A New Type of G3 Daughter Card

1999 – With the Power Mac 7500, 8500, and 9500, Apple introduced a new way of upgrading their computers: the CPU daughter card. Prior to this, all of Apple’s upgrades (except for PPC upgrades to 68K Macs) meant changing the system board.

Thanks to a competitive market, there are dozens of daughter card upgrades available for Power Macs, the Umax SuperMac J700 and J700, and several Power Computing models. Although there may still be a few 601- and 604-based cards out there, the vast majority run a G3 processor at speeds between 220 MHz and 400 MHz (see our Guide to G3 Daughter Cards for more details).

There have been some incredible values for significantly boosting the performance of older Power Macs while spending under $500.

Something New

Until now, when you bought a daughter card upgrade, that was it. Whatever speed it ran at, whatever cache size it had, that’s what you had. Period.

That’s changed now. PowerLogix and XLR8, undoubtedly soon to be followed by others, have introduced a new kind of daughter card – one that can be upgraded.

Beige Power Mac G3 desktopThe $149 PowerLogix Z-Force and $189 XLR8 Carrier ZIF ship without a CPU or cache. Instead, they have the same ZIF socket used in the Power Mac G3, allowing you to install the ZIF upgrade of your choice.

What kind of sense does that make when $300 buys a card with a G3 already installed?

It could make a lot of sense.

Say you have a Beige Power Mac G3/233 and a Umax SuperMac J700/180. You want to put a faster CPU in both. Buying a 400 MHz ZIF upgrade will make the G3 about 50% faster (for more information, see Guide to G3 ZIF Upgrades).

Then you have the choice: Buy a $300 G3 daughter card for the J700, replacing its 180 MHz 604e, or buy a ZIF daughter card and install the 233 MHz G3 from your Power Mac G3 now, and then a faster CPU next time you upgrade the G3.

First, it saves you $100-150 over the daughter card. Beyond that, next time you replace the CPU in a Power Mac G3, you can move the old CPU into your J700 for free.

The ZIF daughter cards give you the option of upgrading older Macs at no additional future cost when you upgrade Power Mac G3 systems – just put the old CPU assembly in the ZIF card and get two upgrades for the price of one. Also, ZIF upgrades are easier to design and less expensive to make. (For current bargains, visit DealMac. I’ve seen 300 MHz ZIF upgrades listed there for under US$200.)

This could also create a market for pulled 233 MHz and 266 MHz ZIF assemblies from older G3 computers. Until now, there was nothing you could do with them after an upgrade, unless you wanted to keep them as spare parts. They don’t sell for a great deal but could make it very economical for those of us with older systems to upgrade by buying a ZIF card and a used G3 module.

In the long run, this will also allow companies such as PowerLogix and XLR8 to discontinue their more costly daughter cards, streamline their product lines, and focus on the future with faster G3 ZIF upgrades – and G4s when they become available.

And it looks like G4 upgrades will also work with the ZIF daughter cards. Now that’s an upgrade option!

Keywords: #g3upgrade #daughter card #zifdaughter card

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