Mac Daniel's Advice

What about 7500 Upgrades?

Dan Knight - 1998.12.01

CF sent this letter: I've got a few decisions to make in the next several months, and I'd like your two cents. Right now, my girlfriend and I have two Mac OS machines.

  1. I've got a Power Mac 7500 (older, somewhat fickle motherboard) upgraded with a Power Computing 604e 225 MHz daughtercard (stable 45 MHz bus) and 512k L2 Cache (which only seems to work well with Mac OS 8.5). I also have 112 MB RAM, a 1.2 GB Quantum Fireball and a 2.1 GB Quantum Fireball, internal 4x CD-ROM, external Zip, and 2x CD burner. I also have upgraded the VRAM to 4 MB and installed a Techworks Power3D card.
  2. My girlfriend's system is a Power Computing PowerTower with a 150 MHz 604, 128 MB RAM, 2.1 GB hard drive (unknown manufacturer), 6x CD-ROM, plus external Zip and EZFlyer. She's still running Mac OS 8.0 because of problems with ATM and 8.5.

Needless to say, I'm the "power-user" of the two of us. She is a designer and is happy if she can work quickly enough in Photoshop and Quark. I, on the other hand, am always looking for a few extra frames per second in Unreal or a few seconds shorter rendering time in Bryce 3D.

Here is the dilemma. I desperately want to upgrade to G3. I have a few alternatives: either upgrade my 7500's daughtercard once again and donate my 604e/225 to my girlfriend, or look at getting a new machine altogether and combine the best of the two older systems for her to use. Cost is an issue, because we will be making a major move shortly and have to save some pennies for a house, etc. Long-term cost is a consideration as well. What do you think?

Mac Daniel writes: Two Mac users - the basis of a good relationship. ;-)

Although you could drop $2,000 into a really hot 400 MHz G3 card, you can get 60% of that speed for 20% the money - there are a handful of 220 MHz to 233 MHz G3 cards under $400 today. (See our Guide to G3 Daughter Cards for an up-to-date listing.)

That said, I think the sweet spot for upgrades today is in the 250-300 MHz range. Under that, the performance jump between a 225 MHz 604e and a G3 at about the same clock speed is maybe 50%. Beyond that speed, you come closer to doubling performance at very reasonable ($500-800) prices.

And remember that you're getting two upgrades for the cost of one: a G3 for your Mac and a 225 MHz 604e for her PowerTower.

HK sent this letter: I've got a 7500 with a 604/146, 144 MB RAM, and a 1 MB L2 cache. I'm wondering about the value of upgrading. I've got minimal money. I was thinking of the 220 cards and cranking it up.

In addition, my father has a SuperMac 604e/180 and a 6100. What do you think about them? Is it even worth it for the 6100?

Mac Daniel writes: I'm a huge fan of the 7500 because it can be upgraded so far. You can get some great bargains on 200-233 MHz 604e cards - and some of the G3 cards are under US$400. Since you already have a 1 MB L2 cache, your best value may be a fast 604e card, especially if you can find one for US$150-200.

Your father's SuperMac is a fine machine. I have a SuperMac J700/180 at home and love it. It has all the upgrade options of the 7500 -- but more drive bays and more memory capacity.

As for the 6100, I recently learned that a 1 MB L2 cache can nearly double performance. This is mostly because the 6100 uses system memory for video, which is slow. By using a cache larger than the 640 KB the system sets aside for video, the whole system can run faster.

There are also some nice G3 upgrades for the 6100, although I would find it difficult to justify that much expense on such a limited design.

Join us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or Google+, or subscribe to our RSS news feed

Not sure if you should upgrade your old Mac or replace it? Check the Mac Daniel index to see if we've already addressed your problem.

Today's Links

Recent Content

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Custom Search

FollowLow End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Macon Facebook

Low End Mac Reader Specials

Favorite Sites

MacSurfer
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
MacInTouch
MyAppleMenu
InfoMac
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
RetroMacCast
PB Central
MacWindows
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
DealMac
Mac2Sell
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

Affiliates

Amazon.com
The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac
eBay

Advertise

Open Link