Overview: The upgrade industry is a highly competitive one.
Practically every manufacturer has claimed to be first at
something whether it is a fix for the B&W
G4 block, AltiVec enabling extensions, Photoshop plug-ins
or an actual G4 upgrade card. Newer didn't manage to plant
its flag on the mountain top first, but a couple of months
down the road will it really make a difference? On their product
information page, Newer makes the bold statement "We
did it right." This is most likely in reference to the
fact that Newer uses a hardware fix for the speculative addressing
issue they raised a while back in a white
paper. Is the hardware approach superior to the software
approach used by the other upgrade manufacturers? Read on
to find out.
Apple: 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500, 9600
Power Computing: Power Tower Pro, PowerWave
UMAX SuperMac S900 and J700.
Installation: The installer places several items on your
hard drive including the obligatory extension and control
panel. Interestingly, the information available in the control
panel is on the sparse side. Options you can set in the MaxPowr
control panel include:
- Backside cache - Ratio (2:1, 200MHz is the default)
- Backside cache - Write-back (faster) or write-through
- Motherboard cache - On or off
- Memory timing - off, for 70ns or for 60ns (faster)
Lacking from the control panel is information about the card's
current operating speed and temperature. To find this information
you will need to run the separate Gauge Pro application, also
part of the standard install. Gauge Pro not only reports the
card's speed and temp, but also CPU version, system bus speed,
CPU multiplier and detailed cache information. I appreciated
this information but would like to see it incorporated into
the control panel for easier access. If you turn off virtual
memory you can also use Gauge Pro to test your RAM.
Hardware installation went smoothly as it has with all other
full sized PCI cards in our 9500. Our review unit arrived
sans manual so we can't comment on the quality or clarity
of the instructions.
Stability/Performance: We experienced some problems early
on getting the system to boot completely. Extensions and control
panels would load but the boot process would stall when trying
to load the finder. Booting with extensions (and therefore
the card's backside cache) off was not a problem but hardly
a solution. Turning on the 9500's motherboard cache fixed
the boot problem. Newer Tech sent us beta drivers (1.4b4)
which allowed the card to run with the motherboard cache disabled.
We expected running with the motherboard cache enabled to
cause a performance hit but the MacBench
scores below show no significant differences running with
the motherboard cache on or off. This is the software we used
for our "real world" tests. Beyond the initial boot
issues we didn't experience any stability problems. We were
unable to push the backside cache beyond the default 2:1 ratio
but the performance gains at this setting should keep you
quite happy. Owners of Photoshop 5.5 should also note that
adobe has finally made their AltiVec plug-ins available to
the public. We don't have a copy of Photoshop 5.5 but the
speed gain should be most impressive. Adobe has a disclaimer
about using their AltiVec software with G4 upgrade cards but
I would assume they are just covering themselves legally.
If you are using the new adobe software with a G4 upgrade
card let us know what you experience has been. Post a note
on our discussion
board or drop
me a line. As for the hardware approach Newer takes to
dealing with the speculative addressing issue, it appears
to work fine. Then again, we reviewed several G4 cards that
use a software/firmware fix and we didn't experience any major
problems. The sole exception was XLR8's G4/350 carrier card
where buggy drivers hampered performance.
||Excellent performance and stability.
||Fixed speed, can't be upgraded, control panel lacks
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
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
Variable/Fixed Clock Rate
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