processor upgrades Graphics Cards

The MACh Carrier Card from XLR8: Turn Your PCI Mac Into a ZIF Toting G3!

General 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

Processor

 

FPU

 

Disk

 

Graphics

 



"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 results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



XLR8 Card Stats

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Type

Cooling System

Variable/Fixed Clock Rate

Tech Support

Warranty

XLR8
MACh Carrier G3/400/1MB/200

PCI
With ZIF Daughtercard

Heat Sink

Variable

Toll Free Phone
800-513-9744 Ext 333
E-mail

2 Years