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MAXpowr PB ModuleRating
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Review:Newer Tech's PowerBook G3 466MHz CPU Upgrade
First Shipping CPU Upgrade for PowerBook Wallstreet & Lombard models
By Mike
Published: 8/30/2000
Intro | Benchmarks | Appl/Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design | Summary
UPDATE Jan. 2001: As readers know from reports on the main www.xlr8yourmac.com news page, Newer Tech is now closing so these upgrades are no longer being manufactured. The links in this review, pricing, etc. are therefore not valid. PowerLogix however is still making a similar PB CPU upgrade which requires no trade-in. See the BlueChip G3/500 review for more info.
Introduction

Pros: Provided a dramatic boost over the original CPU (see apps/games test results). Requires no software for cache enabling which should help compatibility with OS X. No apparent negative effect on battery life. Lower voltage CPU runs cooler than original model (55-59C temps reported, compared to 75C max seen with original G3/250 CPU - bottom of Powerbook still gets hot however).

Cons: Requires returning your existing CPU module so your Powerbook will be down for about a week (see Newer's Schedule page and comments on the installation page). Can't overcome bottlenecks like ATI RageLT graphics chip in older Powerbooks.



As with their iMac upgrades (see previous iMaxPowr G4 review), Newer Technology's MAXpowr PowerBook G3 CPU upgrade does what many may have thought we'd never see - allow owners of PowerBook G3 (1998-1999 Wallstreet and Lombard models) to upgrade their CPU. Benchmark and Applications/Game performance was dramatically boosted after installing the upgrade. As of the date of this review, the PB MAXpowr upgrade price ranges from $549 (458MHz CPU/153MHz Cache speed model for PB G3/250 and G3/292 owners) to $599 (466MHz CPU/233MHz Cache speed model for PB G3/233, 266, 300, 333 or 400Mhz owners).

Note About CPU/Cache Speeds: As listed at Newer Tech's product page, there are two speeds of this MAXpowr CPU upgrade. For 83MHz bus speed PowerBook Wallstreet models (250 and 292MHz), your reworked module will run at at a CPU speed of 458MHz with a cache speed of 158MHz (this is due to the fact these modules use ball grid cache which is not available in faster speeds I'm told). The 66MHz bus speed PowerBooks (233, 266, 300, 333 and 400MHz models) will run at a CPU speed of 466MHz with a cache speed of 233MHz.

The module reviewed here was a 466MHz with 233MHz cache speed model that Newer sent as a review loaner (I did not send my G3/250 module in for upgrading). The real world applications performance difference from the 458/152MHz model (had my original module been upgraded) would probably be very close to the 466MHz model since cache speed is far from a major factor in applications performance. (I'd guess less than 5% difference overall.) However MacBench 5 CPU scores are highly influenced by cache speed, so scores would be significantly lower in that benchmark.

It's actually a plus that the review sample (loaner) module was a 466/233 model since that's what most owners will receive. (The number of PB G3/250 or 292 models are far fewer than the total number of 233-400Mhz models, which have easily replaceable cache chips and therefore would be getting a 466/233 upgrade.)

To better clarify the issue of CPU/cache speeds (due to the cache types of the original CPU module), here's a clip from the Newer Tech product page:

Depending upon which PowerBook you have, the 466MHz processor will run at one of two speeds. This table displays what the final speed of the processor will be after the upgrade is complete.

PowerBook 233MHz w/512k cache will run at - CPU 466MHz, Cache 233MHz

PowerBook 250MHz w/1MB cache will run at - CPU 458MHz, Cache 152MHz

PowerBook 266MHz w/1MB cache will run at - CPU 466MHz, Cache 233MHz

PowerBook 292MHz w/1MB cache will run at - CPU 458MHz, Cache 152MHz

PowerBook 300MHz w/1MB cache will run at - CPU 466MHz, Cache 233MHz

PowerBook 333MHz w/512k cache will run at - CPU 466MHz, Cache 233MHz

PowerBook 400MHz w/1MB cache will run at - CPU 466MHz, Cache 233MHz

Owners of the original PB G3/233 without backside cache cannot have the module upgraded (there's no circuit connections for Newer to add backside cache chips on that module - those owners should wait for the Powerlogix PB 'BlueChip' Upgrade to start shipping. A reader noted Outpost informed him that the ship date is expected to be Oct 15th, 2000, but I've written to PL for a firmer date).

The PowerBook MAXpowr G3 upgrade is available now through the Newer Store or by calling 800-824-6669. For more information on the procedure of upgrading your Powerbook, see Newer's page on how the process works which has details on returning your module and more. (Your PowerBook CPU module must be in working order.)


As with most of my CPU Upgrade reviews, this one is divided into several pages covering the following:

Review Tests/Ratings:

  1. BenchMark Performance: Includes MacBench 5.0 CPU, FPU, Disk and Graphics tests. GaugePro memory bandwidth results and FPU performance from a fractal generator are also listed. I've also included notes on Battery Runtime and CPU temperatures.

  2. Applications Performance: How the upgrade performed in real world CPU intensive tests with Photoshop 5.5, Infini-D and iMovie. Due to the lack of OpenGL capability and poor 3d hardware acceleration, only tests of Quake1 (software mode) are included. The Wallstreet's RageLT chip is just too slow for today's 3d games. (The Powerbook Firewire model has a much faster Rage128 chip as noted in tests from my review of that system.)

  3. Installation: Comments and photos of the installation procedure.

  4. Specs/Design: Details on the CPU upgrade hardware.

  5. Summary: Final comments and summary.

Note: I usually include a page describing the use and features of an upgrades Cache Control Software in my CPU upgrade reviews, but it's not applicable to this upgrade since it neither requires nor ships with any cache enabling software. The standard Apple ROM enables the cache - a plus in my opinion, especially for those who plan to run OS X or Linux.


Compatibility:

The MAXpowr PowerBook CPU Upgrade is compatible with the following models:

  • Apple PowerBook G3 1998/1999 models - (233Mhz w/512K cache {cacheless 233Mhz modules cannot be upgraded}, 250MHz, 266MHz, 292MHz, 333MHz and 400MHz models)

    It's not compatible with the first PowerBook G3 (aka Kanga, often called the 3500 since it used a PB 3400 style case and display)


OS Version Compatibility:

Although I suspect any OS that shipped with your Powerbook would work fine, Newer's product page lists OS 9 and higher.



Test System Hardware Summary

  • Apple PowerBook G3 1998 (G3/250)
  • 512MB RAM (two 256MB low-profile SODIMMs were loaned for this review from Transintl.com)
  • IBM Travelstar 20GB (20GB) IDE hard drive (appx 30% full)
    (This is the drive shown in my Wallstreet Hard Drive Upgrade article)
  • Original DVD-ROM drive
  • ATI RageLT onboard video (4MB SDRAM)
  • OS 9.04 w/all updates applied, VM off, QT 4.1 [No Libmoto]

Comparison System(s): In addition to the performance of the original G3/250 CPU module, in some cases I've used results from tests of a PowerBook G3/500 Firewire model (reviewed previously) for comparison.


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 MAXpowr PB G3 CPU Upgrade Review

Intro | Benchmarks | Appl/Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design | Summary

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