Power Macintosh G3

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Unless you've been living in a cave for the last few months, you've probably heard about Apple's new G3 line headed by the PowerMac G3. This incredible machine, released in November 10, 1997 at Apple's "big event" that was simulcast around the world, has renewed the faith of many stray Mac users. At the moment, it is the fastest Mac or Intel-based machine on the planet. It not only beat Pentium II-based PCs, but demolished them in most tests. As the now famous "snail ad" procalimed, the PowerMac G3/266 was up to twice as fast as a Pentium II/300-based PC in BYTE's benchmarks. So what the heck makes this thing so speedy anyway? Well, it's a number of things, but mostly it's the PowerPC 750 (aka "G3", for third generation). Co-developed by IBM and Motorola, the PowerPC G3, which is pictured at right, is unlike any other processor ever developed. It is the first to use a special bus that connects the cache directly to the processor (called a "backside cache") that can relay information to the processor exponentially faster than ever before. And when new processors come out, the current one can easily be removed from its PC-style ZIF socket. The newly designed Gossamer motherboard also contributes to speed, running at a blazing fast 66MHz, up from 50MHz in previous models. The Gossamer motherboard is extremely small, a PC-standard size known as ATX, which let Apple add another drive bay commonly used for an Iomega ZIP drive. Another curious first in the G3 models is the Personality Card. It puts 16-bit stereo in/out capability and a K56Flex 56kbps modem (upgradeable to the new 56k standard) on the same removable card. This saves Apple a lot on production costs, and is one of many low-cost features that makes the G3 models so unbeleiveably cheap (prices now start at $1699!). Finally the PowerMac G3 comes in three different configurations. You can get yours in a desktop encasing (shown at right) running at either 266, 233, or 300 MHz. Or you can get it in a minitower configuration (shown at left) running at all available speeds MHz. This promises to be a new high for Apple's computer line, and I personally commend them for a job well done. See a QTVR movie of a G3 tower (1.6MB) or desktop (1.2MB) courtesy of Apple's Product Info page.

Processor: PowerPC 750 running at 233, 266, 300, 333 MHz.
Memory: 32-128 MB SDRAM, and 2-6 MB VRAM (expandable to 6MB), 4MB ROM, 8k PRAM, and 512k/1MB of L2 cache.
Display: capable of 32-bit color at 512 x 384 to 8-bit color at 1600x1200, more with VRAM upgrade.
Drives: 1.44 MB floppy drive, 4-9 GB SCSI HD (optional Ultra/Wide PCI card), internal 24x CDROM drive, optional Iomega ZIP drive.
Expansion: 3 PCI slots, 1 DAV slot, one ZIF socket, and a Comm slot and 16-bit audio in/out in "personality card".
Ports: include an ADB port, 1 monitor port, 1 built-in 10Base-T Ethernet RJ-45 connector, a modem and printer port, and microphone and speaker ports. Two pairs of RCA-type audio ports for stereo input/output, two composite video ports for video input and output, two S-video ports for video input and output

Operating Systems:
Mac OS: Mac OS 8-8.5 and Sonata. Mac OS X, and Mac OS X Server 1.0.
Windows: 3.1-95, NT via PC compatiblity card or via emulation.
Linux: runs both LinuxPCC and Mklinux.
OpenStep: all versions (commonly 4.2) via emulation PC compatiblity card.
ProDOS: ProDOS 8 via emulation.
GS/OS: System 6.01 via emulation.

Models in this Series:
G3/233 Desktop: basic system, read above for specs.
G3/266 Desktop: has G3 running at 266, different configurations available.
G3/300 Desktop: has G3 running at 300, different configurations available.
G3/266 MiniTower: comes in the MiniTower casing, includes DAV port (for digital and audio hookup).
G3/300 Minitower: has G3 running at 300, otherwise the same as above.
G3/333 Minitower: fastest system thus far, bundled with 9 GB Ultra/Wide SCSI, 128 MB SDRAM, 6 MB SGRAM.

Interesting Facts:
The PowerMac G3 proves once again that Macs rule. Benchmark tests by BYTE magazine have shown that the PowerMac G3/300 is over twice as fast as the Pentium II/300, almost twice as fast as the Pentium II/350, and one and a half time faster than the Pentium II/400.

Though the PowerMac G3 was easily the fastest Apple-branded Mac ever, it wasn't until recently the fastest Mac ever. See, before Morotola and Power Computing lost their Mac OS liscense, they both had G3-based CHRP Macs that were much faster than Apple's model. They were also ready for release long before the PowerMac G3 was. In Macworld Lab tests, Motorola's StarMax 6000/300 prototype system was by far the fastest with an overall score of 5.6, followed by Power Computing's PowerTower Pro G3/275 with a score of 5.1, then followed by the StarMax 6000/266 with a score of 4.6. The fact is, Apple's PowerMac G3/266 placed 4th when tested against these systems with a score of 4.5. This is one of the main reasons Apple discontinued CHRP development, and most all Mac OS liscensing.

I recently got a PowerMac G3/333. This might only be interesting to me, but then again it's my web site ;-)

Resources & Related Links:
Apple's Technical Information Library.
January 1998 issue of Macworld magazine.
All pictures taken from Apple's Product Info page.