The Power Macintosh 5500 – code-named "Phoenix" – was produced by between February 1997 and early '98 and came with an IBM PowerPC 603ev processor operating at either 225, 250 and 275 megahertz (MHz). The processor made use of 32 kilobytes (KB) of L1 cache, with an option for a 256 or 512 KB L2 cache (the latter being available only on the 275 MHz model) cache operating at the stock 50 MHz bus speed.
Apple originally produced the Power Macintosh 5500 for the educational market. It was essentially an upgraded Power Macintosh 5400. Though it dropped the name, it is functionally the successor to and last of the Macintosh LC line. The 5500's upgrades included a larger ATA hard disk. The computer came stock with a 2 gigabyte (GB) hard disk, but the 275 MHz model came with a 4 GB drive; a faster SCSI CD-ROM drive (12x in early models and 24x in the top-end); a better video card in the form of an accelerated ATI Rage IIc graphics card, containing 2 megabytes (MB) of dedicated VRAM and allowing for a maximum screen resolution of .
5500s came with optional multimedia expansion cards, that connect via internal cables. In European models, these were an S-Video card and a Philips TV tuner card that also had an audio input. Black 5500s with this configuration were marketed as Director Editions in North America and Australasia and the 225 MHz version actually had the phrase printed on the case.
Like all other 5000 series PowerMacs, the 5500 is an All-In-One (AIO) computer – that is to say that the logic board, hard disk, floppy disk and CD-ROM drives, stereo speakers, monophonic microphone and 15" monitor are built into a single unit. This gives the computer the appearance of a television set – particularly when an aerial is connected to the built-in TV card. Like the 5400 series, the 5500 has one PCI card slot. The 225 and 250 MHz models were produced in beige and black, whilst the rarer 275 MHz models were only black.
The 5500 supports System Software versions 7.5.5 through 9.1 – Mac OS X is not officially supported on this machine. However, it can be run with XPostFacto but this is not recommended, due to the 5500's lack of a G3 processor and RAM ceiling of 128 MB. In the general case, 128 MB of RAM is the minimum required for OS X to run (a G3 iMac can run OS X with this amount of RAM), but only on machines with a G3 processor.