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CURRENT most reliable Powerbook?

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I’d say that the PowerBook 5xx are the best to go with in terms of 68k reliability. Plus with them having 680LC040 chips in them they can easily run Mac OS 8.1 if that’s your jam. I’ve got a PowerBook 540c which I love. Although it’s got an internal SCSI drive, so drive replacements are awkward (you can get the PowerBook SCSI2SD though). They also come with AAUI connectors, so you can get them on the internet reasonably easily. The holy grail would be a PowerBook 550c as it has a full 68040 processor with the FPU and just looks sexy as hell in the jet black rather than the grey plastic. But you’ll be hard pressed to find one as they were only sold in Japan.

If you want an easily replaceable drive, then a PowerBook 150 could be good as they have an internal IDE bus, the only one of that era to have it if I recall correctly. But be warned, that machine is seriously lacking in the I/O connectors department, it just has SCSI and a Printer Port.

I’ve had no-end of work I’ve had to do on PowerBook 1xx machines relating to issues with LCDs and caps. Stay away from PowerBook 180 B/W (risk of tunnel vision), PowerBook 100 (you’ll be lucky to find one in working condition) and many PowerBook 1xx laptops will need their LCDs recapped to even get an image to come up.

Edited by KGLlewellyn

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On March 13, 2019 at 4:25 AM, just.in.time said:

The 180c should be decently reliable and the pinnacle of the original PowerBook design. 68030, FPU, and a RAM ceiling of (I believe) 12mb. In theory this machine should be great on 7.5.5. But I’ve never owned one

I ran either 7.5.5 or 7.5.3 on mine.  It ran fine and was a real workhorse.

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46 minutes ago, Trash80toHP_Mini said:

Plastics are high on the list of reliability characteristics for me. Blackbirds fail miserably in that regard from what I've seen. But even I would be sorely tempted by a 550c. ;-)


Agreed with you there. Although I've found the plastics to be decaying very quickly on the PB 1xx series, things like screw holders splitting/detaching is very common. In comparison my 540c hasn't had any issues in that area yet, but I don't take that one apart as it just works!


Yeeeah, when money is no object to me I'll be scouting Yahoo JP Auctions for a 550c. ;)

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About ten years ago I picked up a pair of PowerBook 500 series from a university surplus store, they worked fine, they're nice, fast machines and onboard ethernet (although I didn't have a transciever at the time) is welcome. The batteries were able to be coaxed into some life and the machine uses them sensibly one, after the other, and you can hot swap them.


But, the hinges were extremely badly done in and every single one I've seen has been like that.


Which is super weird, because, like, my 840's plastics are perfect, my LC520's plastics are perfect, my Beige G3 (both a DT and an MT)'s plastics are perfect, I have an 8600 and a 7300 with perfect plastics, so I know I have a lot of machines where I've had very little degradation over time where everyone else's has long since just completely fallen apart.


Regarding tunnel vision and general plastics viability: I haven't taken it apart, but my 100's plastics seem great, the hinges don't seem like they're about to give out, I don't see any tell-tale cracks, etc. I know my 180 has had tunnel vision, but I live in Arizona and so last time I used it, it had no symptoms of it.


Though, I bought it a new ("new") battery at Batteries Plus in either 2014 or 2015 and that battery went bad and the machine won't run at all with it installed, so that's definitely something to look out for.


In my personal experience, and, yeah, a lot of this is informed by a long-standing preference for the desktop Macs anyway, there aren't any universally infallible PowerBooks. You might have to try a couple times to get a good one, and then you might have to baby it to make it stay that way.


If someone was looking for a machine to actually use, rather than just collect, an iBook G3 is probably one of the more durable things you can get in most scenarios (but even those have problem models.)

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1 hour ago, Cory5412 said:

an iBook G3 is probably one of the more durable things you can get in most scenarios (but even those have problem models.)

I can attest to this.


I had the original Clamshell (the first laptop I could call my own), and 11 year-old me was extremely careless with it. I must've dropped it at least half a dozen times. I even left it out in the rain once! Aside form some rust on a few screws and a bezel-less CD-ROM drive that woldn't stay closed after a particularly hard drop, it just kept on chugging (it finally met its demise when 16 year-old me tried to resolder (badly) the DC-in port, and tore the trackpad cable by mistake while reassembling).


TL;DR, the original Clamshell iBook, in particular, is extremely durable and can take quite a bit of abuse without crumbling to a pile of broken metal and plastic.



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