Skip navigation

Tag Archives: Power Mac

The Power Macintosh G5 series was the end of an era for Apple and the Macintosh. It was one of the last Macs to use the venerable Power PC CPU before moving onto Intel CPU’s which in my opinion made Macs little more then PCs with a custom Apple OS and took away much of their uniqueness for better or worse. The quad core G5 Macintosh was one of the last of the G5 Macs and one of the most powerful. Before we get into the specs keep in mind that older G5 Machines will have differing configurations and this is only a look at one of the last PCs in this line and not a general overview of the entire G5 line..

I’ve frequently seen these cases referred to as “cheese grater” cases due to the front. The case is all aluminum and despite the lighter weight of the metal the thing is very heavy. Being aluminum though it’s likely the case will survive long after all of us are dead, that is unless they all get melted down to make aircraft during WW III. The front of the case is very simple with a single 5 1/4 drive bay near the top for a CD/DVD optical drive and only a few inputs further down on the left.

First is the power button which does light up when pressed and powered on. Next we have a audio headphone jack and finally one USB 2.0 port and below that a Firewire 400 port. The case also has aluminum “feet” on both the bottom and top which are handy for both assisting in carrying the heavy beast of a case as well as keeping it off the ground a little. Be aware that these “feet” are very prone to being crushed if shipped improperly.

Opening the case on the G5 macs is a cinch. on the upper right hand side of the rear of the case is a simple lever. Simply pull it up and the side panel pops off. To the right of the handle are four expansion slots. Most of the rear is taken up by two massive fans and below those is the connector for your power cord.

The connector is, in classic Apple fashion, not quite your usual 3 prong connector as the shape is completely square and the three prongs are fairly flat as opposed to round so you will need a special power connector. Now the power cable used here is not proprietary but it is commonly found on high end sever equipment with high wattage power supplies. I couldn’t really say what advantage this connector type has over the more standard one and I seriously doubt it is needed for the G5 Macintosh so all it really seems to do is be extremely annoying if you happen to lack a compatible power cable and the 50 standard ones you have laying around the house won’t fit.

Starting at the top and going down the G5 has a neat row of various inputs and outputs. First are dual Ethernet ports followed by a Firewire 800 and 400 port. Next are optical audio in and out ports followed by dual 1/8 audio jacks and finally three USB 2.0 ports.

Upon removing the side panel most of the lower section of the case is further covered by a hard clear plastic cover. This is easily removed via a small handle near the top. There is also a badge on the bottom portion of the case that if you are unsure of the exact factory specifications of your model you should be able to find them there.

On the top left is the sole 5 1/4 drive bay which at least factory standard should be occupied with a 16x DVD drive. To the right of this bay are dual 3 1/2 drives for installing hard drives. A 250GB SATA drive was the stock drive but I have added a second drive in the lower “B” bay.

I have seen people install SDD drives in these bays but it may require an adaptor to fit securely or just be installed loose in the bay.

Below these bays are the four expansion slots.

Four slots for expansions cards is pretty anemic for a computer but in all honestly they are all PCI-e and being a Macintosh your not likely going to find you need to install much more then a video card anyways. The four PCI-e slots is actually a nice upgrade from previous models in the G5 line which lacked any PCI-e expansion slots and instead used AGP, PCI and PCI-x. Only the bottom slot is PCI-e x16 so I would suggest installing your video card in the bottom most slot. As far as I can tell there is no option to run either a crossfire or SLI configuration in the G5 Mac.

the G5 Power Mac came stock with the Macintosh version of the Geforce 6600 with 256MB or memory. This card is quite adequate though it is not the mot powerful card the G5 quad can accept and if you want to take some better advantage of what this system has to offer the video card should be one of your first upgrades if possible.

The G5 is somewhat limited on video cards it can accept due to the requirement that cards use a special Apple Mac BIOS and OS drivers. The fastest video card I could find for the G5 Mac quad was the Quadro FX 4500 with 512MB of memory. This card is basically the workstation version of the 7800 GTX and is more or less the same. Upgrading to a FX 4500 gives a noticeable boost to gaming on the G5 though finding a specific Macintosh version of the card can be difficult and/or expensive. Another route you can take is tracking down the much more common PC version of the card and flashing its BIOS to the Mac version.

You will need a specific revision of the PC card with a specific BIOS in order to flash it though. Usually the card with the L bracket on the back are flashable models but always check the BIOS revision to be sure.

Guides on the process such as the one Here can be found with a simple Google search.

Also take note the FX 4500 will require an additional power cable that connects to the motherboard and then to the card as seen below. also seen below is the connector for the IDE cable that goes to the optical drive.

The area of the motherboard below the expansion slots is dominated by the CPU and in this model, water cooling system, which is located behind the “G5” shield. To the left of this is the RAM which we can get a better look at by removing the large gray fan which simply lifts straight out.

The G5 “quad core” came factory with 512MB of DDR2 memory but I have expanded mine to a whopping 16GB of RAM. 16MB of DDR2 is a lot of memory for 2006 when the G5 line was discontinued and when many PC’s were still maxed out at 4GB with Windows XP. I do remember reading that the the jump from DDR memory in all other models of the G5 to DDR2 in the late 2005 models such as the quad core made very little to no performance improvement but I can’t seem to locate the source so I can’t confirm this though I felt it worth mentioning.

Finally we have the CPU or in the case of the Power Mac G5 Quad Core, two CPU’s.

The CPU’s and cooler are under a stylish aluminum shield with a large G5 emblazoned on it so you know what’s under it. The G5 Quad Core sports two separate dual core 2.5GHz G5 Power PC CPU’s under a factory stock water cooled system.

My machine is equipped with a liquid cooling system by Delphi. The Delphi coolers were known to have leakage issues which could corrode and destroy the system. according to Wikipedia Apple started later using a liquid cooling system from Panasonic which was much more reliable. I have found at least one comment in my research that indicated that it was actually the Panasonic cooler used in the 2.7GHz G5 Macs that was unreliable and thus resulted in the apparent scarcity of that model. This also makes sense since the 2.7GHz G5 with the Panasonic cooler seems to of been released in early 2005 where the models with the Delphi coolers were released in late 2005.

There are faster 2.7GHz G5 macs though these machines use two separate single core G5 CPU’s so they may be faster in single threaded applications and games that do not take advantage of multiple cores though the quad core is seen as the fastest overall G5 PC. Its very hard to compare speed wise with Pentium or other X86 processors but I have seen rough equivalency with faster AMD FX processors.

The Power Mac G5 quad core is the king of the G5 line and possibly of the power PC computers in general. It was the end of an era for Apple who after these machines switched over to Intel CPU’s and in my opinion lost some uniqueness. The case for the G5s is durable but be prepared because it is heavy and moving it around is a real pain. The G5s did get a reputation in its day for being fairly good machines for things like video editing but also as a space heater as it tends to give off a lot of heat while in operation. I will say my machine does get a little warm and is loud though I expect the models with fan cooling as opposed to water cooling would be even louder. It should be the king of OS X gaming though unfortunately there aren’t many games that are exclusive to power PC based OS X though .

Some time ago I wrote an article on the Power Macintosh G3 minitower. In This article we are going to take a look at the desktop version of the same G3 and also look at a few minor upgrades I have performed.

Here is my rather yellowed but otherwise in good shape G3 desktop also known as an “Outrigger” case.  The G3 desktop was apples last traditional desktop Macintosh and more or less uses the exact same case as the 7500 and 7600 series I’ve covered in the past. Same speaker on the left and same available drive bays. Mine came with a 1.44mb floppy drive in the obvious floppy drive spot as well as a 24x speed CD-ROM drive below that and a 100mb ZIP drive which were not to uncommon on these machines. The floppy drives on these machines though are powered via a propietary floppy cable and do not have a molex connector on them. I’m unsure if you can use a regular floppy drive.

Here we see the back of the case which is similar but a little different then the 7500 or 7600 due to a different motherboard. There are three slots for expansion cards located on the far right.

We have a power connector and a pass through for a monitor top center and starting at the bottom left we have a SCSI connector followed by a lone ADB port followed by a Ethernet jack and then modem and printer jacks. Lastly we have a display jack for the built in graphics. To the right of the display jack we have another modem jack that my model came with as well as jacks for the audio, a audio out and mic input. This section may vary since it can be swapped out with various “personality cards” which I’ll talk about when we get to the motherboard portion.

Taking the top of the case off reveals pretty much the exact same thing we saw with the 7500/7600 machines.

Opening up the plastic folds and lifting the drive bay compartments reveals the motherboard as well as a space for a hard drive which is mounted on a sled much like in the drive bays. Mine came with the original 4GB hard drive and OS 8.6. The motherboard is much smaller then the motherboard of the 7500 or 7600 in the same case.

Here we have the drive and its sled removed.

The motherboard in the desktop model uses the exact same board as was found in the minitower.

Here is a closer shot of the area on the board were going to look at first with the CPU, RAM and ROM.

1 ) CPU – The G3 macs including the desktop models all used the PowerPC G3 750 CPU. The Desktop model came most commonly with a 233 or 266mhz CPU with 512k6 of L2 backside cache. They also came with a 300mhz CPU with 1mb of L2 cache option. My model was originally a 266mhz version but I upgraded mine to a 300mhz CPU with the 1mb of L2 cache.

The CPU modules have the L2 cache on them and install pretty much like you would on a PC  with a ZIF socket. You simply remove the heatsink, lift the lever and remove and replace your CPU. Keep in mind to change the CPU speed you will need to set jumpers on these motherboards which I will detail further down the page. When I replaced my 266mhz CPU with a 300mhz version it was still running at 266mhz until I set the jumpers although it was detecting the full 1mb of L2 cache as opposed to the 512kb on the original CPU.

2 ) RAM – the G3 has 3 RAM slots for PC66 SDRAM. Generally the machine sold with 32 to 64mb of RAM but is expandable up to 768MB. I have mine with the full 768mb of RAM. You can use faster PC100 or 133 RAM but it will operate as PC66.

Also keep in mind your going to want lower profile RAM since if the RAM is even a little taller then the stock CPU heatsink its going to cause issues with the top fitting. you can make it work but its awkward and pressed down on the motherboard.

Also of note for games. If you are experiencing audio stutter in games as in the example below TURN OFF virtual memory in the OS.


3 ) ROM – Like a lot of earlier Macs the G3 has its ROM on a module. early A revisions of this ROM did not allow slave devices on the IDE bus thus limiting you to one device per IDE controller. This was fixed with revision B and C. I have a later B revision of the ROM, the $77D.45F1 but if you do have an early revision A it is advisable to track down a B or C revision and swap them out. You can find this information under the Apple system Profiler in the OS.

3b ) Video – The onboard video as well as the SGRAM is located under the modem on my machine and next to the PERCH card slot. Early models had the ATI Rage II+ chip on board and later motherboards like mine have the Rage Pro or Rage Pro Turbo chips. This came with 2mb of SGRAM on the board expandable to 6mb.

4 ) “Personality” card or PERCH card – This card basically is the audio card for the Mac providing a simple audio out and mic input. These cards were known as “personality” cards or PERCH cards and are upgradable. My G3 has the simple audio card known as “Whisper” but can be upgraded to the “Wings” card which includes A/V input for video capture. There is also a very rare “Bordeaux” card which features DVD decoding capabilities.

My machine also has the optional 56k model seen just below the PERCH card.

5) Pram Battery which is you CMOS battery for retaining data.

6) CPU and FSB jumpers – This is the jumper block for setting your front side bus, CPU multiplier and PCI clock speed. The G3 comes from the factory with a preinstalled jumper block set to whatever your machines factory configuration is. as seen below.

This is usually under a warranty void type sticker. If your planning to upgrade your CPU or overclock your going to need to set these jumpers. Keep in mind the G3 motherboard uses the smaller 2.00mm sized jumpers but these can usually be found very cheaply on Ebay.

A guide to setting the jumpers can be found here and here.

Here is the jumpers after the factory set block is removed.

7 ) PCI – the G3 has three PCI slots available for expansion with the appropriate MAC version PCI cards.

I have cards installed in two of my three PCI slots. I will detail these upgrades at the end of the article.

8 ) 50 pin SCSI connector for connecting relevant SCSI devices such as hard drives and CD drives.

9) Two ATA-2 IDE connectors for connecting IDE hard drives and CD-Rom drives. If you have an early ROM board then you can only have one device per connection as opposed to two in a slave/master configuration. You are also limited to drives of up to 137gb with the onboard controllers.

10) PSU connector

11) Floppy connector.

My Expansion cards

I have installed two PCI cards in my G3 Macintosh as upgrades

1 ) Sonnet ATA-133 controller card

This is actually the same card I had installed in my G4 MDD Macintosh. I decided to pair this card up with both a 52x speed CDRW drive as well as a 40gb Maxtor ATA-133 hard drive for added speed. This allowed me double my CD speeds and dramatically increase the speed of accessing my hard drive. Using a PCI IDE controller also allows you to overcome the 137gb size barrier of the onboard controller.

2 ) ATI Rage 128 PCI video card w/ DVD decoder.

Not really a huge upgrade over the onboard video but an upgrade that offers a little more power and DVD decoding abilities. The Rage 128 chip is a decent chip that offers good compatibility with games in general and should work fine with late 90’s Mac games. I believe the card pictured above is the 16mb version though there are 32mb cards available. These cards are also fairly cheap and available online. Just be sure to buy the Macintosh versions.

So in the end what do I think of the G3 desktop? I like it. Even though it is basically the same machine as the minitower model I have a soft spot for desktop designs and the desktop just fits into my setup better. The desktop model also seems lighter then the tower model though since it uses the same 7500/7600 series case it comes with the same issues of being made of very brittle plastic. Expect hinges and tabs to bust off when working with this machine. Overall I feel the G3 makes a good rig for playing late 90’s Macintosh games and offers a good range of expansion options. With OS 8 or 9 loaded on your hard drive your good to go.


For this article I’ll be taking a look at my Macintosh 7600 from 1996 but I’m also considering this a overview of the 7500 as well since they are basically the exact same computer using the same case and motherboard. The only difference as far as I can tell besides the case badge is the 7600 came with a slightly more advanced CPU, which since the CPU on these models came on a removable daughtercard you could easily upgrade/downgrade to either or.

Here’s a few pics if you don’t believe me since at one time I had both models.


I ended up Frankensteining RAM and drives from the 7500 into my 7600 so I condensed it into one machine that I used for some time.

late 90’s Macs are some of the most hated by Macintosh fans but ironically I rather like them, at least in principal. My fondness for them though is the reason many Mac lovers probably dislike them, they are very “PC like”. You can actually easily open and expand a late 90’s Mac unlike earlier models where actually getting inside the machine and tinkering was somewhat discouraged. That said they also share qualities that I hate. chief among them is the plastic tooless cases that although makes it easy to get inside they have not aged well and are very prone to having critical retention tabs snap.

The 7600 is somewhat of a mainstay of late 90’s Macintosh computers and offers decent expansion abilities as well as being pretty easy to work on.


The 7500/7600 both use the “Outrigger” style case that’s basically a desktop style casing. These models both come with a 1.44mb floppy drive and SCSI CD-ROM drive. To the left of the CD drive bay is room for another drive. When I bought my 7600 off Craigslist it had a purple SCSI 100mb ZIP drive installed in this bay that I promptly removed for another project. To the left of this bay is a built in speaker and below that is a manual power button. Thanks to the brittle plastic my tabs holding the power button in place have broken so it is not always reliable. Thankfully there is a power key on the keyboard.


I used an Apple Design M9280 ADB keyboard with mine.

The number after the 7600 on the case badge designates the CPU speed that the machine came with stock. Mine came stock with a 132mhz CPU.


The back features a full range of connections. First from the left we have an external DB-25 SCSI connector. This is followed by two ethernet connector types. First the AAUI or Apple Attachment User Interface, a type of ethernet connector I honestly never knew about before this machine. Next to it is a more standard 10Base-T ethernet jack. Next are two Geoports which are for printer and modem interfaces. This is followed by the Macintosh DB-15 VGA out, of course if you need to connect to a standard VGA monitor adapters are plentiful. Next is a ADB port for keyboard or mouse (your supposed to plug a keyboard in here and then the mouse into the keyboard). Finally we have two 3.5mm minijacks for a microphone and speakers.

Above the ports we have a nice array of video in/out jacks. My models only has RCA stereo out but it does have stereo audio in as well as composite video and S-video in. I don’t really do any editing or work like that much on a Macintosh but these must of been pretty convenient in its day.

There are only three expansion slots as you can tell from the plates on the right but seeing as so much is built in I never found this to be so much of an issue.


The cover comes off relatively easy. You need to depress two plastic tabs located under the front bezels overhang and then pull forward. With luck your will slide off without anything snapping off. You cant see it here because I removed them but theres is a lot of annoying and flimsy metal shielding across the front drive bays. I have upgraded my machine a little. I replaced the stock 4x SCSI CD drive with a 8x SCSI CD drive from another Macintosh. Macs are very touchy about what drives you use so for simplicity sake I just pulled mine from a Mac from the same era. There are of course ways to get non apple drives to work but for the CD drive I didn’t go through the hassle.

I also added a second SCSI hard drive that you cant see in this image. It is a 2GB IBM SCSI drive. I had to first install it in my other G3 machine and format and initialize it before the 7600 would detect it.

The insides again unfold relatively easily giving access to the motherboard.


Most of my little tabs and what not have snapped over time. I have to watch the right part of the chassis doesn’t fall down on my hands since the little black plastic stand that props it up also snapped some time ago. With access to the motherboard lets take a closer look.



1) CPU – Here we have the CPU card. To be honest I like the PowerPC line of CPU’s and I like how easy it is to swap out CPU’s in this fashion. The 7500 shipped with a 100 MHz PowerPC 601 CPU while the 7600 sported a 120 MHz, 132 MHz PPC 604 or a 200 MHz 604e. The front side bus is 40mhz to 50mhz controlled by the CPU card. Mine was originally a 132mhz model but when I received it my machine had been given a 300mhz G3 CPU upgrade. Interestingly my 7500 also had a G3 CPU upgrade leading me to believe these were fairly common upgrades and generally recommended as they seem to really give the Mac some additional power.


2) PRAM Battery – running without a battery or a low battery seems to have much harsher effects on a Mac then a PC. 3.6V PRAM batteries are relatively cheap and should probably be the first thing to check/replace if your machine is acting odd or unstable.

3) RAM – The 7500/7600 use 70ns 168-pin DIMMs with the standard amount being 16-34MB. I haven’t really expanded mine to much beyond that but the eight slots support 512mb officially and 1GB unofficially with 128mb DIMMS. This is actually a pretty incredible amount of RAM for a consumer computer of the time.


4) L2 cache – The 75/7600 use a COASt (Cashe On A Stick) module for L2 cache up to 256kb. I don’t know if the machine will support sticks larger then 256k such as 512kb or 1mb but initial research suggests it will. When using a G3 upgrade card such as myself I have read it is advisable to remove the L2 cache stick as the G3 cards have faster L2 cache on the CPU card.

5) ROM – This slot actually confused me for a long time. It’s a ROM slot for some kind of ROM chip which the system I assume would NEED to function yet on both my machines it was not present. It wasn’t until later I found out the ROM chip is on the underside of the motherboard and this slot was left in case any ROM upgrades came later this slot could be used to implement them.

6) Video Ram – Like many Macs the 75/7600 has built in video capabilities. I was not able to find specifics except that at max it supports 1152×870 resolutions at 24-bit and 1280×1024 at 16-bit. The on board video supports up to 4MB of VRAM which is what the four slots are for with 2MB being standard. I was able to lift two 1MB sticks from my 7500 for this machine maxing it out. Keep in mind you need the full 4MB to achieve the highest resolutions. This though is rendered pointless since I did eventually install a dedicated video card.


7) DAV (Digital Audio Video) slot – This is another slot that took me some time to figure out what it does. Apparently this slot with a cable can be combined with certain expansion video cards. according to here “The DAV connector provides access to the Audio/Video card”s 4:2:2 unscaled YUV video input data bus and associated control signals. By means of a 60-pin cable to the DAV connector, a PCI expansion card can gain access to the digital video bus on the Audio/Video Input/Output Card and use it to transfer real-time video data to the computer. Such a PCI expansion card can contain a hardware video compressor or other video processor.”

8) These are just internal connectors. From top to bottom we have two SCSI connectors, power connector, speaker/CD audio jack, floppy connector and finally 3.3v power connector.

9) The 75/7600 fortunately come with three PCI expansion slots. Adding a video card or two is probably a good choice. There are really no Audio cards made for the Mac to speak of so video upgrade is really your best option. Keep in mind you need Macintosh specific cards. The PCI slots themselves are the same as a PC but the cards BIOS is different. The video card I am using is a RAGE 128 w/16MB of RAM.


The lack of an AGP slot limits your options but I find the Macintosh Rage 128 cards to be pretty cheap and abundant as well as providing enough power for the majority of 90’s Mac games. You can also add a Voodoo 2 mac edition or if you can find and afford one a Mac edition Voodoo 5500. I actually chanced across a boxed card at a swap meet for $3 once so they can be found.


So my final opinion? The 7500/7600 can be found pretty cheap and easily off places like Craigslist. I’m running OS 8.5 on mine but they can run OS 7 and 9 without issues according to your needs and wants. With a G3 upgrade and 1GB of RAM these things fly for a machine that came out in 1996. Even with a moderate graphics card like the Rage 128 and a more moderate amount of RAM such as 512MB or even 256MB you should be able to do most of you 90’s Macintosh gaming with ease. The SCSI can be a bit of a hassle though if your not familiar with it and of course replacing drives is more of a hassle. It just makes a nice all around 90’s gaming Macintosh in my opinion and for a time served as my main Macintosh

The toolless cases though as with most 90’s Macs I could do without. It seems kind of cheap and as I’ve said the plastic did not age well and is prone to cracking.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



A place for the pc collector

I ❤ Old Games!

Probabilmente il miglior blog bilingue al mondo*

Waltorious Writes About Games

Game-related ramblings.

NekoJonez's Gaming Blog

My Gaming Timeline

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


Chronogaming project featuring reviews, screenshots, and videos of the entire Super Nintendo library in release order.

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!


1001 video games and beyond

retro computing and gaming plus a little more


retro computers and stuff


Stay Jispy!

%d bloggers like this: