The AMD 690G/690V chipset was officially launched about a week ago. This is AMD's first integrated graphics platform and in our initial testing proved to be a serious competitor to the NVIDIA 6100 series and the Intel G965 in video performance. We have had a little extra time to work with the chipset and feel confident enough in the chipset and drivers to publish our first performance results today. While our initial results will concentrate on video, media, and audio application performance from a chipset level, we will be looking in-depth at each 690G board in our upcoming mATX roundup that features over ten boards from four different chipset suppliers.

We actually have had the MSI K9AGM2-FIH in our labs for several weeks and the initial performance results were somewhat disappointing based upon our expectations of the chipset (not the board). However, through the release of new BIOS code and driver updates from AMD, the board has turned into quite the performer in several areas. Of course the previous statement should be tempered to a certain degree as AMD's first IGP is competing against an NVIDIA chipset that has been out for close to 18 months and an Intel chipset that continues to disappoint us at just about every turn.

Our opinions about the basic performance level of current IGP solutions are not kind as we feel like the continued minimum functionality in such solutions creates issues with developers looking to move forward but who must always have a foot in the grave to ensure their products run on the lowest common denominator platform. To a certain degree, that platform has historically been Intel based as they are the world's largest graphics provider. This is a position that breeds frustration when the overall performance and feature sets are so low that one wonders why they even bother to update their IGP chipsets targeted to the home user.


Of course the introduction of Vista will ultimately benefit consumers and developers as it forces a certain base feature set and performance requirement for graphics hardware. However, even with DX9 functionality required for the full Vista UI, the performance and compatibility of current games with Intel hardware under Vista is dismal at best. All of this sounds like a lot of doom and gloom, and in some ways it is but such is the life of an integrated graphics platform in the hands of even the most casual gamer today. This is why we are always looking forward to seeing new integrated chipsets as competition drives innovation, no matter how small the improvements might be at times.

This is not to say that the AMD and NVIDIA solutions are that much better than the Intel G965; they are to a certain degree, but without earnest competition from Intel these solutions do just enough to stay ahead without actually encroaching on the discrete GPU market. However, at least these solutions provide a much higher degree of compatibility and performance with most games and applications. While running the latest games such as Oblivion or Supreme Commander require a resolution of 1024x768 or under with medium-low quality settings, at least a user has the chance to play the game until they can afford a better video solution although the experience will not be a pleasant one with the latest game releases.

Let's take a quick look at the specifications of the AMD 690G/690V chipsets and its performance against the other major IGP solutions.

Chipset Overview
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  • 3 CUBED - Friday, March 09, 2007 - link

    I have to mention power also. Considering that a HTPC is properly going to be on quiet a bit, I would like to se some info on the power draw, from these mobo's. The same goes in the roundup!! Also considering that the energy prices is headed only UP, even a little lower performance might be worth that in the long run!!

    Thanks Kasper.
    Reply
  • MrNeutrino - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    Guys,

    First, the feedback:

    Frankly I'm quite frustrated from waiting for a site like AT for the past half a year or more to come out with more mATX reviews (until this review, which is a start).

    I realize there are a lot of gamers OCers out there - very many AT readers. However, there are many (just as many?) non-gamer enthusiasts hoping to run stock-speed,SILENT, SFF systems out there - myself for one.

    While lesser known sites have reviewed many of these products, I (and others like me I know of) have been waiting for AT to publish SOMETHING in the mATX / C2D (current and long-standing performance champ depending on the system config.) category for months on end! I realize you have dedicated folks working for each review category. However, AT - a site as a whole - still seems to have enough bandwidth to publish back-to-back LCD and heatsink reviews in a matter of day or two each. Yet you seem to have held off on prioritizing mATX system reviews for some inexplicable milestone until yesterday. I recall reading a vague comment in one of your reviews around the end of the year regarding an 'upcoming' mATX review, if I remember correctly. In my opinion it was already too delayed a review. Little did I know I'd be waiting another two months for such a review.

    Geez! Publish the review in parts if you must, but don't make your readers hold off for this long and think all is well! What's the point of releasing this type of review, months after products became widely available and just a few months before the next round of technology updates?!

    -----------------------

    Second is a set of requests for the (personally) much anticipated upcoming mATX review next week 'as well as' for future reviews:

    Requests for the upcoming mATX review:

    * Please try to include Asus P5B-VM. One of the currently best featured G965 MBs.

    * Please include at least one C2D ATX MB for comparison! My vote is for Asus P5B-E. I can't stress this enough! I have yet to receive any 'quantitative' (read: benchmark backed) response in forums http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid...">here) and http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid...">here, on the following topics (quoting from my earlier posts):

    - how do mATX boards compare to ATX boards "for non-gaming tasks such as video / audio editing, general productivity, multi-tasking etc.?"

    - "How much of a performance hit does a G965 type mATX motherboard with integrated graphics incur as a result of sharing memory bus bandwidth with the CPU, for NON-GAMING benchmarks, compared to regular C2D ATX boards?" (Assuming of course, the user chooses to use integrated graphics vs. discrete solution and has that enabled in BIOS.)

    Please BE SURE to adderss these and other such real-world topics and help make the review more meaningful for folks like me.


    Requests for future reviews:

    * Consider investing more time and effort in SFF / mATX / silent PC config based reviews! Yes, there is an audience out there...

    * For a site this major and popular - both with readers and vendors - you need to seriously evaluate your time-to-publishing lags for some of these reviews - C2D mATX roundup review for one. I realize there are a million things you can review and only 24 hours in a day. Delayed reviews (compared to when the products came out) don't help your readers as much - think luxury car depreciation over time... :)

    Thanks.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    Hi,

    Your suggestions and comments are appreciated. I did reply in the forums this morning.

    :)
    Reply
  • MrNeutrino - Friday, March 09, 2007 - link

    Thanks Gary.

    I appreciate you reviewing the feedback and requests in detail. Hopefully we'll see some follow-up action based on this as and where appropriate.

    Also, thanks for replying to some of the key questions I've had around mATX vs. ATX boards. Lack of major performance delta is very good to hear about, at least for pre-Vista Windows OSes. Interesting.

    Based on your comments in the forum posting re: Vista + IGP + memory latency, I am intrigued. If you are going to cover this in the upcoming review, feel free to say so and defer this question. Else I am curious what performance difference we are talking about between XP vs. Vista using IGP solutions? Any pointers to help with this comparison would be helpful in helping decide whether or not a Vista purchase is worthwhile from a performance standpoint in such categories / applications.

    Also, have you transitioned to exclusively testing using Vista?
    Reply
  • blawck - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    I'm buying a small-form-factor PC with an Intel 965G motherboard (it was the only option), and I'm plugging in an NVIDIA 8800GTX video card. So, I was wondering how these IGP motherboards (specifically this Intel one) perform in general with a vidcard plugged in. Is performance on par with (or at least somewhere close to) that of full-size motherboards? Or am I getting screwed? Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    It depends on the board that you buy. The Gigabyte GA-965G-DS3 allows for a decent level of overclocking (330FSB) and memory options (CAS 3 operation), the overall performance difference will not be noticeable in day to day activities when compared to a more enthusiast level board. A base G965 board will not offer the same overclocking options and a couple of the boards only allow CAS 5 operation at DDR2-800, but once again, the performance delta overall will be less than 5% in most cases, nothing to be concerned about especially given your choice of video cards. Reply
  • blawck - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    Great, thanks for the quick reply! This is a high-quality site =). The manufacturer is Maingear, and the board they're using for my system is simply identified generically as "Intel 965G Express," but based on your response, I have faith that I am, indeed, not getting screwed =). I've built all my previous machines, but I'm getting old and fat and lazy, so I figured I'd spend a few hundred extra and have someone do it for me. Not too worried about SLI or overclocking at this point...I'll accept whatever resolution I can run Oblivion in, as long as I can run it. Thanx again. Reply
  • chucky2 - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    For the mATX review, you should include results for the Abit Fatal1ty F-I90HD.

    It's basically the 690G version for Intel CPU's...and that'd allow a direct comparison between Conroe and AM2 CPU's as the chipset would be the same.

    Just a thought...

    Chuck

    P.S. Plus, I'm sure there's a good amount of people that'd like to run Conroe on a cheap but good mATX, and the Abit Fatal1ty F-I90HD looks to be about the best option out right now for that (albiet in limited quantities so far...), just too bad it doesn't have onboard Firewire (at least I don't think it does, didn't list it on the spec page), because then it'd have like everything one could want...
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    We should receive that board next week. I will do my best to include in it the roundup. Reply
  • chucky2 - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    Awesome if you can Gary, Cool if you can't...

    ...March looks like the month of motherboard reviews... :)

    Chuck
    Reply

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