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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  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    The board will not do 1080P over the HDMI port at this time. 720P is working fine. The mATX will be up on the 19th, provided my heart is still working by that time, have to say that testing under Vista is not a pleasant experience. ;) Reply
  • dmce - Friday, March 9, 2007 - link

    Gary, thanks for the info. Is the lack of ability to do 1080p related to Vista or will it just not do it at this stage. Is it likely bios/driver updates will improve this? Reply
  • chucky2 - Thursday, March 8, 2007 - link

    Man, to me it sounds like - other than having video and audio in one cable - HDMI is not the way to go.

    Better to have DVI w/ HDCP it sounds like...plus, the connector is more beefcake, no falling out accidentally with DVI.

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

    The platform will no do 1080P playback at this time in a consistent matter. As stated, we normally would end up with a slide show or a blank screen. AMD has told us 1080P will be possible with a driver update, proper playback support (PowerDVD or WinDVD), and a processor along the lines of a 5200+. We received a new driver update to address video quality issues we found late in testing but 1080P was not addressed yet. I am just as anxious as everyone else to see if it will do 1080P. ;) Reply
  • savantu - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    This has to be one of the worst review ever done at Anandtech , almost makes you think somebody was paid to do it this bad.

    we fully believe the majority of the performance difference lies in the chipset selection.

    Is this a joke or what ? The 2.6GHz 5200+ against a 1.86GHz Core 2 in media encoding and you think it is the chipset?! Every other test you made put the E6300 in between the 3800+ and 4200+.


    Reply
  • goinginstyle - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Have you ever run a Conroe on a VIA or 945P chipset, if you have then you know what was meant by his statement. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Try reading it in context:

    Nero Recode 2 performance:
    AnyDVD Rip = 3-way tie more or less
    Shrink = 6150 leads, G965 second, 690G last (despite 6150 and 690G using the same CPU)
    Shrink/Burn = G965 first, 6150 and 690G virtually tied.

    Full quote, instead of your selected text: "Of course, we are using a mid-range AM2 processor against the budget C2D part (the AMD price cuts have helped matters there, as the price difference is currently only about $35) but we fully believe the majority of the performance difference lies in the chipset selection. It is only in the shrink and burn tests that we see the Intel platform flexing its muscles...."

    In other words, the difference we saw in the Shrink test indicates that the 6150 chipset is better for this task than 690G. We definitely know that the Core 2 Duo is faster at equivalent CPU prices than X2 chips, but we're looking at platforms and chipsets and not just CPUs.
    Reply
  • UserNO - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Gawd, people, if you're going to tell us that we'll "have to play at 800x600" if we use these integrated graphics, why not test the games at 800x600 and report framerates? Find the highest (lowest) settings necessary to get a playable experience and tell us that. No one's going to run a game at 1024x768, get 15fps, and then give up; they're going to crank the settings and res down until they can play the game.

    It's not enough to just say "integrated graphics are unsuitable for even casual gamers, buy a discrete card" and then not quantify the difference.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    We tested the games at 800x600 and the results will be in our mATX roundup along with dedicated video scores.

    In the meantime-

    800x600- HQ settings

    690G 6150 G965
    BF2 20.68 17.4 DNF
    HL2 35.7 28.8 5.3
    CoH 26.4 21.7 24.9
    Reply
  • Calin - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    I just wanted to say I'm looking forward to the mATX roundup
    Nice article overall, thanks. And you might want to invest in some cheap Intel and AMD processors (the low-end, for $100 both), just to be able to compare them (I'm not suggesting complete testings on every processor possible)
    Reply

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