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By posting this inflammatory thread I know the flames will rage high! So let it burn!

 

Ha! Lets throw hats and chew the fat, discuss about experiences and techno-babble, and explain why it is to you.

 

I surmise that the SE\30 will rank high, though it is not without its problems: Recapping and Cap Goo Trace Rot being the worst of them. But the SE does not have these problems though they have most of the same components. Then you have the Classic and Classic II. Though the Classic will rank well along with the SE as a 68K machine, the Classic II is another issue altogether.

 

Then there are the 128K, 512K, 512Ke and Plus. Many good things can be said about these machines, but the biggest put down I guess will be the analog board and the issues they bring. The Beige Case can also be an issue in yellowing as well but there were a Platinum 512Ke and Platinum Plus as well.

 

I own the 512Ke, Plus, SE\30 and the Classic II - all with their pluses and minuses and think that for their designs, they were and still are great machines. Though my first Mac was a Mac IIcx (which was later modified into a Mac IIci), my first Classic Compact Mac was a 512Ke with a SCSI/RAM/16MHz Accelerator from I believe Dove Board. Then I got a SE and a SE\30 a few months after that. And from there my collection grew. The Classic II I recently found in the trash (Summer of 14) and I rescued and repaired it - my first Compact Mac Repair in about 20 or so years!

 

Care to thrown in a PowerBook? Explain why it fits. The Duo 210 if thrown in fits between the SE\30 and the Classic II, as all three has the 16MHz 030. The Mac Portable lines up with the Mac SE.

I got a lot more to say and share but I'll post it later and end this here. This is just an introductory post to get you guys posting.

Edited by Elfen

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Which one, Uni? The SE came in about 4 or 5 different flavors.

Single Floppy Drive, Dual Floppy Drive, 800K Floppy Drive, 1.44M Floppy Drives, and a hard drive in most but not all cases.

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If I had to be specific,  I liked, the SE/20 with the 20mb miniscribe, FDHD is nice that it accepts 2m, 3.5 disks.

 

i really liked the Dual 800k drive version that had that Squirrel cage style cooling fan.

 

the nice thing is, they all(8mhz se's) and have HD20 support in rom, witch is nice!

 

Once i started using the HD20 support with the SE's and the Floppy emu, right away the floppy drive became completely deprecated. :)

model-b-750.png

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I own a Classic II and an SE 20mb dual floppies.  I'd have to say that they both have their advantages.  When new I'd have preferred the Classic II as it had more RAM and provided the ability to use a microphone.  However, 30+ years later the SE is bullet proof in my opinion.  No worry about cap goo and seems less temperamental. I've spent a lot of time struggling w/ my Classic II getting it to run, it finally does ...but the SE is much easier to work on and caused me a lot less hassle. Not to mention it does almost everything I want it to and can keep up w/ my Classic II no problem.

 

so, i'd have to back Uniservers recommendation of the SE/20.  +1

Edited by eR1c

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Classic II. No doubt. Especially with the imminently pending FPU/ROM expansion.

Edited by Paralel

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If I had to be specific,  I liked, the SE/20 with the 20mb miniscribe, FDHD is nice that it accepts 2m, 3.5 disks.

 

i really liked the Dual 800k drive version that had that Squirrel cage style cooling fan.

 

the nice thing is, they all(8mhz se's) and have HD20 support in rom, witch is nice!

 

Once i started using the HD20 support with the SE's and the Floppy emu, right away the floppy drive became completely deprecated. :)

This is the kind of fat I'm looking to chew on! Sweet, juicy, full of that Information flavor! Thanks Uniserver!

Edited by Bunsen

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It depends on your criteria for 'best'.  If we are going with which was the best engineered then I'd have to say the Macintosh SE hands down.  I've seen more of those working without failure or need for repair than any other compact Mac.  They have ADB ports, DIN8 serial ports, and internal SCSI. The PDS slot makes these machines so expandable too!  No more soldering directly to your CPU if you want added capabilities.

 

The SE/30 is a close second.  They were SO powerful and expandable with that absurd 128MB RAM capacity.  The fact that they were the only compact mac to be able to run A/UX is pretty neat too.  Their ram ceiling even makes running modern Linux a reasonable possibility.  

 

The horrible caps used in the SE/30 and later models really are hugely detrimental to them.  They are becoming rarer and rarer simply because the only running machines left have been recapped and most people just throw them in a landfill assuming that they CAN'T be fixed.  The same is true for the older models and their analog boards.

Edited by avadondragon

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I'd choose the SE/30 every time.

 

I love vintage Macs for various reasons, one of them is the shape of the computer itself. It is iconic. When I have a vintage Mac in mind I always think of the classic case ones.

But the problems with those all in one designs is their lack of expandability compared to the Mac II line. You could have some kickass upgrades, processor upgrades, multiple displays, math cards, cache cards, ethernet cards and tons of others. That was partially solved with the SE with its PDS but you couldn't get color on the SE, or a 040 Processor. That's why the SE/30 is my favorite, I use it all the time. 

 

AND it's not as slow as you'd might think, with a proper 50Mhz 030 accelerator I think it will be nearly as fast as a 66MHz PPC (okay there are some physical issues that won't make it faster than a PPC...) but still !

The ability to display color on an external display really makes the difference for me. Yes, you could buy a Scuzzygraph for your Mac Plus but it was limited to 4 colours, not 256 with the SE/30 ! 

 

Finally it is the only classic mac that can run 8.1 with the ROM mod. Even the LC550, made 5 years after the SE/30 couldn't handle more than 7.6.1 !

 

 

Now there's the question of whether the best mac is the most interesting. Whereas I think the SE/30 is the best compact Mac (if not vintage Mac full stop), it is not the most interesting one in my opinion. The 128k, being the first of the bread would be quite interesting IF I COULD FIND ONE CHEAP  :p

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It depends on your criteria for 'best'.  If we are going with which was the best engineered...

I'm looking for your experience and opinion based on that experience. We can discuss technical issues here as well.

 

In short I want this to be a thread where the absolute Vintage Compact Mac Newbie can look at and say to themselves - "Hmmmmm... interesting. I did not know that."

 

EDIT: And yes - 8.1 on a Mac SE\30? Damn I did not know that! I thought you needed a 040 for 8.1; if so are you using that hack to do it?

Edited by Elfen

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For stock machines, I'd go with the SE.  It's reliable, expandable, and you could have picked one up in the late 80s and still been using it in the mid 90s in stock form.

 

For hot-rodded machines I'd have to say a modded Color Classic.  If it had come with VGA resolution and Color Classic II specs out of the box it would have been a great machine, but in stock form they're lacking.  Once you do the VGA mod and go to a 575 board however they're quite nice.

 

While the SE/30 is definitely a powerhouse in stock form compared to the other machines the lower reliability knocks it down a bit.  That being said, I've owned everything from the 512K up to the CCII and just about the only machine I didn't like was the Plus.  While it introduced some very worthwhile things (onboard SCSI, 800K floppies, HFS, and SIMMs for memory) it just feels like a stopgap before the SE came out.

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Once i started using the HD20 support with the SE's and the Floppy emu, right away the floppy drive became completely deprecated. :)

model-b-750.png

 

Holly smokes, that is a beautiful Floppy Emulator.... I would buy a system just to play with that thing.

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BMOW makes good stuff

For sure, has saved SO much time having the Floppy Emu ... quite indispensable ... and which compact was it plugged into today? ... an SE/30, which is my favourite compact Mac. Having only recently decided to collect and restore machines which formed a big part of my life years ago, the SE/30 was at the top of the list.

 

Iconic for sure, but maybe the 128k should get the prize for being the first (which doesn't quite answer the original question 'Which Was The Best Compact Mac Made?).

 

System 8.1, now that sounds interesting.

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About 8.1 running on a SE/30: If you take the ROM simm from a IIsi (IIsi came with two ROM types, most of them were soldiered but some had ROM simms) or a IIfx (easier but certainly expensive), you can run 8.1 on an SE/30 with a few software hacks. Have a look at it here. Their machine does have the greyscale adapter as well!

I forgot to mention that the SE/30 is the ONLY compact mac to support greyscale if used with a Micron XCEED Color Video card with its Greyscale adapter (replaces the display board at the end of the CRT) 

 

Some guys even tried to add a turbo 601 in a SE/30 PDS ! It didn't work for them but if only I could find a turbo 601 I would try to make it work. I think it's doable. 

AND IMAGINE the potential ! 

 

EDIT: You don't even need a "true" IIsi or IIfx ROM if you get one of those dougg3 programmable ROM simms. You can mod the startup sound or disable the very annoying RAM-check at startup as well. You can found "illegal" flashed IIsi ROMS on the net, or you can flash the one in your IIsi...

Edited by BadGoldEagle

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So while I agree the /30 has impressive HW...you're pretty gimped by that 9", 512x384 B&W screen.

 

I have a 128k, a 512k/Plus and an SE/30. The 512k/Plus is definitely my favorite since I get Plus goodness with the 512k front panel. :)

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Don't know really, The SE is bulletproof built, and in the "Superdrive" or "FDHD" form will handle most disks.

 

The Classic has leaky caps, but only a few, meaning that is pretty easy to repair, the Classic II has a similar board, but those tiny caps are more difficult to handle.

 

The SE/30 is powerful but plagued by leaking caps and a more complex logic board.

 

In the end i will go for the SE, less trouble and the ability to receive a PDS card.

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I'm also going to have to say Mac SE. All the fun of a compact but with an internal hard drive and floppy, even 1.44 meg support with the right model (or dual floppies and an HDD with some careful placement). The PDS slot is also quite nice for throwing in a 68020 or even 68030 with relatively common upgrades. Some upgrades even allowed video cards and such to be passed through for both CPU upgrade and external displays.

 

If the SE/30 didn't have bad caps and were more common I'd probably go with it but I like common + cheap + easier fixes.

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Yeah the caps are a plague, I agree. But once you fix them with some new ceramic TDK, your SE/30 should be fine for at least 20 more years ;)

 

I also like the SE, particularly the dual floppy one (only compact mac to have twin floppies!) but if you want to play some later games (or programs), requiring a 030 or more than 4mb or RAM, you can't unless you find a Novy Mac20 (68020), Radius Accelerator 16 or 25 (68030).

In a nutshell, I think the SE is the "best" 68000 Mac, whereas the SE/30 is the "best" 68030 Mac (Radius 030 Accelerators for SE are really good if you can find one as they turn the machine into a 32-bit clean one. The SE/30 isn't 32-bit clean as standard. It's not a big issue though, Mode32 is here).

 

Some games work really well with the SE, while others don't (at all) but work with the SE/30. The SE/30 might also have problems with really early games because it's too fast: remember the game Test Drive II? They had to introduce a menu where you'd say what CPU you had before playing. I tried 68000 mode on a SE/30 and the damn thing was inoperable the race finished before I even started LOL 

It's your choice in the end. Depends on what you want to do with them.

 

 

Damn you made me want a 68020-powered and twin-floppy SE !  :)

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Hands down, I must choose the SE, specifically the FDHD amd SuperDrive models as they are realistically the most useful, having an internal hard drive and ROM support for the HD FDD out of the box. I choose the SE by virtue of reliability and good engineering alone... in most other respects they are the same as any other 8MHz compact. Unlike the Plus however, the SE has active cooling, rather than convection cooling and the associated shortening of lifespans on the AB componentry as suffered by the Plus, and also 128k and 512K. There are still no SMD electrolytics in sight on the SE, so logic board rot or cap failure an almost a non-issue. The implementation of ADB is also very much a positive in favour of the SE, rather than that ridiculous RJ11/DB9 serial combination of input device sockets, and of course, the PDS slot, unique to the SE and SE/30. They also have the nicest looking case in my opinion. Whilst I do enjoy the Classic, it really is operationally just a  cheapened SE, without any expansion slot, and with terrible surface mount electrolytic capacitors on the logic board that claim many a Classic... So realistically it can hardly be rated as the best as it performs the same, has no processor direct expandability, and breaks more readily. The Classic isnt an intrinsically bad machine in concept, being a little faster and better, and just as sexy, but unfortunately it is let down by the same issues  that let down the Classic so it is a bit of a vote of little confidence also.

 

The SE/30 is definitely worthy of second place by virtue of the huge amount of power and potential it packed into that tiny little SE case, however it is very much let down by the rubbish logic board capacitors also, having some of the absolute worst of cap rot issues. For this reason, it will oonly ever get second place in my books.

 

So yes, all things taken into account, the SE FDHD and SE SuperDrive are the winners for me. :)

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As far as case style goes, I really like the look of the Classic and Classic II, and the Colour Classic/CCII.  I know the latter have their haters, but whatevahh. 

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At the time of their release, the Mac Plus and Mac SE were most affordable macs that were useful. The SE/30 was insanely expensive and I would have rather spent the money I wished I had (at the time) on a IIci or Quadra 700. All of the compact macs after the SE were needlessly underpowered and there existed better options (say, Mac LC onwards), unless you valued luggability.

 

I started college in the late eighties and we students had the oldest machines. Pluses were usable, SEs most usable ( they had hard drives *and* HD floppies) and the LCs were worth the extra trip because they had a colour screen, faster processor as well as the HD and hard drive.

 

Nowadays, for anyone who wants to recreate the compact mac experience, I recommend a Mac SE. Almost no game written for the small compact monochrome screen benefits from the 68030 processor and the bucketful of RAM (unless you a RAM disk) of an SE/30, unless you want to torture yourself with a game of Civilization. Get an ethernet card for the SE, 4MB of RAM and get it recapped, and you're sorted. A SCSI2SD, the nifty drive from BMOW or even just a simple 9GB SCA drive with connector will make it quieter and faster.

 

My reasons for picking either the Mac Plus or the Mac SE as the best compact Macs. That or the first that you played with as a child.. Nostalgia is a powerful force.

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