The Best Used PowerBook,
PowerBook Upgrade Options
Dan Knight - 1998.12.30
- Upgrade or Replace My PowerBook 520c?
- Upgrade my PB 190, Performa 6200, or ...?
- What's the Best Used PowerBook?
CW writes: I have a PowerBook 520c that won't start up. Should I bother having it fixed? Is there anything I can do to fix it, I suspect it's a PRAM battery problem. Once it starts up what should I do about the 12 MB of RAM, 160 MB HD, and lack of OS 8? Should I try to get a 603 processor for it?
Mac Daniel responds: Your 520c is worth around $500 in working condition (maybe more - those PowerBooks really hold value). At least get an estimate on the repair. Better to fix and sell it than take a complete loss on it.
At this point, I'd recommend against a 603 upgrade, especially with the limited RAM and hard drive. Total cost of making it a workhorse is prohibitive.
I'd look into selling the 520c and then getting a close-out PB 1400/133. With a 133 MHz 603 processor, 128 KB cache, 800 x 600 color screen, and large hard drive, it's a lot more computer than you'd get by upgrading your 520c. With the 1400/133 selling in the $1,100 range (when you can find them), it looks like a much better long term solution than upgrading your older PowerBook.
I really don't need to get a G3 because I am a college student. I found out that I can bump up my Performa from 66 MHz to 180 MHz for around $300-$400. I know that my PowerBook, which I got for a mere $600 new, can be upgraded to a 120 MHz PPC and color screen. It should feel and run like 5300c. I need the computer to do some net surfing, word processing, PowerPoint, and to run Mathematica. For the long run should I instead go for a used Power Mac of some sort?
I am trying to spend over $700. Another option would be to get rid of them both, which after a few tears I could do.
Mac Daniel responds: I'd lean toward a PowerPC laptop, such as the PowerBook 1400. I really like the idea of portability. Something you can use for notes in the classroom, research in the library, and anywhere else is very attractive.
I haven't followed the used and close-out PowerBook market closely, but have heard there are deals on the PB 1400 at around $1,000-1,300. Avoid the 117 MHz model, since it has no cache. Both the 133 MHz and 166 MHz are very competent performers - and each 1400 can be upgraded with a G3 processor.
The 800 x 600 screen is a real improvement over the 640 x 480 on your PB 190. Best of all, the 1400/133 or 1400/166 would offer over twice the performance of your 6200.
Used PowerBooks hold their value quite well. You could probably sell your 190 for at least $500, keeping any PC Cards you may have for use in the 1400. If you sold both your PowerBook and your Performa, you should easily cover most of the cost of the new PowerBook.
JJ writes: Along the same lines as the current discussion about the best desktop Mac to have, what is the best used PowerBook when it comes to upgradability? I'm just finishing college and would love a brand new G3 but I'm still on a budget.
Mac Daniel responds: Now that's a question I've been waiting for. The best PowerBook ever is the PowerBook G3 Series with that amazing 1024 x 768 14.1" screen - and I can hardly wait to see what Apple does for an encore.
I have heard a lot of good things about the PowerBook 3400, but have no experience with it. With a 603e processor running at 180-240 MHz, it was plenty fast. It had large hard drives, an 800 x 600 active matrix screen, and plenty of expansion options.
The only discontinued PowerPC PowerBook I've worked with is the 1400, which I immediately fell for. I'd pass on the 117 MHz version, since it lacks a level 2 cache. Both the 133 MHz and 166 MHz models are excellent all around computers. Best of all, they're currently selling in the $1,000-1,500 range, just a bit more than we paid for my wife's PowerBook 150 4/120 some years back.
But if I had $2,500, there's no question that I'd go for the PowerBook G3 Series. To see that screen is to love it.
VB writes: The best used PowerBooks? Let's not forget the PowerBook 2400c. If you want the portability it's a really fast machine at 180 megahertz 603e. And it only weighs 4.4 lbs., yet is has all the peripheral ports in the back, including support for virtually any external monitor.
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
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Links for the Day
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