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Vpower PM 4400 G3/240
Gain Speed from Easy Upgrade
By Jeffy Milstead
When Apple Computer waved good-bye to the clones, it left behind a legacy of Macs with sketchy upgrade options. Now owners of the Power Macintosh 4400; the Motorola StarMax series; and clones from APS, Mactell, and PowerTools can beef up their machines with a Vimage Vpower PM 4400 G3/240 upgrade card.
The Vpower PM4400 G3/240, a 240MHz CPU with a 512K Level 2 cache, installs in the cache slot of the 4400, replacing any existing cache module. Since these Macs represent a generation of machines that didn't house the CPU on a daughtercard, Vimage created an upgrade card for the cache slot. Unlike other G3 upgrade cards, the Vimage card doesn't have any software controls for tweaking the cache-to-bus ratio. The card also lacks hardware switches-it operates at a fixed frequency.
Macworld Lab tested the Vpower card in a Power Mac 4400, and based on the results, other models using Apple's Tanzania architecture should work equally well (see "Vpower Resurrects Old Macs"). MacBench 5.0 and SpeedMark tests indicated a twofold improvement over running without the card. But the card's slower, 40MHz bus somewhat hampered performance against that of the 66MHz system bus of the 233MHz G3 Power Mac.
The real speed gain was confirmed in informal real-world tests. In Adobe Photoshop, the upgraded Mac gained about 25 percent over the unaccelerated machine and was up to 63 percent faster in some image-processing tasks. For more speed, check out the $999, 300MHz version of the Vpower card, with a 1MB Level 2 cache.