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Review: XLR8's MACh Speed G4zTM
G4 CPU Upgrade for AIO/Beige/B&W G3s
By Mike
Published: 11/22/99
Review Summary and Final Comments
Intro | Benchmarks | Appl. Tests | Software Controls | Installation | Specs/Design | Summary
The Final Word
At the current suggested list price of $879, this CPU upgrade is not cheap; however I'll have to admit I'll regret returning it to XLR8 as it runs so well in my B&W G3 (even at 450MHz). With this upgrade installed, my B&W exceeds the performance of a Yikes system and even fares well against a G4/450 Sawtooth in most tests. The results with Altivec software show the potential of the G4 with up to 3.4x improvements seen in some tests. I'm eager to see more titles take advantage of the largely untapped potential of the new CPU.

As I noted on other pages of this review, a G4 is about twice as fast compressing video in iMovie (exporting/converting Digital Video to a Quicktime movie) as the same speed G3, one of the most impressive gains from a G4 I have seen. If you spend a lot of time doing video compression or output of DV to Quicktime movies, a G4 CPU can nearly cut times in half compared to a G3 cpu of the same speed, in the same system.

Owners of XLR8 G3 Cards (those that include a CPU - not bare CarrierZIF cards) are also eligible for their Trade-Up discount program, which includes G4 CPU models. See the linked page for more details.

Upgrade or New System?: Anytime an upgrade costs near 1/2 that of a new system (which often has more advanced features and faster bus speeds, interfaces like Firewire, etc.), you have to consider your options carefully. At the date of this publication, a new G4/350 costs about $1600. This G4 upgrade installed in a B&W G3 will outperform the Yikes 350 or new Sawtooth G4/350 for about 1/2 the cost of the new system. The 'Sawtooth' G4 system offers an AGP slot, ATA/66, internal FireWire, DVD standard, Rage128 Pro graphics card and Airport compatibility but also current seems to have certain PCI card compatibility issues (that will likely be resolved with firmware updates - for instance the Initio Miles SCSI cards). Therefore if you really must have a G4 CPU right now, a G4 upgrade may be a cost effective alternative to a new system.

Often a major factor in the upgrade or new system decision is how much hardware you have invested in your existing Mac. In some cases you can move memory over to the new model, but owners of Beige/AIO Macs or older systems can't use their RAM in the new G4 models (B&W G3 SDRAM is compatible however). In the case of my Genesis for instance, it would cost me about $800 to replace the 512MB of RAM installed in that system, and no other Mac allows as much internal storage, so I'll be keeping that model for a long, long time.


Since CPU upgrade prices change often, always check with XLR8 and their dealers for the latest pricing. As of Nov 21, 1999, the suggested list for the MACh Speed G4z 400MHz was $879. Site sponsors like Bottom Line, Other World Computing and MacGurus often sell for less than list prices however and remember that prices change often - so don't rely on prices listed here after the review date to be accurate.

You may also order direct from XLR8 by calling 1-888-957-8867. If ordered direct from XLR8, the MACh Speed G4z comes with a 30-day money back guarantee from XLR8 and a 2 year warranty. Most dealers offer 30 day returns as well but as policies vary be sure to check this before you order should any problems arise.

Mention this site if you order from sponsors (however note that XLR8 has never been a sponsor as of this review date). I'm working day and night to provide free tech support and the best product reviews for Mac owners (and have since 1997 :-). Your support is appreciated and makes the continued existence of this site possible.

I hope this review has provided you with sufficient information on all aspects of the product, but if you have any further questions or comments you may contact me by email at:

For reviews of other CPU cards at this site, see my CPU Upgrades page. The home page ( has links to reviews of Systems, SCSI controllers, Video cards (incl. 3Dfx), Game related articles, a 500+ Questions Answered FAQ and some of the most useful daily news on the net (updated 6-7 days a week).  

Also check out my unique searchable databases of reader's CPU Upgrade Reports (2600+ reports as of Nov 99), Game Reviews and Video card/Game Performance. No other site has these features. Thanks for stopping by!

Index of XLR8 MACh Speed G4 400MHz Review

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

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