Hardware

Product review: Evergreen Technologies Performa series

Are you looking into adding a little speed to your aging computer? If so, Evergreen Technologies has a few processor upgrades that you might be interested in.


Recently, Evergreen Technologies sent me two of their top processor upgrades to review: the PerformaIII 800 and Performa 700. Being the hardware junkie that I am, I couldn’t resist trying them out. The following article describes my experience with these two upgrade products and my opinions on whether these devices are worth using.
PerformaIII 800 and Performa 700
Platform:
Windows 9x, NT, 2000, Me, and MS-DOS
System Requirements:
PII 233 or better slot 1 motherboard
Specifications:
Auto clock multiplier, includes heatsink and socket 370 to slot 1 adaptor
Processors:
PerformaIII: Pentium III Socket 370 800-MHz processor
Performa: Celeron Socket 370 700-MHz processor
Speed:
PerformaIII: 100 MHz
Performa: 66 MHz
Get ready, get set, go!
When I opened the PerformaIII and Performa upgrade kits, I was a little surprised by what I found. Inside each box was a floppy disk and installation instructions on a single piece of paper. I was expecting a booklet or something with a little more information on the product and its installation, but instead there was only the one sheet of paper.

The instructions, although basic, were helpful in removing the existing processor and replacing it with the Performa upgrade. But I was perplexed by the lack of information on the correct jumper settings for my test machine’s motherboard or the upgrade processor itself.

After calling Evergreen’s technical support, I discovered that the jumpers located on the upgrade were not to be touched, as they were preset for optimum performance. And as for the motherboard jumpers, I didn’t have any help in determining which ones, if any, needed to be changed. As a result, I decided that it was in my best interest to leave the jumper settings “as is” and proceed with the installation.

The floppy disk that came in the kit was supposed to be used to update my test machine’s BIOS. But, as with the jumpers, I wasn’t too comfortable making any unnecessary changes to the test machine, and so I decided to skip this step.
The machine: Dell Dimension XPS R350
Original Processor: Pentium II 350
Memory: PC100 64-MB DIMM
Hard drive: 5-GB ATA 33
We don’t need no stinking BIOS
After skipping the BIOS upgrade, I began installing the PerformaIII 800 upgrade processor. After removing the existing processor and placing the upgrade in its place, I powered on the machine and watched the POST carefully to see what changes had been made. To my surprise, I noticed that the system had detected the upgrade as a Pentium Pro processor, running at 500 MHz.

I called Evergreen support once again to determine if this was normal. According to the technician that I spoke with, since I didn’t upgrade the BIOS, as the company recommends, my test machine may not be able to determine the correct processor speed. He assured me, however, that Windows would detect the upgrade processor and would still function properly. He also suggested that I try WCPUID, a utility that displays a computer’s CPU information, to determine if the upgrade was working properly.

After downloading and running the program, I found that the technician was correct. According to WCPUID, I was indeed running a Pentium III 800-MHz processor. After fooling around in Windows a bit, I easily determined that the machine was running faster with the upgrade installed.

What about the Performa 700?
After testing the PerformaIII 800, I powered off the test machine, removed the 800, and installed the Performa 700. After rebooting the machine, I examined the POST and noticed that the machine reported having a Pentium Pro 500-MHz processor installed, just as it did when I had installed the PerformaIII 800.

Once Windows was running, I again used WCPUID to determine the make and speed of the processor. WCPUID reported that the computer was running a Celeron 700-MHz processor. Again, after playing around in Windows for a while, I noticed a significant increase in system performance.

Installation troubles? Check the compatibility of your PC
Wanting a second opinion, I gave the Performa 700 processor to the editor in chief of TechProGuild, Erik Eckel. Unfortunately, Erik’s experience did not go as my own. He was never able to successfully boot his computer with the Performa 700 installed.

Thinking there could be an issue specific to the 700, I gave Erik the PerformaIII 800 to try. But he experienced the same problems with the 800. Searching for answers, I checked the list of PCs compatible with these upgrade processors on the Evergreen Technologies Web site. As Erik’s PC wasn’t listed, it appears that the upgrades will only work on PCs approved by Evergreen.
Pros:
  • Allows you to speed up your aging PC
  • Uses actual Pentium or Celeron Socket 370 processors that can be replaced
  • Features an easy installation if your computer supports the upgrade
Cons:
  • Is a bit pricey for a processor upgrade
  • Costs the same as replacing a board and processor
  • Could be difficult to install if the upgrade doesn’t support your machine

The bottom line
These Evergreen Technologies upgrade processors are a great way to increase the performance of an aging computer, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that these are actually Slot 1 processor upgrades. The Performa 700 and PerformaIII 800 are actually Pentium III and Celeron socket processors on a slotket platform, which allows Socket 370 processors to operate on a Slot 1 motherboard. What you’re paying for when you purchase these devices isn’t just the processor, but the slotket technology that allows the processor to run on a Slot 1 board.

While these devices do run well on the computers that Evergreen has certified them on, they are a bit pricey. As of this publishing, Evergreen Technologies sells the PerformaIII 800 for $299.99. For the same price, you can purchase a whole new motherboard and processor.

If Evergreen dropped the price of these upgrade processors to about the same price as an Intel 800-MHz PIII, which currently lists on Pricewatch.com for roughly $180.00, they might have a winner. Until then, I just don’t see the logic in purchasing a slotket upgrade processor for the same price as a new motherboard and genuine Slot 1 processor.
Do you agree with this product review? Would you rather purchase the upgrade or buy a new board and processor? We want to know your thoughts. Feel free to send us a note or post your comments below.

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