Power Mac 6100 Monitors

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This page describes various aspects about monitors and the 6100. It describes what monitors work the which configurations and why. It also describes how to set up the 6100 to handle dual monitors


Although the 61xx Performas shipped with 15" monitors, the 6100 series can handle monitors of almost any size, from 13" all the way up to 21". In fact, it is a common misunderstanding among users that a computer can only drive monitors of a certain size. In reality, the size of the screen is almost immaterial. What matters is what resolutions are supported by the computer and the monitor.

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Resolutions and me:

This section describes how to figure out whether your computer will work with a given monitor at a given resolutions. For a fuller explanation of how your computer and monitor actually display images, I've prepared a separate page that attempts to de-mystify this a bit.

In order for a your computer to drive your monitor at a given resolution and bit depth, four things need to happen:

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What resolutions are supported?

Here's how to do the math: Take the total number of pixels desired (height x width) and multiply it by the required bit depth for the desired color scheme:

Bits/Pixel# of Colors/Grays*Comment
1 2 Black and White
2 4
4 16
8 256
1632,768 Full color, or Thousands
24/3216.7 millionTrue color, 24-bit, or Millions

There are a maximum of 256 shades of gray for the Mac. Any setting over 256 automatically becomes color.

256 colors requires 8 bits/pixel. Thousands of colors requires 16 bits/pixel. Millions of colors requires 32 bits/pixel. (I emphasize this last point because Millions of colors is often referred to as 24-bit color. While millions of colors does indeed use only 24 bits for color, it also uses an additional 8 bits/pixel for the translucency mask.) Take this total number of bits, divide by 8 to get bytes, then divide by 1,048,576 to get MegaBytes. Ah heck. I won't make you do the math. Here's a table showing the bit depth/resolutions achievable with various sizes of frame buffers:

Size of Frame Buffer*
128 K256 K512 K640 K768 K1 MB2 MB4 MB8 MB
4 bit8 bit16 bit16 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit
4 bit8 bit16 bit N/A** 16 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit
2 bit4 bit 8 bit16 bit 16 bit 16 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit
1 bit2 bit 4 bit 8 bit 8 bit 8 bit 8 bit 8 bit 8 bit
2 bit4 bit 8 bit 8 bit 8 bit 16 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit
2 bit4 bit 8 bit 8 bit 8 bit 16 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit
1 bit2 bit 4 bit N/A** 8 bit 8 bit 16 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit
1 bit2 bit 4 bit N/A** 4 bit 8 bit 16 bit24/32 bit24/32 bit
N/A 1 bit 2 bit N/A** 4 bit 4 bit 8 bit 16 bit24/32 bit

* I use the term Frame Buffer because the 640 K used in the DRAM video scheme of the 6100 series is technically not VRAM.
** Although the math might indicate that these resolutions are achievable, they are not available using DRAM-based video.
*** The maximum bit depth of the Portrait monitor is 8 bits.

The numbers shown reflect the maximum bit depth achievable at the desired resolution. On most computers, lower bit depths are also possible, but not always. For example PCI PowerMacs and the HPV card on Nubus PowerMacs do not allow bit depths lower than 8 bits/pixel. This can cause some problems with older games and other programs that require the monitor to be set to exactly 16 colors.

Some combinations are mathematically possible, but not achievable with currently shipping hardware. For example, the 128 K size frame buffer is available only certain PowerBooks. These PowerBooks do not all support external monitors, so the only possible resolution is that of the built-in LCD screen, 640x400. Similarly, the 640x400 resolution only applies to the LCD screen of certain PowerBooks, and the size of the frame buffer on these machines is fixed.

Much of the information in this table was taken from the Apple Spec Database, a freely accessibly online database from Apple that describes the specifications of every Apple Macintosh ever shipped by Apple.

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Monitor adapters

There are several types of monitor adapters that may be necessary with a 6100-series machine: The HDI-45 adapter (Apple part #M2681LL/A) was supplied with all non-AV models of the 6100 series, but if you bought yours second hand or if you've lost the use of your AV card, you may not have one of these. They retail for about $45, but you can often find them for $25 or less on ebay or Usenet newsgroups.

The DIP switch or dial-type adapters allow you to tell the Mac what kind of monitor you have attached to your machine by setting "sense pins." This is necessary when using a PC-style (i.e. VGA) monitor, or when using certain older Mac-compatible monitors that don't set the sense pins properly. It is difficult to figure out what settings to use if you don't have the original documentation for your adapter. If you have a Sony MacView adapter, Sony has a very good faxback system that provides documentation for all their products. Call Sony's Fax on Demand line at:

(800) 883-7669

press 2, then request one of the following document numbers

For other Sony product documentation, you can order the Fax on Demand index by pressing 1, or else download a PDF of that same index at:


The last type of adapter is used to connect an AV card to a TV, VCR or videocamera. Yes, you can use a television as a monitor! A description of this adapter is available on the AV card page.

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Dual Monitor setup

If you've installed a graphics expansion card in your 6100, you can then hook up two monitors simultaneously. A more detailed description of this procedure is available in the Graphics Upgrade section.

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Back to the 6100 Graphics Page

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Last updated: 11/11/99

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