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Upgrading a Color Classic


The Macintosh Color Classic has a large cult following here and especially in Japan were clever folks have been able to shoehorn some of the most outrageous bits into their CC’s including parts from a G4 Cube.

Since I’m not that clever I’ll post some pix on what you can easily do to make your beloved CC a bit faster and perhaps answer some questions. Maybe generate more…. As far as I know the motherboard from an LC 575 is the fastest MB swap you can easily do on your CC and it also gives you the opportunity to add PPC upgrade cards.

You have the choice of several MB swaps into the CC chassis. The simplest is to pull the board from an LC 525 which is a 25 mhz 030 based Mac. There is also an LC 550 which is a 33 mhz 030 Mac and what the actual Color Classic II is based upon, I have not seen this board but assume it is very similar to the 525 MB. The MB from the LC 525 works perfectly and only requires that you pull the original CC MB and slide in the new one. Of note, this board is such a good fit that you can use the original rear faceplate as is.

Why would you add this MB? Well the stock CC is only able to accept a maximum of 10 mb of ram (2 x 30 pin simm slots) the same as an LC II, Also this is a pretty slow MB. Adding the MB from the LC 525 gives you one 72 pin simm slot and allows you to bump up the ram to a ‘whopping’ 36 mb! (4 mb on board, 32 mb in the slot). However MicroMac has come up with a product that allows owners of these old Macs to break the 36 mb barrier! You can read about it at the following link, This is not a cheap upgrade in fact considering todays memory prices it is very expensive, however for those building a killer CC it might be worth looking at.

Since I wrote the above I have found a source for 128 mb 72 pin simms on eBay. These chips drop right into the slot on the LC 575 motherboard. Below is a photo of the actual piece with all part numbers!





An LC 580 also exists and it has two 72 pin simm slots according to NewerTech’s GURU. However I have not seen a reference to anyone using this MB in a CC.

Sky reports that the LC 580 motherboard will not work as ‘it’s a completely different board with different connectors.’ Also sent in a neat idea, swap out the LC68040 process or for a full 040 with FPU, all you need to do is pull the old cpu and put in the new one.

Other motherboards such as the LC 630 are reported to work and some have even been able to install 6200 class MB’s with some voltage modifications.

However with the LC 575 mb you can easily upgrade to PPC speed with very little work.


In the photo are motherboards from the LC 525 MB on the right and the LC 575 MB on the left. Also note the rechargeable memory backup battery that replaces the crappy RayoVac alkaline battery.


The main differences are the 33 mhz LC 040 cpu and a rearrangement of the ports. This means that you cannot fake someone out by telling them you have an ultra rare 040 powered Macintosh CC since you have this hole in the rear where the old faceplate used to reside. The good part is you now are the proud owner of a Quadra class Color Classic.


Besides it isn’t really that ugly and heck you got an 040 powered CC with almost no effort at all.

Some things to keep in mind with the 040 upgrade. You will have to upgrade your System SW or the CC will probably boot up with a system bus error, if you are moving up from the stock MB. It’s not really a HW problem but a SW one. Just run OS 8.1 and everthing will be happy again. I notice that there is also a way to run System 7.5 which requires an enabler.

Also of note, this MB will support the original 9 inch CC monitor at the Color Classics original screen depth, I think this is where many folks become confused about the 575 MB swap. The MB will work as is in the unmodified CC case at the original 512x348 screen depth however this isn’t adequate for a number of Mac games and perhaps why people assume the stock CC box will not work with this MB.

Note, there is a modification that can be made to allow this modified CC to work at 640x480. This requires a stripdown of the CC in order to add a jumper to the CC’s to the video board of the CC chassis. This involves accessing areas of very high voltage and some delicate pieces. Be VERY CAREFUL not to bump or damage the back of the picture tube, unplug it if possible as one accidental blow could be it’s last!

Can the CC be taken a step further to PPC range? Well Apple did produce a cpu upgrade card for the LC 475 class Macs which swapped out the 040 cpu and replaced it with an old 601 PPC chip. Daystar also made a PPC 601 upgrade card so it will be quit simple to upgrade to PPC technology. I did a quick check to see how readily available these are and they are quite expensive and hard to find. Also those that have tried upgrading this way have noted that there is little to no speed advantange because of the 575’s slow bus speed and Sky reports that the cards run REALLY REALLY HOT. A simpler approach appears to be to re-clock the motherboard up to 40 mhz from 33 mhz.

Mr Matsuura in Japan is considered to be the originator of the PowerCC when he built the Power Mystic 601.

On my LC 575 board it’s pretty crammed because of the LC ethernet card in the pds slot but without this you can add the magic of PPC technology and make a rather interesting Color Classic.

But wait, Apple made a comm slot ethernet card, also a comm slot modem so it is possible to remove that huge pds slot card and install a much smaller comm slot device instead. One catch however, there are cables and a screw socket located above the area that the comm slot device will reside. It’s easy to reposition the cables for the internal HD and shave off the nice plastic clip Apple provided though. This will leave you with two further upgrade paths, either the cpu swap or perhaps a pds card upgrade….


What’s interesting is that TechTool sees this new combination as an LC 580 and not a 575.