, since it already has ATI Rage 3D onboard video and can be easily overclocked to 300 MHz. It may become a pretty smart machine; all you have to do is pull out the old motherboard and put the newer one in. The performance boost will be unbelievable.

If you want, you can get a Comm Slot 2 ethernet card and leave one PCI slot free, and get a USB+FireWire PCI card, spending a little bit more.

I believe that the user won't spend more than US$70 to do all that, offers for such items pop in every week on LEM Swap list. On eBay, look for the user olde-mac-milt; he usually has them all.

See ya.

Carlos Bragatto, Americana/Brazil

Thanks Carlos. Useful tips all.


Re: Replacing a Performa 5320CD

From T R

I don't think I can count the number of times I've explained that there is no SCSI to USB adapter.

SCSI is a general-purpose system bus that's faster than USB, but the economics are just against making a USB adapter for SCSI. To make a USB adapter, the manufacturer would have to make a whole new USB host controller (there are three types on the market now, two for 12 Mbps USB and one for 480 Mbps USB) or a complicated device complete with CPU and PCI controller and software so it could operate under the control of the Mac. Then you have to have a driver on the Mac. All this for slow computers belonging to a small and shrinking market.

As I remember, there used to be printers, scanners, ethernet interfaces, even a display adapter, all that used SCSI. Now it's apparently not worth the effort.

On the other hand, to make a PCI USB adapter, the manufacturer can contract out to one of the existing makers of USB host controllers, use Apple's existing drivers, and set up marketing. Much cheaper and easier, and probably more profitable.

And, according to the 5260 profile that you have linked in your article, you can indeed get a PCI slot by replacing the motherboard and back plate. I call that a relatively easy operation.

Now, there are adapters to go between USB and SCSI, but those are strictly to attach SCSI peripherals to USB-equipped Macs. Unless some have been updated for USB 2, they're also deathly slow. I guess those could be profitable because they're intended for a growing market segment, and it's probably relatively easy to send SCSI commands through USB.

For a given USB to SCSI adapter, one way to be reasonably sure that it's meant for SCSI peripherals is to check what type of USB port it has. Since USB is strictly host-based (disregarding USB-to-USB cables meant for connecting laptops to desktops or such), the adapter should have a plug that looks like the plug on the end of a mouse cable, or a jack that looks like the jack on the back of a printer. If the adapter has a jack that looks like the jacks on the back of computers, then it very well might be a USB adapter for SCSI Macs.

Thanks for the informative tutorial. ;-)


Jason Walsh's Question

From Walter J. Ferstl

Hello Charles,

referring to Jason Walsh's question in Another WallStreet Tale, Free WordPerfect for Mac, Dictation Software, and More:

P.S. Quick non-PowerBook question. Do you know what I need to connect a Silicon Graphics 20" GDM CRT monitor (Sony tube) to my Blue & White G3 (or WallStreet PB if it'll ever get resurrected)? It's a fixed-sync screen and is 'sync-on-green' with a 13w3 connector. ---

Jason's problem may be solved possibly with one of the adapters available from Software Integrators.

Even more probably one would need two of these adapters combined, one of the adapters 7011 or 7012 for the 13w3-to-VGA adaptation and another one (out of the 7041, 7052, 7053 adapters) for handling the sync-on-green conversion part.

Similar adapters are available from Ram Electronics and Griffin Technology.


Fixed Frequency Monitor and Mr. Walsh

From Mark McKenney

Dear Mr. Moore:

I previously sent a blurb about Griffin Technology and how they may help Mr. Walsh determine if his B&W G3 could work with a SGI monitor (Dec 8, 2003 column). I found another source that claims to make a PCI card to work with a fixed frequency monitor, and also say to call them for Mac "solutions" (it is an 800 number). The product page mentions Windows drivers but nothing about Mac OS, so I do not know just what Mac OS coverage they provide with their video cards. I have not personally dealt with this company, as I do not own any fixed frequency monitors.

You may want to pass this on to Mr. Walsh.

Yours truly,
Mark McKenney

Sun/Apple Video Cable

From David Doyle


Send this link off to Jason Walsh - - they may have exactly what he needs, can't guarantee it'll be cheap....

BTW, I'm giving up the Pismo to fund a Quicksilver, but it won't be far off, my brother is getting it. Now needing a laptop, a friend had a coffee stained 12" iBook with no backlight and a few dysfunctional keys. After finding the right info and parts (inverter was shot), it's back up and running. Lost some screws though. Lesson here: Don't drink and compute.

Dave Doyle

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the cable link.

I destroyed my Macally iceKey keyboard last week by spilling a drink into it. First time I've done that in more than a decade of computing. :-(


re SGI Monitor Problem

From Christopher Yip


A good place to look for monitor cables is Software Integrators Graphics Solutions.

I picked up a cable set from them that let me connect an SGI (nee Sony) GDM17E11 fixed monitor to my PC/Mac.

Hope this helps.


SGI Monitor Cable

From SuperProz

Good info there. Also (based in UK, might have to ask about US shipping)

Wherever he purchases from, I think he might want to be mindful of the return policy.

That might do the trick. Or if the guy wants to make his own, heh:

Interesting to note that there are several 13w3 connectors but they are different for each vendor. Doh. Gotta be sure he gets an SGI cable/adaptor.

Monitor Adapter

From David Deckert

Jason is already ahead of the game if knows the particulars about his SG monitor. He needs an adapter, maybe like this one or this one from Griffin Technology

Griffin also lists a Mac to 13W3 Cable which he may also need, or perhaps it takes care of everything by itself?


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at and a columnist at If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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