Thursday, October 12, 2000
| Supported Models
Apple:For the Power Mac 7100/66, 7100/66AV, 7100/80,
7100/80AV, 8100/80, 8100/80AV, 8100/100, 8100/100AV,
8100/110, 8100/110AV, 8115/110AV
Mac OS 7.5.1 to OS 9.0.4 supported
General Impressions: Only two processor upgrade manufacturers
make upgrades for NuBus based Macs - Sonnet and Newer.
Several months ago we did a complete
review of all Sonnet's offerings for these machines -
which included both G3 and G4 upgrades. At that time Newer
was not able to provide us with their upgrade.
was rectified several weeks ago when Newer sent us their MAXpowr
G3/300/200/1MB for us to review. Whereas Sonnet has 5 NuBus
upgrades to choose from (including a G4 upgrade) Newer has
only one. (Newer also makes a version
of the MAXpowr PDS for 6100 Power Macs and Performas as well
Design-wise the Newer and Sonnet cards are similar. They
both are installed into the PDS slot of your machine. They
both have a pass-through cable and adapter enabling you to
continue to use your PDS based HPV or AV video card (Newer
provides the adapter & cable with the upgrade, with Sonnet
these two items are an additional purchase).
In construction, however the Newer card is quite different
from the Sonnet cards. The Sonnet cards are narrow with a
arresting purple heatsink running down nearly the full length
of the card. Newer's card is a full size card (about the same
size as the HPV video card) with a small heatsink over the
G3 processor and 1MB backside cache.
The Newer card performance was good...on par with the Sonnet
card of similar speed and somewhat better in a few scores.
Intallation: If you have a video card in your PDS slot (such
as the HPV or AV card) the installation of the MAXpowr is
one of the most complex we have encountered. It is slightly
more complex than the similar Sonnet card, but the end result
is a better fit than we found with Sonnet's cards.If you don't
have a video card in the PDS slot installation is a breeze
and quite similar to L2 cache slot upgrades or installing
First thing is to install the MAXpowr software. This includes
an extension, control panel and a utility for monitoring the
proper functioning of the upgrade card (speed, temperature
etc.). The software comes on a floppy as well as a CD-ROM
which is quite convenient since many of these earlier machines
did not ship with an internal CD-ROM drive.
Next turn off both the machine and monitor, disconnect the
monitor if you are using a PDS video card and open up the
machine. All the machines that this card is made for are easy
to open up and access. After the machine is open connect the
grounding strap to your wrist and the other end to a metal
part of the computer's framework (such as the power supply
housing). Remove the video card from the PDS slot (if there
is one installed). You should also remove the L2 cache. The
Newer software will disable the L2 cache but best practice
is to remove it completely.
You can now install the Newer upgrade into the PDS slot -
press firmly on the top of the card without forcing it. If
it doesn't seem to fit make sure that you have the card aligned
correctly and try again. If you don't have a video card or
don't want to reinstall the one you have, your work is done.
Put the computer's casing back on, fire the old machine up
and enjoy the enhanced performance. If you have a PDS video
card you would like to reinstall your work is just beginning.
You will need to attach the HPV or AV video card to the caddy
that ships with the MAXpowr 7100/8100 upgrade. This involves
removing screws, screwing on standoffs, attaching the video
card to the caddy and adding an extension
to the video card. The caddy comes with detailed instructions
on how to go about this proceedure. This should all be done
before you install the processor upgrade so that you can install
both the upgrade card and video card caddy at the same time.
The caddy has a "dumb" NuBus connector attached
to one end and this is inserted into the middle NuBus slot
of your machine. The result is an inverted video card to which
you attach the pass-through cable from the MAXpowr upgrade.
We recommend that you unplug the machine before connecting
the video pass-through cable to the video card as there is
a possibility that the machine will spontaneously startup
when you make this connection.
The manual that ships with the Newer upgrade card walks you
through the install procedure for all pertinent machines.
But it falls a little short on explaining some of the options
you have for setting the backside cache in the MAXpowr control
Stability And Operation: When we
first installed the MAXpowr G3/300/200/1MB into our PowerMac
7100/80 running 9.0 we experienced random freezes either during
the boot process or within the first few minutes of using
the machine. The card became more stable when we used the
control panel to turn the backside cache down from its default
setting of 200MHz to 150MHz.
We still had some stability problems even at this setting,
but not as bad as previously. Disconnecting all external SCSI
devices connected to the 7100 cleared up the random freezes
We contacted Newer to see if they had some idea of why we
were having these problems. They, at first, were surprised
that we had encountered difficulties, but after they duplicated
our setup in their labs they found that they could reproduced
the same stability issues we had run into. The solution they
came up with was to update from Mac OS 9.0 to Mac OS version
This did the trick. In over a week of heavy usage and constant
reboots our upgraded 7100 had no stability problems once we
updated our system software. The OS 9.0.4 update is a free
Newer said they are looking into the compatibility issues
with OS 9.0 but for the moment are advising people to install
the free OS update. It is important that you install this
update before you install the Newer card. Also check the Newer
site for their latest MAXpowr driver software.
One additional problem we had is when we first installed
the upgrades card and the video card adapter we had no signal
to the Monitor through the HPV video card. In other word we
had no picture. Close inspection found that the pass through
cable had become partially disconnected from the MAXpowr card.
It was either this way when we received it or occurred during
the installation process. It was simple to connect the cable
completely to the card, but if you buy the card and have no
video signal check that the cable connection is completely
Performance: The performance
of this card is quite good and on par with the similar 300MHz
PDS card offered by Sonnet. As the test results below show
what the processor upgrade will do for a vintage Mac, such
as the 7100, is to greatly increase the raw processing power
of the machine. In the case of the MAXpowr G3/300 we saw an
up to 650% increase over the base machine for certain tests
requiring raw processing power. Less effected are graphics
and disk performance, which saw only modest gains.
For curiosities sake we used the MAXpowr control panel to
slow the backside cache down to 150MHz (half the processor
speed) to see how this would effect performance. Interestingly
most scores were unaffected except for the search and replace
test in which the 150MHz setting saw less than half the performance
of the card when the cache was set to 200MHz.
Conclusion: Who should buy this card? Those that are doing
real work with their first generation PowerMac will benefit
greatly from the increase in raw processing power...at a price.
For the casual user a processor upgrade for such an old machine
makes less sense. You will see some speed up in the basic
operation of your machine but if you are just surfing the
Web or doing a little word processing you would be better
off to save your pennies for a new or used Mac or iMac. Also
a faster/larger hard drive may make more sense for your aging
machine rather than a processor upgrade. $400 is a lot of
money to sink into a machine that is probably worth little
more than $100.
|Product: MAXpowr G3/300/200/1MB
Hits: Good preformance, Includes video pass-through
hardware, Good Implementation, Good printed installation
Misses: Expensive, Not compatible with OS version 9.0
(must upgrade to 9.0.4) Manual does not cover MAXpowr
Control panel settings
MacBench 5.0 Results
Longer bars = better performance
"Real World" Tests
(Shorter bars are better scores and 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"
PhotoShop 5.5 "Real World" Test
MAXpowr Card Stats
Variable/Fixed Clock Rate
(Cache Speed Adjustable)
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