processor upgrades Graphics Cards

Sonnet's Encore G3/500 ZIF Card - Benchmarked and Reviewed

General Impressions: The Encore G3/500 is the first ZIF upgrade we have tested at MacSpeedZone and I'll admit that I didn't expect to be overly impressed with its performance. After all, it's not like we were switching to a different generation processor (604e to G3 specifically) as we have with past reviews using our 9500. Instead, our base machine was a respectable (but rapidly aging) beige G3/300. While the scores below don't show the striking gains we noticed with Sonnet's

500MHz Crescendo in our 9500, they are still impressive. Both MacBench 5.0 and our real world tests showed a significant performance increase. I am not used to the day to day feel of a G3/300, but my subjective before and after impression (confirmed by my colleague whose machine I had taken over) was that the machine definitely had more of a kick.

Installation: There is not much to the installation process and Sonnet's instructions cover each possible model with concise instructions and clear illustrations. Be sure to actually read the instructions as I spent a few embarrassing moments trying to figure out on my own (it's a guy thing) how to remove the heat sink. I finally figured out the trick of

Supported Models
Apple: Power Mac G3 All-in-one, Blue & White, Desktop, Mini Tower, and Server.

pushing down on the retaining clip but it was all spelled out in the instructions. There are no jumpers to set and, in a first for us, no software to install. The lack of jumpers means that you cannot overclock the card above it's rated 500MHz. This may turn off the speed freaks who want to push the limit of the card. It may also be a comfort for those who don't want to deal with setting jumpers and dealing with finding the performance stability balance. Either way, the ZIF card drops in quite easily and reassembly is straightforward. If you actually choose to read and follow the instructions you should be in and out in about 10 minutes.

Stability/Performance: We unfortunately didn't have the opportunity to test the stability of this card over an extended period of time. During all of our tests it performed flawlessly and I don't doubt that this is the norm rather than the exception. If you have experience with Sonnet's Encore cards, positive or negative swing by our discussion board to let us and others know. You are always welcome to drop me a note as well. The G3/300 we used for testing was running OS 8.5 but Sonnet claims that their card is compatible with OS 9. The Sonnet G3/500 card we tested in our 9500 ran fine under OS 9 so I am sure this claim is correct. Our real world tests showed the Encore G3/500 card completing most tasks in just over half the time of the stock G3/300.

Product: Encore G3/500/250/1MB
Company: Sonnet Technologies
Rating: (5 possible)
Hits: Respectable performance gains, easy to install if you follow the instructions, 3 year warranty, Half the price of new low end (slower) G4 PowerMac
Misses: Can't overclock the processor or backside cache speed, for $200 more you could get a completely new iMac
MSR Price


MacBench 5.0 Results
(Longer bars are better)




Note: The base disk score is well below the 1000 mark


"Real World" Stopwatch Tests

For the tests below, scores represent the time taken to complete the given task or operation. The times were then made relative to the base G3/300 which was set at 100%. Shorter bars and lower numbers are better. A brief description of each test appears above the score.

Appleworks 5.0.3 Tests

For these two tests, we used an AppleWorks document 574 pages long. For the scroll test we clocked the time to scroll the document from top to bottom. For the search and replace test we clocked the time to replace all occurrences of the word "the" with the word "macbench," over 12,900 in all.


Photoshop 4.0 Tests

For the Photoshop tests we performed a series of filter operations on an image 4.5MB in size.







Render Boy 2.0.2 Test

For the test below, we clocked the time to render a sample file using the shareware program Render Boy version 2.2.0.



Cooling System

Variable/Fixed Clock Rate

Tech Support


Price Information

Sonnet Encore


Heat sink from previous ZIF processor


Phone 949-261-1426

3 Years