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The Source for Mac Performance News and Reviews

Bluechip PB Module

Review:Powerlogix's BlueChip G3 500MHz CPU Upgrade
CPU Upgrade for PowerBook G3 Wallstreet Series
By Mike
Published: 1/26/2001
Intro | Benchmarks | Appl/Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design
Review Snapshot:

Pros: The only company still making these upgrades. [Update - Sonnet announced a PB G3 Wallstreet CPU Upgrade at Macworld NY Expo in July 2001.] No Trade-In required (you keep your original CPU module). Works even with PB G3/233 models w/o backside cache. Provided a dramatic boost over the original PB G3/250 CPU (see apps test results). Requires no software for cache enabling which should help compatibility with OS X. QT Movie Install guide on CD. Includes all tools needed for installation. No apparent negative effect on battery life. Lower voltage CPU runs cooler than original model (51C max temps seen in testing, compared to 75C max seen with original G3/250 CPU - bottom of Powerbook still gets hot however).

Cons: [Update - Search the "Rate Your CPU Upgrade" database for Bluechip owner reports, including updates after months of use and more than the usual number of problem reports in my opinion.] Problems with this sample's cache running at the default (250mhz) rated speed. Can't overcome original equipment bottlenecks like ATI RageLT graphics chip in older Powerbooks. The BlueChip G3/466 model is appx $100 less with only a 33MHz slower CPU, and may be a better value.

Compatible Models: Compatible with the following computers (Apple family number M4753):

  • Powerbook G3 Series 233 (no cache)
  • Powerbook G3 Series 233 (233/117/512KB)
  • PowerBook G3 Series 250 (250/125/1MB)
  • Powerbook G3 Series 266 (266/133/1MB)
  • Powerbook G3 Series 292 (292/146/1MB)
  • Powerbook G3 Series 300 (300/150/1MB)

    BlueChip LS compatible with the following computers (Apple family number M5343 - 1999 PowerBook G3 series):
  • PowerBook G3 "Lombard" (333/177/512KB) - Bronze Keyboard
  • PowerBook G3 "Lombard" (400/200/1MB) - Bronze Keyboard

(Update: As of August 2001, the Lombard version of this upgrade is still not available.)

Not compatible with the first PowerBook G3 (aka 3500 or Kanga, based on the 3400 case). 3 year limited warranty.

Bus Speed: 66MHz
Adjustable?: No
Cache Enabler: None Reqd. (normally)

Summary Comments:
I was pleased overall with this upgrade after solving this sample's stability problems. I was told that the cache chips on this sample were not what they should have been (appeared to be 200mhz parts from the part numbers -see Specs/Design page of review.) It's nice to not have to trade in your existing module as was required with the Newer Tech upgrade. If not for the fact my PB G3/250 PCCard slots had failed last year (either the cage or the controller), I'd probably consider buying one of these for my Wallstreet.
Many still consider the Wallstreet (as I do) a great notebook, with SCSI, serial, ADB, dual drive bays and the finest keyboard I've ever seen on a portable. With the BlueChip G3/500 in my Wallstreet, my everyday work applications felt just as fast as using a PB G3/500 (Pismo).
For BlueChip upgrade owner reports, search our Rate Your CPU Upgrade database. [Update: This was a review loaner used for a few weeks, for longer term reports and a larger sample, see the reports in the Rate Your CPU Upgrade database, which have more than I'd consider a normal number of problem reports overall, which give me pause in recommending this upgrade in general, until the cause of these problems are found. Not everyone had problems, but even some that raved about the upgrade at first later reported problems.]

Availability:
The BlueChip G3/500 original list prices was $699 as of the date of this review. (Prices dropped dramatically later in the year, so see the Powerlogix pricing page and dealers like OWC's site specials page for current pricing and availability.)


Introduction

After some delays on availability, there appears to now be a good supply of the 500MHz BlueChip G3 upgrades from Powerlogix. Benchmark and Applications/Game performance was dramatically boosted in my PB G3/250 after installing the upgrade. There were some problems with the upgrade initially, which required using their cache control software to reduce the cache speed to 200mhz for stability.

About This Review Sample: One thing I want to note before you read the performance tests. The loaner sample provided for review was a demo model that had problems running at the default 250MHz cache speeds (errors in extended RAM tests, some apps, etc.) Powerlogix suggested I download and install their G3/G4 Cache Profiler and set the cache speed to 200MHz. The upgrade was totally reliable after that. Powerlogix commented this sample had cache (chips) that required the lower speeds. Checking the part numbers on the cache chips verified that they were not 250Mhz rated parts on this sample. (For other reports from Bluechip owners, search the Rate Your CPU Upgrade database.)

Although cache speed is far from a major factor in most real world apps, there may be some slight gain from the faster cache speed, so consider that when evaluating the performance comparisons included in this review. My previous tests of the Newer Tech PB G3/466 upgrade were with 512MB of RAM installed, but those dimms were loaners. The Bluechip tests used 192MB RAM installed, but otherwise the same Application/Benchmark RAM allocation, same OS version, extensions, drive, etc. as with previous tests.


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 Also includes 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, iMovie and Sherlock searches of the hard drive. Due to the lack of OpenGL capability and poor 3d hardware acceleration with my PB G3/250's RageLT chip, only tests of Quake1 (software mode) are included.

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

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

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.




Test System Hardware Summary

  • Apple PowerBook G3 1998 (G3/250)
  • 192MB RAM (one 128MB and one 64MB low-profile SODIMMs)
  • IBM Travelstar 20GB (20GB) IDE hard drive (appx 40% 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 Bluechip PB G3 CPU Upgrade Review

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

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