Rarely Seen in the Wild, ColorSync 850AV Rides Again

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had acquired a very rare Apple AppleVision 850AV 21” monitor. Debuting in 1997, the 850AV was a high end, nearly 80 lb. bruiser of a display with a hefty $2,000 price point. The 850AV could be run at resolutions all the way up to 1600×1200 with a 75Hz vertical refresh rate, and featured integrated speakers and microphone. It was nearly the highest of high end in its day.

ColorSync 850AV

In March of 1998, Apple rebranded the AppleVision 850AV to “ColorSync 850AV”, saying that this new branding “more effectively communicates the advantages of the systems’ color calibration capabilities to customers”. Later that year, in November, Apple discontinued the ColorSync 850AV. Given its short market run and its high price point, I am guessing that the 850AV was not a strong seller – I have only ever seen one on eBay in years and years of watching. Happily, I was fortunate enough to win it and am thus able to pen this article about it, many years after its heyday.

The AppleVision/ColorSync 850AV had one particularly interesting characteristic – it could only be configured via the Mac OS Monitors control panel. Absent that control panel, this massive display defaulted to using only a limited percentage of the available physical screen real estate, and could not be further adjusted. It pretty much defeats the purpose of using a physically expansive 21” display when only a limited portion in the center of the display is in actual use!

I know this because even though I acquired this display as part of a system that included a Power Macintosh G3 tower (upgraded with a 450 MHz G4 CPU accelerator) for whatever reason, this system simply refused to execute the Monitors control panel successfully. Efforts to do so usually caused the Mac to freeze, and required a subsequent reset to restore order. SO… I had acquired an incredible display, but I had no idea if it would actually perform, since it steadfastly refused to take advantage of the full available screen real estate when run.

Taking advantage of our recent move and the progressive unpacking that is occurring, I was able to pair this display with a different system – my Power Macintosh 7300/200, itself upgraded with a 500 MHz G3 processor – in hopes that the Monitors control panel might prove to be more cooperative in a different environment.

Power Macintosh 7300 w ColorSync 850AV

I connected it up, booted the 7300, crossed my fingers and held my breath, and selected the Monitors control panel. I was delighted when it executed without crashing! Now as you will all know, the Monitors control panel is normally the place you go to adjust the color depth and the resolution of your display. In fact, what you are really controlling this way is the settings of the video controller on your Mac, not the display itself. However, the inverse is at least partially true when a monitor like the 850AV is connected to the Mac.

The word “connected” needs a little exploration in this context. In a typical Mac system, there is a single video cable connecting the monitor to the video output port on the Mac and that is that. Monitors like the 850AV extend this by including a second connection from the monitor to the Mac, this being an Apple Desktop Bus (ADB) cable. Widely used on almost all Macs from the Apple II GS in 1986 all the way through the “Yosemite” Power Macintosh G3 in 1999, ADB is a low speed serial bus supporting daisy chained devices. ADB is reputed to have been invented by none other than Steve Wozniak himself. ADB was largely used for keyboards, mice, joysticks and the like, but the 850AV put it a new use – monitor control.

When a monitor like the 850AV is connected via ADB to a Mac OS Macintosh, the Monitors control panel sprouts several new capabilities that are not otherwise present, all related to the adjustment of the monitor itself. Here is what a “standard” Monitors control panel looks like:

Normal Monitors Control Panel

By contrast, here is what appears when the 850AV is connected:

01. 850AV Monitor

You can see key new additions of Contrast, Brightness, Geometry and Monitor Sound selections, each of which allows you to directly control the indicated aspect of the 850AV’s behavior.

The Geometry selection is truly key with the 850AV, as it is the sole way of adjusting the screen display so that it fills the physical display surface from edge-to-edge, something which is highly desirable in any monitor, but especially desirable when you have paid a LOT extra to get the larger screen real estate of the 850AV.

02. 850AV Geometry

However, in addition to this, a full set of other geometry related controls is provided. These include actual screen geometry (Height/Width, Position), Pincushion adjustment, display image rotation within the physical display area, keystone adjustment and finally, parallelogram adjustments. A Degauss control is also presented. You certainly won’t use that function every day, but on occasion it can be useful. If you are reading this and don’t recognize the purpose of some of the controls mentioned above, you are lucky enough to have not had to deal with some of the older, more finicky CRT monitors!

Moving from left to right on the Monitors control panel, the Color control set is next. This lets the user undertake a lot of the usual color adjustments needed to ensure accurate color reproduction on screen.

03. 850AV Color

Controls are included for White Point, Gamma and Ambient Light level. A Recalibrate control is also included, which will guide you through a manual color calibration process. This is a fairly rudimentary approach to color calibration, and while it may get you into the right neighborhood, it will not dial in perfect color reproduction. To do that you need a hardware color calibrator accessory. I have acquired two of these for Mac OS at this time, and will post a future article on them and their use.

Finally, there is the Sound set of controls.

04. 850AV Sound

These controls support adjustments to the Volume, Bass and Treble of the 850AV’s built in speakers. The 850AV also sports a separate headphone jack, and its volume can also be controlled independently of the speaker volume – a nice touch. Finally, the Sound controls also allow the user to enable/disable the built in microphone on the 850AV and control its input volume/gain.

That completes a quick tour of the Monitors controls that are unique to monitors like the 850AV, which sport an extra ADB connection back to the host Macintosh.

As I mentioned above, I have the 850AV connected to my Power Macintosh 7300, and have it set for a resolution of 1280×1024. I am loving the extra display space, but I have to admit that due to the added height of the speakers at the bottom of the monitor, the display area itself sits up a little higher than I find comfortable. By the nature of the Mac OS GUI layout, with the menu bar along the top edge of the screen, the user is forced to interact with the very top of the display space quite often. I find myself having to crane my neck up to do this, and that becomes uncomfortable after any extended use. I either need a lower surface on which to place the 850AV, or I need to lay hands on its lesser sibling, the AppleVision/ColorSync 850, which is fundamentally the same display technology but without the speakers. I am on the hunt for an AppleVision/ColorSync 850 now, and will report on it here at HappyMacs if I should acquire one.

Until then however, I would absolutely recommend the 850AV as a great addition to your vintage Mac setup. The extra display space is more than worth any other considerations. Keep an eye on eBay if you are looking. They don’t come up often, but they do come up. Happy Hunting!

 

Life Amidst the Boxes

Just a quick update. The Happy Macs lab (and us with it!) has finally successfully relocated to new quarters, and we are slowly digging through the mountains of boxes. Over the next several weeks, I hope to work through the lengthy process of unpacking and establishing my computer lab again.

Right now, the Happy Macs lab is a sea of  boxes, equipment and unassembled furniture. Have a look…

2016-07-02.1506, The New Happy Macs Lab (1280x720)

The row of Apple CRT monitors makes me think that this is what an Apple Store shelf might have looked like back in the late 1990s, had Apple Stores existed at that time, which they did not (the first store opened on May 19th 2001).

The first two monitors at the front of the row are Apple MultiScan 20″ Monitors (M1823), purchased only very recently from the daughter-in-law of a gentleman who had acquired them new for use at his graphic design business. When he moved on to more modern equipment, these monitors were idled and stored. He recently asked his daughter-in-law to sell them for him, and I was lucky enough to see the advertisement and make the purchase. Along with the monitors came a heavily upgraded Power Macintosh G3, directly behind the first monitor in the row, and an equally  upgraded Power Macintosh 7600/120, which is not visible in this photo. I am looking forward to working with these new machines and will of course post about them over time.

In the meantime, thanks for your ongoing comments and readership. This blog should be “back on the air” in the not too distant future!

 

Living Life the G5/Tiger Way

Regular readers may have noticed that the pace of postings here at the Happy Macs blog has slowed down quite a bit. There is a reason for that. In January, I started a new job, and moved halfway across the country in the process. The Happy Macs lab was completely dismantled and packed up, and remains largely in that state. We have moved into an apartment for the short term, while we decide where in our new location we would like to buy a home.

I have a small “computer corner” in the new apartment and that is all. I brought two prized computers with me to the apartment and set them up in the computer corner: my Power Mac G5 Quad and my Power Macintosh 7300. Everything else is in storage until we buy and move into a new home (with the exception of an incredible Power Macintosh G3 and its accompanying AppleVision 850AV monitor that I picked up a short while ago, and have yet to begin work on – that will be another post at another time).

Power Mac G3 and AppleVision 850AV

Which brings me to the topic of this post. Note that I did not mention any current day computers. My “daily driver” up until the move was my 2012 27” iMac, a 3.4 GHz Intel machine. An excellent computer, but packed away in a box at this point I’m afraid. Before the move, I backed up all the contents onto an external hard drive and brought that with me. When I set up the computer corner, I restored that backup onto my Power Mac G5 Quad, and for the next six months or so, it will be my daily driver. This post is being composed on it right now.

G5 Quad

So, for the next many months, I will be living life the G5/Tiger way. It is almost like stepping back in time to 2006 when these machines were the shiny new state of the art. Back in 2006, the Power Mac G5 Quad was a kick ass machine. Know what? It still is. Granted, I have accelerated this machine a bit. The boot volume is an SSD, and the main disk is a fairly modern high speed 7200 RPM drive with a whopping 64MB of onboard cache. The computer itself is equipped with 8 GB of RAM, and sports the top end video card of the day in 2006, the nVidia Quadro FX 4500, itself equipped with 512 MB of video RAM.

nVidia Logo

So, the machine packs a punch, but it is still a 2.5 GHz PowerPC G5. By today’s standards, it would be considered pretty low powered I am sure. However, in daily use, I can honestly say that I don’t really notice that. In fact, the opposite is true. The machine feels crisp and fast and I can do everything on it that I was doing on the iMac before (with the exception of managing my most recent iPod, the 160 GB iPod Classic, which I purchased just before Apple discontinued them). As I have often opined, “older” does not equal “obsolete”. This machine is fully up to the challenges of the day, and I am thoroughly enjoying working on it once again.

In the meantime, as we get fully settled in, and I get fully up to speed on my new job, the pace of posting should start to pick up here again. There is lots to do! I am finally in a position to load up my Gopher based vintage Mac software repository and of course there is the Power Mac G3 and AppleVision 850AV to work on … All of this and more will be tracked here in the Happy Macs blog. Stay tuned!

Pimp My Ride – Upgrading a Power Macintosh 7300 – Series Wrap Up

Pimp My Ride 10

Welcome to the summation of our “pimp my ride” series. In this series, we have looked at upgrading a Power Macintosh 7300/200. We have upgraded the video card, the CPU and both the hard drive itself and the hard drive interface (from SCSI to IDE). Reviewing the full set of results we have achieved, one upgrade really stands out from the rest: the CPU. Our results clearly demonstrate that to get the biggest “bang for your upgrade buck”, you should upgrade the CPU. This is the highest impact single step you can take. No other single upgrade delivers such dramatic across-the-board improvements.

PowerPC G3

What about the other upgrades? The other upgrades we undertook helped, but none to the extent of the CPU upgrade. Upgrading the video card was nice, but it did not produce that much observable impact in day-to-day use of the computer (unless you are a gamer). Upgrading the hard drive from SCSI to IDE delivered modest improvements in boot time, and also delivered somewhere between 1.5X and 2X reduction in program launch time, definitely making it a good second upgrade step to take. However, in the final analysis, only the CPU upgrade made significant, observable, day-to-day improvements across the board: boot time, program launch time, general responsiveness and so on.

So there you have it. In this series, we started with a stock Power Macintosh 7300/200 and step-by-step, upgraded the video card, the CPU and the hard drive. Of these upgrades, the single largest bang for the buck is the CPU upgrade.

Want to speed up your Power Macintosh? Hit eBay and start searching for Sonnet G3 and Sonnet G4 CPU upgrade cards. Find a good one, install it, and strap on your goggles and driving gloves – you are in for a high speed computing experience!

Goggles and Gloves

Pimp My Ride – Upgrading a Power Macintosh 7300/400 to an IDE Hard Drive

So far in this “pimp my ride” series, we have looked at upgrading the video subsytem of our Power Macintosh 7300/200 with an ATI Radeon 7000 Mac Edition video card (not much impact) and upgrading the CPU from the stock 200 MHz PowerPC 604e to a 400 MHz PowerPC G3 (BIG impact). In this last installment of our upgrade saga, we will look at upgrading the stock SCSI hard drive to an ATA-66 interfaced IDE drive.

The stock SCSI hard drive that shipped with the Power Macintosh 7300/200 may be many things, but FAST was not one of them. Using the Intech Hard Disk Speed Tools benchmarking program, I was able to measure the maximum transfer rate of the SCSI drive in my 7300 at about 9 MB/s. The graph below tells the tale.

SCSI Drive Speed Results

Now, there is nothing wrong with this number. 10 MB/s is the advertised speed for Apple’s “Fast SCSI”, but to put this number in context, today’s SATA hard drives operate in the GB/s transfer range. Even the older IDE technology delivered up to 133 MB/s transfer speeds. 9 MB/s, while absolutely in spec, is simply SLOW!

To overcome this, I purchased on eBay a Sonnet Tempo ATA-66 IDE interface card. This PCI interfaced internal expansion card promised up to 66 MB/s transfer speeds, a worthy jump in performance vs. the existing SCSI drive. I happened to have a Seagate 3120814A 120 GB IDE hard drive in stock, and so I installed that into the second drive bay of the 7300.

ST3120814A

I then installed the Sonnet Tempo ATA-66 into a spare PCI slot and connected an IDE cable from it to the newly installed Seagate IDE drive. For those that know about such things, I was careful to use the higher speed double conductor type of IDE cable, so as to get maximum speed out of the interface.

I restarted the machine and went into Drive Setup (the standard Apple utility, usually found in the Utilities folder of the boot drive). It obligingly found the drive and offered to initialize it. I will spare you the gory details of that process, but I partitioned the physical drive into several logical drives (one for use as a general files partition, one for use as a second Mac OS partition, and finally, two for a later Linux install on this machine) and initialized each one. That done, I now had no fewer than 5 logical drives showing up on my Mac OS desktop.

Desktop w 5 Drives

How fast was this new disk? Had I accomplished the 66 MB/s I was hoping for? I reran the Hard Disk Speed Tools benchmark, and got a disappointing 31 MB/s.

IDE Drive Speed Results

This is still more than 3X the speed of the stock SCSI drive, but was only half of what should have been possible. I swapped IDE cables, I swapped out the Tempo ATA-66 for another Tempo and generally tried everything I could think of, but nothing would induce the interface to run any faster. I still haven’t solved this mystery, but 31 MB/s IS still a lot better than 9 MB/s, and so I decided to proceed with the testing based on this slower, but still much faster, hard drive and interface.

Clearly, to do any meaningful testing, I needed to be able to boot from, and run applications from, the IDE drive. The Sonnet Tempo ATA-66 box and documentation was very clear that this interface supported booting of the Macintosh and so I proceeded under that premise.

It was MUCH too much work to install a new version of Mac OS onto this new drive just for the purposes of testing, and so I took a very convenient shortcut. I simply copied my entire SCSI boot volume, folder by folder, to a partition of the IDE disk. I then “blessed” the system folder of this copy of my boot disk (if “blessing” of a system folder is a mystery to you, it is the arcane but simple process of making a Mac OS system folder bootable). Finally, I went into the Startup Disk X control panel and selected the new drive to boot from.

Startup Disk X

All set and ready to boot! Stop watch in hand, I hit the power button and timed the boot sequence. It clocked in at 1 minute and 40 seconds, or 100 seconds, from power up chime to the appearance of the control strip on the booted desktop. This may sound slow to you when examined through the lens of today, but this was GOOD! Prior to all of the upgrades undertaken as a part of this series, the equivalent boot time was 2 minutes and 57s, or 177 seconds.

However, I must note that after just the CPU upgrade undertaken earlier in this series, the boot time was already down to 2 minute and 5s, or 125s.  Compared to the new time of 100 seconds this implies that booting from the 3X faster IDE hard drive hadn’t really bought me anything close to a 3X improvement. How could this be? As we noted in the CPU upgrade part of this series, it seems that booting is both CPU bound and disk bound.

What about other performance metrics? After the machine was booted, I tested a few programs that I had comparative metrics for:

– Photoshop 6.0 Load Time: 12 seconds (vs. 27 seconds from SCSI drive)

– Corel Word Perfect 3.5e Load Time: 2 seconds (vs. 3 seconds from SCSI drive)

The improvement in Photoshop load time was impressive; Word Perfect less so, but still good.

Looking at the above, the net result of this decidedly unscientific examination of the relative speed impact of using a 3X faster IDE hard drive vs. the stock SCSI hard drive is that it had an observable impact. Booting was faster, but not THAT much faster, implying that booting was bound by more than just disk I/O. Some program launches were more than 2X faster, while others were only 50% faster or so.

In summary, I think we can conclude that upgrading the hard drive of your Power Macintosh from SCSI to IDE is a worthy step, and one that will deliver you observable performance gains. Critically, booting is faster and program launching is faster. These two areas factor large in the subjective impression of the “speed” of a machine, and this all by itself makes a SCSI -> IDE upgrade well worth considering.

That’s it for this installment! Stay tuned for final post in this series, a wrap up of all of the upgrade steps taken to date.

Pimp My Ride – Upgrading a Power Macintosh 7300/200 to a 400 MHz G3

This is part two of our “pimp my ride” series, in which we undertake  performance upgrades to various subsystems of a Power Macintosh 7300/200. In the first part of this series, we upgraded the 7300/200 with an ATI Radeon 7000 Mac Edition video card, and found the results largely uninspiring. In this post, we upgrade the CPU from the stock 200 MHz PowerPC 604e to a 400 MHz G3.

The CPU is the heart and soul any computer, and a capacity increase in this area should certainly among the highest impact updates a user can make. In my case, my Power Macintosh 7300/200 shipped with a 200 MHz 604e, and was a very capable machine in this configuration. Nonetheless, I had two CPU updates available, both from Sonnet: a 500 MHz G3/1M and a 400 MHz G3/1M. Conceptually, both should have been able to more than double the performance of the 7300, and as we shall see, this was indeed the case.

I am sure that it will come as no surprise to anyone that I started with the 500 MHz card. Installation was simple enough. I located and loaded up the Sonnet Processor Upgrade extension (ce_install_v31.sit) and powered down the machine. I removed the cover, extracted the original 200 MHz card …

2015-10-22.1124, Power Macintosh 7300 with Original 200 MHz CPU in Place

… and slotted the new 500 MHz card into its place. The new card was a curiously small form factor, but It declared itself to be a Crescendo G3, and all of Sonnet’s literature said that this compatible with a Power Macintosh 7300 and so I proceeded. Suspecting that trouble might be in the offing however, I did not replace the cover of the 7300.

2015-10-22.1126, New 500 MHz G3 CPU for Power Macintosh 7300

It slotted into place just fine…

2015-10-22.1127, New 500 MHz G3 CPU Installed, Power Macintosh 7300

…but trouble was indeed in the offing. My attempts to start the machine up after the install were a complete failure. I could hear the machine power on, but there was no start up chime, and no other overt signs of life. I left the machine sitting like that for some time (several minutes), just in case it was running RAM tests, but it remained deaf and mute, and eventually I turned it off.

I reseated the card and retried the start up several times, but always to no good end. I tried zapping the PRAM and restarting, but again, no joy. Finally, I was left to decide that this was either an unsupported card for the 7300, or it was defective. Happily, I had a fallback, the 400 MHz upgrade card I mentioned above, and I dropped back to that.

This card was more or less the same form factor as the original 200 MHz card…

2015-10-22.1134, New 400 MHz G3 CPU for Power Macintosh 7300

…and slotted in easily.

2015-10-22.1136, New 400 MHz G3 CPU Installed, Power Macintosh 7300

When I pressed the Power button this time, the machine sprang to life instantly, issued a robust start up chime and dropping directly into the boot sequence. This sequence was observably faster than before, and quickly yielded a fully booted desktop.

Alright then – so far, so good, but was it running at 400 MHz? Sonnet prides itself on being a no hassle upgrade. As their literature says, “No Switches, No Control Panels, Just Fast”. As you might expect therefore, there was no control panel to look at to verify the CPU speed. Sonnet did however provide a program called Metronome, which measures and reports the speed of the CPU. I found Metronome in my Apple Menu items and ran it. As you can see below, it reported a clean 400 MHz. Sonnet was right. No muss, no fuss, just fast.

Sonnet Metronome, 400 MHz

Apple System Profiler gave me an identical result:

Apple System Profiler, 400

OK, the CPU was running cleanly at 400 MHz. I was particularly interested in this since in the past, I had upgraded a Power Macintosh 7500/100 with a Newer Technology brand 400 MHz G3, only to get a less than advertised 366 MHz from it.  I am guessing that some form of clock auto scaling was responsible for this, perhaps as the card did its best to multiply the system clock, but it always left me wanting… I had paid for 400 MHz and received only 366 MHz. It still made a HUGE difference, but it wasn’t everything I had been expecting. In this case, I was pleased to see that my new Sonnet upgrade was delivering the full 400 MHz I had paid for.

So, how fast IS 400 MHz relative to the initial 200 MHz? I tried a few very subjective tests, and was impressed with the results. Image decoding in JPEGView was significantly faster than before. My ThumbsPlus image cataloger and viewer seemed to race through images in a way I could only have dreamed of before the upgrade. This was all encouraging. It was time for some objective testing.

The system now booted in 125 seconds, vs. the original 177 seconds. This was faster, but not as much faster as I might have expected. It seems to me that this must be reflective of a boot process that is bound not just by CPU but also by disk I/O. I am guessing that having improved only one of these two factors, I did not get the maximum benefit.

Application loading really sparkled however. Adobe Photoshop 7.0 now loaded in 31 seconds, vs. the original pre upgrade time of 1 minute and 30 seconds, a really nice 3x boost. Image decoding improved quite a bit as well. There are three images that I had used in benchmark testing some time ago, and still had the previous recorded decode and display times for. After the 400 MHz upgrade, I tested them again and the new results looked like this:

  • Image One: 3.5 seconds (vs. the original 7 seconds)
  • Image Two: 3 seconds (vs. the original 4 seconds)
  • Image Three: 3 seconds (vs. the original 6 seconds)

Overall, I would summarize the above as a roughly 2x boost, which is not quite as much as I might have expected, when doubling the clock and going from a 604e to a G3 with 1 MB of backside cache, but there you have it.

To offset that minor disappointment however, there was a hidden bonus in this upgrade, quite aside from the new, snappier behavior of the system. The system ran quieter now as well! The 7300 has variable, temperature controlled fans, and I have always noted that as the machine warmed up and internal case temperatures stabilized, the fans would ramp up somewhat and the machine would get noisier. This was  not the case post upgrade. Clearly the new 400 MHz G3 must run cooler than the older 200 MHz 604e, resulting in less need for cooling and thus quieter operation overall.

So, in summary, bumping up the CPU from a 200 MHz 604e to a 400 MHz G3 produced excellent and very noticable results. The machine now booted faster, applications loaded faster AND ran faster, and as a final bonus, the system ran cooler and quieter. I’ll call this upgrade step a big win all around.

Up next, and the last upgrade step in this series, is an upgrade to the hard drive, from an original SCSI drive to an ATA-66 interfaced IDE hard drive. Read on to see the impact of this change.

Pimp My Ride – Adding an ATI Radeon 7000 Mac Edition Video Card to a Power Macintosh 7300/200

Video card updates are often the first stop for users wishing to increase the performance of their computers, and so I decided to start my update efforts in this area. Video card updates are particularly relevant for gamers and for people who are interested in high quality video playback of all sorts.

After reviewing the slate of possible video upgrades for my Power Macintosh 7300/200, I settled on the ATI Radeon 7000 Mac Edition as the best of a limited bunch.

ATI Radeon 7000 Mac Edition Card

While reviewers generally commented on its “tepid performance” overall, it was still a major boost relative to the onboard video system of the 7300, and seemed the most competent of the set of possible options.

The ATI Radeon 7000 Mac Edition debuted in 2002, and was targeted at upgrades of older Power Macintosh units that lacked the then current AGP bus, and thus had only PCI to work with as a system interface. Despite “being hobbled by its PCI interface” as one reviewer put it, the Radeon 7000 Mac Edition still promised a significant functionality boost to users of older Macintoshes: DVI connectivity, dual monitors, accelerated 3D graphics and finally higher resolutions due to its 32 MB of (then) high speed DDR onboard video RAM.

ATI Radeon 7000 Mac Edition Box

Arriving as it did in 2002, and aimed at older Macintoshes, the included drivers assumed Mac OS 9.2.2 would be the operating system environment that they would execute in. Thus the OpenGL elements of Mac OS 9.2.2 were required to get full functionality from those drivers. Early versions of Mac OS X were supported as well, but as this was not my focus, I chose not to explore that further.

I am running Mac OS 9.1 on my Power Macintosh 7300/200, and so I was a little concerned about getting things to work, but it turns out that both the initial releases of the drivers, and the October 2002 retail upgrade of them, both supported Mac OS 9.1, but per the above, without full OpenGL support. I resolved that by copying all of the OpenGL system extensions from one of my Mac OS 9.2.2 systems to the Mac OS 9.1 system folder of my 7300/200. The net result was that my Mac OS 9.1 system was upgraded from OpenGL 1.2 to OpenGL 1.2.4.

Installation of the card was a snap (I picked one up on eBay for next to nothing). I installed the October 2002 version of the drivers, turned off the Macintosh, installed the card, and attempted to move the video connector from the onboard video plug to the Radeon 7000 video plug… Well, wait a minute, perhaps installation was not QUITE so much of a snap. More like a hiccup actually!

I am using an original Apple Multiscan 720 17” monitor with my Power Macintosh 7300/200,

apple_multiplescan_720

and as you will undoubtedly remember, Apple had unique, non VGA connectors at the time. So, I could not simply move the non VGA video connector of the monitor onto the VGA output of the Radeon 7000.

If I had been able to get the Radeon 7000 I purchased with its full original retail packaging, this would not have been a problem. ATI included the necessary adapter for this circumstance in their original packaging. However, all I had purchased was the card itself, and so I was somewhat out of luck.

16991111-1

A return to eBay was in order, and after some trial and error, I discovered that a search for “Macintosh to VGA adapter” turned up the right result, and I ordered one. This arrived a few days later and I was able to complete the install and try out the new card. Needless to say, the delay was annoying!

I connected the monitor to the Radeon 7000 via the adapter and turned on the machine. The Power Macintosh booted smoothly and came right up on the Radeon video port. That was good – basic sanity is always helpful! But what about performance? Well, as reported above, “tepid” does seem a good choice of words. I really did not notice much improvement in observable performance. Subjectively, some applications seemed to accomplish vertical scrolling a little more smoothly, and this was especially visible in Photoshop 6, but that was about it.

Worse, I noticed that selecting and dragging Finder windows seemed to have gotten noticeably WORSE! Where previously window movements had been reasonably smooth, now they were jerky, with the screen image seeming to update very, very slowly. I have been using an extension called Power Windows to achieve solid window dragging.

Power Windows

Suspecting a conflict, I disabled it. That did the trick. Suddenly, although I no longer had solid window dragging, Finder windows moved crisply and updates snapped into place. This was a notable improvement from the state before I had installed the video card, and so I was happy with it.

I am not a gamer, but I have read numerous reports that the Radeon 7000 makes a perceptable difference there, and ditto for video playback. For me, the Radeon 7000 did little for my day to day work on the Power Macintosh 7300. The system did not seem subjectively any faster, short of the minor Finder window update speed improvement I reported, but it did now have  more available resolutions, and dual monitor and DVI connectivity (if I should ever want to use these with this system) and so I will call it a net win.

Overall, the real value of a Radeon 7000 addition will be realized by gamers, users of video and those wishing to go to DVI or multi monitor. For my use of my 7300/200, the Radeon 7000 was a nice addition, but not a great performance uplift.

That brings us to next steps. The objective of this exercise was to get noticeable performance improvements, and so it was time to move on to the next step. One typically gets noticeable performance gains from CPU upgrades, and so next up is just that: a CPU upgrade. See the next post in this series to see how that turns out!