PowerBook Buyer's Guide

PowerBook 540c

by Steve Hildreth

The 500-series was the third generation PowerBook. Referred to using their codename 'Blackbird', they were much anticipated. Of the 4 models, the 540c was the top of the line, with its 9.5 inch active-matrix display, 320 MB hard drive, second battery, and faster processor. The 500-series was applauded for its bold, swoopy design and versatility. They were also the first 68040-powered 'Books and were about two times faster than their 100-series predecessors. The 500-series introduced new technologies such as a trackpad, a multipurpose PDS slot that could accept a second battery or PC Card adapter, and a PowerPC-upgradable motherboard. The 540c quickly garnered a cult following, and many are still in use today with PowerPC-upgraded motherboards. The 540c was relatively expensive when introduced, but can be had now at very reasonable prices on the used market. Starting to show its age, I would still recommend a PowerPC-upgraded 540c for the average user looking for a cheap, but great, PowerBook.


At the time: A

1 serial
audio out
audio in
video out
internal modem
1 PDS slot

Active-matrix 1000s colors
640x480 resolution

Weight: 7.3 pounds

Apple's Specifications:

Logic Board Ports Power
Processor: 68LC040, 66 MHz
PMMU: integrated
FPU: none
Data Path: 32-bit, 33 MHz
L1 Cache: 8K
L2 Cache: none
2nd Processor: none
Slots: modem
ADB: 1
Video: mini-15
Floppy: none
Geoports: none
Ethernet: AAUI-15
Mic Type: Line in
Other Ports: Printer, Speaker,
Max Watts: 40
Amps: 1.0/1.5
BTU per Hr: 136.8
Voltage: 100-240
Freq Range: 50-60 Hz
Battery Type: PB500, NiMH
Soft Power: yes
Memory Video Memory
Logic Board: 4 MB
RAM Slots: 1, PB5xx
Min - Max RAM: 4 MB - 36 MB
Min RAM Speed: 70 ns
RAM Sizes: 4, 8, 12, 20, 32 MB
Install in Groups of: 1
Resolution Video Memory
built-in LCD screen
(built in)
Video Memory
512K VRAM (ext. only)
(built in)
512 x 384 n/a-bit 8-bit
640 x 400 16-bit n/a-bit
640 x 480 8-bit 8-bit
800 x 600 n/a-bit 8-bit
832 x 624 n/a-bit 8-bit
1024 x 768 n/a-bit n/a-bit
1152 x 870 n/a-bit n/a-bit
1280 x 1024 n/a-bit n/a-bit
Physical Software Storage
Introduced: 5/16/1994
Discontinued: 8/26/1995
Form Factor: PowerBook 520
Gestalt ID: 72
Weight (lbs): 7.3
Dimensions (in): 2.3 H x 11.5 W x 9.7 D
Addressing Modes: 32-bit
Orig SSW: 7.1.1
Orig Enabler: PowerBook 500 Series Enabler
ROM ID: n/a
ROM Ver: n/a
ROM Size: 2MB
AppleTalk Ver: 57.0.4
Mac OS
Floppy Size: 1.44MB
Floppy Inject: manual
Min. Int HD Size: 240-500MB
Int HD Interface: SCSI
Orig CD Speed n/a
Int CD Support: