Second Class Macs & Road Apples

PowerBook 1400/117

four

Dan Knight - 1999.04.13

Second Class Macs are Apple's somewhat compromised hardware designs. For the most part, they're not really bad - simply designs that didn't meet their full potential. (On our rating scale, the more brown apples, the worse the hardware.)

PowerBook 1400The PowerBook 1400 was available in several different configurations, including two screens (dual-scan and active matrix) and three processor speeds (117, 133, and 166 MHz). Only the 117 MHz version merits a Road Apple rating, and then only because Apple left out the Level 2 cache.

How much the L2 cache helps a computer depends on three factors: how fast the logic board memory path is, how fast the processor is, and how large the processor's cache is. For PowerMacs, a 256 KB L2 cache usually provides 30% more speed, with 512 KB bumping that to about 65%, and a 1 MB cache roughly doubling cacheless performance vs. a cacheless design.

The 1400/117 was already 13-14% slower than the 1400/133 based simply on CPU speed. Add in the L2 cache on the 133 MHz model, and it was 25-30% faster overall.

On the other hand, using a slower CPU and leaving out the cache did let Apple sell the 1400/117 for less than would have been possible otherwise, so we shouldn't be too hard on it.

In fact, if you install a processor upgrade (such as the Sonnet G3/333 with 512 MB cache), you gain a level 2 cache and remove the Road Apple stigma from the 1400/117. LEM

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