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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Classic Macs and Mac OS > CPU Upgrade Cards... Newer vs. Sonnets

CPU Upgrade Cards... Newer vs. Sonnets
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Fresh-Faced Recruit
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Oct 26, 2000, 08:47 PM
 
I have a 604e Powertower 180 mhz. I want to make a processor upgrade, i think to a 500 G3. Sonnet and Newer have the same priced cards(counting rebates), and I cant decide which to buy. Which is better and/or faster. Please respond quickly, Thanks.
     
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Oct 27, 2000, 08:08 AM
 
Because of the bus speed limits, You may be spending extra on speed you fully can't take advantage of or would see any real performance difference than if you selected a 400MHz G3 board and chip with 1 MB backside cache. I'd recommend Newer or XLR8 Zif Carrier (which I have in a PM 7600). I had a Newer 300 MHz G3 in the past. They tend to cost more but have a good reputation and support. XLR8 is cheaper but requires mounting the chip to the board. Newer is easier to pop in. Your little machine will zip along quite nicely with either.
     
serranot
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Oct 27, 2000, 11:28 AM
 
I just installed the Sonnet G3-L2 320-350mhz upgrade card in my Powerbase desktop. I LOVE IT. The machine positively screams compared to before the upgrade. Some more RAM and a bigger HD and this thing will be usable for another 2 years.

Tom
     
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Oct 28, 2000, 03:19 PM
 
I put an OEM pull(Moto-Alum-400) from OWC in an XLR8 carrier a year ago, and have been running at 454MHz since March. The XLR8 card is the better of the group if you want to push the processor to its full ability. The XLR8 card can adjust Main Bus speed in 20KHz steps, mine, an old 8500, is running at 56.8MHz. All 3 are reputable and should give you trouble free use at the rated clockspeed tho... you can get where you want for speed with a carrier and an IBM Copper 450, should be able to get it a little bit over 500...and 450's are about half the price of 500's. Your powertower should be able to hit 60 MHz for the Bus speed. Macs of that era are lucky to get over 50 MHz, I was very lucky with my 8500.

Zack
     
Gromit
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Nov 3, 2000, 07:52 PM
 
http://www.xlr8yourmac.com has a searchable database of user's reports on upgrade cards they've installed. I myself have a PowerTower Pro and have ordered a Newer Tech card based on reports on that site. Good luck!
     
The Wolfe
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Nov 3, 2000, 08:14 PM
 
I put a Sonnet L2 300MHz G3 upgrade card into my UMAX C500, and it's worked very well and I love the speed. My only gripe is that the heat sink on the card is a little small - the chip origionally ran at roughly 150 degrees F. I mounted a fan inside the case myself and got the temp down to 100F, which helps me sleep better at night since the I leave the system on 24X7 (and I have it complely full of cards, RAM and a 7200RPM drive. I'd say the temp issue was mainly caused by the cruddy UMAX case design and not the card, and it never acted up - I just didn't like how hot it was running.

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Eliott Wolfe
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Nov 11, 2000, 01:24 PM
 
I have purchased from both Newer and Sonnet (for different machines) and Sonnet tends to upgrade their drivers faster and more reliably.

When I made the switch from Mac OS 8 to 9 -- Newer took forever to work the bugs out of their drivers (this was also happening during Newer's financial problems, which might explain why there was a problem).
     
Professional Poster
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Nov 11, 2000, 02:43 PM
 
Sonnet's always made first-rate cards. You can't overclock them, but their cards are stable, drivers are excellent and frequently updated (when needed), and their customer service is friendly as well.

Newer still has a somewhat questionable future and they've frequently stopped supporting their products past certain OS releases, which I feel is unacceptable ("Well, now that OS 8.6 is out, let me take out this PowerBook 1400 upgrade from Newer--which is incompatible and which won't be updated--and go back to the compatible and slower Apple chip." -- that attitude really rubs people the wrong way).

[This message has been edited by Misha (edited 12-02-2000).]
     
Trout
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Nov 12, 2000, 05:24 AM
 
A few things to concider:
Newertech cards can be very picky about the ram you have installed. XLR8 is without any doubt the best choice when working with audio/video hw/sw, in terms of compability. Pricey though.
     
Grizzled Veteran
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Nov 12, 2000, 12:40 PM
 
Small Dog is a good company and I think they've had some Powerlogix cards. Don't know what you need, but also top quality copper. Outpost had Sonnet G3/500 zif (what I need) for under $400.

Gregory
     
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Nov 13, 2000, 06:34 PM
 
I used to work for a Mac shop and we recommended Sonnet over Newer because they were more reliable. More people with Newer cards came in our shop with problems with Newer cards. Sonnet may be a little more expensive, but I think they are better in the long run.
     
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Dec 2, 2000, 06:45 AM
 
Misha,
Just to correct you, the Sonnet cards CAN be over-clocked. I bought a G3 L2 running at 300 MHz and now have it over-clocked to 400 MHz. It is done by running a patch on the Crescendo extention. Check out http://hometown.aol.com/tmk12v/home.html
for more details.
     
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Dec 2, 2000, 02:05 PM
 
Can you overclock a Newer G3?
     
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Dec 2, 2000, 04:23 PM
 
I am going to buy a Newer G4 zif. The thing I like about Newer's approach is that it is all HW. They allso have good prospects of OSX compatibility, since there are already drivers available on their site.

I have a question-Can I buy a G4 PCI upgrade, take the G4 and swap it w/my current G3, and still use the PCI card as a G3 upgrade for an 8600?
     
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Dec 2, 2000, 07:32 PM
 
When these cards first came out I read up on every thing about them I could find. Newer was rated #1 and Sonnet was at the bottom of the list. Its your money and good luck.
Griz
G4 Quicksilver 2002 800Mhz CD-RW Zip 250 15 inch LCD Apple Studio Display HPdeskjet 940c OS X 10.3.2
     
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Dec 2, 2000, 11:23 PM
 
I work for a Mac shop in Manhattan. I see LOTS of Macs and quite a wide range of configurations. In fact, it's the most interesting part of my job. I've seen quite a number of Newer, Sonnet, XLR8, PowerLogix, Vimage, and other upgrade cards. I've seen every manufacturer's cards fail.

However, I recommend without hesitation, NewerTech's cards over the others. Here's why:

Newer takes a hardware approach to manufacturing as opposed to a software approach. Especially in regards to speculative processing, Newer's cards are far superior as Sonnet/others rely on software to accomplish this, whereas Newer's cards have it built into the hardware. Don't confuse this with the software that all the manufacturer's include with their cards which enables the backside cache on the cards.

And despite Newer's financial quagmire of several months ago, I believe they've turned their financial straits around and are a much more sound company. They've made smart decisions recently and are doing much as Apple/Jobs did in 97 to pull themselvs out of a similar situation.

Bottom line is, Newer still makes some high quality upgrade cards and shouldn't be counted out.

This is not to knock Sonnet or the others. They make decent upgrade cards. My professional opinion, however, is that Newer provides better tech support and hardware for your money.

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Damien Barrett
http://www.mrbarrett.com
     
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Dec 3, 2000, 06:44 AM
 
When I buy memory from Crucial, I know that it is made by Micron. When I bought Powerlogix it is IBM copper (version 2.1, quite old at this point) and because it was a zif there isn't any customizing except that it has a dial to allow 0.5 multiplier adjustments (100 mhz bus, 50 mhz increments). Simple, uncomplicated, no attempt to change front side bus.

PCI cards and L2 cards are very different and more complex and do have problems to trick the ROMs and motherboard, and therefore whose you end up choosing.

And what was true two years ago about each company changes and is different for each. Copper Zif are going to do very well most of the time, but not all apparently going by reports in the "Upgrade Your Mac" database over on www.xlr8yourmac.com which is real world. Because with thousands of entries, and uniqenesses in each line of Macs, it is impossible to make any flat assertion.
     
Tom WC
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Dec 3, 2000, 12:29 PM
 
I have a newer 400 G3 1 MB card in my 9500 - have had it for over a year and it works great. Newer posted an updated driver recently that didn't hurt matters. There is a caveat, though, which may or may not have been fixed with the update. I went through hell trying to update from 8.6 to 9.0 about 5 months back, a real lost weekend. It turns out (and I basically had to discover this - only to be finally confirmed by newer tech support) that you can not upgrade operating system based software unless you pull the card and reinstall your old (original) card. Bad enough if you have a 9600 or more recent machine, but with a 9500 (User friendly to open up it is not) this was not music to my ears. Besides OS updates this problem also occured when I decided to update Quicktime as well. It was a good thing that I had my old card to work with.
I have had no opportunity to check if this problem has been fixed. One might want to check with Newer on this issue.

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Tom W.C.
     
Dinsdale Piranha
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Dec 3, 2000, 02:58 PM
 
Another issue that might be important. I remember (but haven't been able to refind it) seeing a review somewhere that indicated that only one manufacturer had PRAM supplied with the chip. Others required the user to reset the PRAM on the motherboard, so necessitating the replacement of the new chip with the old chip if the user needed to reset the motherboard PRAM. Hope that makes sense. And based on the earlier discussion, I suspect the manufacturer might have been Newer?

Andrew
     
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Dec 3, 2000, 10:22 PM
 
I'm using a Sonnet Crescendo PCI G3/400 in a PM 7500 with OS 8.6 and am very happy with it. This is a non-upgradeable (the processor is soldered in) card, but with the bus limitations of the 7500, I don't think it's likely that I would want to go to a faster processor anyway.

I second Gromit's recommendation that you check out the user reviews at http://www.xlr8yourmac.com There's a wealth of info there.

You might look into Formac upgrades, too. These don't need a system software extension (unlike the Sonnet) and have switch selectable clock speeds. I'm using their G3/466/1M ZIF in my beige G3 MT and love it! Also, the prices on these (I got mine for $275 at TransIntl.com) are a little lower than Sonnet, Newer or XLR8.
     
David S
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Dec 4, 2000, 02:08 AM
 
I have a Newer 250 Mhz G3 card in my PowerCenter 132 Desktop. I have it clocked to 266 Mhz and it runs like a charm! Had it for almost two years now. Also I had 8.6 on this system and upgraded to 9.0.4 with no problem... didn't have to put the old 604 in or anything.
All the reviews I have read show that Newer has the fastest and most compatible card. Sonnet cards are usually the slowest.
     
Sonnet victim
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Dec 21, 2000, 10:08 AM
 
I was recently burned by Sonnet on a card listed on their site as being compatible with my video card (which Sonnet also sold me). Turns out it wasn't, but I had to go through hell to troubleshoot the problem, THEN they admitted the problem. They also admitted they never even bothered to test with the card until other customers began to report the problem. Problem is, they STILL list the upgrade card as being compatible with the video card to this day! I have an older Sonnet G3 upgrade that I've been very happy with, and I'm very disappointed and disillusioned with Sonnet because of this recent experience, I can't recommend their products.
     
joe@cc
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Dec 29, 2000, 02:28 PM
 
I think I would stick with Sonnet since Newer closed its doors.

Joe
     
SupersonicFrog
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Jan 11, 2001, 01:23 PM
 
Check out XLR8, hardware reliability, the only G4Zifs ready for multiprocessing, and yesterday anounced MP for older Macs 7300 and up. Can't wait to get my hands on one. Shame about Newer, good crew, good products. Happy hunting.
     
   
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