The Performance Edge: OS X Support At A Price!
The Latest Information On Using Upgrade Cards With OS X.


Order - Mac OS X for $110

A little late to the game, Sonnet Technologies today announced the release of "Encore G4 X Install Version: 1.0." This software brings OS X support for Sonnet's Encore G4 ZIF upgrade cards installed in beige G3 Power Macs. The software is needed to activate the G4's backside cache in beige machines, but is not needed for other Encore/machine combinations. Sonnet also announced today that they are developing OS X software for Newer Technology's MaxPowr G3/G4 ZIF cards. Newer Tech folded shop in December of last year. Sonnet expects to have the MaxPowr software available for download by the end of May and will charge $29.95 for the download.

Sonnet also announced that they will be releasing OS X drivers for their "Crescendo" series of G3/G4 upgrades for PCI Macs. These machines include the following: Power Macintosh 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500, 9600, PowerTower Pro, Power Wave, UMAX J700, S900. Sonnet will be charging $29.95 for this download as well. Lastly, Sonnet announced they will release software in June for Newer Tech upgrade cards in PCI machines. This software will carry a $69.95 price tag. We have updated our "upgrade card compatibility matrix" below with this latest information from Sonnet. If you have questions about OS X support in Sonnet products, swing by our Sonnet Tech. forum which is staffed by a Technical Liaison from Sonnet.

4-09-01 Update
It should come as no surprise that upgrade manufacturers have been working fast and furious since March 24th to get OS X drivers out for their cards. Since we first posted this page two weeks ago, both PowerLogix and XLR8 have released drivers for OS X . PowerLogix has mirrored Apple's own OS X release strategy, releasing a beta version of their "plxcache" driver and "Profiler X" monitoring utility. Plxcache is a command line (aka Terminal) utility for activating and setting the L2 cache speed on the fly. No reboot is required! Unlike XLR8's software, plxcache supports all cache sizes and ratios. According to PowerLogix, a graphical interface is in the works.

Both PowerLogix and XLR8 have stated that their software will work with cards from other manufacturers, a boon for owners of cards from Newer and other defunct companies. Unlike PowerLogix, XLR8's "MACh Speed Control X" software is an "official," not beta release. The downside is that it will only work on machines with a full MB backside cache capable of running at a 2:1 ratio. We have no word on whether XLR8 plans on expanding their coverage.

Sonnet Technologies is lagging slightly behind the competition, with no software, beta or official, released to date [see 4-23-01 update above]. The do, however, have their own spiffy looking compatibility matrix (PDF) to help you determine the likelihood of OS X support for your machine and upgrade. If you own a Sonnet card, you can always try the PowerLogix or XLR8 software or keep an eye on Sonnet's site or this page for new developments. The following text is from our initial coverage. Feel free to skip on down to our Upgrade Card Compatibility matrix which has been updated with the latest information available.

Original coverage 3-27-01
Now that OS X has finally made its way to store shelves, many users are asking whether the new OS is supported on their G3 or G4 upgraded machine. Apple's preferred and official answer is an emphatic and resounding "No!" Upgrade cards, after all, do little to help Apple's bottom line, extending the life of older machines and delaying the purchase of a new one.

The lack of official support from Apple has never deterred upgrade manufacturers from releasing and supporting their products in the past. Remember the "Trojan Horse" firmware update that prevented B&W machines from booting with an upgrade card installed? Manufacturers managed to work around the block in short order. Most, if not all, of the upgrade manufacturers have made statements about OS X support with their cards, some rather vague and others quite specific. Most of these statements were made before the official OS X release, but you can be sure that more information will be forthcoming [see 4-9-01 update above]. We will update this page on a regular basis as new information becomes available.

If you have Specific questions not answered here, our upgrade forums are staffed by engineers from the various manufacturers and are an excellent resource for getting all of your upgrade questions answered in short order. PowerLogix forum | Sonnet Tech. forum | XLR8 forum. Below we provide you with a compatibility matrix so you can quickly tell where your upgraded Mac stands. If you are contemplating an upgrade purchase and are not sure which one is appropriate for your machine, check out our machine matrix below.

"He's dead Jim..." The past couple of years have been tough for upgrade manufacturers. Vimage bowed out a while ago, followed by MacTell and most recently by the venerable Newer Tech. German based Formac is still in business, but is no longer making processor upgrades. Post bankruptcy support is a rare thing, so if you own a card from one of these manufacturers, you will need to consider alternative drivers for your card [see 4-9-01 update above]. If you have a NewerTech iMac upgrade or one of their recent PowerBook upgrades, you should be in good shape as there are no drivers needed for either...

Upgrade Card Compatibility Matrix
Updated 4-23-01

PowerLogix forum
Sonnet Tech.
Sonnet Tech. forum
XLR8 forum
General statements

Update: "[The PowerLogix software] allows you to enable your backside cache on G3 and G4 processors at boot time. The included utilities allow you to view your cache settings and other useful pieces of information through the PowerLogix Profiler X 1.0b1 application. You may also change the cache settings "on the fly" using the Terminal application and the command-line tool "plxcache".

"This software will automatically recognize the type of cache SRAMs used on your processor card. It will also determine the size of the cache automatically. This means it is compatible with any and all G3 or G4 processor cards from any manufacturer. Through the command line, it will also allow the setting of any valid cache size or speed. At this time it is not compatible with the 7450 PowerPC or dual G4 systems."

Download & Info Page



Sonnet compatibility matrix (PDF)

Update: "We have released MACh Speed Control X™ due to overwhelming requests from our customers for Mac OS X cache control software. The installer will enable the backside cache to be run at 2:1 on all Macs upgraded with XLR8 upgrades and is available free of charge from the XLR8 web site at"

"The supported upgrades include the MACh Velocity MPe, MACh Speed G3 and G4, MACh Carrier and Carrier ZIF families of processor upgrade cards."

"To make use of the utility users must have already installed Mac OS X and be running the software when they launch the installer. The new XLR8 MACh Speed Control X™ utility will work with all third party processor upgrades providing they have at least 1MB of backside cache that is capable of running at a ratio of 2:1."

Initial press release. Latest press release

PCI Cards

Supported via beta software as of this writing. "Sonnet will release a driver to fully support Mac OS X on these systems when the driver becomes available." Due by end of May at a cost of $29.95. Support for Newer cards due in June at a cost of $69.95. Yes - MACh Carrier cards supported.
ZIF Cards (Non-AGP machines) Supported via beta software as of this writing. Sonnet's two ZIF style upgrades, the G3 or G4 Encore and the new dual processor G4 Encore/ST, should both work with OS X. Neither card requires special software to run and should be "fully compatible with Mac OS X as well as future Apple Mac OS upgrades." Download drivers for G4 Encore in beige Power Macs. Yes
Level 2 Cache Cards - "It is likely that Sonnet will be able to support Mac OS X with the Crescendo/L2 and Crescendo/7200" -
NuBus Cards - OS X support "unlikely." -
PowerBook Cards BlueChip G3 cards are compatible with OS X. Applies to Newer Tech MaxPowr PB cards as well. OS X support "unlikely" for PowerBook 1400 upgrade. -
iMac Cards iForce G3 and G4 cards are compatible with OS X. Applies to Newer Tech cards as well. - -

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Graphics Cards
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SCSI, Firewire USB Cards
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Used/Refurbished Macs
Service & Parts
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Machine Upgrade Matrix

Upgrade Card Type The Machines They Are Intended For

Apple: Power Mac 7300 | Power Mac 7500 | Power Mac 7600 | Power Mac 8500 | Power Mac 8515 | Power Mac 8600 | Power Mac 9500 | Power Mac 9515 | Power Mac 9600 | Workgroup Server 7350 | Workgroup Server 8550 | Workgroup Server 9650

Power Computing: Power Center | Power Center Pro | Power Tower | Power Tower Pro | Power Wave | PowerBase

Umax: SuperMac J700 | SuperMac S900 | SuperMac S910


Apple: G3 All-in-One | G3 Desktop | G3 Tower |

Umax: SuperMac C500 | SuperMac C600

Level 2 Cache

Apple: Power Mac 4400 | Power Mac 5400 | Power Mac 5500 | Power Mac 6400 | Power Mac 6500 | Performa 5400 | Performa 5410 | Performa 5420 | Performa 5430 | Performa 6360 | Performa 6400 | Performa 6410 | Performa 6420 | 20th Anniversary Mac (TAM)

APS: M*Power

Motorola: StarMax 3000 | StarMax 4000 | StarMax 5000 | StarMax 5500 |

Power Computing: PowerBase

Umax: SuperMac C500 | SuperMac C600


Apple: Power Mac 6100/AV | Power Mac 6100 | Power Mac 7100 | Power Mac 8100 | Performa 6110 | Performa 6112 | Performa 6115 | Performa 6116 | Performa 6117 | Performa 6118 | Workgroup Server 6150 | Workgroup Server 8150 | Workgroup Server 9150 |

Power Computing: 100 | 120

Radius: 81/110


Apple PowerBook 1400 | PowerBook 2400 | PowerBook G3

iMac Apple All iMacs before slot loading iMacs

The Performance Edge Index |