Encore G4 500
The card comes in a box containing CPU card in a foam pad and antistatic bag, a CD-ROM containing the software, a "powered by Sonnet" label to stick on the case and a big and detailed printed manual. The manual is the same as for the G3 card, but since both contain info for both card types (G3 and G4), this is really no problem. It 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.
software is different on Beige G3s and B/W G3s. While an extension
on the the Beige, it's an Enabler in the Blue&White. The software
ran perfect on the B/W with good performance and excellent stability,
but on the Beige G3, using Mac OS 8.6, it crashed whenever an application
called an Altivec instruction (that means all OpenGL apps, and all Altivec
enabled apps), this of course rendered the card useless on the Beige G3,
since disabling the extension will also disable the backside cache, and
then the card is even slower than a G3 500. Sonnet says "Mac OS 9.x
required for G4 Altivec use" and the supporter also thought it might
be because I was using Mac OS 8.6. If you have a Beige G3 and a Sonnet
G4 500 card and are experiencing no problems, please let
Since this card can't be overclocked,
there is nothing to report on overclockability.
Overall a very positive impression from the Blue&White G3, and a very negative one from the Beige G3 using Mac OS 8.6. I can thus only recommend you to buy a copy of Mac OS 9.1, if you plan to buy a Sonnet G4 upgrade, as Sonnet does too.