Best Buys in Used Macs

Macintosh IIci

1998.01.31, updated

We're sorry, but these are very old, very dated articles. Best buys in used Macs is such a moving target that we simply can't keep up to date and have given up even trying. Please read these in their historical context, as some of these articles were written in the early years of Low End Mac. Prices are approximate at the time the article was first written.

Mac IIci
Macintosh IIci

If you're looking for an excellent used Mac, the IIci offers decent performance and exceptional expandability. A used IIci will typically have 8 MB RAM, an 80 MB or larger hard drive, and a level 2 cache. All this with internal video for a 640 x 480 display or a portrait monitor can be had for about US$25-30. Some dealers have been blowing them out for the cost of shipping.

Unlike earlier Macs, the IIci has 32-bit clean ROMs - you don't need Mode32 to go past 8 MB. The processor direct slot makes it easy to add a level 2 cache (about $10 used) or an efficient 68040-based accelerator. By replacing the motherboard, you can even turn a IIci into a Quadra 700.

Another way to boost performance is with an accelerated video card. Using motherboard memory for video creates a fast video subsystem, but it slows the rest of the system slightly.

The IIci runs System 7 very well.* I am especially pleased with the features and performance of System 7.5.5. You really need 8 MB RAM; if the IIci you buy has less, upgrade immediately. 1 MB SIMMs are getting hard to find, since there's little profit in them (they may sell for under US$2 each!). However, you may be able to find used (or "pulled") 1 MB, 2 MB, or 4 MB on Craigslist. Ballpark pricing is $5-10 for four 1 MB SIMMs, $20-30 for four 4 MB SIMMs.

* Using Born Again, you can install and run Mac OS 8.1 on a IIci with at least 12 MB of memory.

Typical new memory prices at present are $2-5 for 1 MB SIMMs, $8-12 for 2 MB SIMMs, $6.50-10 for 4 MB SIMMs, and $19-29 for 16 MB SIMMs. I don't recommend 8 MB SIMMs - they're more expensive than 16 MB ones! (From ramseeker, the guide to the latest memory pricing.)

What do you do with the SIMMs you pull? I keep them in antistatic bags or tubes, hoping someday someone will have use of them. Pulled 1 MB SIMMs can be used to upgrade a Mac Plus or SE with less than 4 MB, a Classic with 2 MB, or any number of other Macs. Pulled 256 KB SIMMs are close to worthless, but keep 4 or 8 around just in case.

Be sure to visit our memory upgrade guide for possible configurations and installation instructions. Since the IIci can work with 256 KB, 512 KB, 1 MB, 2 MB, 4 MB, and 16 MB SIMMs, you have a lot of options. The IIci can handle up to 128 MB of RAM.

With three NuBus expansion slots and a processor direct slot, you can add an accelerator, a video card, and an ethernet card and still have a slot free for a second monitor, a Radius Rocket, or a second ethernet card (for use as a gateway).

If the hard drive isn't big enough, you can replace the internal drive with a half-height or third-height SCSI drive (most newer Macs don't have room for half-height drives). Pulled or surplus half-height drives are often available for a song.

What makes the IIci a best buy is that you can buy it and use it immediately, but it also has great upgrade potential.

About LEM Support Usage Privacy Contact

Follow Low End Mac on Twitter
Join Low End Mac on Facebook

Favorite Sites

Cult of Mac
Shrine of Apple
The Mac Observer
Accelerate Your Mac
The Vintage Mac Museum
Deal Brothers
Mac Driver Museum
JAG's House
System 6 Heaven
System 7 Today
the pickle's Low-End Mac FAQ

The iTunes Store
PC Connection Express
Macgo Blu-ray Player
Parallels Desktop for Mac

Low End Mac's store


Open Link