Since our AMD 690G performance review was published we have been inundated with questions. One of the most common requests is to see how an integrated graphics chipset destined for the typical µATX (commonly referred to as microATX or mATX) platform compares to a more performance-oriented chipset designed for mainstream ATX configurations, with all other components being equal.

This is not necessarily a question we typically ask ourselves as we have always assumed the answer centers on the board design and BIOS options. These will in general determine any performance differences between motherboards using the same chipset, or in this case between boards using chipsets within the same family. We typically find the integrated graphics chipset designs are based upon their non-integrated graphics siblings so performance from a chipset level is usually considered to be equal.

However, there appears to be an urban myth or general misconception from some that integrated graphics chipsets offer inferior system level performance when compared to their sexier siblings. This thought process has been created in part by the standard IGP board design, as most IGP systems are based on the µATX form factor, a standard that usually ends up being featured in the typical low cost office or home machine. These systems represent about 90% of the personal computers sold in the North American market each year and just a little more worldwide.


The µATX platforms usually offer few BIOS tuning options and are geared for the value sector, yet they still offer reliable operation in an environment where performance is secondary to compatibility, ease of use, and serviceability. Naturally, these µATX units usually do not offer the performance level of systems targeting the gaming, workstation, or enthusiast users but that does not mean their overall performance potential should be any less. After all, there is not a standard that dictates µATX boards or IGP designs should perform worse, just a perception they will even if all other factors are equal.

We generally find that if the manufacturer offers the same level of component quality and BIOS options on µATX designs then performance is equal to or at least close enough to the ATX setups that benchmarks are required to spot any differences. We are also surprised that more non-integrated graphic chipsets do not find their way onto µATX boards, although potential cooling issues for overclocking and the limited amount of expansion slots are likely the main reasons for this.

With this in mind and our mailboxes full of requests we decided to break away from our normal test routines and do a little myth busting to see if a couple of very similar boards in our arsenal offer the same level of performance. Let's see what happens when you have a G965 µATX board square off against a P965 ATX board.

Test Setup and Synthetic Performance
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  • 8steve8 - Tuesday, March 20, 2007 - link

    nice to look at the g965, long overdue.


    but u didnt even touch on integrated graphics.

    lots of people out there dont play many 3d games.


    you should have compared performance between g965 onboard with g965 discrete with p965 discrete

    power/heat numbers would be interesting, then we could see how efficient the integrated x3000 is...

    Reply
  • xsilver - Saturday, March 17, 2007 - link

    are there ANY G965 boards that DO overclock well? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Saturday, March 17, 2007 - link

    Meaning beyond 325MHz bus speeds? No, because the X3000 IGP really limits the chipset's maximum speed. Where on the P965 you're able to overclock the chipset to 500 MHz and above, the IGP can really only take about a 25% overclock - certainly not more than 33% or so. You might be able to hit 350 MHz on some boards, but that's about it as far as I'm aware. Other IGP chipsets on the other hand... we'll have to see Gary's mATX roundup for that information. Reply
  • Treripica - Saturday, March 17, 2007 - link

    I'd like to echo MrNeutrino's sentiment. How massive of a mATX roundup can we look forward to in the near future? Reply
  • kobymu - Saturday, March 17, 2007 - link

    quote:

    These systems represent about 90% of the personal computers sold in the North American market each year and just a little more worldwide.


    I just wanted to say thanks for saying that.

    While enthusiast discussion is important (I'm PC enthusiast myself), it is always more important to keep a wider, proportional point of view of the industry as a whole, and that sentence has achieved that goal, so when the enthusiasts start discussing higher-end PC components it can take a more practical, sensible approach, and maybe, hopefully, with time we will see a decrease in the "OMG company X is going down!11" department in particular and in radical fanboism in general.
    Reply
  • sdsdv10 - Saturday, March 17, 2007 - link

    quote:

    when the enthusiasts start discussing higher-end PC components it can take a more practical, sensible approach


    Do you really expect enthusiasts to be either practial or sensible...

    That would be kind of an oxy-moron!
    Reply
  • MrNeutrino - Saturday, March 17, 2007 - link

    Thanks for taking the time to post the mATX performance update, Gary!

    My performance concerns based on architectural scrutiny of how memory bandwidth is shared between two hungry processors in an IGP chipset vs. its ATX counterpart, were always nagging me as I started looking for a mATX build. Add to that the lack of always reliable reviews - if at all - on the web, and you have the perfect recipe for a burning desire to be sure - and soon - whether almost a thousand some odd dollars of investment in a quality mATX vs. ATX (read: G965 vs. P965) will be worth the money.

    At least in my case, the lingering questions were mostly extinguished by your forum reply with quantifiable benchmark data, after the 690G review. What little concern remained (more like intrigue), has been put to rest with these benchmarks and additional comparison data in this article.

    Impressive, that there is this little difference between the two chipset / system architecture variants. I suppose then, thanks goes in large part to the hunk of cache on the C2D (compared to CPUs of just a few years back), better predictors / prefetchers, shorter pipelines and a myriad of other uArch improvements.

    Anyway, techincal topics aside, all I can say is, HURRAY!!

    I'm just happy that this is concrete, published proof that us SFF / mATX fans can have our cake and eat it too!

    Now if only we all could also get those April C2D price drops soon enough... :)
    Reply
  • Renoir - Saturday, March 17, 2007 - link

    Agreed this was a good comparison of the performance between G965 and P965 when BOTH are using a discrete card. As for the question of how sharing memory bandwidth between IGP and CPU compares to using a discrete card, it has only been touched upon briefly by Gary in the forum thread you mentioned. More detailed info on this aspect would be much appreciated in the upcoming roundup (already planned?). Bit-Tech.net did just that with the 690G but they used XP so I'm very interested in the results when using the more bandwidth hungry Aero in Vista. Reply

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