upgrade market is certainly a volatile one. When the BlueChip
first arrived at our doorstep for review, there were two manufacturers
making upgrades for the G3 PowerBooks, Newer Technology and
the maker of the BlueChip, PowerLogix.
After numerous contributions to the upgrade market, Newer
Tech has, alas, gone the way of other manufacturers like Vimage
and MacTell. The BlueChip enjoys a competition free market
at the moment although this is certainly subject to change.
How does this card stack up? Read on to find out.
Installation: Newer's PowerBook upgrades required the user
to remove and send in their original processor card for retrofitting
and return, a process that necessitated some serious down
time. PowerLogix simply sells new processor cards with a G3/466
or G3/500 processor on board. The BlueChip arrives without
the ROM file installed. This is to avoid running afoul of
Apple's legal team. Without the ROM file however, the card
will not function. PowerLogix provides a flash utility for
pulling the file off your original processor card and transferring
it to theirs. It is essential that this process is completed
without interruption. The backup and restore process went
without a hitch for us. Other than the flash utility, the
BlueChip does not require any control panel or extension to
PowerBook G3/233/no cache
BlueChip G3 "LS"
In addition to their printed manual, PowerLogix also provides
a QuickTime movie on their CD to walk you through the installation
steps. While the printed manual gets the job done, there were
a couple of times when I wished that it included photos instead
of the drawn illustrations. The QuickTime movie helped compensate
for the manual's illustrations, but there is room for improvement
in this department as well, with many shots not providing
enough detail to be helpful.
On the plus side, PowerLogix provides a tool for pulling
your original processor card, essentially a flat metal bar
with a small 90° bend at one end. This saves a couple
of additional steps that would have been necessary to gain
full access to the processor card. Kudos to PowerLogix for
this thoughtful touch. The BlueChip also comes with a little
dab of thermal grease to assure good contact between the card
and heat sink. The grease comes in a small zip lock bag making
it hard to remove. We checked the processor temps several
times while the BlueChip was installed and it ran at or below
the temps of our original processor...
Great Prices On Upgrades Check The Vendors Below
Performance and Stability - Round I: The PowerBook G3/266
is my personal workhorse for updating and maintaining MacSpeedZone
and MacReviewZone and gets a serious workout every day. During
our standard run of real world benchmark tests, some serious
stability issues surfaced with the BlueChip. The machine would
crash consistently during our Photoshop and quake III tests
and sporadically when using other applications. Each crash
required a reboot to recover. As all of our tests are done
with only OS extensions and control panels running, an extension
conflict seemed unlikely. TechTool Pro reported several memory
errors, something we had never seen before. PowerLogix tech
support recommended pulling out the original 64MB RAM chip
that came with the PowerBook as they had noted some compatibility
problems with these modules. We tried this suggestion along
with others including: resetting the power manager, re-seating
the card, and re-seating both RAM modules, all without success.
We eventually sent the card back to PowerLogix and had them
send another review unit...
Performance and Stability - Round II: The second card arrived
in short order and has been running in our PowerBook for close
to a month without any of the problems we noted above. PowerLogix
was unable to reproduce the problems I described with the
first card. Go figure...
The additional 200 MHz over our original G3/266 made itself
felt in a big way. Processor intensive tasks like Photoshop
filter operations, MP3 encoding or 3D rendering all completed
in roughly 1/2 to 2/3 the time of the original processor.
General system responsiveness was also improved, giving the
PowerBook a new sprightly feel. Check out our benchmark scores
below for a full
performance report. As I mentioned above, the additional processor
speed thankfully didn't generate any additional heat. After
my initial experience, I ran TechTool Pro again, this time
without uncovering any memory errors.
Conclusions: Our initial experience with the BlueChip motivated
us to run the replacement card for an extended test period.
The second card didn't give us any problems over the course
of its lengthy stay in our PowerBook. It is always a good
idea, however, to check the return policy of your retailer.
Installing any upgrade card in a PowerBook can be intimidating
for the uninitiated, and PowerLogix could do a better job
of walking the user through the process. If you don't feel
comfortable working in cramped quarters, you might want to
have the card professionally installed. If you have installed
RAM in your PowerBooks lower RAM slot, you are home free because
the process is essentially the same. We had initially planned
on installing OS 9.1 to check compatibility, but there are
issues with 9.1 and DreamWeaver that render the latter
next to useless. As we depend on DreamWeaver on a daily basis,
I decided to skip this last test. I would assume that there
would not be any problems with OS 9.1 and the BlueChip card
as it is virtually indistinguishable from an Apple original
Hits: Good preformance, includes processor puller tool,
no down time associated with retrofitting, clever solution
to the ROM hurdle.
Misses: Room for improvement in documentation.
MacBench 5.0 Results
The scores below are from MacBench 5.0. 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 indicate
"Real World" Tests
The tests below are from our new suite of real world application
tests. These tests feature a diverse selection of applications
commonly used by the Mac community. The test suite was designed
to render an accurate and well rounded picture of an upgrade's
here for detailed information on each test and our machine's
configuration. All of the tests below (with the exception
of the Quake III tests) were timed with a stopwatch. The times
are then converted to percentages with the unaccelerated PowerBook
set to 100%. Lower numbers indicate a better score. We have
recently made some adjustments to our testing procedures and,
consequently, some of our standard tests are missing from
PhotoShop 6.0 "Real World" Test
We made a few adjustments to our Quake III testing
procedures and don't have a base PowerBook score available
for comparison. we can tell you that at the "fastest"
setting (16 bit) we got 20.5 FPS and a completely unusable
2.8 FPS at the "high quality" (32 bit) setting.
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