Impressions: The Vpower PF G3/325/320 is Vimage's current high-end
offering for L2 cache slot G3 upgrade cards. Vimage is the company
that pioneered the L2 cache slot G3 upgrade, bringing G3 upgradeability
to, presumed, non-upgradeable Macs. Engineered for many machines
that have their processors soldered to the motherboard (instead
of on a separate, replaceable daughter card), these G3 upgrades
fit in the L2 cache slot of the computer. There they usurp control
of the machine from the original processor giving your Mac a
tremendous boost in processing power.
| Supported Models
Apple: 20th Anniversary Macintosh, 5400s, 6360, 6400s
Akia: MicroBookPower 603e/240
UMAX SuperMac C500s and Apus 2000s & 3000s
Mac OS 7.5.3 - 8.6 supported
The Vpower PF G3 card comes in a very small form factor.
It is about the same length as the cache card it replaces
and about twice the width. It has a small heat sink that runs
aproximately half the top of the card and which adds somewhat
to the thickness of the card. The card is extremely tightly
engineered and it is amazing that so much power can fit in
such a small package. If you are used to regular G3 processor
upgrades you'll be surprised by this petite card which can't
weigh more that a couple ounces.
Intallation: Installation is straightforward and simple.
If you have ever installed RAM or a cache card you will have
no problem installing the Vpower PF. First you install the
software, which includes an extension to enable the card,
a control panel which offers you two settings: "Faster"
and "More Compatible" and the Vpower Info application
with which you can check on the operation of the Vpower card.
Unless you run into problems you should normally set the control
panel to "Faster". After
the the software is installed, shut down the machine, attach
yourself to the included grounding strap and gain access to
the motherboard. (How you access the motherboard will depend
on the machine that you are working with - consult your manual).
Once you have the motherboard exposed you will need to locate
the L2 cache and remove it. The manual goes into detail for
each model type how to do this. You will find that the cache
card likes being attached to your computer. You will need
to pull firmly and consistently to get it to come out. If
your cache card has hole on either corner you can hook something
in them to help you get the card out. We used a paper clip
gently (yet firmly) pulling at one corner and then the other
until it popped out. Remember to pull straight up and not
at an angle.
Installing the G3 card is easier than pulling the cache card
out. Line the card up properly in the cache slot and push
firmly on the edge of the card (not on the heatsink) and the
upgrade should pop right in. Replace the cover of your computer,
restart your machine, use the Vpower Info application to make
sure your new G3 card is operating correctly ...... and you
are ready to rock!
There is another step for those installing this upgrade in
a Mac clone. If you have a clone you will have to (according
to the manual) attach a fan to the heat sink before installing
the card. This is a simple step, well described in the manual,
but does require some assembly on your part.
Stability: We installed the Vpower PF card in a Twentieth
Anniversary Macintosh (TAM) for 3 weeks and experienced
no stability issues with the upgrade. Vimage does note in
their documentation that you may experience some compatibility
issues with third party PCI cards (they specifically mention
the Avid Cinema card, the Xclaim GA and Twin Turbo graphics
cards). Check with Vimage's technical support for the latest
on compatibility issues.
Performance: We experienced anywhere from a 50% to 700% speed
improvement over the base TAM performance, depending on the
task being undertaken (see benchmarks
below). If you are doing any type of heavy lifting with
your Mac the Vpower PF will definitely get you to where you
are going a lot faster. However even those that use their
machines for lighter tasks will find that the G3 upgrade will
make their systems much more responsive and agile. Removing
the Vpower from our TAM was like being suddenly dropped into
a bowl of pudding, as the comparative sluggishness of the
One thing to note is that the Vpower PF card causes your
Mac to go through a double boot process as it starts up. It
first starts to boot up off the original processor. Then it
loads the Vpower extension (first) and immediately reboots
again, this time using the Vpower PF card. This adds a handful
of seconds to the boot process. Also the card runs at 325Mhz
in machines with a 50Mhz system bus and at 320Mhz in machines
with a 40Mhz bus.
Conclusion: The Vpower PF 325/320 is a good performer and
solidly engineered. We had some problems with other L2 cache
slot G3 upgrade cards but experienced none with the Vpower.
Whether you need more performance for heavy lifting or just
enjoy the pure pleasure of extra speed and the agility it
brings, the Vpower should be just the ticket to change the
appellation of your machine from "non-upgradeable"
MacBench 5.0 Results
"Real World" Tests
(Shorter bars are better)
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"
Frame Rates: iMac 19.4, Vpower 9.3, Base TAM 5.7 (longer bars
above are better)
Boy Render Times: Vpower 137 seconds, iMac 185 seconds,
Base TAM 340 seconds
PhotoShop 5.0.2 "Real World" Test
Vpower Card Stats
Variable/Fixed Clock Rate
L2 Cache Slot
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