Charles Moore's Mailbag

Upgrading PowerBook CPUs, Going Dell, PCI Power Mac Value, 6320 Upgrade Tips, and More

Charles Moore - 2004.01.19 - Tip Jar

Upgrading PowerBooks

From Robert Friede

Hi Charles,

I can't resist adding my own 2 cents on the CPU upgrade scene for our beloved P'Books.

My everyday machine is a last-iteration 1 GHz TiBook (Panther, Jaguar, OS 9.2.2) which I hope will last a very long time!

Meanwhile, our good old Pismo almost got a DayStar upgrade, but after thinking hard about what it's mostly used for, we opted for a zippy G3/900 instead. No regrets about that. 10.2.8, 9.2.2.

The Wallstreet II has been running great on a Sonnet G3/500 for some time now. I just upgraded the first partition to 10.2.8 last week and also like the result. I find Jaguar's Finder better than Panther's, so there's no plan to go to the G4/Panther option.

The Kanga 3500 still putt-putts along doing minor online things every day. Upgrading from 8.6 to 9.1 saw a big improvement in how it feels to use. I tried 9.2.1 using 9Helper but this update slowed the machine down too much so we reverted to 9.1. Still too slow online, really, even while using iCab.

The Kanga has replaced the Comet 2400c/320 (9.1) only because nowadays my eyes have too hard a time reading text on its small 800 x 600 screen. I much prefer the Comet otherwise. I love the Comet.

The 5300c (8.1) has always run too slowly for me and still sits in its storage drawer along with assorted, even earlier PBooks remaining from various projects from long ago. As I recall, my 190cs was always faster, although its passive matrix screen was a major pain under any conditions. Now the PB 170 - that was one solid machine in its time...

Thx for listening.

Bob Friede

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the interesting review of your impressive fleet of PowerBooks. I'm glad you're enjoying the 900 MHz G3 upgrade in your Pismo. My precious Pismo is about to be shipped the way to Georgia for a 550 MHz G4 injection. I already have a reasonably fast G3 in my iBook.

Am running Panther on both of them and loving it.


From Wil Webb

Hi Charles,

I read your article on alternatives to .mac, and I'm currently trying I'm having problems sending mail on their SMTP server. Do you happen to know the correct settings, etc.? I've looked on their site and couldn't really find any information that could help.


Hi Wil,

Mail Server:
SMTP Server:


iBook Problems

From Simon Magennis


Just to add to the general discussion about white iBook motherboard problems. My sister, who I introduced to Macs about 10 years ago, has insisted on having her office and assistants equipped with Macs for a good number of years. I guess she must have 6 to 10 around the department in the Irish university where she works. Their 13 month old iBook died recently - needs a new motherboard for 500 Euros. She is so disgusted that she has just ordered 6 Dell laptops. If Apple had admitted the problem, she would likely have ordered 6 new iBooks or even PowerBooks.


Hi Simon,

She may be out of the fat and into the fire with those Dells, but I can understand her frustration. If Apple doesn't positively address this problem, 2004 could turn out to be "the year of the laptop exodus," at least from Apple 'Books.


7x00 + Upgrade Card versus Beige G3

From Peter da Silva

Does the Umax [SuperMac S900] really give you much of a better deal than an Apple pre-G3 PCI Mac? The G3 upgrade, which is the majority of the price of the final system, is still going to cost just as much. And the Umax boxes are still saddled with the slower bus and older PCI chipset.

For a file server, if you have the UW SCSI and 10/100 ethernet, the extra expandability may be worth it, but you can get an awful lot of commodity PC for the same price and my experience is that Mac OS X is more than happy to interoperate with a free Unix file server. And the 9600 can hold 50% more memory (1.5 GB, I think that's more than any of the G3s or the first generation G4s, no?).

What's going to make more of a difference to the balance is the second generation trickle-down. There's beginning to be used G3 upgrade cards showing up on the market. I suspect this is due to people buying Beige G3s and parting out their old boxes, and while they're the slower models (233 MHz or so), they're cheap enough that they'll turn the tables again (at least for a while) after the Beige G3 flood subsides.

I wonder where Apple will draw the line next? Pre-FireWire models? The rest of the pre-candy cane iBooks? They'll have to keep G3 support for a while, since they haven't had the G4 iBooks out for long enough, but they might dump the pre-G3 towers or some of the iMacs - or even anything that can't handle Quartz Extreme.

Hi Peter,

I don't dispute your point about the 9600 vs. the Umax S900. With these old machines, availability is always part of the equation. The old S900 is still a pretty impressive piece of work, now available cheaply (about 60 dollars), but a 9600 would be even more desirable, I agree.

I think the next cutoff for OS X support will probably be machines that shipped with FireWire. That will eliminate the early iBooks, the Lombard PowerBook, and early iMacs.

Happily, as you note, the population of recent G3 iBooks out there should guarantee G3 support for the foreseeable future.


AppleCare Alternatives

From Charlie

Hi Charles,

Before buying a Mac, check with your credit card company to see if they offer any warranty program. My credit card company, Capital One, doubles the manufacturer's warranty for free if you use the their credit card to pay for the machine. In addition to that, they offer a service contract similar to AppleCare that is less expensive and runs longer. (Unfortunately, I can't tell you how good Capital One's program is, because I haven't used it.)

- Charlie

Hi Charlie,

Good advice. Several of my bank credit cards do also double the manufacturer's warranty if you purchase the product with them, which makes AppleCare a very expensive alternative for just one more year coverage. However, make sure to read the fine print. My cards don't cover machines that are used for work, alas.


I Bet I Know the Problem

From Chris Seibold

Hi Charles,

I can guess at the problem with the blank screen iBook. I predict that while the keyboard was off, the brightness button was accidentally depressed turning the brightness all the way to zero. Just a guess.


I wish you are right, Chris, and it is always prudent to check these sort of simple things before believing the worst, but there are well established issues with iBook video ribbon cables, and logic board problems that produce an assortment of video issues, including a blank screen.



From Petie Walker


I am aware of the TravelScan 464M Scanner that you put in your August 25, 2003 The 'Book Review.

Years ago Visioneer made a scanner called the Strobe for the Mac. Now only for PC. They also had PaperPort for Mac. They have long since sold it off to ScanSoft, who does not support Macintosh. Do you know of any Mac product that is similar, or how to run PaperPort under Virtual PC and will it actually launch when you begin to scan something, as in the good 'ole days?

I am in dire need of a PaperPort-like piece of software!

Thank you,

Petie Walker

Hi Ms. Walker,

Wish I could help, but unfortunately I have no knowledge of any PaperPort type product that currently supports the Mac.

If there is such a product, perhaps our readers can help identify it.


Re: 6320 Upgrade

From Alex Taylor


Regarding Brian and his query regarding upgrading a 6320 with a 6400 logic board.

I upgraded my 6200 with a 6500 board, which worked fine (I have since moved the board into a 5200). I am told that a 6400 logic board won't work without also using a 6360 power supply, because of an issue with the 3.3 volt supply. However the 6500/250 board is considerably faster than the 6200/75, it's a very worthwhile upgrade.

Hope this information helps,

Alex Taylor

6320 Upgrade

From Jason Mango

Hi Charles,

In reply to Brian's question regarding the 6320 to 6360/6400 motherboard swap in the 1/13/04 Miscellaneous Ramblings article, Brian is correct. There are power supply issues. In order to make the swap work, he will also need to swap in a power supply from a 6360, 6400, or 6500. The power supplies from the 62xx and 63xx (excluding 6360) are not compatible with the 6400/6500 motherboards, and vice versa.

Jason M.

Thanks for the information, Alex and Jason.


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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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