Best Buys in Used Macs

Macintosh SE/30

1998.03.04. Updated 2000.08

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.

Looking like an SE, the SE/30 packed a 16 MHz 68030 CPU and 16 MHz 68882 FPU into the same compact case. It was destined to be the fastest compact b&w Mac ever - the later Classic II ran the same 16 MHz 68030 at a slower pace due to some compromises in memory access.

Rolled out in January 1989, the SE/30 was the first compact Mac to come standard with the FDHD 1.4 MB floppy drive (a.k.a. SuperDrive) and support more than 4 MB of RAM. It was essentially a IIx in an SE case. With a built-in 9" screen, it was a favorite network server.

Although advertised as a 32-bit computer, the SE/30 ROMs were not 32-bit clean. Running in 32-bit mode requires Mode32 from Connectix.

The SE/30 has color QuickDraw built in, although it requires a video card to take advantage of it.

The 16 MHz 68030 processor direct slot supports network cards, video cards, or accelerators, allowing the SE/30 to use faster 68030 or 68040 processors (most of which have since been discontinued).

Over the past few years, Apple has discontinued parts support, and the SE/30 won't run any version of the Mac OS later than System 7.5.5,* so demand has dropped slightly. Unfortunately, there's still something of a seller's market. Everyone seems to know what a sweetheart it was, so prices tend to remain on the high side. But if you shop around, you may be able to find one for US$50 or so. (Price will vary based on the amount of memory installed, the size of the hard drive, and any expansion card that may be present.)

* There are rumors that putting IIci or IIsi ROMs into an SE/30 makes it 32-bit clean, allowing use of OS 7.6 and 7.6.1. This should also allow use of Mac OS 8.1 with the Born Again installer. We hope to test this.

1 MB and 4 MB SIMMs are very inexpensive right now. You should have no problem finding four 4 MB SIMMs (120ns or faster) for under US$10 each - and even less on the used market. The higher capacity 16 MB SIMMs cover a broader range from $25 on up. With 16 MB SIMMs, you can boost the SE/30 to 128 MB. (Visit ramseeker, your guide to the latest memory pricing.)

<go to Best Buys index or SE/30 page>

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