Creating a Low End G3

So, where do you start? How about with a NuBus Power Macintosh. You have basically two choices if you want to add anything at all to your system. These choices are the 7100 series or the 8100 series. The 7100 is a desktop machine, with a single hard drive bay, a CD-ROM drive bay, a floppy drive, 3 NuBus slots, and one PDS slot. The 7100 has 4 RAM slots and 8MB built in to the logic board. The 8100 is a minitower Mac, and has 2 hard drive bays, one capable of holding a full-height drive. The 8100 also has 8 RAM slots, 8MB on the logic board, 3 NuBus slots, and one PDS slot.

I chose the 8100 (since I happened to have one sitting around in my closet).

First thing to do was upgrade the memory from 24MB. I had purchased a couple 32MB SIMMs, so I installed those, as well as two 16's (after removing the two 8MB chips which were already installed). You must install RAM in the 61/71/8100 series in pairs. Installing these chips gave me 104MB of RAM total, which I feel is a decent amount. There are still 4 SIMM sockets with no RAM installed in them for future upgrades.

For a G3 upgrade, I managed to get a good deal on a Sonnet Crescendo G3, 220Mhz processor. The upgrade card requires you to remove the Level 2 cache which 8100's, and some 7100's came with preinstalled. The upgrade itself goes into the PDS slot. An adapter can be purchased so that you can use your PDS video card, but I didn't purchase it.

I had to replace the stock 500MB hard drive inside of the 8100, so I chose a 4GB Seagate. With that drive installed, it was time to decide on what to do for video. I had a few options. Purchase the PDS video adapter for $100 or whatever they are charging now, buy an expensive NuBus video card, use an old Macintosh Display card 670 that I had laying around, or use the built in video with an adapter that I had leftover from an old 6100.

I chose the built in video. I also had to connect my Macintosh Two-Page display via its special NuBus card. I also decided to stick in the Apple 670 video card in case I ever wanted to use a third monitor.

With RAM, hard drive, G3, and video cards installed, it was time to power up the system to make sure it was working. It booted up without a problem from the Mac OS 9.1 CD, and all of the RAM was recognized. I then installed the Mac OS onto the internal hard drive. After the installation was done, it booted from the hard drive. I then installed the Sonnet Crescendo software and rebooted.

It seemed to take forever, my 6400 would have been almost done booting from the time it took from the happy Mac to appear on the screen to the time when "Mac OS: starting up" appeared. Then, all of a sudden the words "Crescendo G3" and "Sonnet: simply fast" appeared below the Mac OS startup screen. From there, the extensions flew across the screen and it was done booting before I knew it. Sonnet's "Metronome" said my machine was running a 220Mhz PowerPC G3, and I could definitely tell the difference between the stock 8100/80 and the upgraded processor.

About the only thing that seems to be a little bit slow is playing MP3's in iTunes, and I'm not quite sure why. My 6400/200 with only 32MB of RAM plays an MP3 without a single slowdown in iTunes. With this machine, every few seconds of a song it 'locks up' and you can't type, click on anything, or pull down a menu. The song still plays, although sometimes it will skip during this little 'lockup'. Next thing I will try is a different MP3 player.

Aside from that, everything seems faster. Photoshop is definitely speedier, even MS Word and Excel are much faster. The Finder also feels a good deal quicker, and programs in general load much more quickly.

Overall, I like my new G3 upgraded 8100. Now, the only thing I have to do is make a new label for the front, since it's no longer an 80Mhz machine.