PowerLogix's upgrades lie somewhere between Sonnet and XLR8
in their degree of customization. With Sonnet you just install
the driver software
and the upgrade card and then forget about the whole deal
- no switches to set, no control panel settings. XLR8 takes
the opposite extreme allowing you to set both jumpers on the
upgrade card itself and numerous additional settings via the
control panel. PowerLogix falls somewhere in the middle, allowing
you to set the processor speed on the card itself and a variety
of settings on the control panel.
Below we review the PowerLogix PowerForce G4/466/233/1MB
ZIF style upgrade card compatible with the following: all
Power Mac G3 minitowers and desktops, G3 "All-in-One", and
the Blue and White G3's. This is the only G4 ZIF card that
PowerLogix manufacturers at present. In machines with a 66MHz
system bus (the pathway between the RAM and the processor),
the upgrade will run at 466MHz (all the Beige machines). In
the Blue & White Power Macs, which have a 100MHz system
bus, the card will run at 450MHz.
We ran a series of tests of the card over-clocked to 500MHz,
but ran into some stability problems at that speed - applications
suddenly quitting and problems during the boot process. At
the rated speed of 466MHz (in our Beige G3/233) the card was
very stable and ran through all our tests without incident.
However this was with a function called "Write Through"
turned on in the control panel. "Write Through"
enhances the stability of the upgrade card but at the cost
of performance. When "Write Through" was turned
on, compared to other cards in its class, the PowerForce was
slightly under-powered in a variety of tests, and in one of
our tests, the PowerLogix card fell down on the job, producing
only a little more than half the performance of the similarly
clocked XLR8 card . "Write Through" is turned on
by default. You can turn it off but doing so may cause stability
problems. We tested both with and without "Write Through"
turned on and definitely got better scores with it off, but
also had several applications suddenly quit on us during the
Apple: Beige G3 Power Macs (versions are in the works
for the Blue & White G3s
Mac OS 8.6 to OS 9.1 supported
Installing ZIF processor upgrades in the Macintoshes they
are intended for, is a snap. The machines are exceptionally
easy to get into and the exchange of processors can be done
in a few seconds.
Before you can install the processor, however, you need to
install some software drivers for the upgrade. On beige G3's
the process is straight forward. You run an installer from
the CD that comes with the upgrade card. This will place two
items in the extension folder; a Profiler Extension which
will enable the backside cache of the G4 upgrade, and also
allow for other settings, and an AltiVec Enabler which will
allow for certain applications, such as Photoshop, to take
advantage of the speed enhancements of the G4 processor. In
Great Prices On Upgrades Check The Vendors Below
application called G3/G4 Cache Profiler will be installed.
This application, in conjunction with the Profiler Extension,
allows you to tweak various settings of the upgrade card,
such as the speed of the backside cache.
If you are installing this upgrade in a Blue & White
machine, the software setup is a little more complicated.
You do the same as you would above with beige machines, but
first you must upgrade the firmware of your G3 machine so
that it can work with a G4 processor. This requires you to
a firmware update from Apple's web site, and take some extra
steps to install it on your machine. This is a bit of an annoyance
but is relatively painless, and is explained well in the instructions
that come with the PowerForce card.
To install the upgrade card itself you will need several
items; a grounding strap and a small screw driver - which
is used to remove the clip that holds the heatsink in place.Unfortunately
neither of these items is provided by PowerLogix.
It is essential that you have some sort of grounding device,
as very small amounts of static electricity built up in your
body, can completely destroy your computer's components. We,
ourselves, have fried one motherboard and one processor card
because we cavalierly did not follow this advice.
As mentioned above it is very easy to get to the innards
of both the Beige and Blue & White G3 Macintoshes. On
the Beige Machines you slide off the cover and basically unfold
the computer. On the Blue and Whites it is even easier. A
latch on the case allows one full side of the computer to
fold down, exposing all the nicely laid out components of
the machine. Now is the time to attach that grounding strap.
Also if you have a Beige machine you should plug the power
cord back in - it needs to be removed to unfold the computer.
The cord needs to be connected for proper grounding to occur.
You can get grounding straps at most computer/electronic stores.
Once you have located the heatsink you use the small screwdriver
to remove the clip holding it in place. With the processor
exposed, lifting the lever to the left of the ZIF socket releases
the G3 processor, and you simply pop the old processor out.
ZIF processor's are keyed and only fit into the socket one
way. If you experience any resistance when you install the
PowerForce upgrade, you have it lined up wrong. Do not use
any excessive force to install the upgrade card. It should
more or less fall in place, requiring at the most a gentle
nudge to get it to seat.Returning the lever to the set position
hugs the upgrade card to the contacts on the motherboard,
and after replacing the heatsink, you are almost set to go.
Because this card runs in both the Beige Machines with their
66MHz bus and the Blue & White machines with their 100MHz
bus you will need to make some adjustments to the card itself.
The bus is the connector that runs between the main memory
and the processor card. The ratio of speeds must be compatible
for the processor to function properly. Each upgrade manufacturer
deals with these issues differently. Sonnet's software sets
the speed automatically on their cards. This makes things
simple, but does not allow for tweaking to see if you can
wring a little more speed out of your card. Both XLR8 and
PowerLogix allow you to adjust the speed of the processor,
on the card itself. XLR8's approach is a little clumsy, requiring
you to fiddle with, hard to manage little jumpers. PowerLogix
has a much more elegant and easy method, providing a rotating
switch to set jumper settings.
The default setting for the Beige machines is 466MHz, for
the Blue and Whites 450MHz. You can try over-clocking the
card but stability will vary from card to card. Our card was
somewhat unstable when we over-clocked it to 500MHz
In general, for processor intensive tasks and tasks that
take advantage of the AltiVec
instructions (Velocity Engine) of the G4, (Photoshop,
CineBench 2000, QuickTime, iTunes, iMovie, Final Cut Pro and
SoundJam, for example), the PowerForce G4/466 turned in solid
performance over our stock Beige G3/266 and our reference
machine, the Blue & White G3/350.
when compared to a similarly clocked XLR8 card, in some of
our tests the PowerLogix card with "Write Through"
off lagged slightly behind. With "Write Through"
turned on the performance gap grew, and in our search and
replace test, the PowerForce card turned in only a little
over half the performance of the XLR8 card. This is the major
reason for the PowerForce's relatively low ZoneBench Processor
score. Again when "Write Through" was turned off
we had significant stability problems.
Neither of these cards will give your aging machine the balanced
performance of a brand new G4 Power Mac, which will easily
trounce a processor upgraded machine in such areas as graphics,
drive and gaming performance - areas that are not exclusively
reliant on the processor for data interpretation. However
an entry level G4 PowerMac these days is going to set you
back about $1,700, the PowerForce card costs a little over
a quarter of that. It won't give you the performance of the
entry level G4 but will definitely be an improvement over
your aging G3 - especially in applications
that can utilize the acceleration that the G4 offers.
The PowerForce upgrade with "Write Through" was
very stable and we encountered no problems with it at this
Processor scores for the PowerForce card and
the configurations we compared it to are as follows:
Blue & White G3/350
PowerForce G4/466 with write through
PowerLogix PowerForce G4/466/233/1MB
XLR8 MAChSpeed ZIF G4/466/233/1MB
Although the PowerLogix card is a solid performer when compared
to the machines it is intended to upgrade, it lags somewhat
behind in performance when compared to the competition, and,
with "Write Through" turned on, can be very far
behind in certain functions.
In addition the PowerLogix card has a manufacturer's suggested
price that is $50 higher than the XLR8 card. Also the XLR8
card can be used in conjunction with an adapter (available
from XLR8) and another G4 ZIF card to form a dual processor
configuration - should you like to upgrade your upgrade in
PowerLogix should really be including a grounding strap and,
if necessary, a small screwdriver with their upgrade cards.
It would also be nice to see them turn their manual, which
covers all the bases adequately, but is really more of a pamphlet,
into a full fledged manual ... presentation does count for
A copy of LINUX is included on the install CD, so you can
play with that if you are interested.
The tests below are from our suite of real world application
tests. These tests feature a diverse selection of applications
commonly used by the Mac community. The test suite was designed
to render an accurate and well rounded picture of performance.
here for detailed information on each test and our machine's
configuration. All of the tests below (with the exception
of the Quake III & Cinebench 2000 tests) were timed with
a stopwatch. The times are then converted to percentages relative
to our base Blue & White G3/350 machine which is set to
100%. For all scores, higher numbers are better. Absolute
scores for most tests can be found below this section.
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