processor upgrades Graphics Cards

The Purple Powerhouse Sonnet's G4/400 Crescendo Upgrade Card Reviewed

General Impressions: Sonnet Technologies always wins the prize when it comes to style. Their latest Crescendo card continues to make use of the purple anodized heat sink and extension bar for handling.

With their G4 cards, Sonnet is also sticking to its guns producing upgrade cards that operate at a fixed processor and backside cache speed. Their slogan is "No switches. No control panels. Simply fast" and is an obvious swipe at manufacturers of variable speed upgrade cards. After reviewing variable speed G4 offerings from PowerLogix and XLR8, it was a little strange (though not necessarily unpleasant) dealing with a card that neither required nor allowed any form of configuration.

Supported Models
Apple: 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500, 9600
Mactell: XB-Pro
Power Computing: Power Tower Pro, PowerWave
UMAX SuperMac S900 and J700.
DayStar Genesis

Installation: Sonnet's installer places 3 or 4 items on your drive depending on which OS you are using. If you are running OS 8.0 or 8.1 the installer places the "Ethernet (built in)" extension in your extensions folder to assure compatibility. The Crescendo extension, Crescendo G4 enabler and Metronome application are installed in the extension folder, system folder and Apple menu items folder respectively.

The Crescendo extension tests and activates the card's backside cache as well as implements some bug fixes, the G4 enabler makes the system aware of the AltiVec instruction set so it can be used by applications that have been rewritten for AltiVec/Velocity. The Metronome application simply lets you confirm the card's speed and current temperature.

As their slogan states, there is no control panel as there is virtually nothing to configure or adjust. Depending on your attitude this will either be a boon or a source of frustration. Sonnet also includes an emergency boot floppy to reinstall their Speculative addressing patch. If you are not familiar with the speculative addressing issue check out the following information from Newer Tech as well as PowerLogix and XLR8. There is also some excellent information available at the MacFixit site.

Hardware installation went as smoothly as all of the other G3 and G4 cards we have installed in our 9500. Installation instructions are limited to Apple machines but they can easily be applied to a Mac clone as long as you can find your machine's processor slot. Sonnet doesn't provide a grounding strap with their card but, rather, instructs you to touch the internal power supply to discharge any static electricity. I chickened out and used a grounding strap I had from a previous review. The instructions are well written with clear illustrations to cover the major steps in the install process. Sonnets instructions even include affixing their "Powered by Sonnet" label to the front of your machine although we have confirmed that you can safely skip this step without performance or stability issues ; - )

Stability/Performance: Sonnet's card performed like a champ in our 9500. We didn't experience any crashes, boot problems or instability during its stay in our machine. As we have pointed out in our other G4 reviews, the true advantage of the G4 processor will only come into play with applications that have been rewritten or modified to take advantage of the G4's AltiVec/Velocity unit. Still, 400MHz is nothing to sneeze at and as the scores below show the Crescendo G4/400 will give your machine a significant shot in the arm. Some of our real world tests showed the Crescendo card to be over 6 times as fast as our base 9500! We will post scores for all of the G4 cards once we have completed our reviews. For now suffice it to say that the Crescendo edged the others in several tests.

Product: Crescendo G4/400/200/1MB
Company: Sonnet Technologies
MSRP: $799.95 ......... Current Price
Rating: (5 possible)
Hits: Excellent performance and stability, 3 year warranty.
Misses: Fixed speed, can't be upgraded, $200 premium over Sonnet's G4/350 card.

MacBench 5.0 Results








"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







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. For this test we set score relative to a G3/400/200/1MB upgrade card. We also included results from sonnet's G3/500 which we reviewed earlier.

Card Stats.


Cooling System

Variable/Fixed Clock Rate

Tech Support


Price Information

PCI Heat Sink Fixed Phone 949-261-1426
3 Years OtherWorldComputing
Tahoe Peripherals