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The Source for Mac Performance News and Reviews

Review:Powerlogix's BlueChip G3 500MHz CPU Upgrade
CPU Upgrade for PowerBook G3 Wallstreet Series
By Mike
Published: 1/26/2001
MacBench 5.0, Fractal/Memory Benchmark Results, CPU Temperatures, Battery Life
Intro | Benchmarks | Appl/Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design
Benchmark Tests

Benchmark tests were run with MacBench 5.0 as it was previously used in reviews and allows for comparisons to other systems. Note it's no longer available (ZD/net says they're working on a new Mac benchmarking program now) and I don't know any sources for it. I've also included results of memory bandwidth tests using Newer Tech's GaugePro and results with a Fractal (Mandelbrot) program which reports MegaFlops/sec as an indication of floating point performance before and after the upgrade.

Remember the most important results are on the next page of the review which covers real world applications and game performance. This is where the "rubber meets the road" so to speak. Benchmarks have their place, but actual applications performance is what really matters.


MacBench 5.0 Tests: Details of the systems shown in the graph of results.

  • The original PowerBook G3/250 system
    (OS 9.04, VM Off, 20GB IBM Drive, 83MHz bus speed, 125MHz cache speed)

  • The same system with the BlueChip G3/500 upgrade installed
    (66MHz bus speed, 200MHz cache speed. The standard 250MHz cache speed results are also included except for the Graphics test, which would not complete with this demo sample that had sub-standard cache, as noted on the intro page.)

  • The same system with a Newer Tech G3/466 upgrade installed
    (66MHz bus speed, 233MHz cache speed)

  • A PowerBook G3/500 Firewire
    (OS 9.0, VM Off, original 12GB drive, 100MHz bus speed, 200Mhz cache speed)

The graph below compares my Wallstreet G3/250 before and after the upgrades, as well as results of the PowerBook G3/500 Firewire model previously reviewed.

MacBench 5.0 Results
Macbench 5.0 results

I can only guess that the PB G3/466 & Bluechip G3/500 MacBench CPU scores were slightly higher than the PowerBook G3/500 due to the Wallstreet having less extensions (no USB or Firewire extensions, which the PB Firewire has for its built-in ports), or perhaps the fact the PB Firewire used OS 9.0, vs 9.04.

Notes: Some explanation of the MacBench scores and test system components.

  • Disk Scores: The Wallstreet PB hard drive performance is higher than the PB G3/500 Firewire's models 12GB drive due to the fact I upgraded to a very fast IBM 20GB hard drive recently (the procedure is show in this article, as well as comparisons of drive performance before and after the upgrade).

  • Graphics Scores: Tests run at 1024x768, thousands colors. My Wallstreet PB G3/250 has the ATI RageLT graphics chip, which is slower than later Wallstreet 2/Mainstreet and Lombard models RageProLT chip, and much slower (especially in 3D/games) than the current PowerBook Firewire models' Rage128 Mobility chip which also has twice the video RAM of my Wallstreet - 8MB vs 4MB. (Althought the Lomboard models have 8MB of VRAM, the Rage128 Mobility is a more advanced, better performing chip. See the PB G3/500 full review for 3D/game performance.)


Fractal FPU Benchmark:

I also used a freeware Altivec Fractal demo program (available here) to compare FPU performance with the original G3/250 and the G3/466 Upgrade. (MegaFlops/sec = Millions of Floating Point Operations per Second)

  • Original PB G3/250: 159.9 MegaFlops/sec
  • With MAXPowr G3/466/233: 293.0 MegaFlops/sec
  • With BlueChip G3/500/200: 319.2 MegaFlops/sec

As expected, the CPU upgrades nearly doubled performance in this test.


Memory Bandwidth Tests:

I used Newer Tech's freeware Gauge Pro to test Memory Bandwidth before and after the CPU upgrade. Due to the lower bus speed, memory bandwidth was actually about 3MB/sec less with the G3/466 (233MHz cache speed/66MHz bus speed) vs. the original G3/250 (125MHz cache speed/83MHz bus speed) - 74.7MB/sec vs just over 71MB/sec.

  • Original PB G3/250: 74.4MB/sec
  • With MAXPowr G3/466/233: 71MB/sec
  • With BlueChip G3/500/200: 72.6MB/sec

For comparison, a PB G3/500 (200MHz cache speed, 100MHz bus) reported 89.3MB/sec but GaugePro scores vary more than I'd like sometimes. (222 vs 322 PC100 SODIMMs also affect results.) In actual applications, this tiny difference in memory bandwidth would not have any measurable effect, even if CPU speeds were identical. CPU speed is the primary performance factor as you'll see on the next page of applications performance.


CPU Temperatures:

I also used GaugePro's CPU junction (internal) temperature reporting feature to compare readings before and after the upgrade. (The CPU temperature was checked immediately after the Infini-D 30+ minute rendering test.)

  • Original PB G3/250: 75C (max)
  • With MAXPowr G3/466/233: 59C (max)
  • With BlueChip G3/500/200: 51C (max)

The lower temperatures with the upgrades are due to the fact that CPU runs at a lower core voltage, which offsets the higher clock speed. For reference, I've seen PowerBook G3/500 models hit near 60C temperatures (indicated) after extended use. (The new Powerbooks have a fan that will turn on once CPU temperatures exceed about 55C in my experience.)

My Wallstreet PB G3/250 has run 75C reported temperatures since I've owned it (summer 1998) with no ill effects other than the bottom getting very hot. The original CPU is rated for either 85C or 105C. (I can't check this due to the CPU markings being covered by the disc shaped heatsink.) Desktop G3 CPUs are usually rated for 65C max operating temperatures I believe.


Battery Runtime:

As I noted on the MAXpowr G3/466 review, despite the higher clock speed, the lower core voltage of the G3/500 seems to have no negative effect on battery life compared to the original G3/250 CPU.

The next page of the review covers performance in real-world applications.


Index of Bluechip PB G3 CPU Upgrade Review

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

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