Letters from 6400 users that upgraded to Sonnet's G3

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Just Updated 2/12/1999

First report of Sonnets 300/1M G3 card installed in a 6400!: Wes wrote to tell me he just installed this card in his 6400 and it rocks! I'm jealious :) Thanks Wes.

As you can see Sonnets utility shows the CPU temp much cooler than PowerLogix's utility shows the Vimage card. This is probably due to the large heat sink. Also I am a little nervious about the heatsink resting on the RAM chips? I will have to see how this goes when I get my card for review.

Just Updated 2/14/1999

Sonnets L2/G3 heatsink does face the RAM chips: Wes emailed about the heatsink on the G3 card resting on the RAM chips and that the manual says it should face away from them. Sonnet sent him a reply saying that the manual is wrong and that the heatsink does face the RAM chips. They did not mention about his saying the heasink touches the RAM chips though? I will have to see when I do my tests if this will cause any issues?

Wes keeps on sending the updates: Here is some more info on Sonnets 300/G3 for the 6400 from Wes. Thanks Wes Keep it up :)

Wes also tried PowerLogix's new G3 cache utility: Here is more info from Wes about trying to clock up the L2 cache on Sonnets G3 card. I have tried this on Vimags but it keeps locking up as the Finder loads. I think the cache can't handle the speed and from what Wes told me, it seems that Sonnets can't either. Also by looking at the scores I don't know if an extra 4% is worth all the trouble.

300/G3 L2 MB5 scores from Wes

Just Updated 2/23/1999

Letter from a Sonnet L2/G3 user: Keith sent me some info on his experiences with his 300/512k G3 upgrade. Thanks Keith.

Just Updated 2/26/1999

Reader letter on Sonnets G3: Travis sent me this letter to let me know how his 300/512k G3 is running. Thanks, Travis.

By the way, my 300/512k only gets 35c degrees also.

Just Updated 4/2/1999

Good news from a Sonnet user: Well here is a letter from Paul who has nothing but pleasure using his Sonnet G3. He did remove the Geo though which is probably a good idea even if you don't have a G3 upgrade. Thanks Paul.

Just Updated 4/17/1999

Sonnet stability issues: Here are a few letters from readers that have solved some of there stability issues. Also bad news with OS 8.6 beta!

If you're having this issue but don't want to disable The Apple Menu Options feature then try setting the recent items all to 1. This way the extension will still work but it won't keep track of everything you do. Just the last thing you did :) Actually I have mine turned ON but have the recent items turned off and don't have this crash right away as Jordan does. Another thing to try which I suggested in the last update is to move the Crescendo extension to the Control Panels folder so it loads after the AMO control panel. It will make startup longer but stability is what we're after right now.

I totally forgot about this issue! Motorola stated that their LibMoto extension and the Geo modem may try to occupy the same Ram space which causes crashes. Their fix is to increase the RAM allocation of the Express modem software to prevent it but I have a better suggestion. Disable LibMoto! Yes LibMoto drastically increases FPU scores in benchmarks but does it really make FPU faster? Many swear by it and just as many say its fluff to make benchmarks look good? Try disabling it if your having problems and see what happens.

He later emailed to say that the Ethernet 2.0.4 extension that Sonnet installed was not the cause of his crashes but it was lowering his data rate with his Sonic ethernet card. If you don't have an Ethernet card or you have a third party card then trash it. You don't need it. Third party cards have their own software and if you don't have it then why install it. If you happen to have an Apple branded ethernet card then you may need it. I don't remember any Performa 6400's having one but maybe the PowerMac 6400 did? Also cloners may need the extension if they have a stock ethernet card that used the Apple drivers.

This issue is bad. I do hope Sonnet can fix this by the time 8.6 is released. I haven't heard from Vimage on this yet.

More Sonnet user letters: Here a 2 more letters from satisifed Sonnet users. Thanks.

Just Updated 5/7/1999

Another Letter and question from a Sonnet user: Brian writes about his experiences with Sonnets G3 upgrade. He is having a strange problem where the computer crashes and then on the next boot it will reboot once the Crescendo extension is reached. Anyone have this issue?

Just Updated 6/3/1999

More Sonnet user letters: Here a a few letters I recieved thatmay interest you. Thanks guys.

Just Updated 6/11/1999

Short review from some Sonnet users: Fernando and Buddy sent me their info just to let you all know how things are going for them. Thanks guys.

Just Updated 6/20/1999

More Sonnet user letters: Here are 2 more letters from satisfied users with one being a 400Mhz card! Thanks guys

11/12/1999 Update on ROAM and the Sonnet G3: Ken writes that this is the first fix I posted that actually fixed his startup crashes! Cool, Glad it worked :) Thanks for the info Ken. Click here for more details.

12/3/1999 6500 user with Sonnets 500Mhz L2 G3!: Toshiaki is the first to tell me of his experience with Sonnets fastest L2 G3 on the planet! It is based on the 10x bus ratio G3 and makes his 6500 scream at 500Mhz. Thanks for the info Toshiaki. It will probably run at 400Mhz in the 6400 so if you want the fastest 6400 and want to pay the price go try it.

2/11/2000 More good news on Sonnets G3's: Greg sends word that everything is just fine for him. Thanks Greg.

3/18/2000 Info from a Sonnet 500Mhz L2 G3 owner: Tiong just recieved a 500Mhz G3 for his 6500 and wrote with some nice things to say about it. Thanks Tiong.

6/10/2000 Here's some more Sonnet upgrade success stories: Just thought I would post some more upgrade success stories. Thanks guys and to everyone who has ever sent me upgrade stories. I like to read them all and shows me just how long the 6400/6500 can last :)

9/9/2000 Sonnet G3 upgrade nightmare!: Sam sent me some info on his horrible experience with Sonnets G3 upgrade. Thanks and sorry Sam.

Here's an update for your "Sonnet Compatibility Page:"

Sonnet has updated their manual to explicitly state that the crescendo is not compatible with the geo modem and that it has to be removed prior to installation of the accelerator.

Otherwise, the upgrade has been a nightmare -- every single program eventually crashes.

Upgrade: Sonnet Crescendo L2/G3 400MHz/1MB

My system: Performa 6400/180, 56 MB RAM, ATI XCLAIM VR 8 MB, MacOS 9.0.4

I've read all of the pages on your site and will try enabling the PCI Timing Update and disabling the Contextual menu and SOMObjects extensions.
Wish me luck.

It is well known that the Geo modem is the cause of many issues on the 6400 but some Sonnet Upgrade users do get both to work just fine. It is nice to see that Sonnet finally admits it! I guess they finally got to much headaches from tech support :) Mine did work when I had my Sonnet G3 so not everyone will have an experience this bad.

12/2/2000 Sonnet Upgraded Powerbase minitower: Frank did some research in trying to upgrade his Powerbase minitower and noted that none of Sonnets ads ever mention the minitower version as being compatible. They do note the desktop version several times which might lead some to think the cards won't fit in the minitower? Well He bought a 400Mhz L2 G3 and it fit perfectly and he is now a happy camper :) Thanks for the info Frank. Also note his attempt at running a 45Mhz bus speed!

[Hi, Tom -

I just wanted to update you on my Sonnet upgrade to my PowerBase 180. I finally got the 400Mhz/1MB unit and have had a week or so to play around with it. My system is configured as follows: PowerBase 180 Minitower, MacOS 8.6, 96MB RAM (RAM Doubler installed), 9G IDE HD, ATI Xclaim VR video card with XclaimTV, Asante Ethernet card, Xircom USB card. The processor card fit in the tower case perfectly. I had clocked the bus with a 45 Mhz crystal, so the processor was running at 202 Mhz before the upgrade, but I wanted to start off with the original bus speed to make sure everything ran smoothly and go from there.

The system booted fine (at first) but then when I tried to run MacBench and the system rebooted itself, it wouldn1t boot due to a DragLib error. This error persisted even after I removed the Sonnet and Crescendo extension. A quick search of your website revealed others had the same problem and I removed the DragLib extension and was on my merry way!

Next issue - Xclaim TV wouldn1t produce any sound! System sounds as well as other application sounds were fine, however. Once again, your website had a note from a user who had a similar problem, the solution was to remove the Xclaim VP Preferences file and the problem was solved. The only downside was having to re-enter all my channel info ;) - small price to pay!

Last problem (so far) - whenever I tried to transfer pictures from my digital camera via SanDisk USB reader, the data was corrupted. This worked fine before the upgrade, so back to the 6400 Zone to see if anyone had similar problems. I had been using Apple1s USB Card Support 1.2 and Sonnet 1.4.5, which I thought were the latest versions, but I went to Apple1s support site and found there is a newer version of USB Card Support (1.4.1). This version seemed to fix the problem and now I have no known issues.

I then put the 45Mhz crystal back in the machine and the processor did indeed run at 450Mhz, and the cache bus speed jumped to 225Mhz, as expected. According to Metronome, the processor runs at about 39 degrees idle, 44 degrees when busy. With the 45Mhz bus, it runs about 4-5 degrees hotter. I did experience several random crashes at the higher bus speed, though, so I think I1ll leave the slower bus crystal in for a few weeks to make sure all the kinks are ironed out, then maybe try speeding things up again. My MacBench 5.0 info is included as an attachment.

I did all the original install/troubleshooting with RAM Doubler removed, then re-installed it after things had settled down. I haven1t noticed any problems with it on, so I wouldn1t think it1s a conflicting bit of software, but everyone1s system is different - your mileage may vary!

I haven1t tried much in the way of games yet, but that will be my next test. I certainly have noticed a tremendous increase in speed all around, especially with graphics and scrolling through large documents. It1s like having a new computer! While I was troubleshooting the USB problem, I booted with the Sonnet extension off and what a difference! The machine was so sluggish I thought something was really wrong until I realized I was running off the 603ev chip!

Thank you again for all the help you (and your website) have provided - you1ve proved to be a valuable resource! I1ll keep you posted if I decide to up my bus speed and see what happens.

Regards, Frank]

Here are some MacBench5 scores he sent me.

[Processor Test:

PowerBase 180/256K L2 cache (actually 202Mhz/45Mhz bus): 28%
PowerMac G3/300: 100%
PowerBase with Sonnet 400/1M cache/40Mhz bus: 128%
PowerBase with Sonnet 450/1M cache/45Mhz bus: 145%

Floating Point Test:

PowerBase 180/256K L2 cache: 43%
PowerMac G3/300: 100%
PowerBase with Sonnet 400/1M cache/40Mhz bus: 131%
PowerBase with Sonnet 450/1M cache/45Mhz bus: 148%]

You can compare these scores to the ones I made during my review of Sonnets older G3 upgrades. The 300/1M card had a MB5 CPU score of 95%.

12/15/2000 Sonnet G3 upgrade horror story with a happy ending: David installed Sonnets newest 400Mhz upgrade for the 6400 and had a horrible experience but in the end everything is working well! Thanks David. By the way another 6400 owner who just installed a 400Mhz card also crashed on first reboot? Could Sonnets latest driver be a problem again? I have version 1.4.2 posted in my side bar under downloads but I think version 1.4.4 would be better for the latest cards. Could someone with 1.4.4 please send me a copy. Thanks.

[Hi Tom. I thought I'd share my story of upgrading to the Sonnet G3.

First, my machine is a 6400/200/vee with 132Mb ram. I had already removed the Avid Cinema card and the Geoport modem. I'm running an ixMicro Ultimate Rez video card and an Asante Ethernet card in the PCI slots, and the IDE drive is a 20Gb Maxtor. I also have a 2Gb SCSI in the top bay (which ended up being very important as you'll see.) I had installed the PCI Timing extension and had removed LibMoto, as suggested on your site. System was very stable with OS 8.6 and using ADSL for Internet.

I purchased the Sonnet G3/L2 400/1Mb card. Got a pretty good deal on line for $315. The card came with Sonnet extension version 1.4.5 on a floppy.

Following Sonnet's recommendations, I first checked and optimized my hard drive using Norton. I installed the Sonnet extension and Metronome, shut down the machine and installed the G3 card, of course remembering to press the motherboard reset button. I also took the time to completely clean out the dust from the inside of the system, since I had it open. The install was very easy, by the way, and if anyone wants the 512K L2 cache card, let me know!

Initial turn on with the G3 was smooth. Everything worked and the machine was 5 to 10 times faster. I experimented by going on line, running PhotoShop, etc., and all was great. Then, since I had read some of the comments on your web site, I tried to reboot.

The machine took a very long time to restart, and I got an "Address Error" warning box. I clicked restart again, and when the "Mac OS 8.6" screen finally came up, I knew something was wrong. I had installed a backup of my system on the internal SCSI drive, and the machine was booting from this system folder, not the one on the IDE drive. Then I saw the dreaded system dialog box: "Unrecognized disk, do you want to format" and it was my IDE drive. Uh oh. I clicked eject and the IDE drive was gone.

I rebuilt the directory on the IDE drive using Disk Warrior (one of the best purchases I have made in years) and it showed up on the desktop. It seemed that all my files were still intact, so I tried to reboot again (after selecting the IDE drive as the startup disk just to make sure.) No go, it started up from the SCSI again.

Finally, after reinstalling the OS onto the IDE drive (OS 8.5 CD and 8.6 upgrade) zapping the PRAM using Tech Tool, rebuilding the desktop on all disks, and trashing all the prefs files on the IDE drive, I tried to restart and machine booted from the IDE drive. But, no Sonnet extension loaded, and no G3 speed. I was back to the start, it seemed.

I removed the Sonnet extension and reinstalled it. I renamed it with a "Z" as the first character. Just to be safe, I remembered the reports from your readers and also removed the SOMObjects extension. One more time, and if it doesn't work, I think, it's back to the vendor for this chip.

Restart, and everything works like magic. OK, let's try to restart again. No problems. The machine has been blazing along at 400Mhz now for five days with no crashes, no hang-ups, and no more booting problems. I have pushed it by having PhotoShop, Word 98 and Netscape 4.7 all running at the same time. No problem. Metronome reports the CPU temperature never got above 37 degrees C, even after several hours of hard use.

So, I am now a happy camper. The old 6400 feels like a brand new machine, and while I am still full of dual-G4 envy, I am happy and can wait for prices to come down even further on the monster machines!

Thanks for keeping your site alive and full of great info. Without it, I don't think I could have gotten the Sonnet to run.


David also has the Asante ethernet card which if I remember was rumored to have issues with L2 G3 cards since both where bus mastering cards? Anyway he says the latest drivers from Asantes web site are working fine for him. Great!

12/30/2000 Sonnet G3/400 woes and solution: Sam sent me some interesting news about an issue he had with his Sonnet G3 and how he fixed it. Thanks Sam.

[Hi there,
I just noticed that folks have been providing their fixes for the Sonnet G3/400.

Here's another angle. I bought one of the cards second hand from someone who said that he couldn't get his machine to work with it.

I then spent ~50 hours trying to keep it from crashing my machine. After running out of options (and patience) I caved in and called tech support. They were very nice and spent two hours (over 2 calls) with me on the phone at the end of which they said "okay, send it in." They then gave me an RMA # and off the card went. About 7 business days later, the replacement arrives. And just like the reports say: Install the driver, power down, install the card, power up and fly.

Ever since then, no problems, only fun. :)
Yours truly,
- Sam]

It is very possible that other users that have had nothing but trouble with their G3 upgrades also have defective cards. If you think you have one then I suggest you contact Sonnet and see if they will help as they did for Sam.

4/7/2001 A reader got a bad card from Sonnet: A reader who had issues playing VCD's when his Sonnet G3 was enabled just sent word that replacing the Sonnet card fixed everything. Thanks for the info.

[Aloha Tom,
I wanted to touch bases with you and let you know that I received my replacement from Sonnet. And guess what, the VCD's all play fine. No stability issues so far, all afternoon I have not had a freeze or had to restart my 6400. When no attempt to play a VCD without locking up (half movie on one disk) ever. Today I viewed three full movies with no problems at all (6 disks!).

I have worked on a few large Photoshop files this afternoon and have been using multiple programs switching between them has not been a problem. In fact I haven't had a problem all afternoon.

I can't believe my first card was a lemon. I remember what you said about quality control. hmmm.... Well, I'm glad it is all working out, I hope, I am still paranoid from the last episode and am going to be watch it for anything cropping up.

Your site is invaluable to me and my quest to maintain and upgrade my Performa 6400.

Thanks so much for all your help.]

This is not the first time this has happened either. I have had other readers report that getting a replacement card solved problems for them as well. I don't know if this is due to poor quality control from Sonnet or bad handling of the cards by the customer?

8/18/2002 Sonnets L2 G3's can tolerate a lot of heat!: I hope none of you have to experience this but if for some reason your computer gets extremely hot, It seems the Sonnet G3 can take it. Here is a story from Elijah who had a bad power supply fan experience and the G3 survived! Thanks Elijah.

[Hi Tom

The other night I left my 400mhz, L2 G3 6400 Mac which has Avid Cinema and USB cards, geo modem, 2 hard disks and the stock Apple CD drive on all night downloading. When I woke up in the morning, I couldn't hear anything. I thought "Damn! Must of had a power cut". When I went over to switch it back on, the green light was already on. I turned on the screen and it was running fine. Everything working. I got dressed and thought "Hang on a minute my fan must be broken!". I checked the processor temperature and it was 89&Mac251;C! Yes 89&Mac251;C! Approx 170&Mac251;F!! Very hot! I shut it down immediately and took it apart. I felt the power supply and I nearly burnt myself on it. I took it out and put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. When I got it out it was still a bit warm but touchable. I took it apart and the fan wire had somehow broken. I fixed it and put it back together. I started it up and played Unreal and the temperature was 51&Mac251;C. The normal operating temperature is about 45&Mac251;C.

I guess that the Sonnet card is extremely heat-tolerant! I wouldn't want it to happen again though. There seemed to be no difference in the speed of the computer. Be warned about your fan wires...

I hope this satisfies the concerns some have had with temp issues and G3 cards installed. It appears they can take it :)

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This page last updated 9/1/2002