This monstrosity came to me on a whim. I found it on Craig's List in Fort Worth. The original owner had all of the original stuff and tons of software, and I just wanted to see what I could do with it. Still not a fan of the processor that came in these machines - PowerPC 603e - and couldn't wait to insert the Sonnet G3 400 L2 cache processor upgrade card and get some decent performance from it. This computer was one of the failed Mac undertakings when they almost sold out or went bankrupt in the mid 90s. Attempted a lot of things with this machine and gained moderate success in the end. I believe the easiest thing to do is list a few of the upgrades as previously chronicled and edit things as I go along.
Wow, what fun! Never thought it would be fun to upgrade old Macintosh computers, but the bits to do it with are now so easily accessible and cheap that it has become fun! I am typing this document on my cool 6400/180. Never thought I would consider anything with a 603e processor in it "cool," but this has been a fun challenge. Here is the list of upgrades I have managed on this machine.
  • Processor to PowerPC G3 750 - this via a Sonnet level 2 cache accelerator card to 400 MHz sweet.
  • Radius Thunder3D 12" Video card - has 16:9 HDTV capability and at least 8 MB of RAM. Not bad for $40.00, considering these sold for more than $2000 when they first appeared! (I found some notes on the web on how to rig the tower to accept the longer cards. I need to get a nice Apple display in order to realize any of the best resolutions and features of this card. I am presently using a VGA adapter and a freebie PC monitor from the school.)
  • Update on the video card situation: 2-Jan-09 - Radius card is basically a bust. Even with a nice Mac display it wouldn't do. I tried it in the 8600/200 with a G4 400 MHz upgrade card in it and it wouldn't even pick it up. So now the 6400 is sporting an ixMicro Twin Turbo 128 MB8 (8 Megs). It is not the Mac shipped card but after market with both Mac 15 pin connector and VGA. I found the drivers and it loaded fine, but the KDS 19" would only pick it up through the Mac port with an adapter and would only show 1024 X 768 res. at 75 Hz - what? I plugged a nice ViewSonic flat screen CRT 19" into the VGA side today and it sprang to life. I'm running comfortably at 1024 X 768 100 Hz and can switch all the way up to 1920 X 1080!! Just what the doctor ordered. I think the 6400 is finally done. More RAM is in its future.
  • Originally put an Asante 10/100 PCI Ethernet card in it, but finally relented and put a Farallon 10Bt PCI card in and it is now a happy network and Internet romper. Asante card would not work well through my switch. I'm beginning to believe the problem was actually an issue with the cable I was using. The 8600 the card is in now (very machine I am using this moment) is very particular about which cable I have plugged into it.
  • Apple TV card and video in/out card. These only work with the original monitor/video connection but are cool anyway.
  • A full load of RAM - 136 MB. Could probably get it to run more but don't want to spend the money.
  • 15 GB Quantum ATA drive. Seems to be happy. Tried putting a second drive in the upper bay but it fried itself. Got a sled for it and everything. Don't know if it was just crap (I suspect) or the heat up there is too much for a HD.
I have updated the system to OS 9.2.2 using OS9Helper and QuickTime to 6.0.2, and it seems like a happy camper. It has become a very reliable and stable machine. The huge built-in sub woofer is cool, and the ViewSonic monitor has a very rich color to it. Netscape was not releasing its RAM back to the system, with virtual memory turned off, but does quite nicely with it turned on. Anyone else remember those days? When the OS was finally becoming dependent in some ways on the virtual memory management system?

It reminds me of a taller version of the Color Classic - standing up on its hind legs and being all perky like that...