Classic Macsin the Intel Age

Powerful Classic Macs: Performa 5400 and Blue and White G3

- 2008.06.13 -Tip Jar

Today it's time to look at my classic desktop Macs.

First off, these Macs can't really be called a part of the Vintage Mac Network,since they use PowerPC processors.

Once again, I picked my two favorites. Let's start with the oldestone.

Performa 5400

The Performa 5400 (alsoknown as the Power Macintosh 5400) is an all-in-one quite similar tothe iMac. It's quite heavy - but then it's not a portable.

The Performa series were known for being underpowered editions ofthe Power Macs strictly for home use. However, this Performa is tiptopand runs great. It has a 120 MHz 603e processor and 32 MB of RAM.It runs System 7.5, which shipped with the machine. I upgraded the harddrive to 4 GB recently.

My Performa 5400 is in absolute pristine condition. It has all themanuals, CDs, and even the original box. The Performa shipped withthe awesome Apple Design Keyboard, which I currently use with myClassic II, since itsown keyboard broke down. I'll get a replacement shortly.

This Mac has both CD-ROM and a floppy drive, making it easy toinstall all kinds of software. It also has the good old SCSI port.

Performa 5400 slide-out motherboardFinally, the Performa is quite easy to upgrade. Justremove the back cover and slide out the logic board, similar toColor Classic andPerforma 500 series.

In conclusion, a good buy, but eBay-ers outside North Americabeware. The shipping costs for this machine can be extreme and mightexceed the price of the unit itself. I found mine on Craigslist ($30) and arranged for a localpickup, which is way better.

Now let's go a little more modern....

Power Mac G3 (Smurf)

This is a great classic Mac. That's all you need to say - but I willtell you a little more...

Blue and White Power Mac G3Introduced in 1999, the Power Macintosh G3 (Blue andWhite) took the world by storm, just as the iMac had done the previousyear. Never before had a tower computer looked so cool, nor had onebeen so fast.

I have one of the first 350 MHz models. I upgraded the RAM to 512 MBand added a new DVD drive, but other than those two upgrades, it iscompletely stock.

It runs Mac OS 8.5 (I really have a thing for Mac OS 8!) and has itsoriginal ATI Rage 128 video card- with a whopping 16 MB of memory. I would recommend Mac OS 8.6 forthis machine (I'll upgrade shortly), although I have heard of peoplerunning 8.1 on it (not recommended!).

The Blue and White is the very last Power Mac to include an ADBport. I guess this was for those who wanted to use a vintage joypad orusers who were stuck in the past. (I use my Apple Extended Keyboard II).

Sadly, the original CRT display broke down. I'm now using a ruggedold Compaq MV1500 monitor, which works fine with the Mac's VGAport.

Ubuntu Linux on a G3

Due to the recent discussion of PowerPC Linux here on Low End Mac, Ifigured I'd include a little field report. I have been running Ubuntu 6.10 on this machinewith no problems at all. It was very speedy and responsive.

In conclusion, this is a great Classic Mac and a good Linux Mac.Once again, if you buy one Mac with a CRT display, beware of shippingcosts. Apple's CRT is heavy (somewhere around 50 lb.), so local pickupor no screen at all is better.

Before I end this article, some sad news: The "surprise article" Ipromised about the MacPortable probably won't happen. I haven't gotten it yet, and theguy who is giving it to me hasn't emailed me recently.

Next time (if the Portable doesn't show up) I will live up to thename of this column and talk about Snow Leopard and the eventualdropping of PowerPC support. LEM

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