Fastest by Far

Newer Technology today announced a 466MHz processor upgrade for the Apple Power Macintosh G3. The upgrade is designed to fit both the older beige G3s and newer blue G3s. Macworld tested the 466MHz upgrade in a blue G3/300 with OS 8.5.1 using MacBench 5.0 and Photoshop 5.0.2. The processor runs at 450MHz in blue G3s and 466MHz in beige G3s and comes with 1MB backside cache running at 233MHz.

Installation of the processor upgrade took under a minute (not counting crawling under the desk to drag the computer out and looking for a screwdriver). It was a straightforward task–much easier than pre-G3 upgrades. The processor card is about the same 2-by-3-inch size as the one currently installed in the G3 systems. Do remember, however, that if you are installing one of these cards into a blue G3 to turn the power off first! It is too easy to open the case and start swapping processors if you are the absentminded type.

The upgrade card boosted the MacBench processor score of our system from 926 to 1494–a computational boost of 61%. It was 14% faster than the Apple Power Macintosh G3/400, which posted a score of 1310. In our Photoshop test, we saw more modest gains; the most surprising exception was a 41% reduction in time to save a file. The upgrade resulted in a 33% improvement in RGB-to-CMYK conversion, a 15% improvement in Gaussian Blur, and a 14% scrolling improvement, however, image resizing was only 4% faster. In a beige G3/300 the MacBench processor score improved from 1002 to 1565!

The only complaint we had was the small size of the dip switches used to set the speed–you will need good eyesight to set them. When we put our processor upgrade in the blue G3, we had to change the settings but did not notice that, when installed in the socket, the dip switch orientation was right-to-left rather than left-to-right. Once we discovered our error and set the switches correctly we were off and running.

The kit includes a backside cache monitor, allowing you to change between the faster write-back and safer write-through modes.

One possible concern with Newer's upgrade card is the heatsink. It is screwed into place on top of the CPU with nothing to keep the screw from loosening over time. Vibrations from normal operation or the environment could loosen the contact between the heatsink and CPU, causing performance problems. This might turn out not to be a problem at all, but users of this upgrade should check to make sure the screw is securely in place every couple of months, or any time they open the case.

Bottom Line

One important reason for checking out these upgrade cards before making your next Mac purchase is because Newer's commitment to keep the cost under $1500 means that you might be able to purchase a new 300MHz system with a 450MHz upgrade card for less than a new 400MHz system. However, please note that both PowerLogix and XLR8 have similar cards coming out which Macworld Lab has not yet tested. We will compare all of the cards as soon as possible and post the results here on our Web site and in our magazine.

For our tests, we ran MacBench with the default system cache of 2048K, while the cache was set to 512K for our Photoshop test, which performed tasks on a 24.5MB image. Our system used 64MB RAM with virtual memory turned off.

If you are at the Seybold show, you can go to booth 3900 to check out Newer Technology's new upgrade cards. Otherwise, you can turn your browser to http://www.newertech.com.

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