Sonnet Presto 040 Accelerators

There are some fairly consistent reports of the Sonnet Presto 040 having severe problems with browsers over PPP connections.

Presto 040 in a Color Classic

Jon Dockery writes: Just a quick update for those of you who’ve been following the saga of Presto 040 accelerators and their intense dislike of browsers. I’ve finally heard from a gentleman in the UK who is happily using his Presto on the Web with no problems at all. His secret? He’s using America Online. Apparently the Presto has no software conflicts at all with AOL v3.0i (UK version). While I’m no fan of AOL, this is in stark contrast to the Presto’s problems with Netscape and Explorer (both requiring a rather clumsy Extension Manager work around) and may indicate that Sonnet Technologies has been troubleshooting the Presto solely against AOL. It may also reflect a difference in connection routines, as AOL uses its own AOL Link Control Panel rather than the MacPPP. For the record, the “trouble-free” rig is as follows:

Mac Color Classic with 10 megs of RAM, running System 7.1.3, a SupraFax 14.4LC modem, and the Presto 040 with driver version 3.1. Software includes AOL 3.0i, AOL Link v1.1b9, MacTCP v2.0.6, QuickTime 2.5, RAM Doubler 2.0.1, and various and sundry extensions (Zip driver, SuperClock, etc.).

If you have any questions about his system please feel free to contact him directly at skyade (at) aol (dot) com. His name is Adrian.

As for those of us intent on sticking to conventional browsers, I can humbly report that new System-8.0 compatible driver INIT for the Presto (v3.1) didn’t solve much in terms of the browser problem. While it is marginally more stable, it still eventually freezes the browser if there are other Extensions & Control Panels loaded, and ultimately requires the Extension Manager work around I’ve described previously. Also, v3.1 introduced a few new incompatibilities unseen in v2.1, such as the total inability to access Eudora Lite (v1.5.3) without getting a “Bus Error” warning. I would recommend that Netscape & Explorer users stay with v2.1 (which also spares you the irritating Sonnet splash screen on startup).

40 MHz Presto 040 in a Mac IIci

Dan Knight reports: The Mac IIci is a venerable old computer, but excruciatingly slow at some tasks. In particular, FileMaker Pro is roughly 3x faster on a Centris, Quadra, or Power Mac, whether we open, sort, or print. Using this as justification, I just installed two Presto 040 accelerators (40 MHz 68040 with 128 KB L2 cache) at work.

Installation is incredibly easy and quick. Make sure the computer’s off, pop the lid, remove the cache card (if present), slide in the accelerator, put the lid back, boot the computer (extensions off speeds this up), insert the software disk, drag the software to your System Folder, and reboot. Suddenly a poky old IIci is acting like a Quadra.

So far, no sign of incompatibilities. Standard apps include Eudora Lite, DarkSide of the Mac, FileMaker Pro, and Microsoft Word 5.1a. I’m very impressed! I’ll update if we run into any problems down the road.

See our benchmark results.

Newhouse ( writes: There are five Macs in the house – anywhere from an SE for the third grader, SE/30 for the high schooler, IIsi for the sophomore in college, IIci for the wife (who is working on her masters), and a spare SE/30 for when one of the Macs needs work. Paying tuition for the high schooler, college soph, and wife precludes the buying of newer Macs for the near future.

Accelerators are the affordable alternative. Photoshop and Quark require speed, and the Internet can always use a few extra megahertz. I bought the Prestos and didn’t have a problem installing them, hardware or software (I never did have any problems installing anything on a Mac).

After installing the card on the IIci, I noticed that every time I tried to use the floppy drive, the computer would crash. This was happening with the Prestos in other installations. I got in touch with Sonnet via email and got a reply right away. I downloaded the new Presto extension and have been using it since then. The only thing I notice is that the computer slows down noticeably when using the floppy drive now. (I think the new Presto software shuts off the accelerator when using the floppy. This is no problem though since the only use the floppy gets is when I need to save a document or two to transfer to another computer. All my backing up is done with a Zip drive, which I am using as a substitute floppy.)

I have had no compatibility problems with the accelerator. I use WordPerfect 3.5, ClarisWorks 4.0, Photoshop 4, Quark 3, Netscape 3, and a few other pieces of software with no problems. The accelerator sure did speed things up. It allowed a few more years of life for these computers. I am going to accelerate the SE/30s next. One of them with accelerator and ethernet piggybacked on the PDS slot and the other with accelerator and video board. Good investment in my situation.

Also see Low End Mac review.

Keywords: #sonnetpresto #sonnetpresto040