Quick Thoughts

The AMD 780G platform offers significantly lower CPU utilization rates than the G35 in our H.264 playback tests while jockeying back and forth with the GeForce 8200. VC1 and MPEG-2 playback was certainly lower on the 780G/GeForce 8200 platforms, though the G35 was at least in the same ballpark. Intel has made some strides with the 15.8 drivers in regards to MPEG-2 playback and overall image quality. Our experiences with the 15.9 driver are even better, but we will have to wait until the G45 for a true competitor to the AMD chipset previewed today when comparing hardware accelerated decode capabilities.

More important than the raw numbers is that throughout testing, neither the 780G nor GeForce 8200 once experienced pausing, judder, or outright blank screen events - something we cannot say about the G35. Certainly, our processor choices have a significant impact on CPU utilization rates, but considering our two choices are priced equally we have to give the nod to AMD for having a better media solution in this price range. As far as power consumption goes during H.264 playback, the AMD platform averaged 106W, NVIDIA platform at 102W, and the Intel platform averaged 104W - too close to really declare a true winner.

The G35 and GeForce 8200 certainly hold an advantage when it comes to providing multi-channel LPCM audio over the HDMI interface, and that one item is enough for us to go back to our original opening comments that AMD got it right... almost right. From an HTPC perspective, it is hard to argue with the video results from the HD 3200, but the audio capabilities of the G35 and GeForce 8200 still sway us at times to the other side.

After testing nearly non-stop over the past two weeks, we think the 780G is the better overall solution and are still amazed that AMD made such a significant jump in IGP performance in such short time. Our comments come from reviewing the results from close to two dozen benchmarks and a general maturity in the platform at this moment, something we could not have said when our first boards arrived a few weeks ago.

The only wild card at this point is the NVIDIA GeForce 8200 as it appears to be very close to the 780G in multimedia performance, but gaming and application capabilities are lagging a little in early testing. Whether this is due to an immature BIOS, chipset limitations, or drivers is up for debate at this point (Ed: calling 1-800-NVIDIA, please pick up). We will have full results for this chipset in our roundup, but considering most boards based on the MCP78 are not due for another month, we have to tip our hats to AMD for better market execution at this point.

The Intel G35 platform will show its strength in areas like office applications and video/audio encoding thanks to the Core 2 processor family. However, it has an Achilles heel that keeps it from being an all around champion. Besides dismal H.264 decoding abilities with low-end processors, casual gaming is an almost complete disaster on this platform. This is an area we will report on thoroughly in our next article. In the meantime, we leave you with these screenshots to ponder which platform is best suited for that casual gamer in the household.

Unreal Tournament 3 - 1024x768 Medium Quality Settings


780G at 24.3 FPS - Click to Enlarge


G35 at 2.6 FPS - Click to Enlarge


GeForce 8200 at 19.2 FPS - Click to Enlarge

MARVEL at SPIDER-MAN 3...
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  • greenfuzion - Thursday, April 17, 2008 - link

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l2e0mf3CcA">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l2e0mf3CcA Reply
  • Schugy - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    The new AMD chipset is a good choice for a MythTV frontend and it will play normal mpeg2 tv flawlessly.
    But I won't need any HD capabilities because video players like kaffeine or mplayer won't support HDCP crap or any hardware accelleration.
    With the lousy closed source nVIDIA linux driver not supporting pureview I can't even watch the unencrypted EA Burnout Paradise demo video fullscreen (VIDEO: [avc1] 1280x720 24bpp) without any performance problems. But I think a Sempron 3000+ SOA and a 7600GT should be enough for this resolution far away from full HD.
    I won't spend any money for HD hardware or HD content because there's no sense in it.

    Reply
  • najames - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Since these boards are intended as media PCs, I think you should be doing thorough testing of the onboard LAN. My Biostar TA690G does a decent job on gigabit, my Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H sucked at sending, ok in receiving. Intel Pro1000 PCI-e x1 replacement card did a lot better on the Gigabyte, although I still question the boards throughput. I have done a LOT of LAN testing on Linux for a building server. This kind of stuff needs to be checked, writing to a single WD 640GB drive.

    ftp> put mint.iso
    local: mint.iso remote: mint.iso
    200 PORT command successful. Consider using PASV.
    150 Ok to send data.
    226 File receive OK.
    722104320 bytes sent in 6.41 secs (109965.8 kB/s)
    ftp> quit
    Reply
  • yehuda - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    Gigabyte's 690G and 690V boards suck at network performance because they use a PCI controller as upposed to a PCI Express controller in most other boards.

    Fortunately, the GA-MA78GM-S2H is free from this drawback. You can check the network results here:
    http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/14261/13">http://www.techreport.com/articles.x/14261/13

    That said, I can't explain your comment on questionable throughput with the replacement PCI-e card.
    Reply
  • rhofmann - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    1080p HD decode is great, but in my experience I've found that the de-interlacing required by 1080i broadcast HD content has been an Achilles heel for HTPC output with integrated graphics. Reply
  • jamawass - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Never thought I'd see the day when Tomshardware actually published a better review than Anandtech. I don't understand how a review article on AMD 780g ends with a paragraph on an Intel chipset talking about strengths in"office applications", heck a igp chipset 10 yrs ago was good in office applications.
    This is the best IGP chipset currently and the article should have stated that categorically instead of using lame " AMD got it almost right". What use is lpcm audio when the image is paused and juddering on your screen?
    Power consumption, sound use are all relevant when reviewing a platform like this I just didn't see the empahsis on these in this article.
    Reply
  • TheJian - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    I was surprised by TomsHardware too. I haven't put much stock in their site for years (since a ways before they soldout). In the beginning Tom Pabst did an excellent job HIMSELF. But now it's just his name on the site. I expected to read their review over here, and Anandtech's review over at Toms...LOL. Maybe I'll have to start paying more attention to Toms. Jeez, did I say that out loud? Or am I just thinking it... :)

    Toms review was definitely shooting straight. Totally agree that Audio (any kind not just over HDMI) can't get me to lean towards Intel if the picture sucks to begin with. What's the point in Hi-Def if it looks like crap? OH wait...That's right it still sounds good! LOL. Whatever...
    Reply
  • gochichi - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Refurbished Dell Vostro 400 desktop with a superior Intel Quad chip, Vista Home Premium, 2GB RAM (upgradeable), 160GB HDD, DVD+/-, 8300 GS (which should do just about as well, very very close I imagine), keyboard, mouse and some sense of synergy. Meaning, you get a keyb/mouse/case that match in some way... even if the thing is not particularly small, it's pretty small and high quality looking than most reasonably priced cases.

    Heck, forget price, only a few cases are passable PERIOD. Vista's pricing even the so-called "OEM" price really messes things up also.

    The Vostro mentioned above, which would outperform any Phenom is $459.00 ready to go... already assembled, perfect matches etc.

    Before you ask me... why don't I just buy it if I like the deal so much? I just might, I just might is the answer.
    Reply
  • Zstream - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Utter rubish! A Vostro 400 huh?

    Lets go to dell's site. A Vostro 400 with Intel® Core™2 Duo Proc E4500 (2.20GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 800FSB), one gig of ram, dvd-rom, 160gb hard drive...

    I would purchase a 780g/tri-core htpc over this any day of the week.
    Reply
  • gochichi - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Did you ever consider that you can't find the unit I'm talking about anymore.

    I said nothing about a 2.2Ghz Duo anything. I was talking about a QUAD 2.4 Ghz with a small HDD, 2GB of RAM and a remedial video card (that would perform about as well as the 780G, maybe a little better it was a 8300 GS).

    Dell WAS selling 2.4Ghz quad refurbs as duos... but I don't know if that's changed.

    All of this is really irrelevant. I guess the broader point is that building a computer from scratch blows for a number of reasons (unless you're really going to spend in top end stuff).

    1. Getting a decent case/PSU for under $100.00 is a feat, and even then it's too much.
    2. Vista or any other MS system is over priced.

    About the 780G, my first reaction was: "it's only $70.00" and I started going from there. But you know what? At the end of the day, you're really saving $30.00 on what a remedial 8400 GS would cost. $30.00 when you're building from scratch just isn't that much. AMD has provided a decent part for OEMs though. Hopefully they can deliver.

    As for the Vostro 400 w/ Quad and Vista Home Premium for $469.00 hopefully I'll be able to find it again and buy it. $40.00 upgrades it to 4GB of RAM and you can actually put any video card you want in that thing (just one though obviously). So 9600GT down the line, or wait it out and get something next gen.

    Part of the advantage of building from scratch is overclocking. But no matter how much you overclock a Phenom, it's still pretty much not as good as a basic 2.4Ghz intel Quad. Those things have been around forever. Intel is totally yawning as they pummel AMD. Overclocking also means even pricier parts and headache and I'm just not seeing how you could possibly beat the bang/$ of the Vostro.

    Now, that's me. You want to build a system based AMD and this chipset, it sounds like fun... but it doesn't sound smart.




    Reply

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