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Sonnet's 400/1M Cresendo L2/G3 Review
for the 5400/6400

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Written by Craig

I took the plunge. This week I installed my new Sonnet Crescendo G3/L2 400MHz, 1MB/200MHz cache accellerator for the 6400. Since no one has written a review for it, I thought I'd contribute.

My InstaTower is a Performa 6400/180 with:

Another one rides the bus:

The card I bought is the Sonnet Crescendo G3/L2 400, with a 1MB backside cache running at 200MHz. Installation was very simple (except for removing the cache card that was already in there) and the heat sink does NOT touch the 64MB DIMM. It faces it, and comes very close, but when both chips are upright, they don't touch. Perhaps Sonnet has adjusted the height of the heat sink with this version.

The MacBench scores are VERY interesting. The first score is, obviously, a Power Macintosh G3/300. The second score is my Performa 6400/G3 400, with all of my extensions running, including RamDoubler. That's a respectable performance increase, especially taking into account what I tested it against later. The third score is the same hardware, except running only the base set of OS 8.6 extensions. The last is just for "wow" sake .. the 6400/180 running with the G3 card off. (Wow!)

pic of 6400/G3 MacBench scores: g3400_macbench.gif

[Compare these with the scores I got from a Sonnet 300/1M card which only scored 957% for Processor - Tom]

At first glance, the computer doesn't look that much faster than the G3/300. But I took the opportunity to run some tests on an iMac DV Special Edition, which is a G3/400. Check out these scores.

pic of iMac DV MacBench scores: imac_macbench.gif

pic of iMac DV system info: imac_sysinfo.gif

Your eyes aren't lying; I ran this on an iMac DVse with 192MB RAM, everything else stock from Apple (it's running OS9). You can see the specs above. The iMac DV squeaked by the G3/300, but not by much. Why? I ran Clockometer on it and got this:

pic of iMac DV clockometer window: imac_clockometer.gif

The backside cache on the iMac DVse is only 512K, and it's running at 160MHz. A stock Power Macintosh G3/300 (beige) has a 1MB cache running at 150MHz, while the G3/L2 400 card has a 1MB cache running at 200MHz. Perhaps this is the real reason for the performance increase. Maybe the fact that the DVse is running OS9 is another contributing factor. (Another curiousity: the MacBench processor score went down a percentage point when the iMac was only running base extensions.) [Larger L2 caches for a G3 can really increase CPU speed! The 1M cache compared to the 512k cache is like night and day for a G3. This is not so for the 603e CPU as it's not fast enough to benefit as much from the larger 1M cache. Also note that Apple Talk was ON for the iMac DV which will slow the CPU down some during bench marks - Tom]

I'm scratching my head a little at the system bus speeds though. The iMac DVse is churning on a 100MHz system bus. The Power Mac G3/300's system bus is 66MHz, and the Performa 6400's system bus runs at a comparatively pokey 40MHz. I don't know if the system bus is a contributing factor in MacBench's processor tests, but if it is, I would have put my money on the iMac DV as being the speed champ here. Even if it has only a 512K backside cache, that handicap should have been more than compensated for by its system bus. And I would expect that a "true" G3/400 would operate marginally faster than a 603e bypass anyway. [The system bus is not figured into the bench marking of CPU speed. slower system bus speed will have no affect on CPU performance tests. It will on the other hand affect HD transfer tests and digital video/audio work - Tom]

Anyway, back to the card. I'm very impressed with its performance in my 6400. I'd been having trouble with my RAGE Pro card before this--locking up with Tomb Raider II--but no more! The Rage purrs right along now with no complaints, and in comparisons running Tomb Raider between the 6400/G3 and my Power Mac G3/300, the 6400/G3/Rage Pro tromps the G3/300's performance. (It makes the G3/300 look slow!) Startup speed has also significantly improved. I set the Crescendo extension to load first, so it fires up the card before it starts to load the other extensions. The only thing slowing my system down now is me!

So how about that, eh? Get your 6400 cranking faster than an iMac DV Special Edition, for five hundred spendos! Rock and roll!

I'd be interested in seeing MacBench scores for a 6500/G3 at 500MHz for comparison. Any takers?

Sonnet Technologies, Inc.
18004 Sky Park Circle
Irvine, CA. 92614-6428

Voice (949) 261-2800 Fax (949) 261-2461
email: sales@sonnettech.com


Check out my Sonnet Info page for more info


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This page last updated 4/6/2000