The Performance Edge: Newer's Winning G3 Upgrade For The 6100 Series Of Machines - A Review

A Guest Review by Owen Jeffries

Maxpower G3 PDS 240/266
Company Newer Technology
Price $299.00
Requirements Power Mac 6100, 6150, Performa 6110, 6112CD, 6115CD to 6118CD.
System 7.5.1 or later. System 7.6 or later for maximum performance
Specifications 240-266 MHz G3, 512 K backside cache 2:1 ratio

It was indeed a revelation when Newer released their upgrade cards for first generation Power Mac's. Finally those of us who were as they say, financially limited could hope for access to true G3 power without having to part with either our machines or large amounts of cash!

At the time of writing, this card is the only one Newer Technology currently produces for 6100 based machines. Having said that, the card came well packed in a very sturdy box. Upon opening the box, the card could be seen sealed in a clear plastic shock proof holder. Further inspection revealed a static strap, floppy disc and CD ROM containing the necessary card drivers as well as other Newer "goodies" like GURU, Gauges, Spell checker etc. A comprehensive booklet is also provided, which I found to be excellent. It comes with easy to follow instructions, photo's, troubleshooting, tech support info and much more. It is much better manual than the ones that usually come with computer hardware upgrades. Well done Newer!

The first thing you do is install the card drivers from either the floppy or CD ROM that is provided. Once the drivers are installed, simply shut down the machine and open the case. Follow the step by step photo's provided by the booklet, (and make sure you have the static strap on). It is a very easy procedure to remove the L2 cache from its slot and place it in an antistatic bag for safety. Once this is done, the ROM chip is removed from its slot (next to the L2 cache slot) and put in the L2 cache slot. While this may seem unusual, I guess it's for the better since the close proximity of a large aluminum heat sink to the G3 card might possibly damage the ROM chip if left in it's original position. After this has been completed, it is simply a matter of placing the G3 card in the PDS slot and pushing down evenly to seat the card correctly. If you have and an AV card, you push the card into the socket provided on the G3 card. Fire up the "old" 6100 and voile you have an instant G3. Well, almost! Now I know you probably think I'm going to go on and on about bus speeds, for example, when compared to a genuine G3 machine. Well actually I personally don't think the slower bus speed of a 6100 is much of an issue at all. I think the real "downers", if you could call them that, would have to do more with things like slower video, no 3D acceleration capability etc. However as the accompanying images show, even the standard video gets a 200+% boost as a result of adding the G3 card. And that can't be too bad a thing now can it? Although if you're like me and use the 2 meg AV Card, don't expect much of an improvement (see figure 2). That said I guess we should get on to the business of finding out just how much faster and more powerful my good old 6100/66 is now with the Newer G3 card installed and operating!

The first thing to look for at start up is the Newer control panel that has the CPU speed, cache speed and ratio illustrated on it. This is a handy way to check if the card has actually loaded and the driver is working. Upon restarting I got a speed indication of 266 MHz with 512K backside running at 2:1 ratio. This is exactly what the card is supposed to be running at. Perfect! Now for some fun. I first checked start up without the card and then with the card's driver loaded. I'm running my 6100/66 with 72 MEG RAM and system 8.5.1 with a whole slew of extensions. Without the G3 card it takes approx. 3 and a half minutes until I get to the desktop and icons on both monitors. With the G3 card, it took under 2 minutes. Not bad so far. But wait there's more! It's when you start doing things like watching quicktime movies or ripping some of your audio CD's, that the speed really shows.

I mean let's face it, a standard 6100/66 simply will not run movies at even a half decent frame rate. Even surfing the Internet is a real chore. And as for recording music....forget it! However as the Norton systems info test shows, this Newer G3 card gives a standard 6100/66 a speed bump of 600%! Unreal! It actually clocks at virtually the same as a genuine Macintosh G3 266. The Norton info here shows it beating an iMac although this was the earlier 233 MHz model. Something else of interest is just how much faster browsers like Internet Explorer (4.5 in this instance) work with the card installed. It is simply amazing to watch the pages load at a rate probably double of what they would do on a stock 6100/66.

Norton Utilities Speed Tests




And, if you are anything like me and do some occasional Photoshop work, well have I got good news for you. Photoshop simply flies with this card installed. We are now talking seconds NOT minutes to perform most basic Photoshop functions. Even Bryce runs perfectly acceptably now. Forget having to go out for half a day while you're waiting for that all important render to finish. And as for games........well you will be in for a pleasant surprise. Now you too can play Sim City 3000 or Railroad Tycoon II or even Caesar II etc. This G3 card has ample grunt to more than do justice to these and many other CPU demanding games. While we are talking games, I'm having a simply wonderful time playing Chessmaster 6000. Try playing this game (Min spec 90 MHz) on a standard 6100/66. It ain't pretty! However what the upgrade won't give you is the ability to run 3D enhanced games. Sorry, but if 3D games are your bag, then you have no option but to go out and purchase the genuine article.

As for general impressions of overall desktop operating speed etc. The benefits of a fast desktop action and crisp quick opening and closing of folders, hard drives contents, windows etc., cannot be underestimated. If you were ever in any doubt as to the speed increase in the desktop environment, just switch off the G3 driver and restart to see what you are missing. I mean the whole machine just craaaaaaawls....! Nope! For me it's no going back now. And at a mere $299.00, this card from Newer Technology is an absolute bargain buy! If you have a first generation Mac and you want to get "current", this is THE card for you!

What are you waiting for? Go get one today!

Quality 10/10 Features 10/10 Value 10/10 Overall 10/10

Owen Jeffries is a Freelance writer and writes articles about computer/video games and computer software for the following publications:

AAPDA "Australasian Apple Programmers and Developers Association"
Hyperactive Online Gaming
The Courier Newspaper
The Border Watch Newspaper
Chariot Gaming

Ready to spring for that G3 card yet? Ask the MacSpeedZone community how they like the G3 upgrade cards they have bought.

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