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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  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 07, 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 09, 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 08, 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 06, 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 06, 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 06, 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 06, 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 06, 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 06, 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 07, 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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