Impressions: The folks at XLR8 have come up with a new angle
on G3 upgrade cards for us owners of PCI based Macs/Mac Clones.
Their MACh Carrier card, like their past MACh Speed offerings,
fits into your machine's processor slot. What's unique is the
fact that the Carrier card sports the same ZIF slot that is
standard on all G3 machines. The processor daughtercard can
be removed from the carrier and replaced with a faster ones
as they become available. The original, displaced, processor
could then be passed on to a slower (native) G3 machine or sold
off. XLR8's marketing team have dubbed the Carrier as "the
upgradeable upgrade". While it is nice to know that the
card has a future, 400MHz is still nothing to sneeze at. With
the pre-installed 400MHz daughtercard on board, the MACh Carrier
made my old 9500/200 scream!
Installation: Since the Carrier design allows for a variety
of configurations, the installation instructions are written
to match. The installation manual doesn't assume you have
a processor installed on the carrier and walks you through
the process of installing one with well illustrated instructions.
Hang on to these as you will need them when you opt to
| Supported Models
|Apple: 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500, 9600
Power Computing: PowerWave, PowerCenter, PowerTower
UMAX SuperMac S900 and J700.
DayStar Millennium; Genesis MP 750, 800, 900, 932
upgrade the daughtercard. Processor speed is controlled by
12 dip switches on the carrier and (assuming you are using
an XLR8 daughtercard) 4 Jumpers. XLR8 provides a chart with
all of the possible settings, to achieve standard and "overclocked"
speeds. The backside cache speed can be adjusted via the MACh
Speed control panel. Once you have made any necessary jumper/switch
settings, installing the card is a breeze. On first restart,
the MACh Speed software runs a quick test to determine the
fastest speed the cache can safely use. You are then presented
with a dialogue asking if you want to use this default speed
or try a faster speed which also might work. The test scores
below reflect a 266MHz cache speed, a 1.5:1 ratio, as opposed
to the default 200MHz 2:1 ratio.
Stability: We only experienced only one oddity with the Carrier
card installed. Switching monitor resolutions to a setting
that wouldn't normally support 32 bit color ("millions")
didn't drop the monitor to 16 bit ("thousands")
color. Instead the desktop pattern switched to black and a
horizontal grey bar appeared in the lower portion of the screen,
behind which the cursor would disappear. Switching to the
correct color setting returned everything to normal. Update:
Apparently this was one of those "ghost in the machine"
problems. Experimenting with different resolution/color settings
the following day revealed no glitches. When all else fails,
shut down and walk away. Lesson learned. We put the card through
its paces with a series of demanding games and applications.
As with other cards we have tested from XLR8, the carrier
proved fast, stable and crash free.
Conclusions: Owners of PCI based Macs or clones should be
quite happy with the performance gains achieved with this
card. The innovative ZIF daughtercard approach extends the
useful lifespan of the card and makes for inexpensive upgrades
down the road. XLR8's marketing department pitches the MACh
Carrier card as "Y3K Compliant." While they don't
specifically mention OS X or the G4 processor, XLR8's press
release, "promises compatibility with future PowerPC
CPU designs and OS versions due later this year." The
latest G4 rumors floating around the net speculate that the
first round of G4 processors will feature the same ZIF pin
configuration as current G3 processors. The pin configuration
on the second round of G4's supposedly will be different.
Visit our G4
News Page for further information. Even if the upgrade
path for the MACh Carrier card tops out with the first revision
G4, that is an impressive lifespan for any upgrade.
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"
Time to complete an AppleScript consisting
of over 100 scripted finder actions
PhotoShop 5.0.2 "Real World" Test
XLR8 Card Stats
Variable/Fixed Clock Rate
MACh Carrier G3/400/1MB/200
With ZIF Daughtercard
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