This article appeared in the Nov/Dec 1998 edition of MacToday. The magazine has been renamed MacDesign.
Newer Technology Inc.'s new NUpowr 2400 G3/240 upgrade for the PowerBook 2400c turns the diminutive 2400c into what just may be the fastest sub-notebook computer in the world.
This is no ordinary PowerBook 2400c. After upgrading to the 240 Mhz NUpowr G3, I added a 64 MB RAM module to take the 2400c to its 80 MB RAM limit and substituted an IBM 4 GB hard drive from MCE (http://www.powerbook1.com/) for the original 1.3 GB drive. It is hard to believe, but my little 4.1 lb. 2400c is now faster and more powerful in every way than my desktop PowerMacintosh 8600/300.
Unlike the NUpowr G3 1400, this product is available in only one configuration: a G3 chip running at 240 MHz with a 512 Kbyte backside cache. I would like a 1 MB cache version, but doubt the volume of 2400c sales would justify its manufacture and frankly feel perfectly content with the smaller cache. The 2400c seems to be capable of handling a higher than normal cache speed, so I have pushed my cache speed to 160 MHz, thereby allowing my 2400c to run at near G3/250 PowerBook speeds. I have been beta testing this configuration now for more than five months without any trouble at all, and have not experienced any compatibility problems. Surprisingly, I have not experienced any reduction in battery life as a result of the NUpowr G3 upgrade.
super bang for the buck
This is a very cost-effective package. New PowerBook 2400c computers can be found on sale for as low as $1,299 and the Newer G3 upgrade goes for around $850. With all my upgrades, I have only around $3,000 invested this machine.
Installing the G3 processor in the 2400c is something best left to a professional. Newer itself will perform the installation for your vendor for an additional $150. As Newer says:
"The PowerBook 2400 is a marvel of miniaturization, but that marvel comes at a price and the price is that this is a somewhat difficult notebook to take apart. We strongly suggest that you have your favorite dealer install this upgrade. Newer Technology also provides a service for installing these cards. The service is known as 'The PowerBook Upgrade Center'. It is available from most mail-order and web based resellers."
on the road again
I use my PowerBook 2400c for Website programming from my bicycle and tent as I travel. With the NUpowr G3, I can rotate and edit 1024x768 Photoshop images from my Olympus digital camera as fast as my eyes can see them -- a 90° rotation is instantaneous.
Speed does not save time, however. I guess better technology allows one to do more, not less. We all thought that as computers became more powerful, we would have more time on our hands. Oh sure, everything we do has sped up exponentially, but at the same time we have occupied the time by doing more. So it is with the NUpowr G3 upgrade. It more than doubles the speed of what I can do with my PowerBook, so I end up doing more than twice as much.
I hesitate to admit it, but at this point, my tendency is to try things I would not have even contemplated before, which actually increases the complexity of my website efforts. For instance, knowing that I have the NUpowr G3, I tried animating some digital photographs for my website -- taking several stills of a waving flag and amber waves of grain for instance. Though I have not yet perfected my technique, the NUpowr G3 upgrade certainly gives me the power to reach for more in what I do.
This package makes serious computing truly mobile. What more could anybody ask for?
- Ed Noonan