Final Words

AMD has produced a very good integrated graphics platform with the 690G chipset, there is no doubt that this platform is the first step from the company in their goal to fuse core logic, graphics, and processing into a neat and tidy single package offering. We see this release as the first shot across the bow of the SS Intel and HMS NVIDIA that signals AMD's intent to play seriously in the OEM and business sectors. Considering the IGP market accounts for almost 90% of PC shipments, then it becomes obvious where AMD wishes to concentrate its efforts at this time.

The 690G features very low power consumption, class leading X1250 graphics performance with the Avivo video processing engine, HDMI output with full HDCP support, excellent audio and video output capabilities, and competitive performance all wrapped in a $80 price tag. It seems to us the 690G is destined to find a home in dedicated home theater systems or for those owners needing a mainstream system centered on multimedia capabilities.

While we are impressed with this release there are also some concerns. The performance of the X1250 graphics core was certainly class leading but one look at the competition tells an ugly truth for certain users. Despite being faster than the NVIDIA GeForce 6150 and Intel G965 in games, the system overall is still incapable of providing a decent gaming experience for even the casual gamer. It's still very underpowered for recent titles unless you consider 800x600 gaming to be a pleasurable experience.

If you're willing to turn the majority of detail levels down to their minimum, then yes, you can play several popular games such as Sims2 at 1280x1024. This resolution is the standard base level now as a significant amount of monitors sold over the past few years use 1280x1024 as their native resolution. The fact that we have an integrated graphics platform being released in 2007 that can barely play most top titles delivered in 2005 at 1024x768, much less 1280x1024, is an issue with us. We understand these platforms are mainly directed to the email, home/office, and Internet crowds, but those wanting to dabble with the occasional game will end up having a sour experience unless Internet Poker or Bejeweled is your game of choice.

That is our main issue, the 690G, G965, and 6150 are targeting the all-in-one home user market and not the office sector. As such we expect a platform that is truly capable of running most game titles decently while performing other duties such as media/audio playback, digital content creation, email, and handling your tax returns with aplomb. When the marketing information tells us we can expect our system to do this, then that is point where our expectations are set. The office sector relies upon the 690V, Q965, and 6150SE chipsets and low-end processor choices to provide just enough functionality to keep the typical office user productive.

With the latest round of processor price cuts and an $80 price tag for the motherboard, we find AMD has a very competitive platform in comparison to the Intel Core 2 processor and G965 platform. Unfortunately, this means that you must utilize a mid-range AM2 processor in order to get performance comparable to that of Intel's base Core 2 processor at similar prices. Our AMD motherboard and processor will cost around $314 compared to $298 for the G965 and Core 2 Duo E6300. If the multimedia capabilities of the 690G are really important then paying the extra $16 for almost equal performance in a wide range of applications should be worth your consideration.

A couple of intangibles that we found during testing swayed us to the AM2 platform to some degree. The overall maturity of the platform, ease of setup, native IDE ports, and platform stability during testing impressed us. While the sheer power of the Intel Core 2 Duo still holds us captive, we found the current AM2 platforms offer a compelling alternative in the low end sector where price to performance comparisons mean everything. This could all change depending upon Intel's pricing structure and new IGP chipset releases over the coming months but for now, we would seriously consider an AM2 system for general desktop or multimedia usage.

Overall, the 690G is a very capable chipset, but one that is late to market in our opinion. We were impressed by its multimedia prowess and features; certainly enough to whisk it into our HTPC test bed, but are concerned about its timing. AMD has not taken that next real step in performance for an integrated graphics platform in terms of performance. This release just barely distances itself from the NVIDIA 6150 series that has been on the market for almost 18 months. In terms of features, NVIDA will soon be releasing the GeForce 7050 that fully supports PureVideo, HDMI with HDCP support, and additional core tweaks that should result in performance closer to that of the 690G. Intel is busily working on their new G35 chipset with native HDMI and hopefully improved game performance although we doubt it unless their drivers improve significantly. While AMD can claim the current IGP performance crown, they need to have another solution ready quickly before NVIDIA or Intel comes calling for it.

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  • chucky2 - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    BlingBlingArsch of the AnandTech forums linked to some pictures of the board, and there's one of the back panel I/O: http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/5498/board234cx...">http://img256.imageshack.us/img256/5498/board234cx...

    Looks like there's definitely no Firewire... :( :( :(

    What are these manufacturers thinking (or rather not thinking) not including Firewire on this boards? These would be totally complete solutions, especially this Abit with the optical out it has, if they'd only have Firewire on them...

    ...and the expansion is so limited, putting in an add-in Firewire basically kills for TV tuner, capture, etc. additions.

    Man...talk about something that's almost perfect that gets ruined by either a poor design decision or a poor bean counter decision... :(

    Chuck
    Reply
  • Myrandex - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    "The 6150 performs okay considering the age of its core and we will see the new 6150SE and older 6100 chipset performing a few percent better overall but not enough to catch the 690G."

    How would the 6100 be a few percent better when it is clocked lower?
    Reply
  • Renoir - Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - link

    The review over at http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2007/03/02/amd_69...">Bit-tech.netsays the 690G supports dual-link DVI and confirmed as much by sending 2560x1600 over DVI to the dell 30incher. This review however says "Larger 30" flat panel monitors won't be able to run at native resolution" and the technology overview article says "The digital outputs use TMDS transmitters that run at 165MHz". What's the deal? Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    The 690G supports Dual-Link DVI. We had stated this on page two but not in a separate section. I will reword the 2D paragraph to make this clear. As for the resolution, I am using a Samsung 30" panel and the current Vista drivers limit me to 2048x1536. I have sent a board to Jarred who has the Dell 30" to test on it. AMD still confirms that 2048x1536 is the "current" max resolution although we know the hardware has 2560x1600 capability according to one of our sources. Reply
  • Renoir - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    Hmmm something's not quite right it seems. Can't see why they were able to send 2560x1600 if you couldn't. Would definitely appreciate Jarred checking it on the dell although I'd be surprised if it was a monitor issue. Who knows without trying. Have asked bit-tech what os they were using to get it to work. An XP vs Vista issue perhaps? The related paragraph in the technology overview article mentions the TMDS's run at 165mhz which I understand is single-link? Have seen the 165mhz listed elsewhere for the 690G so am curious where this info comes from if the chipset is dual-link? Unless I've misunderstood something about "165mhz"? Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - link

    The DVI spec transmits data using the transition minimized differential signaling (TMDS) protocol. The DVI spec calls for each DVI output to have at least one TMDS “link” consisting of three data channels (RGB) and one control channel. The maximum speed at which a single 10-bit TMDS link may operate at is 165MHz, offering 1.65Gbps of bandwidth. In real world terms, this means a single 10-bit TMDS link can drive a display at up to 1920 x 1200 (the actual maximum resolution can vary depending on the panel, spec is 1920x1080). For most displays that’s not a problem, but the 30” Displays have a native resolution of 2560 x 1600, which exceeds the bandwidth a single TMDS link can deliver. So what do you do? Remember that the DVI spec calls for at least one TMDS link, but each DVI port can support up to two TMDS links (the 690G has dual TDMS links), thus doubling the maximum bandwidth and enabling support for a 30" (if driver support is present) display or even some of the new 27" units that can run at 2048x1560. Reply
  • Renoir - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    Thanks for the reply Gary. That was precisely my understanding of the situation which is why I found the following quote from the technology overview article confusing "The digital outputs each use TMDS transmitters that run at 165MHz." This sentence didn't come across as saying the digital outputs had 2 TMDS "links" but rather just 1 running at 165mhz (hence single-link). Perhaps you could reword it to explain that each link runs at 165mhz but that there are actually 2 links in order to support the higher resolutions afforded by dual-link DVI. Don't mean to be picky just think this part could be a little clearer :-)
    As for the resolution cap at 2048x1536 you guys are experiencing the Bit-Tech guys have confirmed they got 2560x1600 working on XP and suggest your problem is an issue with the current vista drivers.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    I have a new Vista driver as of today.

    Here are the specs -
    DVI - Supports dual link up to 2560x1600.

    HDMI - maximum resolution supported is 1920x1080 (using a HDMI-DVI cable
    you can go up to 1920x1200)

    VGA- Maximum resolution support depends on monitor refresh rates and aspect
    ratios:

    2048x1536 @ 85 Hz in 4:3 format
    2560x1440 @ 75 Hz in 16:9 format
    2728x1536 @ 60 Hz in 16:9 format
    2456x1536 @ 60 Hz in 16:10 format

    Hope that helps.
    Reply
  • Renoir - Thursday, March 08, 2007 - link

    That's cleared that up then (was merely a driver issue). Anyhow 2 questions

    1) Both digital outputs support HDCP but are on separate display controllers. Does that mean they have 2 built in cryptoroms (1 for each controller) given that separate cryptoroms are required for each controller/output? If they do have 2 then why only allow HDCP on one output at a time?

    2) In a related point (upcoming mobile version of chipset) what connection do laptops use internally for their screens? The reason I ask is I'm interested in getting a laptop in future which supports both hdcp for the laptop screen but also via an external digital connection to a larger display.
    Reply
  • jonman03 - Tuesday, March 06, 2007 - link

    I know its onboard video and stuff, but a 3D Mark06 score of 313? They should be able to better than that, see who can get it into the 1000's first. Although unlikely, it'd be a nice alternative to buying a video card for a basic computing system.

    http://www.plugcomputers.com">Custom Gaming Computers
    Reply

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