I recently asked ChatGPT a complicated question:
Which Performa was the best?
Here’s what it replied:
It is difficult to say which Performa model was the best, as it ultimately depends on individual preferences and needs.
The Performa line of computers was introduced by Apple in 1992 and included a range of models with varying specifications and features. Some of the most popular Performa models included the Performa 600, which featured a 66 MHz PowerPC processor and 8 MB of RAM, and the Performa 6116CD, which featured a 120 MHz PowerPC processor and 16 MB of RAM. These models were popular among home users and were known for their speed and reliability.
As no human — not even yours truly — can keep up with every Performa model, I decided to look up on the two systems mentioned.1
The Performa 600 was a desktop Mac with a 32 MHz 68030 CPU, and came stock with 4 MB of memory. As confident as it sounded, ChatGPT got this one wrong.
(Here’s a little trick when it comes to all Performas. If it has a 3-digit model name, it’s powered by a Motorola 680×0. If it’s got a 4-digit designation, then it’s a PowerPC model.)
The Performa 6116CD came in a low-profile desktop case and ran at 60 MHz and came with 8 MB of RAM by default, so once again ChatGPT doubled its specs.
As far as the line about these computers being “popular among home users and were known for their speed and reliability,” I’ve got mixed feelings.
Here’s a bit from LowEndMac about the Performa 600:
The Performa 600 was an okay computer, but a big “Huh?” for Mac IIci users. Where the LC and LC II had been compromised by using a 32-bit processor on a 16-bit data bus, the Performa 600 ran a 32 MHz CPU on a 16 MHz bus. This gave it slower performance than the 25 MHz IIci, which was still available. In fact, the old 16 MHz Mac IIx outperformed the Performa 600 on some benchmarks!
Worse yet, the Performa 600, doesn’t support a level 2 cache in the Processor Direct Slot, although it will accept accelerators.
The 600 did have some things going for it, as it was the first Mac available with a built-in CD-ROM drive, but overall, it was a bit of a dud.
Then there’s the 6116CD, which was bundled with a package of software aimed at small businesses. Being a later model, it also had Mac OS 8.0 support, which the 600 never got. The 6116CD also got a price cut in February 1996, seven months after its introduction in July 1995. Like other Performa models, it didn’t come with discrete video memory, instead pulling from system RAM for video output. Thankfully, the PDS slot meant users had an upgrade path on that front.
As it tunrs out, ChatGPT is a terrible Apple historian. AI won’t be taking that part of my job over any time soon … probably.