General Impressions: XLR8 Promotes their carrier card design
as having two advantages over traditional (soldered CPU) upgrade
designs. The first is that you can upgrade the card with a
faster (ZIF) processor daughtercard. The second advantage
cited by XLR8 is that the carrier card's original ZIF daughtercard
can then be put to work in a G3, extending the life, and therefore
value, of the original upgrade investment. We recently added
a beige G3/266 and Yosemite (Blue and White) G3/350 to our
collection of test machines, allowing us to test the value
of the carrier design. The bulk of our review will focus on
use in our Power Mac 9500, but will cover use in the two other
machines as well.
Installation: XLR8's installer places the usual extension
and control panel in their respective folders. XLR8 also provides
their own AltiVec (aka Velocity) plug-in for use with Photoshop
3.x and 4.x. Adobe now provides AltiVec
software for Photoshop 5.5 so only PS 5.0 user are out
of luck. XLR8's MACh Speed control panel provides information
on current settings and allows you to adjust the backside
cache speed. XLR8 also provides a workaround for Apple's now
upgrade block. Both Apple's block and XLR8's solution
come via a firmware patch. Installing XLR8's firmware patch
installed like any other firmware update and apparently worked.
We didn't have any problems booting the Yosemite Power Mac
with the G4 ZIF card installed. If you are running OS 9 you
will want to install four AltiVec specific extensions off
the OS 9 CD using the Tome
Viewer application. Point Tome Viewer to Software Installers
--> System Software --> Mac OS 9 Additions and drag
the extracted extensions to your extensions folder.
Great Prices On Upgrades Check The Vendors Below
Hardware Installation: The carrier card sports a series of
12 dip switches, the ZIF daughtercard 4 jumpers, both of which
are adjusted to set the bus overall speed of the card. The
speed of the processor is often expressed as a bus ratio with
G3's maxing out at 10:1 and G4's currently maxed out at 9:1.
For a machine with a 50MHz system bus (like our 9500) the
best you can squeeze out of a G4 is 450MHz. You can try "pushing"
your system bus over its rated speed but we didn't have any
luck with this. XLR8 provides excellent documentation walking
you through the install process for all of the appropriate
machines. Interestingly, their chart of "standard"
jumper and switch settings doesn't include those appropriate
for the G4, no 9:1 ratio settings. The chart does include
settings for nonexistent 550MHz and 600MHz upgrades, both
at 12:1 ratios! Fortunately, the back of the manual includes
a full chart of all possible settings, including those we
needed for our two G3 machines. XLR8 continues with its fine
tradition of including a high quality, reusable grounding
strap to help avoid static mishaps. Removing the ZIF daughtercard
for use in the other machines was literally a snap.
Performance/Stability: We put XLR8's G4/450 through its paces
on all three machines and without exception it performed like
a champ. We didn't experience any problems on any of the machines.
In our 9500 we couldn't push it past its rated 450MHz and
2:1 ratio. In the Beige G3, thanks to its 66MHz system bus,
the G4 ran at 468MHz. The Blue and White has a 100MHz system
bus of course and this actually may have worked against us
as overclocking attempts have to be made in large 50MHz increments.
Not surprisingly, the G4 didn't want to make the jump to 500MHz.
However, at 450MHz it didn't protest when we pushed the cache
ratio up to 299MHz, a 3:2 ratio.
We ran our tests on the 9500 before the OS 9.0.4 update was
released but the other two machines had the update installed.
All of the real world tests were conducted on the 9500 but
we have included MacBench scores from all three machines including
the 3:2 cache ratio. We have also included scores from a previous
review of XLR8's G3/500 carrier card for comparison.
Includes Photoshop 3.x and 4.x plugin which
provides excellent performance gains, carrier design reduces
future upgrade costs by allowing the use of ZIF processor
cards, well written documentation.
Areas of documentation need to be updated
for G4 switch/jumper settings.
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. Remember, 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. As all three machines have different
hard drives and graphics cards we have broken these scores
up by machine.
"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," over 12,900 occurrences
Photoshop 5.5 "Real World" Test
All scores are relative to the stock 9500 which was assigned
a score of 100. Lower numbers and shorter bars are better.
All tests were run with AltiVec enabled.
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