admit that I was itching to review another upgrade card for
my G3/266 PowerBook. More accurately, I have been itching
to buy a new TiBook to replace my PowerBook, but with admission
prices starting at about $2,200, this isn't in the cards
at the moment. Would Sonnet's G3/500 upgrade breathe new life
into my aging PowerBook?
Having installed PowerBook upgrade cards from PowerLogix
and (the now defunct) Newer Technology, I was pretty comfortable
going in to the installation. Before you start however, bear
in mind that Apple's portables were not designed with ease
of upgrades in mind. If you are not comfortable working in
cramped quarters, you may want to have a professional do the
installation for you.
The Crescendo card doesn't require any extensions or control
panels to run, but you will need to copy the ROM file from
your current processor card onto the new card. Sonnet provides
a utility to copy the file. This is to avoid troubles with
Apple's legal team and is the approach used by PowerLogix
The application for copying the ROM gave me some problems
initially, freezing repetedly. This was under the "OS
9.2 all" extension set. Switching to the base set and
pulling a CardBus USB card allowed the application to run
successfully. Sonnet includes a bent metal tool for pulling
the processor card out which is a real time saver as it eliminates
the need to pull the hard drive. The photocopied instructions
won't win any design awards, but are clear and well written.
The entire installation process, less troubleshooting time,
was about 20 minutes.
| Supported Models
Compatible with the following PowerBook models:
- PowerBook G3 Series 233
- PowerBook G3 Series 250
- PowerBook G3 Series 266
- PowerBook G3 Series 292
- PowerBook G3 Series 300
Mac OS 8.1 to OS X supported
Within the first five minutes of using the card I was scheming
of ways to make it a permanent addition to my PowerBook. Even
without formal benchmarks, the speed gains were immediately
obvious. Applications that creaked and groaned in protest
under the G3/266, became young and frisky again. Searches
in very large spreadsheets (something I do a lot of throughout
the work day) sped up noticeably.
I spent most of my time with the card booted under OS 9.2,
but I was pleasantly surprised at the performance of OS X
with the G3/500 installed. Application launch times dropped
and overall system responsiveness improved significantly as
well. Windows dragged across the screen a little more smoothly
but were still not completely free of jitters. No doubt the
anemic ATI RAGE LT PRO graphics chip (with 4MB SGRAM) is at
Most of the benchmarks below
were run under OS X, and the scores verified my initial observation
that this is one fast card. In general terms, the Crescendo
PowerBook ranged between 50% and 100% faster than the base
setup. There were a few performance spikes in the test results,
most noticeably in our tests involving iTunes, AppleWorks
The Crescendo G3/500 spent a little over a month in the PowerBook
and ran like a top. I didn't experience any problems beyond
the installer glitches described above and regretted having
to return the card at the end of the loan period. Not all
of us can justify the cash layout for a brand new PowerBook.
Sonnet's crescendo does an excellent job of extending the
life of your older PowerBook.
Post your comments or questions about this article/upgrade
card in our Sonnet
"Real World" Tests
The tests below are from a transitional suite of real world
application tests for OS X. These tests feature a diverse
selection of applications commonly used by the Mac community.
All applications were running under OS X except Photoshop
6 which was running in the Classic environment. All scores
were timed with a stopwatch and then converted to a relative
score with the base PowerBook G3/266 set to 100%. Higher scores
QuickTime 5 Tests
Export file using sorenson 2x CD setting and
convert file to DV stream. Very processor intensive.
iMovie 2 Test
The first test clocks the time to import a DV file into a
new iMovie project. The second to apply a "ripple effect"
to the entire movie. No significant gains on the fist test,
but a respectable improvement on the second.
iTunes 2 Test
Time to convert 4 songs from CD to MP3 files.
Here the faster processor really shines!
Photoshop 6 Test
Run under the Classic environment. A negligible difference in
the scores. Not surprising, as the graphics subsystem is the
AppleWorks 6.2 Test
Again, the Sonnet card really shines here! We searched a
500+ page document, replacing the letter 'e' with the letter
'a.' Not a common task, of course, but a real workout for
Here we used Sherlock to index a 245MB folder
containing 4,435 items.
AltiVec Fractal Demo
Another processor intensive task. Performance
more than doubles with the Sonnet card.
Let 1K Windows Bloom
A simple carbon application that opens and
closes 1,000 windows and times the results.
These tests are mostly disk intensive, but
there is still a modest performance gain in both cases with
the Sonnet card.
Stuffit 6.5 Decompression
Time to launch and quit AppleWorks 6.2, Sherlock and iTunes
2 xxx times. Again, a common task has been exaggerated to
give the processor a thorough workout and yield a more accurate
Time to reboot OS X (no login screen) and launch the classic
environment via system preference panel. I would assume that
disk access is the limiting factor in both cases...
Various combinations of the tests above, run