APPLE Macintosh computers with NuBus ports will soon be a thing of the past as the more powerful generation of Power Macintoshes with Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) ports and 604 PowerPC RISC chips hit the market in full force. Any serious Macintosh user should already be aware of that fact, and also about the Power Macintosh 9500. The Power Macintosh 9500 is the first Mac introduced by Apple to use the PCI expansion bus, which can speed up the machine greatly by allowing it to perform high-bandwidth data transfers. Although PCI technology may still be quite new to Mac users, it has become popular in the IBM compatible PC world. Thanks to the six PCI slots built into the Power Mac 9500, users have little to worry about in the way of expandability. But there is one thing they may have to worry about. The PCI Power Mac does not support NuBus cards. This problem can, however, be solved with the help of a third-party NuBus expansion chassis. The Power Macintosh 9500 series' input-output functions are managed solely by the first PCI controller. But because the first PCI controller handles both I/O functionality and the A1-C1 slots, performance of cards in these slots may be slowed down to a certain extent. If speed is important to PCI Power Mac users, they can achieve optimum performance from the PCI cards by using slots D2-F2 first. Nevertheless, when using high-bandwidth cards to move large amounts of data across the PCI bus, users are advised to distribute the cards evenly between the two buses. Power Macintosh 9500 series computers run the Mac OS version 7.5.2, including applications optimised for the PowerPC chip. However, Mac OS version 7.5.2 is exclusive for the 9500 - it is incompatible with other Power Macintosh computers. In addition, the Power Macintosh 9500 family is compatible with Windows 3.1 and MS-DOS 6.2 through either a hardware or software solution. Of course, it can also run Insignia Solutions' SoftWindows, a software emulation solution optimised for the PowerPC processor, without any trouble. However, this PCI Mac has some problems when running particular software. For example, Norton Utilities version 3.1.3 or before can be used to perform disk optimisation and defragmentation functions, but does not seem to be 604-ready. For hardware-level compatibility, a PCI card that includes an Intel-compatible processor should be introduced into the market soon. Although the Power Mac 9500 system supports any PCI 2.0-compliant card, a Mac OS-specific software driver is still needed. Unfortunately, it is still difficult to get a video card for the 9500 series even for entry-level video editing and multimedia production. Products such as Radius VideoVision Studio card simply do not exist for PCI systems. This should not, however, be a long-term problem. It is likely that PCI versions of the Targa 2000 for Mac by Truevision, Vincent by Data Translation and Plum for Mac by Colorado will be available soon. Miro Systems is expected to ship a video card for PCI - the Miro Motion DC 20 - later this year. As far as sheer performance goes, the Power Mac 9500 and the 8500 are fairly similar. Users looking for value for money would be well advised to invest in the cheaper 8500 which has many of the 9500's capabilities, such as the ability to be used as a video workstation. However, if you need expandability, the 9500 is the machine for you. As more innovative and competitively priced PCI cards come up on the market, you will find the six PCI slots in the 9500 useful. All in all, the Power Macintosh 9500 is a good tool for desktop publishing, multimedia, and engineering work. It does feature high access times, fast data transfer rates and high expandability. The Power Macintosh 9500 operates at a clock speed of 132 MHz while the 8500 runs at 120 MHz.