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Review: Powerlogix's 1GHz G4 Upgrade for the Cube
Tests vs Original G4/450 and Dual G4/500
By Mike
Published: 8/19/2002
= Links to Review Topics Pages =
Intro | Benchmarks  | Apps Tests | Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design
Powerlogix was the first to announce and first to ship a CPU upgrade for the Cube, using a 1GHz 7455 G4 CPU. (The same chip used in the Quicksilver 2002 G4 Towers and reportedly in the new G4 towers also, although they use a DDR L3 cache.) Powerlogix provided a review loaner of their PowerForce Series 100 1GHz CPU upgrade with 1MB L3 cache for the Cube, which I've tested against the original G4/450 (single) and a Dual G4/500 module in my Cube. (For full details of my Cube's hardware and software, see the system details listing below.)
Although there have been articles here on modifying Cubes for Apple dual G4/450 and Sonnet Duet Dual G4/500 CPU modules, they require heatsink modifications and have no warranty from the manufacturer. The Powerlogix upgrade comes complete with an attached heatsink made for the Cube and was much easier to install, as well as having an excellent install guide on DVD.

With Apple's latest system pricing, expensive CPU upgrades give many G4 Tower owners pause I think, but I believe that a lot of Cube owners feel as I do; it's a unique system that I'd consider spending that kind of money for a 1GHz CPU upgrade. I personally don't plan to ever sell this Cube, and I will be buying one of the 1GHz upgrades after testing both the Powerlogix and Sonnet models. (Note - as of 2003, I still have not had a loaner from sonnet to test, sorry. But now that prices are under $500 for the 1GHz Cube upgrades, this is tempting for Cube owners.)

This review compares the performance of the original Cube's G4/450 and a Sonnet Duet Dual G4/500 against the Powerlogix 1GHz upgrade. Due to the fact the Duet requires a home-made heatsink/mods to fit in the Cube, those results won't be of primary interest to most Cube owners (unless you have already installed one), but I included it just for curiousity sake and as an indicator of how the Powerlogix upgrade would compare to a Dual G4/500 Gigabit Ethernet. (The Cube has the same 2XAGP slot and PC100/100MHz system bus as the Sawtooth/Gigabit Ethernet, although the results may not be exactly the same as if tested in a Tower system, it should be close.)

Since I've had to do so many complete disassemblies of the Cube, I did not add another variable such as the graphics card - I used the OEM GeForce3 card I bought earlier this year from OWC. (It's the fastest card to date that fits in the Cube, and I'm willing to live with the fan it has for the increased performance.) The installation page of this review has other comments on fans, which are a must for CPU upgrades like this in the Cube.

Until OS X 10.2 is officially available, I've included tests with OS 9.2.2 and OS X 10.1.5. I will be installing 10.2 on the Cube and re-running the tests to see how results compare to 10.1.5 and will update the graphs of results to reflect this. I also plan to test the Sonnet upgrade as soon as it's shipping. (Estimated date was originally August for the Sonnet upgrade, although it has now slipped to September. The Cube install kit availability is also shown as September. I've written to Sonnet to ask if there's any firmer shipping dates. The Sonnet upgrade is listed as having 2MB of DDR L3 cache and with the Cube install kit the total list price of the 1GHz is appx. $730.)

Upgrade pricing varies over time (going down usually), but as of this original review date (August 2002) the 1GHz Powerlogix series 100 sold for $789.95.
Update: as of Feb. 12th, OWC has the Cube 1GHz/2MB Cache upgrade for $495 on the site specials page (but prices availability can change at any time). Check the OWC site specials page for current pricing and availability.

Review Table of Contents:

  1. Benchmark Performance: SpeedRun 1.1.3 (OS X and OS 9), Altivec Fractal demo, CineBench 2000, ThroughPut 1.5 and memory bandwidth tests.

  2. Applications Performance: Tests with iMovie2 (OS X), iTunes3 MP3 encoding/multitasking, Photoshop 7.0 (50MB image/21 filter tests) and Appleworks.

  3. Games Performance: Tests with Quake3, Unreal Tournament, Medal of Honor Allied Assaut and Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

  4. Installation: Comments on installing the upgrade, documentation, installation guides and upgrade kit contents.

  5. Specs/Design: Photos and details of the upgrade's CPU and Cache.

System Compatibility:
The PowerForce G4 1GHz Series 100 is compatible with the following Mac models:

  • Apple G4 Cube (using cube version heatsink)
  • Apple G4/AGP "Sawtooth" (using AGP heatsink/fan)
  • Apple G4/AGP "Gigabit Ethernet" (using AGP heatsink/fan)

Powerlogix also has announced a Series 133 for the 133MHz bus Digital Audio and Quicksilver/Quicksilver 2002 models. The Series 133 upgrades have not yet shipped as of this review date however.

    OS Requirements:
  • OS 9.2.1 or OS 9.2.2
  • OS X 10.1 or later

Other Owner Experiences: For owner ratings of most every CPU upgrade for any upgradeable Mac, search the Rate Your CPU Upgrade database.

Test System Details:

  • Apple G4/450 Cube
  • 512MB RAM (One PC100 CL2 DIMM)
  • 100GB Maxtor (5400 RPM) Hard Drive w/OS 9.2.2 and 10.1.5 partitions
  • DVD ROM drive
  • OEM GeForce3 AGP Graphics Card (ROM 1055)
  • Quicktime 6 (Pro)
  • Virtual Memory Disabled in OS 9
  • Airport active for all tests in OS 9 and OS X

Display used was an Apple 22" DVI Cinema LCD. The hard drive was not optimized. All the OS updates to date had been applied. I used the latest Nvidia drivers I could find (v3.2, from a PowerBook G4/800 hard drive ironically).

You can follow my preferred path through the review by continuing to the next page, or use the links below to jump to a specific page.

Index of PL 1GHz Upgrade Review Pages

Intro | Benchmarks  | Apps Tests | Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design

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