How Do the Processor Upgrade Cards Work?

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Last seen: 11 years 4 weeks ago
Joined: Jul 31 2005 - 14:04
How Do the Processor Upgrade Cards Work?

Hello. I need a point in the right direction, and this seems to be the place to find it. I've been an fan of the site for a long time, but I've only just recently given serious consideration to the idea of trying a mac. Please bear in mind the my experience with Apple machines is limited to my first computer (an Apple II), and a few minutes on the machines of other users.

So, anyway, on to the point. I've been examining the older model laptops, thinking that especially because I can't afford a new one, one of these would be a good way to both familiarize myself with the platform as well as get a low-cost portable to work on at school.

I was amazed to find the number of serious upgrades available fo the G3 laptops, and the Wallstreet in particular. Especially the processor upgrade cards, some of which go all the way up to the gigagertz G4 processors.

Considering the number of after-market upgrades available, these seem like fun machines to play with, but I still need more information. In particular, I need to know how the processor upgrade cards work. Are they like the converter boards that MSI makes for the Pentiums, that allow one to plug a Pentium M into a 478-pin desktop motherboard? If so, then is it possible to buy one and swap the processors? What are the pros and cons of that approach?

Any help that can be offered is appreciated, and links to further information would be wonderful. I apologize if I haven't stated everything clearly enough, but it's been a long day, and I'm about to crash. Thanks in advance.

Last seen: 10 years 7 months ago
Joined: Jun 30 2005 - 19:08

You just remove the old processor (maybe install drivers)and pop the new one in. reconnect everything you unplugged and turn on your computer. No adaptors.

Last seen: 11 years 4 weeks ago
Joined: Jul 31 2005 - 14:04

Then why do the ones from Sonnet look like cards, some with memory slots and (I'm assuming) memory controllers?

Do the G3 and G4 processors have the same pin configuration? Will the older system hardware recognize the newer proc?

eeun's picture
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: Dec 19 2003 - 17:34
It all depends on which Mac

It all depends on which Mac you're upgrading.

Some processor upgrades, like those for the 1st generation Powermacs, go in the PDS slot, since the CPUs were soldered onto the motherboard. Those require a software patch to operate.

The Sonnet 'Wallstreet' upgrade you mentioned is a daughtercard swap. The daughtercard contains the CPU and memory slot(s), so the upgrade card also has memory slots on it also. From the limited reading I did about the card, I couldn't tell whether the software included is required or not.

There's a lot of information on accelerators at, with profiles and benchmarks. Not to be confused with Daystar's site - - which has manuals available online for their accelerators, which may also be helpful for you.

Last seen: 12 years 9 months ago
Joined: May 24 2005 - 18:12
Do these cards also upgrade

Do these cards also upgrade your front side bus?

eeun's picture
Last seen: 1 week 1 day ago
Joined: Dec 19 2003 - 17:34
The frontside bus

The frontside bus is incorporated on the G3/G4 CPU zifs, so any G3/G4 upgrade will bring along its own FSB and default FSB/CPU speed ratio. Pre-G3 CPUs don't have a FSB, and upgrades do not increase the speed of the system bus.

This is one of the disadvantages of upgrade cards - the rest of the computer's still the same, with its piddly old slow system bus. Take a beige G3, for example - a 66 MHz bus. Now you can swap the CPU for a 1 GHz G4, but that new CPU's only interfacing with the rest of the computer, including the memory, on a 66 MHz bus.

Last seen: 1 day 19 hours ago
Joined: Dec 20 2003 - 10:38
How upgrades work depend on

How upgrades work depend on the Mac. Some that have the upgrade in a cache or PDS slot startup on the original processor and either switch to the new processor or restart on the new processor. This means you can't usually run an OS that won't run on the original machine. Some where you replace the original processor startup on the new processor. This is usually better as far as OS choices.
They all share a number of drawbacks. They're limited to the original slow buss speed. The memory is usually slower and often has a lower maximum amount. Also the hard drive interface is usually pretty slow unless you install a card, if you can. I could go on and on.
I have older machines with G3 upgrades that have higher mhz speeds than my B&W G3 but in performance the B&W is much faster.
Generally speaking, the only time a processor upgrade makes sense is if you already have a system that you'd like to speedup a bit without having to go through the trouble of moving your data and maybe buying new periferals. If you don't already have a Mac then you'd be far better off putting the money into a newer machine. You'll get better performance and possibly better reliability.


moros's picture
Last seen: 6 years 6 months ago
Joined: Jan 21 2005 - 08:16

"You'll get better performance and possibly better reliability"

plus, if its brand new, you'll get a warrenty and all the fun that entails Smile

If your going to buy a old mac and upgrade it be carefull, I did that with an old 8500 and ended up paying more than for a Blue and white G3...


moosemanmoo's picture
Last seen: 3 years 7 months ago
Joined: Aug 17 2004 - 15:24
Exactly. Upgrading an older

Exactly. Upgrading an older Macintosh only makes sense if it is of sentimental or collectable value, or if it's considerably cheaper than a newer computer. For instance, G3 upgrades for the 20th anniversary macintosh are common because of the unique nature of that computer. The upgrade in most cases isn't significantly faster, but it does allow the computer to run the latest version of Mac OS 9. This is the same reason that there is a thriving hobbyist group of G4 cube upgraders.

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