Power Macintosh 8500 Mega UpgradePosted: February 5, 2016
The Power Macintosh 8200 was the first Apple I ever owned, bought around 2004, I used it a lot when I first moved away from home. It was an excellent computer for design work and I used it to design my first website. However after six months, the internal 120mhz PPC processor was already beginning to feel restrictive. The internet was slow, games struggled and disc access was sometimes painful. Back then, the best place to get help on anything Apple, was “Everymac.com”. The website had a healthy community of users and a very active forum. Which in later years, for reasons I’ve never been able to grasped, was closed down. But in 2004, it was still going strong and I made some good friends via the forum, who helped me upgrade my 8200 in to a 8500.
Both models share the same case, so it was a simple job of switching the motherboard out of my 8200 and voila, a fulling working 8500. The upgraded meant I could actually pick and choose a new processor for my machine, the limit being only what I could afford. In the months that followed, I bought a secondhand Sonnet Crescendo G3 333mhz, more ram and finally an ATI Radeon video card. The upgrades prolonged the life of my 8500 for quite some time, until I eventually caved and bought myself a G3 350 Blue & White Powermac. But I never forget the little beige mac, my first Apple machine.
Last year I brought my old 8500 out of the loft, cleaned it down and set it up on my desk. My plan was to make sure it was till working, play a few of the old games, like Quake, Star Trek: Final Unity etc. What actually happened was it ended up staying on my desk and being used for everything from getting email, graphic work and writing. It began first as an “I wonder?”, because I was sitting at my desk, looking at the old mac and pondering if I could actually do my everyday jobs on the machine. The only task I knew the 8500 couldn’t do flat out, was rendering. There was no way I’d go back and suffer the slow rendering speeds of the 90’s. Todays computers make CGI much easier to bare. But for everything else I threw at it, the 8500 managed it pretty well. Even going online wasn’t all that bad, so long as you didn’t visit complex, CSS/Flash heavy sites.
It was while doing all of this, that I realised my PowerMac was severely short on ram. Sure it had 176mb, but even in 2000 that wasn’t all that much, especially when you consider the 8500 can hold 1Gb. I started looking around for ram modules, but had difficulty finding them in matching pairs. That’s when a friend on 68kmla came to the rescue.
Having recently fixed up an 8500, he’d discovered he didn’t have much use for it, so the machine was sitting around not doing much at all. After seeing some of my post on the forum, he contacted me, wondering if I needed any parts. In the end, I bought a Newertech G3 400mzh daughter and enough ram off him, to upgrade the 8500 to 640mb!
Since the last upgrade in 2006, I didn’t honestly think I would ever find another processor card for my mac. But it just goes to show how wrong you can be! The Maxpowr card has surprisingly improved the speed of the machine more then I’d expected. Perhaps having 512k of L2 cache as well as being 60mhz faster, has something to do with it. One thing is for certain, the old beige box is back to being a power tower, albeit a vintage one. But for 1998, it’s blazing!