Macintosh Performa 5400 / 5420 Macintosh Performa 5400 / 5420

Macintosh Performa 5420CD Explained

In the annals of computing history, certain milestones stand out as defining moments. One such milestone was the introduction of the Apple Macintosh Performa 5420CD in the year 1996. A member of the illustrious Macintosh Performa series, this personal computer swiftly captured the hearts of Macintosh enthusiasts worldwide.

What set the Performa 5420CD apart was its cutting-edge specifications. Housing a 120 MHz PowerPC 603e processor, a vibrant 15-inch color CRT display, 16 MB of RAM, a capacious 1.6 GB hard drive, a zippy 4x CD-ROM drive, and a reliable 1.44 MB floppy drive, it was a powerhouse wrapped in a sleek design. This fusion of formidable hardware and elegant aesthetics made the Performa 5420CD an irresistible choice for users seeking excellence on all fronts.

Regrettably, the Performa 5420CD had a relatively short tenure, bidding adieu on March 1, 1997. Despite its fleeting presence, it etched an indelible mark in Apple’s history, standing as a testament to the company’s indomitable spirit of innovation.

Sharing its lineage with the Performa 5400 and Power Macintosh 5400, the 5420CD boasted an all-in-one desktop configuration, complete with a built-in 15″ shadow mask display. Equipped with 1 MB of VRAM, it could effortlessly render 8-bit color at an impressive 832 x 624 pixels and 16-bit color at 640 x 480 pixels. The heart of this machine, the “Alchemy” logic board, played host to a robust PowerPC 603e processor, clocked at an impressive 120 MHz in the 5420CD variant.

With two 168-pin DIMM slots, users had the liberty to expand RAM beyond the initial 8 MB soldered onto the motherboard, reaching a maximum of 136 MB. The inclusion of three diverse expansion slots – a PCI slot, a Comm Slot II for internal modems or Ethernet cards, and a video-in slot for an Apple TV Tuner Card – demonstrated Apple’s foresight in anticipating user needs. The 4x CD-ROM and external hard drives were seamlessly integrated through a SCSI bus, while the 1.6 GB internal hard disk drive operated via an IDE bus. The built-in floppy drive, a reliable workhorse, supported 1.44 MB high-density disks.

Out of the box, the Performa 5420CD came pre-installed with Mac OS 7.5.3, complemented by System Enabler 410 and a curated selection of bundled software. Its journey continued up until Mac OS 9.1, showcasing the machine’s enduring compatibility with evolving software landscapes. Notably, the L2 cache slot also doubled as a processor direct slot, enabling enthusiasts to elevate performance by upgrading to a PowerPC G3 processor.

As the Macintosh Performa 5420CD turns 27, its legacy continues to thrive. For many, it symbolizes the halcyon days of Macintosh computing, when Apple’s innovations were fresh and exhilarating. Though the Performa 5420CD has exited the stage, it remains an adored chapter in Apple’s chronicle, immortalizing the company’s pioneering ethos.

Intriguingly, the Performa 5420CD shares an uncanny resemblance with its sibling, the Performa 5410CD. The key differentiator? A striking black casing, marking it as one of the rare black all-in-one Macs in its era. Alas, this marvel was exclusively available in Europe and Asia, leaving North America untouched by its allure.

In retrospect, the Apple Macintosh Performa 5420CD was more than a computer; it was a harbinger of a new era. Its departure may have marked the end of an era, but its legacy lives on, an enduring testament to Apple’s ceaseless pursuit of excellence.

Macintosh Performa 5420CD
Source: – Macintosh Performa 5420CD

Macintosh Performa 5420CD Details

IntroducedApril 22, 1996
DiscontinuedMarch 1, 1997
Model Identifier74
Model NumberM3046
Order NumberM4751J/A
Original PriceUnknown
Weight47 Ibs.
21.318 KG
Dimensions17.5” H x 15.1” W x 16” D
44.45 cm H x 38.35 cm W x 40.64 cm D

Mac Performa 5420 Tech Specs


ProcessorPowerPC 603e
Processor Speed120 MHz
Number of Cores1
System Bus40 MHz
Cache32 KB L1
256 KB L2 (Optional)
CoprocessorBuilt-in FPU

Storage & Media

Storage1.6 GB
Media1 – 1.44 MB Floppy
1 – 4x CD-ROM


Built-in Memory16 MB
Maximum Memory136 MB
Memory Slots2 – 168 pin DIMM
Minimum Speed70 ns
Interleaving SupportNo


Built-in Display15″ Shadow Mask RGB CRT Display
Resolution640×480 at 16-bit
800×600 at 8-bit
832×624 at 8-bit


Graphics CardNone
Graphics Memory1 MB
Display ConnectionNone


Expansion Slots1 – LC PDS (Cache Bus)
1 – Comm. II Slot
1 – Video I/O
1 – TV Tuner
Hard Drive InterfaceIDE


Ethernet1 – 10BASE-T (Optional)
SCSI1 – DB-25
Floppy PortNone
Audio In1 – 3.5-mm analog input jack
1 – Built-in microphone
Audio Out2 – 3.5-mm analog output jack
2 – Built-in speaker


Original OSSystem Software 7.5.5
Maximum OSMac OS 9.1
FirmwareMacintosh ROM


Backup Battery4.5 V Alkaline
Maximum Continuous Power220 W
Line VoltageUnknown

Further Reading and References

Disclaimer: The data presented in this article is under continuous development and has been manually collected from various sources based on their availability. The author of this article may revise this dataset as additional research is conducted and reviewed. Please note that the information is provided “as is” and “as available” without express or implied warranties. The author cannot be held responsible for any omissions, inaccuracies, or errors in the published information. Any warranties relating to this information are hereby disclaimed.

Last updated: September 16, 2023