General Impressions: Sonnet Technologies always wins the
prize when it comes to style. Their latest Crescendo card
continues to make use of the purple anodized heat sink and
extension bar for handling.
With their G4 cards, Sonnet is also sticking to its guns
producing upgrade cards that operate at a fixed processor
and backside cache speed. Their slogan is "No switches.
No control panels. Simply fast" and is an obvious swipe
at manufacturers of variable speed upgrade cards. After reviewing
variable speed G4 offerings from PowerLogix
and XLR8, it
was a little strange (though not necessarily unpleasant) dealing
with a card that neither required nor allowed any form of
| Supported Models
|Apple: 7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500, 9600
Power Computing: Power Tower Pro, PowerWave
UMAX SuperMac S900 and J700.
Installation: Sonnet's installer places 3 or 4 items on your
drive depending on which OS you are using. If you are running
OS 8.0 or 8.1 the installer places the "Ethernet (built
in)" extension in your extensions folder to assure compatibility.
The Crescendo extension, Crescendo G4 enabler and Metronome
application are installed in the extension folder, system
folder and Apple menu items folder respectively.
The Crescendo extension tests and activates the card's backside
cache as well as implements some bug fixes, the G4 enabler
makes the system aware of the AltiVec instruction set so it
can be used by applications that have been rewritten for AltiVec/Velocity.
The Metronome application simply lets you confirm the card's
speed and current temperature.
As their slogan states, there is no control panel as there
is virtually nothing to configure or adjust. Depending on
your attitude this will either be a boon or a source of frustration.
Sonnet also includes an emergency boot floppy to reinstall
their Speculative addressing patch. If you are not familiar
with the speculative addressing issue check out the following
information from Newer
Tech as well as PowerLogix
and XLR8. There is also some excellent information available
at the MacFixit
Hardware installation went as smoothly as all of the other
G3 and G4 cards we have installed in our 9500. Installation
instructions are limited to Apple machines but they can easily
be applied to a Mac clone as long as you can find your machine's
processor slot. Sonnet doesn't provide a grounding strap with
their card but, rather, instructs you to touch the internal
power supply to discharge any static electricity. I chickened
out and used a grounding strap I had from a previous review.
The instructions are well written with clear illustrations
to cover the major steps in the install process. Sonnets instructions
even include affixing their "Powered by Sonnet"
label to the front of your machine although we have confirmed
that you can safely skip this step without performance or
stability issues ; - )
Stability/Performance: Sonnet's card performed like a champ
in our 9500. We didn't experience any crashes, boot problems
or instability during its stay in our machine. As we have
pointed out in our other G4 reviews, the true advantage of
the G4 processor will only come into play with applications
that have been rewritten or modified to take advantage of
the G4's AltiVec/Velocity unit. Still, 400MHz is nothing to
sneeze at and as the scores
below show the Crescendo G4/400 will give your machine
a significant shot in the arm. Some of our real world tests
showed the Crescendo card to be over 6 times as fast as our
base 9500! We will post scores for all of the G4 cards once
we have completed our reviews. For now suffice it to say that
the Crescendo edged the others in several tests.
||$799.95 ......... Current
||Excellent performance and stability, 3 year warranty.
||Fixed speed, can't be upgraded, $200 premium over Sonnet's
MacBench 5.0 Results
"Real World" Tests
(Shorter bars are better)
Time to Scroll a 574 page AppleWorks document
from top to bottom.
Using the same document as above we did a
search/replace command to replace the word "the"
with the word "macbench"
Photoshop 4 "Real World" Test Results
Render Boy 2.2.0
Time to render "Pool Table" Example
SoundJam MP3 Encode
Time to encode a CD track 4 minutes 29 seconds in length.
For this test we set score relative to a G3/400/200/1MB upgrade
card. We also included results from sonnet's G3/500 which
Variable/Fixed Clock Rate