Sonnet Encore G3 500
ZIF upgrade card for all Macs with ZIF socket.

The card comes in a box containing CPU card in a foam pad and antistatic bag, a "powered by Sonnet" label to stick on the case and a big and detailed printed manual.
The manual includes all the info you'd expect to find there and is printed in French, Spanish and English.

Special about Sonnet's CPU upgrades is that they automatically detect which bus speed is used, and then set their internal multipliers in order to match the speed they were designed for. That means that you'll never have to tamper with jumpers or dip switches, which is great for lay persons, but on the other hand also inhibits you of overclocking the card without upping the system bus speed. The latter being a rather frustrating thing, as it won't work, because the jump is too high for the CPU to still run properly. That virtually makes the Sonnet upgrades "non-overclockable".

The hardware is very clean and carefully made, but also has this extra bulk block and the short pins we know from the Met@box upgrades. However, the pins are gold coated and the hardware doesn't look cheap, which it isn't either. What made me wonder a bit is that the cards come pressed into a tough foam pad. Releasing the chip from this pad requires quite a lot of strength,which is a bit dangerous given the pins are so fragile.
It's best to carefully pull the chip and the foam apart evenly, making sure not to bend any pins in the process. This again might cast some sweat on the foreheads of lay persons.
Update: In fact it seems I'm the lay. Sonnet informed me that you can actually release it without requiring any strength at all, by using a trick (or probably by reading the manual). Sorry about that.
Like the Met@box upgrade, the pins are not 100% aligned, and the card has to be pushed in slightly in order to really fit. The chip version used was 3.0.

The G3 upgrade doesn't require any software as far as I've seen, at least there was no CD-ROM in the package, and the upgrade ran fine in both machines without any extensions. This is definitely a plus, because it makes the card as stable as it can be.

Since this card can't be overclocked, there is nothing to report on overclockability.
Temperatures very low in both machines, usually around 23°C, without thermal paste even. Sonnet chips also have a frame of some white material to protect and stabilize the chip, which most certainly also helps dissipate heat from the chip to the heatsink.

Overall also a very positive impression, no software, good performance and a nice and well structured manual. Very nice.


  • fast
  • no software required
  • no jumpers ned to be set


  • not overclockable

Pictures of this card

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