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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  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    What's worse is that the G965 scores almost twice as high in 3DMark06... and then falls flat on its face in actual gaming tests. (Well, most of them anyway.) Reply
  • IntelUser2000 - Wednesday, March 14, 2007 - link

    quote:

    What's worse is that the G965 scores almost twice as high in 3DMark06... and then falls flat on its face in actual gaming tests. (Well, most of them anyway.)


    I think it might be combination of Vista too. Half Life 2 can score ~20 fps with G965 at the same settings AT tested at, when using Windows XP. I would also like to see how it performs it in XP. It seems G965 suffers more from Vista then other IGP.
    Reply
  • chucky2 - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    I think it would be good insurance, given how amazingly late 690G is, to please confirm with AMD that 690G motherboards will definitly support the AM2+ CPU's this late summer/fall.

    And before people remind me that this is already fact, we have not to my knowledge see AMD themselves confirm this...which for something so seemingly simple to confirm, is getting distrubingly telling.

    When AnandTech updates their article and says that they've gone back and confirmed with AMD that all 690G boards being release with support AM2+, or AMD themselves says it, then we'll know for sure. Until then, it's rumor...

    Chuck
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    AMD has not officially stated whether the Agena/Kuma will be drop-in compatible with current AM2 chipsets (or even the AM2 socket). We'd certainly love to know, but we're still waiting along with everyone else. Reply
  • chucky2 - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Do they have any idea, and have you specifically put the question to them? I'm sure you have contacts at AMD...

    ...because from what I can tell, if a discrete graphics card is used, this chipset is looking like when Dr. Evil says, 1 million dollars! ...and then everyone is like, Uh, big deal...

    ...this thing should have released in Sept. of last year, and then become the defacto AMD chipset, not be released now - as you point out - with MCP68 right around the corner and the G35 coming also.

    This chipset really looks to me like a could have been. Good work ATI (and then AMD)!!!

    Chuck
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    We asked the question Chuck, have not received an official answer yet. While backwards compatibility has always been discussed as possible by AMD, we are still not convinced with any of the current motherboards. One only has to look at the Conroe launch last year and realize that while the chipsets were compatible, the motherboards were not without an update. We just recently saw this again with Kentsfield. We wish this chipset would have been released last fall also. ;) Reply
  • chucky2 - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Thanks Guys, that's about all I can ask for.

    I guess now I've got to really sit down and decide what's the best course of action for my godson and also cousins builds. Their both going to be budget builds, but I don't want to build them an AM2 system and basically have it be End Of Lifed in 3-4 months.

    You'd think if AMD wanted to stop the hemmoraging their seeing on the enthusiast side, they'd make a statement about AM2+ compatibility now, rather than wait and just keep loosing more and more. Not that a lot won't go over to the Intel side, but still, tell me 690G and say MCP68 will be the only AM2 chipsets that can take AM2+ CPU's, and now at least I've got a comfortable long term upgrade path.

    Leave me in doubt, I mine as well get a 1333FSB Intel board and go to the dark side...

    Looking forward to that mATX review...you think it'll be out this time next week, or towards Friday?

    Chuck
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Honestly, the fact that AMD hasn't come out and said the next gen CPUs will work in AM2 speaks volumes in my book. Perhaps they are just trying to keep things quiet so that a bunch of people won't complain that their particular board won't run the new processors (some 939 boards wouldn't work with X2, after all, and there were some complaints saying AMD "guaranteed backwards compatibility). Hopefully that's all it is, but I am seriously concerned that Kuma and Agena will not work in the vast majority of AM2 boards - that's assuming they'll work in any at all.

    If AMD doesn't support older boards with the new processors, they are going to need some really impressive performance to keep people from raising Cain. As it stands, if a reasonably fast X2 5200+ or so isn't good enough for your long-term needs, I certainly wouldn't purchase a new AM2 system with the hope of an upgrade until the truth comes out.

    Final thought: The Quad FX platform has clearly been stated as being forwards compatible with native quad core Barcelona chips. If AMD is willing to make that commitment, why not make a similar commitment with AM2 and Agena/Kuma?
    Reply
  • dmce - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Are we going to see some details regarding HD (1080P) playback and whether it can do it comfortable or not. I appreciate you made a small comment about it, but this was lifted from the original look at the 690G chipset a few days ago so no real update in this review. Im just puzzled no sites are taking a closer look at this considering its surely one of, if not the whole point of HDMI being there?

    Im not interested at all in using this for games, i want a 1080p capable machine.
    Reply
  • PokerGuy - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    I'm considering a board based on the 690G for my new HTPC, but now I see it won't be able to output 1080P? Yipes... even the lowly 6150 can output at 1080P, correct?

    Games are not important with regard to this board, but if it can't output at 1080p, what use would it be in a HTPC??

    Also, any ETA on when the mATX roundup will be released?
    Reply

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