processor upgrades Graphics Cards

The Fastest iMac Doesn't Come From Apple! -A Review Of The iMAXpowr G3/466

by David Engstrom

4/22/00

General Impressions: Newer had a prototype of their iMac upgrade up and running at Macworld SF this year. They let "media types",

who first signed a non-disclosure agreement, to have a glimpse of the product in action. (In other words if we published any information on the upgrade until Newer gave the go ahead, they assured us we'd be swimming with the fishes!) We were pretty impressed that Newer had been able to pull off such an upgrade.

Supported Models


Apple:iMac 233, 266 & 333. Revisions A-D

Mac OS 7.1.2 to OS 9 supported

 

When we first received a running model, we rushed a first look at the upgrade onto the pages of our web site, along with some comments from Newer. Now we take a more detailed look at this unique upgrade.

The original iMacs were considered not to be upgradable. This was not because they are physically incapable of receiving an upgrade, but because the ROM chips (read only memory - that contains information required to make your Mac function) were placed by Apple on the machine's processor card. An upgrade manufacturer would have to incorporate new Apple ROM chips into their upgrades to get them to work with an iMac. The problem is that Apple does not licence their ROM chips. They would really rather that you buy a new Macintosh than upgrade your old one ...... they are kind of funny that way.

What Newer did to achieve this coup of coming out with an iMac upgrade,was to do an end-run around Apple. They somehow got a supply of original iMac processor daughter cards, removed the low power processors from the cards (leaving the ROM chips in place) and refitted them with new 466MHz G3 processors. Quite clever! An additional benefit of this process is that the new iMAXpowr card requires no enabling software - just plug in the card and go.

Newer is probably the only manufacturer that will come out with an iMac upgrade. This is because there is just not a pool of unused iMac processor daughter cards lying around for another manufacturer to obtain and start their own upgrade program. And it is a "program" that Newer has established. You are encouraged to send in your old iMac daughter card for a $200 rebate. Newer will refit it with a new processor and send out to another iMac user. The whole scheme requires a steady stream of iMac processor cards flowing in from iMac owners, as iMAXpowr upgrades flow out.

Intallation: If you have installed memory in your iMac you will have no problem installing the iMAXpowr in your machine. The instruction booklet is very good and full of pictures detailing the installation. The upgrade even comes with a Video, that more or less walks you through the installation process. The Video is good for giving you a visual overview of what the installation process requires (they have a girl of about 11 perform the upgrade - to show you how easy it is), but for the actual installation you will want the printed manual close at hand.

If you have not taken your iMac apart before and are not comfortable taking machines apart in general, you might want to spend the thirty bucks it will cost you to have a professional install your upgrade. But the process, though involved, is not that difficult. The video shows the founder of Newer upgrading the iMac in a couple of minutes - it took us about 10.

To get a $200 rebate you must send in your old card to Newer within one week. Newer makes this process easy by providing you with a pre-paid over night shipping slip. The rebate price goes down if you hold onto your original processor card past the one week time limit.

Stability And Operation: The first iMAXpowr card we received from Newer died on us after about 2 weeks. Newer suggested that this was due to the fact that it had been one of the first handmade cards. They sent a replacement, which has been working without incident for about a month now, in our Rev "B" iMac/233 with 96MB of RAM running OS 9 .

Again these are quite simple cards requiring no software to enable the upgrade, thus eliminating that avenue for potential conflicts with other software and hardware. We experienced no incompatibility issues during our daily use of the upgraded machine.


Performance: There are three types of people who buy upgrades, and for whom processor upgrades make sense; those whose work demands that they have the fastest raw processing power on hand, those who want to have the fastest raw processing power on hand (lets call them speed freaks) and those that can't afford to buy a new machine but still need/want better performance. The excellent performance of the iMaxpowr will not disappoint any of these three groups. We saw an almost doubling of raw processor performance, in most tests, over our original iMac G3/233. This means if you are doing heavy graphics work, rendering, web content creation, or running analytical programs, your upgraded iMac will rip through these processes at double speed. (If you have an iMac with a 266 or 333 processor you will see an aproximate 70% and 47% performance improvement, respectively, if you jettison the original processor in favor of the iMAXpowr.)

On the other hand drive performance is uneffected by this upgrade and screen display performance only moderately so. This upgrade will not turn your iMac into a screaming game machine either, if it wasn't before. For that you need better graphics performance, something that is currently not upgradable on the iMacs.

For those that use their Macs for more modest mundane endeavors, word processing, email, surfing the Web, this upgrade will not make a whole lot of difference to you. You are more likely to "sense" that your Mac is faster if you had a faster hard drive or better graphics performance and for that you need to buy a faster machine.

Conclusion:This is an excellent innovative upgrade. For those that need or want better raw processing power they will get it with this upgrade - although it will come at a premium. The installation may be a bit daunting for the novice, but those that have taken Macs apart before should approach this upgrade with confidence. The iMAXpowr comes with a 2 year warranty and as always you should buy from someone that has a liberal return policy, should something go wrong with your particular card.


Product: iMAXpowr G3/466/155/1MB
Company: NewerTech
Rating: (5 possible)

Hits: Excellent performance. Good stability. Fastest iMac you can buy!

Misses: Expensive. You lose old processor card if you take advantage of the rebate and a one week return policy to get full rebate is rather short, if you have the card professionally installed.

SRP: $699...........$200 rebate if you return your old card within one week



MacBench 5.0 Results

Processor

FPU

 

Disk


Graphics

 

"Real World" Tests
(Shorter bars are better scores are expressed as a percentage of the base machine)

Time to Scroll a 500 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"

 


Render Boy


PhotoShop 5.5 "Real World" Test results

 

 

 

 

 



iMAXpowr Card Stats

-Card

Type

Cooling System

Variable/Fixed Clock Rate

Tech Support

Warranty

Price Information

Newer Technology
iMaxPowr
G3/466/155/1MB
Processor Socket Heat Sink Fixed Web Based
Toll Free Phone
1-888-656-8324
E-mail
2 Years

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