Segments: Slices From the Macintosh Life
A Case for Upgrading
If you are the lucky owner of a 630 series Macintosh (LC 630, Quadra 630, or any of the Performa 630 series), you have one of the most versatile Macs ever made. With an easily disassembled case, this Mac can be configured into an endless number of hardware versions for whatever your needs may be. I would like to tell you of my experiences in upgrading my Performa 636 to show just a few of the possibilities.
I started out with a hand-me-down Performa 636CD (My wife needed to upgrade for her desktop publishing projects.). The base 636CD came with a 33 MHz 68LC040 processor, 8 MB of RAM, 1 MB video RAM (non-upgradable), a 250 MB hard drive, and an Apple 300i 2X CD-ROM drive. A decent machine in its day, but hardly up to the rigors of today’s programs and Internet surfing activities. After using it for awhile, I wondered just how good I could make it without spending more money than a new PowerMac might cost. What follows are My Plan and The Results. Before I proceed, I would like to state what I hope is obvious: If you do not know how to do any of this - don’t!. All of the hardware I installed easily slides or plugs in, but, the possibility of messing something up is ever present. You should be able to find a service technician who can do this for what should be a nominal fee. No operation described here requires much more than a screwdriver and some patience. If you don’t have either, find someone who does.
My Plan - Step I
I wanted to improve the machine in as many ways as possible, but I had to start with the 636's most glaring weakness — not enough RAM! A quick call to Data Memory Systems (DMS) got me a 32 MB SIMM chip to boost the memory to 36 MB. The 630's come with either 1 or 2 RAM slots. My 636 had 4 MB soldered on the logic board and 1 extra slot which had another 4 MB chip in it (total 8 MB). To install the 32 MB chip:
- Unsnap and remove the back plastic case cover (after removing all of the cables - the power cable included!)
- Remove the two Phillips screws holding the logic board into the case.
- Slide out the logic board using the small metal handle on the back panel.
- Remove the 4 MB chip and replace it with the 32 MB chip.
- Carefully slide the logic board back in until it seats, put the 2 screws in and back cover back on. Full instructions come with the chip, and DMS is very helpful if you need it. After enjoying the 36 MB of RAM for awhile, I decided I was ready for step II.
After purchasing a modem and getting online, I discovered that a lot of the neat new stuff I could download off the Internet was for PowerPC only. I began to investigate a PowerPC upgrade. Not wanting to use the PDS slot in the 636 for a processor card (This would interfere with my next step.), I check a lot of ads in the various magazines until I discovered KIWI Computer. They have 3 different logic board upgrades available for the 630 series: 75, 100, and 120 MHz. I figured “what-the-heck” and went for the 120 MHz PowerPC 603e logic board. It came with 256k Level 2 Cache and 2 SIMM slots. KIWI Computer is another Mac friendly company with helpful, real people on the phones! The boards are sold on an exchange basis, and their shipping box doubles as a return container; they even provide FedEx return paperwork. Installation was as easy as installing the RAM chip described above. Instructions also came with the board, along with a CD to install a new system on my hard drive. Now I had more speed and a Power PC chip - I was ready for step III.
I love graphics - pictures to use with Desk Picture (My favorite shareware program. Check it out at http://www.peircesw.com, pictures to use in publications, pictures in games. You get the idea. I also like to use larger screen resolutions on my monitor: at least 832 x 624. At that resolution, the 1 MB of video RAM in the 636 is just not enough to view pictures as they were meant to be. 256 colors is not my idea of realistic! Some more catalog, magazine, and web surfing led me to Micro Conversions. They make a product called a 1724PD 24-bit Graphics accelerator. I purchased one from the fine folks at MacWarehouse and installed into the 636's PDS slot. The 1724PD provides millions of colors on monitors up to 17" and 8-bit color on monitors up to 21". It also provides hardware QuickDraw acceleration and a virtual desktop for working on huge desktops no matter how large your monitor is. Once again, installation was as easy as sliding out the logic board and plugging the 1724PD into the PDS slot. Now I was able to download and view all sorts of graphics and pictures, which led me to the other glaring weakness of the 636: the 250 MB hard drive is too small! On to step IV.
A quick trip to the web found APS Technologies. Luckily for me, they had a 1.2 GB IDE hard drive on sale in the tempting “Netsurfer’s Specials” area. Out came the VISA card again, and my last piece of the puzzle was in place. Installation was again very easy. It was accomplished by popping off the front cover and sliding out the old hard drive. (I had backed up the complete hard drive to Zip disks using the neat backup program Disk Fit Direct, by Dantz Development Corp., that came with my Iomega Zip drive. I simply reinstalled everything using the DiskFit’s restore program.) Since I still had an empty SIMM slot, I called DMS again and got another 32 MB SIMM chip to bring my total ram to 64 MB! On to the internet I went!
I now own a Mac 6320 with a 120 MHz PowerPC 603e processor, 64 MB RAM, a 1.2 GB hard drive, and a 24-bit accelerated video card supporting millions of colors! The searching and installation was fun — creating my very own Mac, as it were — and I’m simply enjoying the results! (Some may ask why I did not upgrade the 2X CD ROM drive. I may in the future, but I don’t play a lot of shoot-em-up games that require fast CD speeds. I mostly use the CDs for reference work, and those are not generally written to take advantage of the newer 10X and 12X drives anyway.) I suppose I could have just gone ahead and bought a new PowerMac or clone and been done with it, but by doing it myself — searching and researching the products I installed — I brought to life My Own Mac (Its name is KOSH) and enjoyed the hunt and the people who helped along the way. I should also mention that some of the products I used will also fit into other Mac models — from the Performa or LC 475 up to the 6xxx series Power Macs — just check with the suppliers, they’ll be glad to help. Long live the Mac!
|2 x 32 MB 72-pin SIMM
($139 ea. + shipping)
|Data Memory Systems
|120 MHz PowerPC logic board
Upgrade w/256k L2 cache
($475 + shipping)
Los Angeles, CA
|1724PD PDS slot 24-bit
($249 + shipping)
|Micro Conversions, Inc.
|1.2 GB Quantum Fireball
($169 + shipping)
Kansas City, MO
Also in This Series
- About My Particular Macintoshes · May 2012
- From the Darkest Hour · May 2012
- Shrinking Into an Expanding World · May 2012
- Growing Up With Apple · May 2012
- Recollections of ATPM by the Plucky Comic Relief · May 2012
- Making the Leap · March 2012
- Digital > Analog > Digital · February 2012
- An Achievable Dream · February 2012
- Smart Move? · February 2012
- Complete Archive