processor upgrades Graphics Cards

MAXpowr G3/500 And MAXpowr G4/350 Two Newer Tech Upgrade Cards Benchmarked & Reviewed

Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Overview: A while back we were going over the upgrade cards we have reviewed in the past and realized that Newer Technology's cards were poorly represented. To begin the process of filling in the gaps in our coverage, we take a look at two PCI upgrades from Newer Technology, the G3/500 and G4/350. The G3/500 represents the high end of the G3 processor line whereas the G4/350 is a modest entry to the world of G4's and AltiVec (aka "Velocity") processing. We put both cards through their paces to help you decide which is best for your needs.

Supported Models

Apple: 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500, 9600
Power Computing: Power Tower/Pro, PowerWave, Power Curve*, Power Center*/Pro*
UMAX SuperMac S900 and J700.

* The G4 card will not work in the Power Computing PowerCurve or PowerCenter/Pro machines

Installation: Installing both cards is a breeze thanks to the well written and clearly illustrated instruction manuals. The G4/350 has no dip switches or jumpers to adjust, further streamlining the installation process. The G3/500 on the other hand has a row of 4 switches, all set to the "off" position. This setting will work for most users with the exception of folks who own 8500 and 9600 Power Macs. For installations in these machines, switches 1 and 4 will need to be flipped on for the card to work.

In the process of conducting a previous review, we damaged one of our ZIF processors by not taking appropriate static precautions. After this last experience we gained a renewed appreciation for the included grounding strap and extension bar on the card itself. The latter gives you a safe place to grip while nudging the card into place and the former will help you avoid our unpleasant experience. Use the grounding strap!!!

The installer places several items on your hard drive including an extension, control panel, and the Gauge Pro software. Unfortunately, this means that information on the operation of your card is divided between these two latter locations. The control panel, for example, doesn't include information on the card's operating temperature, processor version or system bus speed, relegating these details to the Gauge Pro software. I would like to see this information centralized, but this is a relatively minor quibble.

Stability/Performance: Both cards performed as expected. That is to say the G3/500 easily bested the G4/350 in applications whose functions have not been optimized for the AltiVec instruction set. In cases where AltiVec could be utilized, the G3 began to show its age, coming in last in spite of its 150MHz advantage over the G4 card. Either card represents a significant performance boost over the stock 9500 thanks to their 1MB backside caches. The cache on each card runs at the standard 2:1 ratio, 250MHz for the G3/500 and 175MHz for the G4/350. Always wanting to push the envelope and not having the option of overclocking the processor, I tried setting the cache to a faster operating speed via the MaxPowr control panel. The G3 card simply didn't allow the faster setting to be selected. The G4/350 was more cooperative, allowing me to make the selection, but the 9500 repeatedly crashed with the faster setting. Both cards were rock solid at their default settings though, and ran through all of our tests without any glitches. If you don't use a lot of applications that can take advantage of the AltiVec instruction set, the G3/500 represents the better deal of these two cards. If, however, you use Photoshop or other AltiVec enabled applications on a daily basis a G4 card will quickly pay for itself in time saved. Read on for benchmark scores...

Test Machine Configuration: Our test machine was a 9500 with 96MB RAM and OS 9.0.4 installed. We tested with an extension set comprised of all OS extensions plus those installed by Newer. 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.

Product: MaxPowr G3/500/250/1MB MaxPowr G4/350/175/1MB
Company: Newer Technology Newer Technology
Estimated Street Price: $529.00 $449.00
Rating: (5 possible) (5 possible)
Hits: Better performance for your $$$, stable at default settings, well written & illustrated manual, extension bar on cards helps during installation. Beats "faster" G3/500 on AltiVec enabled tasks, stable at default settings, well written & illustrated manual, extension bar on cards helps during installation.
Misses: Processor and backside cache can't be overclocked, control panel lacks comprehensive information.

MacBench 5.0 Results

The scores below are from MacBench 5.0. 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. Be aware that MacBench 5.0 was released before the G4 and AltiVec hit the scene and, consequently, does not take advantage of the extra instruction set. For more detailed information on MacBench click here.





"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"

Photoshop 5.5 "Real World" Test Results

*AltiVec enabled




*AltiVec enabled

Render Boy 2.2.0

Time to render "Pool Table" Example file

SoundJam MP3 Encode

Time to encode a CD track 4 minutes 29 seconds in length.

*AltiVec enabled

Log File Analysis

For this test we used FunnelWeb Enterprise 4.0 to analyze our web server's log file. The file was 17MB and contained 1.8 million lines to be processed!



Cooling System

Variable/Fixed Clock Rate

Tech Support


Price Information

Newer Technology
PCI Heat Sink Fixed Web Based
Toll Free Phone
2 Years


Newer Technology
PCI Heat Sink Fixed Web Based
Toll Free Phone
2 Years