What's the Best Used Mac?
Dan Knight - 1998.12.04
Thank you for the reply to my questions about the Performa 6220; I appreciate your time. In your opinion, what would be the best refurbished Mac to upgrade to as far as future flexibility for upgrades? I'd heard the 7500 with some additions was very versatile. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Mac Daniel responds:
>All have the same cleverly designed case, which provides room for a floppy drive, a CD-ROM, and two internal hard drives. This can save you $40-60 on a second hard drive, since you don't have to buy an external case. It's also faster, since the internal SCSI runs up to twice as fast as the external SCSI (drive permitting).
With 8 DIMM slots, you can expand memory to 1 GB - if you ever need it and have the budget for it.
If you're content with 601, 604, and 604e cards, you can replace the standard 256 KB cache card with a 512 KB or 1 MB level 2 cache, which will improve performance significantly - especially at 1 MB. (I use a 7600/200 with 1 MB cache at work - it seems a lot faster than when I had a 256 KB cache and 180 MHz processor.)
On the other hand, if you want to reach for the stars, the 7500 and siblings can accept a G3 processor card. These currently range in speed from an impressive 233 MHz to 400 MHz. (See our Guide to G3 Daughter Cards for an up-to-date listing.)
I tend to recommend the 7500 for those who plan on upgrading, since it is the least costly of the trio. Since it shipped with a PowerPC 601 processor at 100 MHz or 120 MHz, you can pick up a used one for as little as US$550.
The 7600, with either a 120 MHz or 132 MHz 604 processor, may seem a better value for about US$100 more. After all, the 604 is about 50% more powerful than the 601. However, with MacWorks <http://www.macworks.com/> selling the Apple 132 MHz 604 card for US$19.99 plus shipping, the 7600 is almost always overpriced.
Likewise, the 7300/200, at about $200 more than the 7500, is overpriced in light of $350 G3 cards and $150 200 MHz 604e cards.
The only other computer I'd pick based on value and expansion options is the Umax SuperMac J700, which is sometimes available on the refurbished market. For instance, the J700/180 comes with an accelerated video card, a 2.1 GB hard drive, and an 8x CD-ROM. There are several open drive bays and three available PCI slots. Mine is running Mac OS 8.1 wonderfully - it makes me regret Apple pushing Umax out of the clone business.
Power Computing also made some nice models comparable to the 7500, but I'm not very familiar with their line. However, feedback from the field indicates they are also first rate.
For more on upgrades, see What about 7500 Upgrades?
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.
Recent Mac Daniel columns
- How to Recover from a Beige G3 Startup Error, Dan Knight, 2012.07.19. If you're not careful, installing OS X 10.2 Jaguar can create an unbootable Beige Power Mac G3. How to fix it - and how to avoid the problem.
- Port Wars: Thunderbolt vs. USB 3, PCIe Cable, and FireWire, Dan Knight, 2012.06.14. Thunderbolt is very fast, USB 3 half as fast, FireWire is on the ropes, and PCIe Cable could blow away Thunderbolt.
- OWC Legacy SSD Tested in Mystic Power Mac G4, Dan Knight, 2011.07.15. G4 Power Macs don't have built-in SATA support, and most SSDs are SATA devices. OWC's legacy SSDs work on the older Mac's IDE bus.
- More in the Mac Daniel index.
Links for the Day
- Mac of the Day: PowerBook 145, introduced 1992.08.03. About 70% faster than the 140, the 25 MHz 145 was quite a value.
- May 21 in LEM history: 99: Not censorship - 01: USB and FireWire drives - 02: Hooked by a PowerBook - Printer sharing for Mac OS X - 04: Less frequent OS X uprades: Good or bad? - 07: I won't get an iPhone this year - Can 262,144 colors be considered 'millions'? - Most durable 'Book - 3 GB in a Mac mini? - 08: Quadra a great server for vintage Mac network
- Support Low End Mac
Recent Content on Low End Mac
- World Book Encyclopedia 2012 DVD, Tommy Thomas, Reviews, 2013.03.05. "You may be asking yourself, in an age of Wikipedia and instant information, is World Book still relevant?"
- Vintage Computer Festival SouthEast, April 20-21, 2013, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2013.02.25. Old Apple gear and old PCs.
- iMessage: The Ultimate Messaging Service?, Simon Royal, Mac Spectrum, 2013.02.21. In most ways, Apple's iMessage is far superior to BlackBerry Messenger.
- More links in our archive.
- Best Mac mini Deals
- Best 13" MacBook Pro Deals
- Best Intel iMac Deals
- Best iPod touch Deals
- Best iPhone Deals
- Best iPod nano Deals
- Best iPod classic Deals
- Best Apple TV Prices
- More deals in our archive.
Low End Mac Reader Specials
Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Mac Driver Museum
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ