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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
*Real World* Performance Tests
Intro | Benchmarks | Appl/Game Tests | Installation | Specs/Design
Applications and Game Performance

This page lists test results in common Mac applications like Photoshop 5.5, Infini-D and iMovie 1.02. Since the Wallstreet's RageLT graphics chip is too slow for modern 3D games, I've only included results with Quake 1 in software mode. (Wallstreet2/Lombard models have the faster RageProLT chip, which has better performance, 8MB of video RAM (vs 4MB for my Wallstreet) but still fill-rate limited compared to the far more advanced Rage128 Mobility chip used in the new Powerbook firewire models.)

Had my Powerbook's PCcard slots not failed last year, I'd have liked to perform more tests such as DV movie capture, etc., however none of my Firewire PCcards nor even my DVD decoder card works anymore. The faster CPU would have been a real plus I suspect for capture, since many firewire PC cards note a minimum of a G3/300 for DV capture use. iMovie export time was reduced dramatically with the CPU upgrade over the original G3/250 CPU as noted below.

As always, a clean reboot was performed before running each test. All results on this page used the application's (or game's) built-in timing function whenever possible to eliminate human error variations possible when starting and stopping a timer/stopwatch. (iMovie tests required a stopwatch however, as it has no built-in timing feature when exporting files.)

Sample files provided with the applications and the publicly available PSBench 21 filter action script were used so that readers could easily compare their results to mine.


Photoshop 5.5 Tests:

The table below shows the results of PSBench (21 filter test) series between the original Wallstreet G3/250 and the same system with the Bluechip G3/500 CPU Upgrade as well as a Newer Tech (now RIP) G3/466 upgrade previously reviewed.
The total time to complete the 21 filters is shown. PSBench settings are 1024x768, millions colors, VM off, Interpolation set to bicubic (better) and Photoshop should be allocated enough RAM (120MB for this review) to avoid any swap file activity from the 10MB test image filter actions.

Photoshop's own timing was used to avoid errors possible with a stopwatch. Each filter is run 3 times and the average time listed. I list all 21 filters so that Pshop users can see the benefits to specific filters they may use more often.

PS5Bench Test
(10MB Image File)

PB Wallstreet
w/BlueChip G3/500

500MHz CPU Speed
1MB Cache at 200MHz
66MHz Bus
192MB RAM
ATI RageLT (4MB)
PB Wallstreet
w/MAXpowr G3/466

466MHz CPU Speed
1MB Cache at 233MHz
66MHz Bus
512MB RAM
ATI RageLT (4MB)
PB Wallstreet
(Original CPU)

250MHz CPU Speed
1MB Cache at 125MHz
83MHz Bus
512MB RAM
ATI RageLT (4MB)

Gain
BlueChip
VS
PB G3/250

Rotate 90

0.8

0.8

1.2

1.5x

Rotate 9

3.0

3.1

4.8

1.6x

Rotate .9

2.8

2.9

4.5

1.6x

Gaussian Blur 1

1.5

1.6

2.1

1.4x

Gaussian Blur 3.7

3.6

3.7

5.1

1.4x

Gaussian Blur 85

4.6

4.7

6.6

1.4x

Unsharp 50/1/0

1.9

1.9

2.7

1.4x

Unsharp 50/3/7/0

4.0

4.1

5.8

1.5x

Unsharp 50/10/5

4.1

4.2

5.8

1.4x

Despeckle

2.3

2.4

3.9

1.7x

RGB-CMYK

4.2

4.4

8.1

1.9x

Reduce Size 60%

1.2

1.2

2

1.7x

Lens Flare

4.2

4.3

7.0

1.7x

Color Halftone

3.5

3.6

5.9 

1.7x

NTSC Colors

3.6

3.8

6.7

1.9x

Accented Edges

9.1

9.7

17.8

2x

Pointillize

12.8

13.4

24.7

1.9x

Water Color

19.1

20.1

37

1.9x

Polar Coordinates

5.1

5.3

8.9

1.7x

Radial Blur

31.0

32.4

56.6

1.8x

Lighting Effects

7.6

8.1

14.7

1.9x

PS5Bench Index

130.0 Sec.

135.7 Sec.

231.9 Sec.

1.8x

System

PB Wallstreet
w/BlueChip G3/500

500MHz CPU Speed
1MB Cache at 200MHz
66MHz Bus
192MB RAM
ATI RageLT (4MB)
PB Wallstreet
w/MAXpowr G3/466

466MHz CPU Speed
1MB Cache at 233MHz
66MHz Bus
512MB RAM
ATI RageLT (4MB)
PB Wallstreet
(Original CPU)

250MHz CPU Speed
1MB Cache at 125MHz
83MHz Bus
512MB RAM
ATI RageLT (4MB)

Gain
BlueChip
VS
PB G3/250

Note: A PowerBook G3/500 (Firewire) model took 124.6 seconds for this test (OS 9.04, VM off, same PS RAM allocation, 256MB RAM). A G4/450 AGP system took 116.8 seconds, An Athlon 600Mhz PC took 138.7 seconds. For more comparisons of Photoshop performance, see the Systems page and and previous G4/G3 CPU upgrade reviews.

Load/Save Comparisons: I also timed how long it took to launch Photoshop 5.5, load the 10MB PSbench.tif file and save it as a Photoshop file (PSD format). The small difference in the G3/466 vs G3/500 upgrades made no difference in this test with results rounded to one decimal place. (considering margin of error for stopwatch timing).

Photoshop Load/Save Tests
(all times in seconds)
Test
Stock
PB G3/250
W/MaxPowr
G3/466/233
W/BlueChip
G3/500/200
Launch
PShop 5.5
6.5
5.2
5.2
Load 10MB
TIF File
2.5
2.1
2.1
SaveAs
PSD File
2.4
2.3
2.2


Sherlock Searching Tests: I also timed how long it took search the 20GB hard drive using Sherlock. The drive was not indexed prior to tests. Total files found were over 6,500 (I have mirrors of my web sites on the drive). (Considering the margin of error for stopwatch timing, results are rounded to the nearest second.)

  • PB G3/250: 17 seconds
  • PB w/Bluechip G3/500/200: 11 seconds
iMovie 1.02 Tests

I used the iMovie tutorial project as a test for performance, simply assembling all the clips back-to-back (no transitions). This way it's easier for the reader to duplicate my test (since transitions would introduce an almost infinite number of possible variations). I exported the file using the CDROM medium size option, recording the time it took to complete the movie. Had the PCCard slots been working, I would have also tested for DV capture/printing to the camera, but either the card cage or the controller chip is bad in my Wallstreet, as no Firewire PCcard will work (nor will the DVD decoder card). (This happened shortly after upgrading the hard drive, after using a firewire PCcard to copy over files and had nothing to do with the CPU upgrade.)

The graph below shows times to complete the export to a 'CDROM medium size' movie with the Wallstreet PB G3/250 before and after the Bluechip G3/500 (200MHz cache) CPU upgrade. The reason the Newer Tech G3/466 times are not shown is that due to changes in the disk state (free space/fragmentation) or the fact that review had 512MB of RAM (loaner) installed in my wallstreet, iMovie test times were longer in this review that the previous review. Despite having the same RAM allocated to iMovie, the BlueChip G3/500 took about 30 seconds longer than the G3/466 upgrade from the previous review. After seeing the longer times with the faster Bluechip, I retested the original G3/250 CPU and found it took almost 2 minutes longer than before.

iMovie Test Results

As you can see the CPU upgrade nearly cut times in half. I didn't include results with the PowerBook G3/500 as the only system I had access to was one with a nearly full disk. The times on that system were hard to believe, taking over 16 minutes to complete the exact same export. I can only guess the state of the hard drive (80% full and fragmented) was a primary factor. The Wallstreet's 20GB IBM drive is faster than the OEM Pismo drive plus a 2MB cache. I still found the times on the PB G3/500 hard to believe, even after witnessing the tests personally.



Infini-D 4.01 Tests

I used the same 'Chapter 7 completed' tutorial scene file from my past reviews. Rendering quality was set to Ray Trace, medium anti-aliasing, shadows on, patch detail low. I didn't change the default QT movie output file options.

The graph below shows times to complete the 150 frame movie (10.6MB) rendering with an PB G3/500 Firewire (G3/500MHz with 200MHz cache) previously reviewed (running OS 9.0) compared to my Wallstreet PB G3/250 before and after the Bluechip G3/500 (running 200MHz cache) and MaxPowr G3/466/233 CPU upgrades (All tests run using OS 9.04, VM off. Infini-D was allocated 40MB of RAM for the tests.

Infini-D 4.01 results


The only reason I can guess for the PB G3/500 being slightly slower was the fact it had USB and Firewire extensions enabled (these extensions are not used/needed with the Wallstreet since it has no onboard USB or Firewire ports).



Game Performance Tests:

Unlike my other CPU reviews, I only tested in Quake1 (software mode) since the my Wallstreet's RageLT graphics chip is just too slow to be a 3D gaming machine. Even Rave Quake runs under 10FPS, and to be honest, software mode looks about as good to my eyes and is much more playable on this machine. (Note: the Wallstreet2/Mainstreet (2nd generation models of PB G3/233, 266 and 300mhz) and the Lombard (bronze keyboard) models have a somewhat better RageProLT chip. However it's still not as 3D capable as the PB G3 Firewire and later models.)

Although Quake1 is not nearly as demanding on graphics chips as current 3D games like Quake3, Rave Quake was just too slow to be playable. As shown in the PowerBook Firewire review game tests, the Rage128 Mobility is a giant leap forward in 3D/gaming performance. I still love this wallstreet however, and it has been a solid workhorse as far as serious applications for over two years, and will be for some time to come.

For curiosity sake, here's the Quake 1 (v1.09/50MB allocated) software mode timedemo 1 results at 640x480 before and after the upgrade.

  • PB G3/250: 18.6 FPS
  • PB w/Newer Tech G3/466/233: 25.7 FPS
  • PB w/Bluechip G3/500/200: 26.1 FPS

Other games that run in software mode should show benefits as well from the faster CPU. A faster CPU however can't force the graphics chip to exceed its limits as far as fill rate. (An analogy would be the graphics card is a bucket with a hole in the bottom, if the output hole is limited in size, pouring water faster into the bucket won't make the output stream larger.)

The next page includes comments and photos on installation. Or you may 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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