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The Ultimate PowerBook 1400 Upgrade guide (also the PB 2400 & 3400)

Got the itch for a PB1400?
Are you feeling a little left out of the fun? Perhaps you had a sweet little PowerBook 1400 back in the late 90’s and mistakenly got rid of it for a shinny new iBook or TiBook that’s been nothing but an unreliable sore point.

There are a surprising number of used 1400’s for sale on eBay and other used Mac hardware sites. Just for the experience, I bid on three or four 1400C models (dual scan TFT LCD) running a 603e 133Mhz processor before winning a loaded unit with a floppy, 12x CD ROM, 40MB of RAM, a Viking 56k modem PC card and a Targus bag for $102. plus $14 for UPS shipping. Even the battery held 90 minutes of charge.

You can do better if you are patient and the bidding is slow that day. I saw a loaded 1400c with the coveted 166Mhz 603e processor go for only $89! Doh! I’ve also seen some idiots pay $180 - $200 for a 1400cs (passive matrix LCD) with only a 112Mhz processor.

Easy What and Where first –
It should be no surprise that you aren’t likely to find new goodies for the PowerBook 1400 (or it’s cousins 2400 and 3400) in The Apple Store or’s bi-monthly mail-order catalogs. About the only thing that you might find in some computer super-stores like our west coast Fry’s or nationally Micro Center, is a new US$129 battery by BTI that has probably been on the shelf for two years. We found a Florida based battery seller on eBay that has brand new NiMH Taiwanese ones (same as BTI’s) for around $65.

I bought a BTI brand battery at Frys, which was dead as a doornail when I tried to charge it (BTI replaced it with the receipt as new purchase proof) and I also bid on one from SunBattery in Florida for $56 plus $9.50 USPS Priority Mail shipping. Both batteries are identical in specifications and both hold about 2 hours and 20 minutes of run time charge on my 133Mhz PB1400c. I also found a VST dual battery charger (always wanted one) for a cheap price of 15.51 + 6.75 shipping on eBay too.

Maximize your RAM, a common refrain that is heard from Mac or PC camps. Most PB1400’s




were only delivered with a paltry 16MB of RAM (Apple has never been big on giving you a decent operational amount for free). The 1400’s max out at only 64MB’s anyway, but finding any of the very specialized “stacking” RAM is real tough these days.
Long time manufacturers of PB 1400 RAM like Viking, Peripheral, Microtech and Golden Ram, aren’t anymore, so the pickings can be pretty thin. You have two choices for finding the PB 1400 stacking RAM and both are on eBay. The preferred choice is to buy brand new Apple Spec modules in 24MB or 36MB from Omni Technologies in Florida, who sells exclusively on eBay.
The best way to find Omni’s PB1400 Ram is to do a search on eBay for “PowerBook 1400 RAM”, and you’ll see a long list of available sizes and prices, or call them at 800-805-5655 (US).

I tested a freshly manufactured 36MB Omni module in two 1400’s and they performed beautifully. Omni’s sales manager told me that they manufacture the RAM to meet and/or exceed the original Apple specifications. If you’ve been a Mac user for any length of time, you should have learned by now that ONLY your buy the best RAM you can afford.

Your alternate choice is to bid on used RAM, which occasionally pops up on eBay. I was lucky and won an unusually low bidding contest for two 24MB modules originally made by Microtech in 1999. I paid $41.00 plus $5 for shipping, but I’ve seen these often go for as much as new ones and more. Also, beware of some old RAM that was notorious for causing flakey operation in the early PowerBooks; Golden Ram brand modules come immediately to mind.
This old Viking 36MB RAM was only $46 on a Mac Forum site, very rare at this low price.


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