Skip navigation

per6x1

The Power Macintosh 6110CD aka the 6100, 6112CD, 6115CD, 6116CD,  6117CD,  6118CD from 1994 was the first computer in the Macintosh line to use the PowerPC CPU as opposed to the Motorola 68k CPU’s found in the older Macs. On acquiring this machine I honestly did not expect much from it. Its small case lack of PCI slots, Apple’s usual “closed system” philosophy and the early PPC architecture led me to believe this machine was relegated to a fairly small era of Mac computing. To my surprise though I found that This machine could be upgraded to a surprisingly useful level and even without replacing the CPU. My original search for upgrade options led me to this site Power Mac 6100 Upgrade Guide and I have to say its a great if not dated site but was a huge help to me. As you can see above, especially compared to the keyboard this unit like most 90’s relics suffers from plastic “yellowing” cause by the use of ABS plastic. Also as you can tell from the first sentence there were several versions/configurations of this Mac. Some had a special DOS compatibility card, faster CPU or A/V additions. This model I have, the 6110CD, is pretty standard and stock.

per6x2

This Mac used the “Pizza box” case style and is very low profile. Not much exciting going on from the front. There’s the floppy drive over to the right with the power button below it and in the center we have the CD-ROM drive.

per6x3

And here is the rear of the unit. You may notice right off that the right side is a bit raised and that would be because I broke it :(. See in my haste at one time to install the video card I pulled on the plastic tab that the top cover clicks onto and snapped it off. So now only one side of the top case cover secures closed. Its not really a big deal since even if both were broke off gravity would keep it on, not to mention a heavy monitor on top but still, it was a dumb move on my part. So, on the far left we have the power cord plug and next to it a monitor pass though plug. After that is a little slot that I have no idea why its there but to the right of it is the AAUI-15 ethernet port. This was Apples attempt to make a more “friendly” ethernet port. I never heard of it until just now. Next to that is a DB-25 SCSI port then the short lived HDI-45 video port which only appeared on the first generation of Power Macs and only used by the Apple AudioVision 14 monitor which I’ll get to later. After that you have your standard Apple printer, modem and then ADB port for keyboard/mouse. The last two jacks are audio out and audio in. The case speaker is mono but actually sounds pretty good. For some reason the audio specs on the old macs is always a mystery and rarely listed on sites but the manual states its 16 bit stereo with sample rates from 22.05, 24, 44.01 and 48 khtz. On the far right we have the reset/interrupt buttons. Lastly in the upper right side we have the Video card I installed. If nothing is installed in the PDS slot then there should be a plug that goes there.

per6x4

The cover of the 61XX series is very easy to remove. You just unsnap the two (or in my case one) plastic latches in the rear and lift up and forward and the top comes right off. This is what it initially should look like. Obviously a stock unit probably will not have anything where I have a video card. You have your power supply unit in the lower left and above that a standard 1.44MB floppy drive.

CD-ROM drive – In the center we have a 50 pin SCSI CD-ROM drive. The standard drive these machines as well as mine originally shipped with was a x2 speed Apple 300i plus CD-ROM drive. Mine was still working perfect but x2 is a little slow so I wanted to upgrade mine. generally speaking only Apple branded CD-ROM drives will work in a Mac. I’m told OS 8 and above you can use any CD drive but I’ve never had to much luck getting non Apple CD drives working so for ease of use I just salvaged a x4 50 Pin SCSI CD drive from another dead Mac I had laying around. Not a massive upgrade but it does double the stock speed. You can just as easily use a even faster speed drive if you like.

Hard Drive – Next was to upgrade the hard drive. My Mac came with a 350MB 50 pin SCSI hard drive with OS 7.6 installed. I really wanted a bigger hard drive for this machine as well as a slightly new OS. Much like the CD-ROM drive your going to have the same issues with the hard drive as Macs only want to accept apple branded drives. Luckily OS 8 doesn’t care so much about drive brands and I was able to format my 1GB IBM 50 pin SCSI hard drive in my OS 9 G3 mac. Without the G3 I would of been forced to get special Mac formatting program and temporarily replace my CD drive with the IBM drive in order to format it from a DOS/Windows style partition to a Mac compatible format. I did end up with OS 8.1 on this system since I did upgrade the RAM and added a larger hard drive. I’ve read upgrading up to OS 8.6 is advisable if you’ve significantly increased your RAM which I’ll get to eventually.

Video Card – The built in default video that comes with the 61XX series is fairly limited and inadequate for any serious gaming. It outputs to the HDI-45 port and offers 832×624 at 256 colors or 640×480 and “thousands of colors”. Its also rather slow and eats up about 640k of your systems DRAM memory to use as video memory when in use. The built in video is fine for things like 2d point and click adventure games but for more intensive games like Mechwarrior 2 you start to get slowdown and major pixelation in the FMV scenes.

There are several video upgrade options via the PDS slot on the motherboard. One is to buy a PDS video card but this requires drivers and I’m not to familiar with PDS video cards. Also I decided I was not going to bother upgrading the CPU so something not to powerful but powerful and simple enough to run most era games was needed. There is a A/V card which offers audio visual inputs and 2MB of VRAM but For the most powerful video upgrade with the least hassle I decided to hunt down a 4MB HPV or “High Performance Video” card which basically just add VRAM video memory to your system.

First off your going to need a PDS T-bracket adapter in order to get the card to install in the case.

per6x7

The HPV (or A/V card or whatever compatible video card you choose) goes into the brown expansion slot and then the whole thing installs into the motherboards PDS slot.

I choose to upgrade via the 4MB HPV card because they are relatively cheap (mine was about $25), offer noticeable improvement over the on board default video and requires no additional software or drivers. The Mac automatically detects the card if a monitor is connected to it and takes advantage of it. The 4MB HPV card ups the Maximum resolution to 1152×870 at true color.

per6x8

These cards originally came installed on the high-end first gen PowerMac 8100 series. They come with 2MB of VRAM (Video Ram, faster then DRAM) soldered onto the card and the option to add 2MB more VRAM via the four SIMMS that accept 68 pin 80ns 512kb sticks. One thing to note when looking for a 4MB HPV card on places like eBay is the less capable 2MB 7100 series HPV card is far more common and looks very similar to the 8100 card. The writing on the 2MB card is yellow where on this 4MB card its white. Also the 2MB card has “VRAM 128K X 8” printed in yellow on the edge of the card by the soldered on RAM chips. They both have the same number of soldered on RAM and SIMM sockets but the chips are of smaller capacity. Both HPV cards also give you a standard Macintosh video output for use with standard Mac monitors and with a common VGA adapter like I use you can use any VGA monitor. You can even use both display outputs for a duel display option if desired. I found my performance and quality in games like Mechwarrior 2 did noticeably improve after installing and using the HPV card with FMV scenes no longer being pixelated but quite smooth and in game play improving in general.

Now to the motherboard itself.

per6x5

1) CPU – here is the soldered on PowerPC cpu. The stock CPU was a 60 MHz PowerPC 601 RISC microprocessor. It doesn’t require a fan and I’m guessing is faster and cooler running then its Intel x86 Pentium contemporary. Later models upped the CPU speed to 66mhz and this was usually reflected on the case badge. This new type of CPU was a major transition for Macs adding much more power and versatility but possibly raising incompatibility issues with much older applications and games that ran off the older 68k CPU family.

2) Cache SIMM – the slot next to the CPU is for your L2 cache RAM. My 6110CD did not come with any L2 cache installed and from what Ive read most did not come stock with it but its possibly one of the best upgrades you can do. 256K cache sticks seem to be by far the most common and adding  one can boost system performance by up to 30%. There are supposedly 512K and 1MB cache sticks but I’m not 100 percent certain they are compatible with the 61xx series though I assume they are. I can tell you unlike the very common 256K sticks they aren’t very common. From my readings I’ve found that the 512K sticks give insignificant improvement over the 256K sticks but the 1MB cache sticks supposedly give a massive performance boost of possibly up to 80%.

3) ROM – 4MB system ROM. no reason to mess with this at all.

4)  PDS slot – This is your PDS or “Processor Direct Slot”. This is where you plug in your T-bracket so you can connect video cards or CPU accelerator cards.

5) RAM – above the two SIMM slots are 8MB of RAM soldered directly onto the motherboard so even if these slots are empty you will have 8MB of RAM to work with. The SIMM slots take 72 pin FPM RAM sticks (EDO will work but act as slower FPM RAM). officially Apple states two 32MB sticks can be used + the 8MB on board RAM for a total of 72MB of system RAM. Unofficially you can go higher. I am using two 64MB RAM sticks for a total of 136MB of system RAM which is plenty of RAM for running just about any game or program of the mid 90’s acceptably. 264MB can supposedly be achieved by using two rather pricy 128mb 72 pin sticks.

6) SCSI – on board 50 pin SCSI connector for the hard drive, CD-ROM drive or whatever SCSI device you have installed.

7) PRAM battery – This is the equivalent of a PC’s CMOS battery and saves certain information. When this battery is dead or low your system may do very odd things. When I received this Mac my PRAM battery was dead and I encountered some odd behavior. My machine would not display anything to a monitor the first time it was powered up but had to be powered off and restarted to get the system to display. Also after installing the IBM hard drive I had a very hard time getting the system to boot from it without holding down certain keys on the keyboard when booting up. Replacing the battery instantly alleviated all these issues. Generally this is probably one of the first things you want to replace when you get an old Mac.

per6x6

8) Audio – This looks to be the on board audio chip and next to it is the 4 pin audio connector that goes to your CD drive.

9) Floppy connector

10) power connector

Its hard to not talk about the early Power Macs and not mention the AudioVision 14 inch Trinitron color monitor that was the monitor meant to be used with the HDI-45 connector found only on the first gen PowerPC Macs. Fortuitously my Mac here came with the matching AudioVision monitor so I had something to use while I hunted down a HPV card.

per6x9

The AudioVision 14 was created from Apples relentless determination to make everything as “user-friendly” as humanly and perhaps inhumanly possible. I could argue that in many cases they have done just the opposite of this but despite the HDI-45 port being a failure I quite liked this monitor. First thing you will notice about the monitor is the two speakers built in. The HDI-45 port transmits audio and ADB as well as video to the monitor with the goal of condensing many things into one connection. Your audio controls such as mute and volume are right on the front of the monitor at easy reach. The monitor also has a built in microphone located on the top.

per6x10

On the left and right sides you can see the various inputs for ADB cords, headphones, audio input and the unsupported video port that generally has a plug to cover it up, mine did not. A cable adapter was made allowing the use of the AudioVision on systems lacking a HDI-45 port as well as a much more useful adapter that allowed one to use a standard Apple monitor on the HDI-45 port as seen below. This adapter was much more useful then the latter.

per6x12

Despite its flaws I did honestly like the AudioVision monitor and thought the picture and speakers were pretty good and the form factor and size perfect for the 6110CD. Unfortunately it has a fixed resolution of 640×480 which I found was far to much of a hindrance especially when I had a nice HPV card.

In the end I didn’t expect much at all from the small and humble 6110CD but after researching a little and discovering the surprising wealth of upgrades the 6110CD can be made into a very acceptable machine for a very small amount of money. I didn’t even push the upgrades to there highest level. with a CPU accelerator, 264MB of RAM, 1MB of L2 cache and a powerful PDS video card you would have a very capable and small form fitting 90’s Mac. Then again for all that effort it probably makes more sense to get a 7600 9600 or a G3 Macintosh.

per6x11

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

I ❤ Old Games!

Retrogaming & other stuff

Waltorious Writes About Games

Game-related ramblings.

NekoJonez's Gaming Blog

A Journey Through A Gamer's Life

Old School Game Blog

Amiga enthusiasm, retro gaming passion

Evelynn Star

Lynn talks about video games, records and books ...

Retro Megabit

Sharing My Retro Video Game Collection.

133MHz's Junk Box

Random electronics and gaming crap

SNES A Day

Every game, every day

Too Many Games

A blog talking about games

Retrocosm's Vintage Computing, Tech & Scale RC Blog

Random mutterings on retro computing, old technology, some new, plus radio controlled scale modelling.

The PewPew Diaries.

Work(s) in Progress!

The Martian Oddity

Video Games and other weird stuff!

1001Up

1001 video games and beyond

retro computing and gaming plus a little more

sparcie

retro computers and stuff

jispylicious

Stay Jispy!

lazygamereviews

MS-DOS game reviews, retro ramblings and more...

%d bloggers like this: