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MacTip #31, Your Mac is Special.

Each and every Mac is the result of hundreds of decisions, thousands of hours in design and engineering and ultimately purchased with your hard earned money. This MacTip is dedicated to the uniqueness of each Mac and some sources from which you can gather information about your Mac.

Each Mac has its own uniqueness, sometimes that uniqueness is exhibited in something cool, other times in things we might call issues or even bugs. Either way, knowing the specifics of your Mac can help you to be happier with your Mac and be more effective in using it.


Model Number

One aspect of uniqueness of each Macintosh is in the specific model number. Although a discussion of Mac model numbers is a larger than will be discussed here, the model number of many Apple Macintoshes can tell you what sort of case design, what technology it incorporates, and even some of the extras that may have been included with it when it shipped.


Case Design

Case design is another aspect of uniqueness for individual Macs. Although there are very few Macs that have really special aspects about their case like the signatures of the team that worked on the MacPlus molded to the inside of the case. Each Mac case has different capabilities and may be easier or harder to work on. Knowing the specifics of your Macs case can help you to take better advantage of your Mac.

Examples include, the ease of installation of additional hardware like memory or hard drives. The need for specific sized memory due to low clearance of the memory slots. The availability of drive bays for install of more hard drives, CD drives or removable media like Zip drives. Even though two Macs may use a similar case design, they may have different options available to them. For instance, the 7100, 7500, and Desktop G3 are seemingly similar same case design (at least from looking at the outside of the case) but the 7100 has no additional room for another hard drive, the 7500 has room for 1 additional and the G3 can hold 2 addtional.

Other things that can be factors in case design is wether a particular case can be upgraded to hold a newer logicboard like a Quadra 950 being upgraded to a 9500.



Given that each Mac is designed with the curent technology there are certain aspects that set each Mac apart.

One of these issues is types of memory and how best to install it. Many Macs require you to install memory in pairs or even in sets of 4. Generally this information is widley known do memory dealers and is communicated when you go to purchase memory. One aspect that often isn't widely communicated is which Macs can take advantage of interleaving. Interleaving is the ability to insert two memory modules and have your Mac address them as one. Interleaving can result in a 10% or more gain in perofrmance. It isn't unusual for me to come across a machine that can support interleaving that has been setup with matched memory modules but not in the appropriate slots. A simple move of one memory module results in a free boost in performance.

Other functionalify that it can help to be aware of is the speed of your internal SCSI bus when upgrading a hard drive. If you have a slower SCSI bus, you can use a slower less expensive drive with no difference in performance. Likewise if you have a faster SCSI bus you can take advantage of a faster hard drive and see performance gains.

One cool but mostly useless functionality in one Mac is in the Mac Classic. If you hold down the Command-Option-X-O keys when you turn the computer on it will startup from ROM. This can allow you to startup your Mac Classic without a floppy or hard drive. The one thing I have used this feature for is to boot a Classic I found at a garage sale without the aid of any system software.


Technical Issues

At the beginning of this MacTip we discussed all the work and decision making that goes into each Macintosh model. Unfortunately the sum of all that work and decision making doesn't always result in the perfect Macintosh.

For every Macintosh model you will be able to find people who insist that a specific one is a lemon and another group who are equally confident that it is one of the best Macs ever made.

There are Macs that have had specific problems that have been addressed by Apple. Some publicly, some otherwise. Many of these issues can be found in Apple's technical articles, others can only be found through a little research. If you are having a specific problem with a Mac that can't seem to be solved through the normal trouble shooting of reinstalling the system etc. it might be worth searching the trouble shooting links below for any information about your particular Mac.

It was information that was publicized in MacFixIt that told me my Macs fell within a certain range of serial numbers of ones that had a bad networking chip. Unfortunately Apple didn't contact me to let me know I had one with a problem, so I had to track down the issue for myself. Upon calling on Apple, they were perfectly willing to replace the bad part. If you find your Mac has one of these issues, it is worth calling Apple to see if there is a plan for getting your Mac fixed. Even if it is out of the standard warranty there are often warranty extensions that can cover these known issues for years after the standard warranty has expired.


Specific Software Updates

One other aspect of uniqueness in individual Macs are the specific software updates that may be required for specific machines. These usually come in the form of specific small updates. These symptoms these updates deal with range from small annoyances to serious issues.


I hope that the information above has helped you think about your Mac as special. I'm sure you are wondering about how to find this kind of information about your Mac. Below you will find the sources that I use when trying to find out information about a particular Mac. I suggest going through each one and exploring what you can find out about your Mac. You might be surprised about what you might find.


Sources for Information about Your Mac

Information about Specific Macs

20th Anniversary Mac

The Official PM 7500/200 Page

Low End Mac || A great source for information about Macs at the lower end of the spectrum. Road Apples is also there, dedicated to those Macs that Apple could have done a little better with.

Mac Secrets || MacWor ld Mac Secrets, by David Pogue and Joseph Schorr has a chapter that lists some interesting aspects of individual specific Macs. Check it out!

Ogrady's Power Page || The source for all that is PowerBook.




Mac Speed Zone || A great site dedicated to tracking the performance of every Mac. See how yours stacks up.

MacBench || MacBench® 4.0 is a subsystem-level benchmark that measures the processor, floating point, disk, graphics, video, and CD-ROM performance of a Mac OS system.


Product Specifications

Apple Product Data Sheets


Technical Information

GURU || Guru is one of the greatest tools for finding information about upgrading your Mac. In my consulting, whenever someone calls me on the phone for help the first thing I do after finding out which Mac they have is launch GURU. It provides information about memory upgrades and the video capabilities of each Mac. Guru is the best tool to find quick information about every Mac ever made.

Apple System Profiler || Apple System Profiler is a great place to find information about your Mac. ASP is also a good way to find out on which Apple Mac your Mac Clone is based. ASP in installed with Mac OS 8 (and 7.6), you will find it under the Apple Menu.


Trouble Shooting

Apple Technical Info Library

Macintosh Resource Page || Search

MacInTouch || Search

MacFixIt || Search

Software updates from Apple || CPU Specific Updates


The Rest of the Web

Web search Engines



MacTip #31 apeared March 16th 1998.

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