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Best compact Mac today

jltursan

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Mac SE motherboard is pretty robust, there's only a few axial electrolytic caps on it, and they are not terribly prone to failure, plenty of SE's still running flawlessly on their originals. It's the "aluminum can" SMT capacitors on later macs that are guaranteed to fail those were the real plague.

This statement of RWallmow in a recent thread makes me think, what's the "best" compact Mac system today?, I mean a balance between features/power and durability (flaky caps and such)...
 

simplex

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The SE30 is still IMHO the best overall, despite the mono display and caps (which really, if routinely serviced, are not an issue)
 

ClassicHasClass

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Another vote for the SE/30, though that said, my Colour Classic with a Mystic LC575 board gets a lot more use (and is "cuter"). They're also arguably easier to expand with cards although the SE/30 is overall more powerful and makes a great server-in-the-corner. When I was an undergrad at UC San Diego, there was an SE/30 in the tech's cage running the AppleShare network in AP&M B337, and I was able to get most of its files off before it was retired ( gopher://gopher.floodgap.com/1/archive/userserve-ucsd-edu ).
 

olePigeon

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SE/30 will need a recap, but it's the most powerful stock Compact Mac. With certain very expensive upgrades, it is expandable to a full 68040 and grayscale screen with color VGA out.

A Mystic upgraded Color Classic is the most powerful compact Mac without draining your savings account or finding a Leprechaun.
 

NeXT

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I vote for the SE/30 as well. They do require more maintenance to keep running but they are overall more reliable, faster and PDS cards are easier to source.
 

Unknown_K

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The SE and SE/30 are the best in my opinion depending on what OS you are going to use. Both have a bunch of expansion cards and CPU upgrades to play around with and still have the classic B&W screens associated with the pre Mac II color desktops. Those models have the much easier to find ADB keyboards and mice plus built in SCSI and were made in such numbers that parts are still generally available to fix them. There were so many brands of CPU upgrades for the Mac SE (68020, 68030) you could collect them for a decade and still not have them all (getting scarce).

The Per SE compacts are pricey and you need hard to find keyboards plus you can't run quite a bit of later software. The Classic and Classic 2 are not upgradable at all and as built are a downgrade from the SE/30.

I did kind of like the concept of the color classic but price and availability killed that for me. I just ended up getting a LC 550 for free and stuck a Sonnet Presto Plus (68040, 32MB RAM, Ethernet) into it. For a slightly larger footprint I get a better larger Trinitron color display and built in caddy loading CDROM plus stereo speakers and remote control.
 
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jltursan

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The SE/30 seems almost an LC II (30/16Mhz, PDS, 1.44" drive, 30 pin SIMMs), I already have one and they work great although a bit slow. The possibility to use the CPU upgrades is a good point (maybe a bit pricey lately?), a pity that the machine has only one PDS slot. You can also plug an Apple II card and turn the machine into a real oldie.

Anyway, as olePigeon has stated, they need recap (not too many caps in the board tho); so the chances of finding a fully working SE/30 are scarce. Not too many people take care of their vintage gear and the ones with enough interest/skills doesn't usually sell them.

Also what about pricing, most older Macs are dirty cheap (vast majority doesn't even power on); but the good ones are really expensive...
 

Timo W.

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They do require more maintenance to keep running but they are overall more reliable
That's kind of a contradiction, isn't it? ;) The most reliable one would be the one that requires no maintenance to keep it running.

I'd vote for the Mac Plus. No cheap caps, pram battery accessible from the back, SIMM slots for memory.
 

ClassicHasClass

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The SE/30 seems almost an LC II (30/16Mhz, PDS, 1.44" drive, 30 pin SIMMs), I already have one and they work great although a bit slow. The possibility to use the CPU upgrades is a good point (maybe a bit pricey lately?), a pity that the machine has only one PDS slot. You can also plug an Apple II card and turn the machine into a real oldie.

Anyway, as olePigeon has stated, they need recap (not too many caps in the board tho); so the chances of finding a fully working SE/30 are scarce. Not too many people take care of their vintage gear and the ones with enough interest/skills doesn't usually sell them.

Also what about pricing, most older Macs are dirty cheap (vast majority doesn't even power on); but the good ones are really expensive...

I couldn't tell from your first sentence, but in case it wasn't clear to the OP, the Apple II card only works in LCs, not the SE/30.

I can see your argument about the similarities between the LC II and the SE/30, but the SE/30 has one major improvement over the LC II, and that's RAM: you can cram 128MB into the thing. At least the LC II is 32-bit clean without tricks. It might be more accurate to say that the SE/30 is just a Mac IIx crammed into a compact case.
 

bhtooefr

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The SE/30 also has a 32-bit bus, whereas the LC II has a 16-bit bus. That's going to have a significant performance impact.
 

NeXT

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That's kind of a contradiction, isn't it? ;) The most reliable one would be the one that requires no maintenance to keep it running.

I'd vote for the Mac Plus. No cheap caps, pram battery accessible from the back, SIMM slots for memory.

Aside from the surface mount capacitors, an issue that more than just the /30 had to deal with, there's no other major problems to contend with aside from analog board faults present on all of the compact macs.

I find the Plus too limited. No internal expansion and in particular you are limited to 4mb ram without the use of expensive upgrades, plus no ADB.
 

dr.zeissler

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Is there a 68K Mac that can fit a (fast) PPC-Upgrade, has PCI-Slots for 3dfx Addon and Ethernet PCI/Nubus and a PDS Slot that fits a AppleIIe-Card?
In german we call this "eierlegendewollmilchsau". Does this Mac exist? What is the nearby one according to the featureset above?

Thx :)
 

olePigeon

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Nope. The closest you could get is a PCI PowerMac with a SecondWave NuBUS expansion box. That would give you both PCI and NuBUS slots. However, you wouldn't have a PDS slot. The SecondWave NuBUS box is usually very expensive.
 

dr.zeissler

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currently I own/use:

Quadra700/PPC-Card/Ethernet 100Mbit
LC475/68040 wFPU/Apple IIe-Card/no Ethernet :(
G4-733/Sonnet 1,8Ghz/GF4-TI4600/Voodoo2-SLI

Mostly I use the Quadra700.

Doc
 

bhtooefr

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If you want to run an Apple IIe card, you'd have a PDS system (not a NuBus system), and you need to have a 68k running in 24-bit mode.
 

dr.zeissler

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That's right. The 2e-Card is PDS not NuBus or PCI. The card fits in a LC/performa or ColorClassic.
But I was disappointed about the 2e games. I thought 2e can run 2gs-Games, but :(
 

bhtooefr

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No, the IIGS is the successor to the //e. The reason why it's a //e card, and not a IIGS card, is most schools simply used the IIGS as a fast //e with 3.5" disks, and the LC with a //e card could do that too. (Well, not the fast part...)
 

dr.zeissler

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I simply don't see any //e software that is not ported or runable on the later macs like the LC/Quadra. therefore I mostly use the quadra700 with the option to change between 68k and "slow" PPC (because of only 50 Mhz).
Is there essential/exclusive //e software (games, apps) that I should go for?
 

Eudimorphodon

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Of course, if you want a Mac to run IIgs stuff most Power Macintoshes can manage to emulate it. It was never an official Apple product, but they unofficially distributed the "Gus" IIgs emulator to schools purchasing Power Macs to replace their old Apple IIs.

But yes, most educational software ended up targeting the "Enhanced IIe/IIc" platform so there really wasn't much of a need for a "IIgs" card in Apple's product line. (I'd bet that the majority of "Gus" installations ran mostly IIe software.) A IIgs emulator card also would have been expensive; the IIgs is essentially two computers in one already and the bits outside the "Mega II" IIe chip add up to about as much circuitry as there is in a low-end 68k Mac.
 

ClassicHasClass

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Nope. The closest you could get is a PCI PowerMac with a SecondWave NuBUS expansion box. That would give you both PCI and NuBUS slots. However, you wouldn't have a PDS slot. The SecondWave NuBUS box is usually very expensive.

The PowerWave systems had both NuBus and PCI (the machine was PCI, but had a NuBus bridge), but Apple never made such a beast.
 
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