processor upgrades Graphics Cards

G3 Upgrade Cards Vs. G4 Upgrade Cards A Benchmark Rumble!

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n the past month we have been inundated with G3 and G4 cards for review. We received and reviewed cards from Newer Technology, PowerLogix, Sonnet Technologies, and XLR8. While the individual reviews provided a good idea of the performance gains you could expect over the base 9500, they didn't provide an overall ranking compared to other upgrade card options. Here then, is the complete picture comparing all of the cards we have tested in the past weeks. This page only includes benchmarks. The full reviews include notes on stability, ease of installation and much more. Use the links below to read the individual reviews.

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 and control panels plus any required by the card being tested. 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, virtual memory was turned on and set to 97MB with the exception of the Unreal framerate tests. Virtual memory was set to 200MB for Unreal.


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. When possible, we tested the cards with the processor and/or backside cache clocked over their standard settings. A couple of points to consider when viewing the scores below:

  • MacBench 5.0 came out well before the G4 processor and was consequently not written to take advantage of or test the Altivec (AKA Velocity) instruction set.
  • We initially tested the Newer G4/400 card with the 9500's motherboard cache enabled due to boot problems when the cache was disabled. Newer sent us a new extension which allowed stable performance with the motherboard cache disabled. We used the more recent extension for our full review and have included MacBench scores with the older software (denoted by "MB cache" in parentheses) as well as the new software.
  • All tests on the XLR8 card were run using version 1.4.2 of their software. To achieve stable performance on our 9500 we had to enable "write-through" mode on the card's backside cache. This caused a noticeable performance hit. XLR8 has since released and sent us version 1.4.3 which presumably fixes the problems we noted in our review. We will retest with the new software and update both our review and this page with our findings.

 



 

 

"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 4 "Real World" Test Results
(Shorter bars are better)

Note: For the first three Photoshop tests (gaussian blur, unsharp mask and high pass) we made use of the AltiVec plug-in provided with the XLR8 card. This plug-in allows Photoshop to make use of the special instruction set available on the G4, providing a significant performance boost. XLR8 provides this plug-in with all of their G4 upgrade cards for use with Photoshop versions 3.x and 4.x. Adobe recently made public their own plug-in for use with Photoshop 5.5 and higher. Adobe will not guarantee their plug-in will work with G4 upgrade cards but we don't anticipate any problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. Since our 9500 is unable to run SoundJam, the scores below are absolute (time in seconds) rather than relative

 



Manufacturer -Card

Type

Cooling System

Variable/Fixed Clock Rate

Tech Support

Warranty

Newer Technology MaxPowr
G4/400/200/1MB
PCI Heat Sink Fixed >Web Based
Toll Free Phone
888-656–8324
2 Years
PowerLogix PowerForce G4/350/175/1MB PCI Heat Sink/Fan combination Variable

Toll Free Phone
877-466-0904
E-mail

3 Years
PowerLogix PowerForce G4/400/200/1MB PCI Heat Sink/Fan combination Variable Toll Free Phone
877-466-0904
E-mail
3 Years
Sonnet Technologies Crescendo G4/400/200/1MB PCI Heat Sink Fixed Toll Free Phone
800-513-9744
316-636-4616 Fax
E-mail
3 Years
XLR8 MACh Carrier G4/350/175/1MB PCI
With ZIF Daughtercard
Heat Sink Variable Toll Free Phone
800-513-9744
316-636-4616 Fax
E-mail
2 Years
Sonnet Technologies

Crescendo
G3/500/250/1MB

PCI

Heat Sink

Fixed

Phone 949–261–1426
E-mail

3 Years

XLR8 MACh Carrier G3/500/250/1MB PCI
With ZIF Daughtercard
Heat Sink Variable Toll Free Phone
800-513-9744
316-636-4616 Fax
E-mail
2 Years