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

Due to the design of the Powerbook, installing a CPU upgrade is more involved than most any another Mac model except an iMac. I received a review loaner that had already been flashed with the ROM, so I can't comment on that part of the procedure, but the Powerlogix manual and Quicktime movie on the supplied CD covers that step. I will note some tips and photos on the install.

NOTE: This page is for reference only, not a replacement for the users/owners manual. Read and follow all instructions in the manual (including your Powerbook manual as well as the CPU upgrade manual) for complete instructions and precautions before attempting this upgrade.

Supplied Tools and Accessories: Powerlogix includes a screwdriver for removing the heatsink/cover retaining screws, a tube of thermal compound, a disc heatsink and a handy CPU module removal tool (a nice plus) in the package. The photo below shows these items:

bluechip accessories

Installing The New CPU Module

Step 1: Before You Install the BlueChip Module: The steps below cover removing/installing the hardware, and assume the procedure of saving the original CPU module's ROM file to the hard drive has already been performed. The BlueChip manual covers the ROM save procedure in detail; you run a utility which does the ROM file save and at first boot the ROM file is copied to the BlueChip module. This does not have to be repeated as the ROM is permanently stored on the BlueChip card after the first boot.

To save space in this article, I'm not repeating steps on how to remove the keyboard, which is shown in the owners manual and in my 1998 illustrated Wallstreet RAM upgrade article. (Remove the Battery and CD drive, and use the latches inside the bays to release the keyboard which slides back and flips over to expose the CPU/Hard drive area.) The steps below assume the keyboard is already removed. Always touch the metal chassis to discharge any static electricity build-up, and use the anti-static wrist strap provided with the upgrade for maximum protection. Also make sure the AC adapter is disconnected from the PowerBook.

Step 2: Remove the CPU Heatsink Screws

You first have to remove the CPU heatsink/cover plate, which is retained by the two philips (+) head screws I'm pointing to in the photo to the right.

Once these screws are removed, the heatsink/coverplate has a small wire 'handle' near the front that is an aid to lifting it off.

Heatsink Retaining Screws

Step 3: Remove the CPU Cover/Heatsink

Once the screws are removed, grasp the wire lift handle in front of the cover and lift it up to release the heatsink, pulling it toward you once the edges are clear. (As part of my 1998 WS RAM upgrade article, I took a photo of the bottom of the heatsink. The underside of the heatsink/cover has conductive pads that isolate the CPU from shock and vibration while also allowing heat to be conducted away from the CPU.)

Lift off heatsink/cover

Step 4: Remove the CPU Module

The CPU module has two protrusions (tab-like) at the left side that extend into the metal cage. On the right side underside of the module has two connectors that mate with the motherboards.

It's a bit easier to pry up the CPU module if the hard drive is removed, although I did not do this. (If you want to see how to remove the drive, see this page of my Wallstreet HD Upgrade article.) What makes things a bit difficult is the Powerbook casing overhangs the area of the CPU module making it a bit difficult to remove the module. The supplied PowerLogix removal tool helps to pop loose the module from the connectors underneath as shown in the photo below:

pry up cpu module

Step 5: Remove the RAM modules:

Making sure you've touched the metal chassis (and wear the wrist strap provided), remove the RAM modules from the old CPU module by pressing out (carefully) on the two side tabs retaining the module. (There are two slots, one on the top and bottom.) The SODIMM will then pop up, allowing it to be removed. Install the SODIMMs in the BlueChip CPU module. Avoid touching the SODIMM's connector contacts or chip leads.

removing ram sodimms

Step 6: Installing the BlueChip Module

The install is basically the reverse of the removal, but take care when positioning the module back in the 'cage'. As mentioned before, the 'overhang' of the black plastic PB case requires a little 'wrangling' to get the module back in. Make sure to align the two protrusions on the left side of the module with the openings in the 'cage' and then slide the module to the left while gently pressing down to mate with the two motherboard connectors on the right side. You can feel when the connectors are aligned - don't force anything.

Once you're sure the module is positioned correctly, press down to make sure the connectors are fully seated. (Don't press on the Memory Dimm.) There's a small aluminum block at the front corner on the right side that serves as a 'stop' to indicate when the module is bottomed out/seated properly.

making sure the module is fully seated

Step 7: Apply the Disc Heatsink

Although the manual said to put the disc heatsink on the thermal pad on the underside of the original cover, it would not 'stick' well enough to stay on when inverting the cover. Instead I applied a small amount of the thermal compound (only a small mount is needed and only in the center area where the raised CPU chip rectangle is) and pressed it down. I used my finger to move the disc around a bit to make sure the thermal compound layer was compressed and there was as firm a contact as possible with the CPU chip. The photo below shows the disc in position and ready to install the original cover plate.

Disc Heatsink

Step 8: Replace the Cover Plate and Buttoning Up.

Now that the CPU module is reinstalled, simply replace the cover and secure it with the screws removed in the previous steps. Tip: I always tighten the screw in the middle of the cover first, to make sure that the contact area over the CPU chip is compressed first before the edge retaining screw.

Once the cover plate is secured, flip the keyboard back over and insert the metal tabs into the PB case and press down to lock it in place. Then reinstall the bay devices (battery and CDRom).

The Bluechip upgrade requires no cache control software, but you can use Powerlogix's Profiler or similar utils to check the CPU, cache and bus speeds as well as CPU temperatures. The G3/500 runs cooler than the G3/250 module (51C-59C vs 75C Max with the original CPU) due primarily to a lower voltage CPU, despite the higher clock speed.

First Boot Notes: Although the review loaner module already had the ROM flashed, Powerlogix's manual notes that for the first boot you will not hear a normal startup tone, as the ROM file saved to the hard drive from the original module is flashed into the Bluechip module on the first boot. (This is a one-time step.) Here's a quote from the manual on what happens at the first boot:

" Press the PowerBook startup button [power button]. Your PowerBook will not sound a normal startup tone. The hard drive will spin up and the video screen will turn on.

The screen will display various bootup information (including the new clock speed of your PowerBook) and a progress bar at the bottom of the screen while the ROM data is backed up onto the BlueChip card.

After a minute or so, the PowerBook will shut down.

Press the startup button again. Your PowerBook should boot up with the normal startup tone and be running at the new clock speed. Run the PowerLogix Profiler to confirm the new clock speed as well as cache size and speed."

Troubleshooting: If there are any problems powering up, make sure the battery is fully seated or that the AC adapter is plugged in if there is no battery installed or the battery is drained. If problems persist, double check the steps above to make sure the CPU module was fully seated (as well as RAM). PowerLogix tech support can assist if needed.

The next page of the review covers some basic info and specs on the hardware (CPU and Cache) of the Bluechip PB G3 CPU upgrade.

Index of Bluechip PB G3 CPU Upgrade Review

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

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