Engstrom, Reviews Editor
Yesterday we reviewed the G3/400
PowerForce upgrade card from PowerLogix, before that we
reviewed the PowerForce
G4/400. Today we take a giant leap back from the cutting
edge and look at the PowerForce G3/250.... Now that the laughter
has subsided, let me say that while this card certainly is
not for all, it will definitely appeal to some. The $175 price
tag will appeal to the cost conscious, making this card a
good choice for schools looking to upgrade their older machines.
In fact, if you look at our Price/Performance
chart below, you will see that the G3/250 gives you the
best bang for your buck.
Software Installation: PowerLogix provides their drivers
on CD and includes an emergency boot floppy as well. Also
on the CD is LinuxPPC which may appeal to some but likely
not to most. Be sure to install the driver software first
as this will enable the backside cache on restart and install
important system patches. It is always a good idea to make
sure you have the latest version of everything as well. The
"G3/G4 Profiler Init" extension configures the card
with the settings you have specified and enables the backside
cache. The "Cache Profiler" control panel provides
the usual array of feedback and control options as well as
a few related to LinuxPPC if it is installed.
Hardware Installation: Due to its compact design, handling
and installing the card was a little tricky. It was quite
a challenge to avoid touching the card's circuitry as there
is little unused space on the card. Both Sonnet Tech and XLR8
place extension bars on their cards giving you an easy and
safe place to work from. Other that this minor quibble the
process was straightforward. The manual includes clear instructions
for all of the supported machines. 8 dip switches on the card
allows you to adjust the its speed. In a nice touch, PowerLogix
pastes a chart of possible dip switch settings on the back
of the card for quick reference. The switches are strategically
located so they can be reached and adjusted without removing
the card from the processor slot. This can be handy if you
are trying to overclock the processor. Unfortunately, we were
unable to push the card beyond its rated speed. Read on for
Performance/Stability: The scores
below are right in line with what you would expect when
comparing a 250MHz card to a 400MHz one. That is to say you
will get a good performance increase over your original machine
but not a mind blowing one. The G3/250 also didn't cooperate
with my attempts to overclock it. Any setting over the rated
250MHz resulted in a failure to boot. All of the other PowerLogix
cards we have recently worked with managed to run over their
rated speed. We overclocked the G3/400
up to 440MHz while maintaining a 2:1 (220MHz) backside cache
ratio and were able to push the G4/400
to 450MHz. In this latter case we had to reduce the backside
cache to from 225MHz to 180MHz (5:2 ratio) in order to achieve
stable operation. This, of course, caused a performance hit
over the faster 2:1 ratio. While it protested speeds over
250MHz, at 250MHz the card was stable and (with adjusted
expectations of course) ran like a champ.
Test Machine Configuration
Our test machine was a 9500 with 96MB RAM and OS 9 installed.
We tested with an extension set comprised of all OS extensions
plus those installed by PowerLogix. For the MacBench tests
virtual memory was turned off and disk cache was set to 512k.
These settings are consistent with those used on the MacBench
base reference machine, a beige G3/300. For the real world
tests we turned virtual memory on and set it to 97MB.
||Brings you G3 performance for
under $200, very stable, 3 year warranty.
||Unable or unwilling to run
over rated speed, small size and lack of extension bar
makes it awkward to install.
MacBench 5.0 Scores
MacBench 5.0 is a subsystem-level benchmark that measures
the performance of a Mac's processor, disk, and graphics subsystems
to name a few. MacBench normalizes all scores relative to
the base machine, a Power Macintosh G3/300. The base machine
receives a score of 1000. For all MacBench tests, higher numbers
mean better performance. For more detailed information on
MacBench click here.
The Price/Performance chart below is based on the MacBench
processor scores above and PowerLogix's suggested retail price
for each card. For a more comprehensive price/performance
chart (based on MacBench 4.0 scores) check out our coverage
of the recent price cuts announced by PowerLogix.
"Real World" Tests
(Shorter bars are better)
Time to Scroll a 574 page AppleWorks document
from top to bottom.
Using the same document as above we did a
search/replace command to replace the word "the"
with the word "macbench," over 12,900 occurrences
Photoshop 4 "Real World" Test Results
All scores are relative to the stock 9500 which was assigned
a score of 100. Lower numbers and shorter bars are better.
Bear in mind that we didn't use a "Velocity/AltiVec"
plugin for the G4 tests as neither PowerLogix nor Adobe provides
one for this version of Photoshop. Adobe, however, has made
their AltiVec plugin available for version 5.5.
Render Boy 2.2.0
Time to render "Pool Table" example
SoundJam MP3 Encode
Time to encode a CD track 4 minutes 26 seconds in length.
Scores represent time rounded to the nearest second. SoundJam
makes use of the G4's AltiVec instruction set.
Variable/Fixed Clock Rate
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