Card Terminology Demystified
If you see a card with a description like G3/300/1MB/150
don't let it intimidate you. Here's a breakdown of what
each element means:
G3 - The Processor, less commonly referred to as 750
300 - The clock speed (in MHz) of the processor. This
is adjustable on some cards and fixed on others.
1MB - Refers to the size of the backside cache, a storage
area with high speed, direct access to the processor.
150 - The speed, in MHz, of the backside cache.
Below you will find a comparison
of 5 different G3 upgrade cards from 4 different manufacturers
(Powerlogix, Sonnet, Vimage and XLR8). We conducted a series
of "Real world" tests in addition to running MacBench
5.0 on the cards. All of these cards were tested on a Millennium
machine on loan from >Daystar. The Millennium offers quick
and easy access to the logic board which made swapping cards
a snap. We will provide a closer look at the Millennium system
in the near future so stay tuned.
The Millennium's logic board is based on the Power Mac 9600,
has 6 PCI slots, 12 RAM slots and two fans to keep everything
running cool. The Millennium we tested came with 64 MB RAM,
a 4.5 GB Viking II hard drive and a 4 MB "Warp Vision"
PCI video card from XLR8.It
also came with the XLR8 MACh Speed card clocked up to 420MHz.
Daystar ships and will warranty the card at this rate in their
machine but XLR8 will only warranty the card at 400MHz in
other machines. We ran tests at both rates to cover either
Tests were run under a minimal set of system (8.0) extensions
with virtual memory on and set to 65 MB. The monitor was set
to 1024 x 768 with 16 bit (thousands) color. The 604e/200MHz
card we used as a base reference was pulled from our trusty,
but now unbearably slow, Power Mac 9500. All "Real World"
scores are relative to the 604e processor which received a
score of 100. Shorter bars are better.
Scroll and Find/Replace tests - conducted on a 574 page ClarisWorks
4.0 document which contained a mix of text and graphics.
- Photoshop tests - we used version 4.0.1 and a graphic
file roughly 18 MB in size.
- Color QuickDraw scores - are from Speedometer
v4.0.2 and are relative to the 604e card. Longer bars
are better in this case.
Click Below for benchmark test results
A Cause for Concern?
A recent column in MacWeek pointed out a potentially
disastrous incompatibility between 604 based ROM's and
G3 upgrade cards. We have had one G3 card or another
in our machines for the past month and have not experienced
the system crashes or data loss described in the article.
We have used the cards during day to day operations
as well as for the benchmark tests above. As positive
as our experience was with the cards we tested, we recommend
reading the MacWeek article as well as the accelerator
companies' responses below.
We installed and ran all cards in both the Millennium and
our 9500. The Millennium has a removable side panel that exposes
the whole logic board and made installing the various cards
a dream. Although accessing the
9500's processor card is a bit more involved, it was not
a nightmare. The whole operation from start to finish was
still under 15 minutes. The cards' performance generally followed
their MHz rating. You will pay for the high end though, the
400MHz card is about twice as much 300MHz ones. We didn't
have any problems with stability with one exception. We got
sporadic "bus error" messages during startup with
both of the Sonnet cards which required a restart on each
occasion. Sonnet's tech support faulted Ram Doubler although
it had been disabled. We ran the RamDoubler installer to remove
it but still encountered the bus error afterwards. Other times
it started up with the same extension set flawlessly. Go figure...
We also had a flashing question mark (indicating a problem
finding a startup volume) on our first restart after installing
the PowerLogix card. We zapped our P-RAM, reselected our startup
drive and didn't have any further problems.
The XLR8 and Powerlogix cards sport dip switches and dials,
respectively, allowing you to push the limits of your card.
Each comes with a chart showing all the possible settings.
Overclocking your PowerLogix card will
not void the warranty so if you feel like pushing things
that might be the better choice. If you don't feel bold enough
to fiddle with dip switches you can always leave these cards
at their default settings.
Is a G3 card for you? If you want or need more than the 3
PCI slots Apple is currently offering in its G3 machines,