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Review: Newer Tech's MAXpowr G4/400 ZIF
G4 CPU Upgrade for AIO/Beige/B&W G3s
By Mike
Published: 12/10/99
Intro | Benchmarks | Appl. Tests | Software Controls | Installation | Specs/Design | Summary

    Disclaimer: This page is for information only. Removing the CPU or performing other upgrades/modifications to your Mac may void your Apple warranty, cause damage to your computer or result in personal injury if done improperly. Consult the owner's manual for the upgrade for additional instructions or get qualified help if necessary. (Tens of thousands of Mac owners upgrade their macs every year, but due to the legal climate we live in disclaimers are required.)

This page covers the installation of a ZIF CPU upgrade in a Blue and White G3. A similar procedure would apply to the Beige G3, AIO G3 or Yikes G4 system except you'd not need to patch the firmware. (Note: Beige G3 owners should read this FAQ note on VRM (Voltage Regulator Modules) to make sure they do not have the "Royal" brand VRM which Newer Tech says can damage G4 CPU Upgrades in Beige G3s.) The Newer Tech manual provides more detailed instructions for buyers of the upgrade, but this page simply gives a general overview of the steps involved.
What's Included
The MAXpowr G4 ZIF package includes:
  • 400MHz G4 ZIF module with 1MB of Backside Cache
  • Illustrated, Printed Manual with hardware/software installation instructions.
  • CD with Control Software and Utilities
  • Disposable Anti-Static Wrist Strap (use it)
  • Small Screwdriver (for removing heatsink clip)
  • Warranty Registration Card

Switch Settings:
Since the MAXpowr G4 ZIF upgrade is designed to work in both a 100MHz bus speed B&W G3 and a 66MHz bus speed Beige G3, the CPU module includes a configuration switch.
In the image below, the lower left corner shows the small dip switches that are used to set the CPU to Bus multiplier (ratio). This sample arrived set for a Beige G3, but it took only a minute to check the manual for the settings for a B&W G3.

XLR8 G4Z Software

Patching the B&W G3 Firmware:
Since B&W G3s with the 1.1 Firmware update cannot boot with a G4 CPU, Newer Tech supplies a patcher utility that removes the G4 CPU block.

Installing the Software:
The Newer Tech installer will put the MAXpowr Control Panel and extension in your system folder. There is no need to change any of the default settings in the control and neither Newer Tech nor I recommend trying to overclock the backside cache, which adds little to nothing in real world performance and can often ruin the stability of an upgrade. For more on the MaxPowr Control Panel see the Software Controls page.

Installing the ZIF CPU Module:
After attaching the supplied wrist strap, I always make it a habit to touch a portion of the metal chassis (exterior case of the power supply) before any handling any electronic components. This ensures you and the chassis are at the same voltage potential (preventing any static discharge that can short the life or destroy electronic circuits). I also use and recommend an anti-static work mat, available at many computer retailers. Carpeted floors generate incredible levels of static buildup, so the mat is another preventative measure that is well worth the cost (typically under $30).

After opening the case the first step is to remove the heatsink clip from the CPU ZIF socket. Using the supplied screwdriver, insert it in the upper slot on the clip as shown in the photo below and press down and out to bow the clip away from the ZIF socket retaining tab. Don't force it - pressing down on the top edge of the clip with your other hand can aid in moving the clip off the socket's retaining tab.

Removing Heatsink Clip
Removing the Heatsink Clip

Lift the clip off the opposite side of the ZIF. Remember to orient the two slot end of the clip in the same direction during reassembling, as it's important to ensure the proper pressure point of the clip over the CPU (off-center) area of the heatsink. (Reversing the clip is a common mistake and can cause CPU overheating.) On a B&W G3, the two-hole end of the clip should be facing the RAM dimm slots.

Once the clip is removed simply lift the heatsink off the existing CPU module. On the side of the ZIF socket there is a locking lever that must be lifted to the vertical position to allow the CPU module to be removed from the socket.

Removing Old ZIF
Releasing the ZIF Locking Lever

Once the lever is all the way up, grasp the CPU module by the edges and lift it out of the socket. Place the module in the XLR8 anti-static foam lined plastic case that contains the G4 module.

When inserting the new CPU module into the ZIF socket, make sure you orient the missing corner pin on the bottom of the ZIF module with the corner of the ZIF socket that has no pin hole.

Keying corner of ZIF socket
ZIF Socket Key Corner

Correct ZIF module orientation means the CPU end of the module is closest to the ZIF locking lever as shown in the photo below. Don't force the ZIF into the socket. It should easily drop into the socket with minimal pressure. If not, check the bottom of the CPU module for bent pins. Since Newer Technology ships the module in a protective case with anti-static foam protecting the pins, there should be no bent ones.

Locking ZIF level down
Latching the ZIF Locking Lever Down

With the CPU module fully seated in the socket, lower the locking lever to the fully down position. There is a small protrusion on the side of the socket that acts as a retaining tab to help secure the lever in the down position.

With the CPU module installed, I normally apply a small amount of thermal compound to the center square of the CPU. Apple's systems and most upgrades do not use thermal compound however, instead they rely on a thin, thermally conductive gasket on the heatsink that serves the same purpose without the mess associated with applying the compound. Since we're not overclocking the CPU, the standard Apple heatsink works fine. If you do prefer to use it, thermal compound is available at Radio Shack and other electronics parts supply stores for under $5 usually.

Note: - Often I've seen people do more harm than good by removing the original thermal gasket from under the heatsink. Scraping it off often makes matters worse - creating uneven surfaces or scratches that can reduce the contact area of the heatsink against the CPU and can promote oxidation of the aluminum that will increase its thermal resistance. If you have scratched off the thermal pad, then you should apply a thin, even coat of thermal compound on the CPU center contact patch as shown in the lower left inset of the photo above. The compound serves to fill in any gaps between the CPU's center contact patch and the heatsink from scratches or lack of flatness.

Now place the heatsink back on the CPU and replace the heatsink clip making sure the two-slot end is facing the RAM dimm slot side of the socket as shown below. This completes the hardware installation.

Proper Heatsink Clip orientation
Reminder on Proper Clip Orientation

What about Motherboard Jumpers? Since the MAXpowr G4 ZIF has a switch onboard, there is no need to change your existing motherboard jumpers (which voids the warranty). The review sample came configured for a Beige G3's 66MHz bus but the manual has the setting for Blue and White (B&W) G3s as well.

Verifying Operation: On the first boot with the new CPU installed you should see the Newer Technology extension appear and the MacOS startup image will show a Newer Tech banner at the bottom indicating their software is active. After the desktop appears, you can verify proper operation by running the supplied Gauge Pro utility that will report the CPU type and speed, including the backside cache speed. There is normally no need to change any of the default settings in the control panel.

The screenshot below shows the GuagePro readings when installed in a B&W G3:
(Temperature and CPU version may vary in other systems and in later shipping models)

GaugePro Sample Report (Blue and White G3 base system)
Settings Panel

Some owners question the fact CPU upgrades report frequencies slightly below or not exactly their rated speeds. This is normal due to the fact that all the base frequences are not integers (ie: 33MHz PCI bus is 33.3333333...Mhz, 100MHz is 99.999999 etc) as well as the fact there are tolerances (allowable variation range) on all components that generate these clocks. As shown above, the B&W G3s bus speed is shown as 99.7MHz (rounded), and since that's a factor of the CPU speed (in this case, multiplied by 4 for the CPU speed) the resulting CPU speed is slightly under 400MHz.

The next page of the review details the hardware (CPU and Cache) of the MAXpowr G4 ZIF.

Index of Newer Tech G4 400MHz ZIF Review

Intro | Benchmarks | Appl. Tests | Software Controls | Installation | Specs/Design | Summary

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