MAXpowr 500 MHz G3 Upgrade Card

by Don Lie
Producer

When I bought my PowerComputing PowerCenter Pro 210 back in May 1997, it was rated the fastest and best system available at the time with its 210 MHz 604e PowerPC processor and faster-than-Apple system bus. But in the world of computers, what you buy today is obsolete the minute you open the box. Hence the market for upgrade cards.

But even up to January 2000, I still viewed my little Mac clone as a pretty fast machine. Then I got an upgrade card from Newer Technology, and, in comparison, my "pretty fast" system suddenly seemed as slow as pouring molassas on a cold winter morning. With the upgrade card, this thing moved. It offered some other pleasant surprises as well.

The installation
If only everything were this easy. The MAXpowr installation manual, with its simple illustrations for the various compatible models, made upgrading a snap. It went like this:

  • After installing the MAXpowr G3 control panel from the CD, I shut down, strapped on the static-discharging wrist band (included) and opened up the machine.
  • Once opened, removing the original CPU was just a matter of sliding the cooling fan to the side and lifting up on the CPU's card. (The card may be a little tough to remove at first because of time and dust, but with a little rocking back and forth, it should come out unobstructed.) The manual's pictures of the hardware and arrows pointing you to what to look for assisted substantially.
  • In non-minitower systems, you'll need to remove a metal bracket attached to the top of the card in order to get it to fit inside the box. But since I do have a minitower, the card fit just fine with the bracket still attached, and it also worked well as a guide during installation.
  • I reset the motherboard according to an illustration in the manual, and the installation process was complete.

I probably spent a total of 15 minutes from opening the computer to installing the upgrade card. Yes, it was that simple.

The Test: MAXpowr 500MHz versus PowerPC 604e 210 MHz
Photoshop Filter MAXpowr 500 MHz 210 MHz 604e

Eye Candy
Chrome Filter

6.70 seconds 12.09 seconds
Xenofex
Puzzle Filter
4.72 seconds 12.85 seconds

The test
Newer claims that the MAXpowr G3 is "twice as fast as 604e upgrades" with its 1MB backside cache. Did it live up to the claim?

Using Adobe Photoshop 5.5 and AlienSkin's Eye Candy 3.0 (Chrome filter) set at 100 percent, the Newer Technology 500 MHz G3 upgrade card was able to render Photoshop's sample "Flowers" image in 6.7 seconds. The PowerPC 210 604e completed the task in 12.09 seconds using the same filter.

Using Xenofex's Puzzle filter with all settings placed at 100 percent, the 500 MHz card finished in 4.72 seconds. The system's original PowerPC 210 MHz 604e processor rendered the same image in 12.85 seconds.

The bottom line
I was surprised to see the 210 MHz 604e render the image in less than twice the time using the Chrome filter. A difference of only 5.39 seconds was a little closer than expected, but the MAXpowr G3 more than made up for that when using the Xenofex Puzzle filter. The image was finished using the Puzzle filter in 4.72 seconds with the MAXpowr G3 and beat the PowerPC 210 604e handily by more than eight seconds. The amount of time that can be saved using the G3 upgrade card is tremendous and will have you walking away from those monsterous projects in no time.

SUMMARY

PROS: The installation was very simple, and, even for squimish individuals, the step by step instructions of the old card's removal and the installation of the new will leave you beaming with confidence. The documentation is easy to understand and comes with highly detailed pictures. The Newer Technology MAXpowr 500 MHz G3 processor upgrade card is an impressive piece of hardware that will provide a few more years of quality productivity from that aging Mac clone or Apple branded machine.

CONS: A bit pricey at $699 when you consider that a brand new Apple Power Macintosh G4 400 MHz machine currently costs $1,599. Unless you have a lot of peripherals, the price may be not be justified in keeping an older Mac.

The main drawback is the price versus the bump in speed you actually experience. With the current 400 MHz G4 with its DVD drive and ATI Rage 128 Pro being priced at $1,599, it would be tough to compare a system that has dated technology but a fast processor at $699. To bring your total system up to speed, you'd need to fork over about $150 for a bigger hard drive, $180 for a good graphics card and another $100 for additional RAM. This brings the total upgrade cost to $1,130. And you'd still be dealing with the older guts of your older machine. If you've already made the investments in RAM, graphics and hard disk upgrades, that's a different story.

In either case, make no mistake: Newer Technology has come through with an excellent, high-quality, easy to handle CPU processor upgrade. If you have one of the card's compatible computer systems and are looking to upgrade, this card should be taken under serious consideration.

Compatible Computer Systems: Apple Power Mac 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500, 9600 models; UMAX S900, J700 models; Power Computing PowerTower Pro, PowerTower, PowerCurve, PowerWave, PowerCenter, PowerCenter Pro.

For more information, visit Newer at http://www.newertech.com.


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