The IGP Chronicles Part 2: AMD 780G vs. Intel G45 vs. NVIDIA GeForce 8200by Gary Key on October 14, 2008 12:40 PM EST
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Binning the Chipsets
Both AMD and NVIDIA offer higher speed versions of their integrated graphics; AMD has the 790GX and NVIDIA has the GeForce 8300. Let's start with the GeForce 8300 because it's the easiest to deal with: this is nothing more than an overclocked GeForce 8200.
The 8200 runs its SPs at 1.2GHz while the 8300 runs them at 1.5GHz. In our tests we had no problems taking any of our GeForce 8200 boards up to 1.5GHz; they all offered the clock speed option in the BIOS. On top of that, the performance benefit wasn't really worth it - have a look:
|Game (1024x768)||NVIDIA GeForce 8200||NVIDIA GeForce 8300||GeForce 8300 Advantage|
|Company of Heroes||26.2||29.4||12%|
|Race Driver GRID||6.7||8.1||21%|
|Age of Conan||14.3||15.5||8%|
With the exception of Company of Heroes and GRID, the GeForce 8300 didn't offer any tangible performance benefits. The average performance increase was 9%, but if you take out GRID you get an average boost of 7%. It's just a quick way to make you part with another $15 as the boards are more expensive than the 8200 versions.
AMD 790GX vs. 780G
AMD's 790GX is a little more difficult to distill. You get a faster graphics core (700MHz vs. 500MHz), but you also get a newer Southbridge (SB750 vs. SB700) that adds RAID 5 support and the new ACC interface to Phenom CPUs that can increase overclocking potential. AMD 790GX boards are also more likely to have some dedicated "Sideport" memory, meaning a small amount of local memory only for use by the GPU to improve performance. With enough processing power, integrated graphics is often constrained by memory bandwidth. Given how potentially powerful AMD's IGP cores are, it makes sense to have an option for more memory bandwidth.
Obviously all of these features drive 790GX prices up higher than their 780G counterparts. 780G boards range in price from $60~$99 while the 790GX boards range in price from $99 to $155 on average. The performance breaks down as follows:
|Game (1024x768)||AMD 780G||AMD 780G + Sideport||AMD 790GX w/ Sideport||790GX Advantage|
|Company of Heroes||41.1||41.7||55.2||32%|
|Race Driver GRID||28.1||28.1||36.3||29%|
|Age of Conan||14.6||15.8||21.4||35%|
Both the 790GX and the 780G + Sideport options here have a 128MB local frame buffer in addition to using a portion of system memory for the total frame buffer. Sideport is rare on 780G but much more common on 790GX boards. As you can see, the Sideport memory doesn't do anything for 780G so the real advantage of 790GX is its faster core clock. As for the 790GX itself, the performance advantage over the 780G is nothing short of significant - at 1024x768 we measured an average increase of 29%.