Review: Connectix Speed Doubler 8.
January 10, 1999
by Stephen Hildreth
Speed Doubler 8 is the third generation of Connectix's software accelerator. Providing acceleration in the form of improved disk performance, faster 68k emulation, and faster file copying, Speed Doubler improves the performance of most recent Macs. In addition to these important speed improvements, Speed Doubler includes two other components called Keyboard Power and Hot Keys.
Speed Doubler 8 replaces the Mac OS disk cache with its own disk cache system and provides speed enhancements to the cache memory. By storing frequently used hard drive data in RAM, instead of the hard drive itself, Speed Doubler speeds up the read/write process. The end result is less time waiting for the hard drive. On my G3-upgraded PowerBook 1400c, there's a noticeable difference in things like opening folders, scrolling down menus, and other Finder operations. I always cringe when booting with extensions disabled because everything is slower - even with my speedy 233MHz G3 CPU.
One of the biggest speed improvements is faster file copying. This is worth the price of Speed Doubler alone. Speed Doubler 8 provides faster performance, more convenience, and more features than Mac OS's Finder. Some of the features include concurrent copying, faster network copies, folder synchronization, smart replacing, copying multiple files to multiple destinations, and more. Speed Doubler provides a notable improvement in speed on my PowerBook 1400c and my 300MHz desktop Power Mac at work. For example, a 40MB folder takes about 3 1/2 minutes to copy on my 1400c with Speed Doubler, and nearly 7 minutes without.
Keyboard Power and Hot Keys provide specific Finder enhancements. Keyboard Power enables you to call up any menu and menu item using a key combination consisting of the Control key, another modifier key that you select, and the underlined letter of the menu you want. I say underlined because Speed Doubler 8 underlines one letter of every menu name and menu item. This provides a nice way of dropping menus and selecting items using just your keyboard. While this is not a feature that I regularly use, I can see how some folks would warm up to it.
Hot Keys enables you to create keyboard shortcuts (F1-F14 or a combination of modifier keys) for frequently used operations like typing a string of text, launching apps, or opening files. As you can see in the screenshot below, I use Hot Keys to type the URLs of my websutes - a task I find myself repeating over and over again.
Keyboard Power and Hot Keys are nice features built into Speed Doubler 8, but they can also be found in various other shareware and commercial programs, like Quick Keys.
Speed Doubler 8 provides speed improvements to many areas of your Mac, especially if you have an older, pre-G3 Mac. The most notable improvement is in file copying, where your times may be cut in half while using Speed Doubler. I've noticed no conflicts with other control panels or extensions on my PowerBook 1400c using Mac OS 8.5.1. Instead, Speed Doubler 8 provides a nice speed boost to critical Finder operations like opening folders, dropping menus, scrolling, etc. If you have at least a 68030 processor, System 7.5.5, and 12MB of physical RAM, then Speed Doubler 8 is the cheapest way to get a speed boost without spending big bucks to upgrade your processor.
Stephen Hildreth has been the Editor-in-Chief of PowerBook Central since its inception in 1996. When not working on his Mac, he shares his love of the outdoors with his family and can be found biking, snow skiing, or educating students on the internal & external processes of our planet.