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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  • goinginstyle - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    I think most of the people missed the comments or observations in the article. The article was geared to proving or disproving the capabilities of the 690g and in a way the competing platforms. It was obvious to me the office crowd was not being addressed in this article and it was the home audience that the tests were geared towards. I think the separation between the two was correct.
    The first computer I bought from Gateway was an IGP unit that claimed it would run everything and anything. It did not and pissed me off. After doing some homework I realized where I went wrong and would never again buy an IGP box unless the video and memory is upgraded, even if it is not for gaming. I have several friends who bought computers for their kids when World of WarCraft came out and bitched non-stop at work because their new Dell or HP would not run the game. At least the author had the balls to state what many of us think. The article was fair and thorough in my opinion although I was hoping to see some 1080P screen shots. Hint Hint
  • Final Hamlet - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Too bad one can't edit one's comments...

    My point (besides correcting a mistake) is, that I think that this test is gravely imbalanced... you are testing - as you have said yourself - an office chipset - then why do you do it with an overpowered CPU?
    Office PC's in small businesses go after price and where is the difference in using a mail program between a Core 2 Duo for 1000$ and the smallest and cheapest AMD offering for less than 100$?
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link


    My point (besides correcting a mistake) is, that I think that this test is gravely imbalanced... you are testing - as you have said yourself - an office chipset - then why do you do it with an overpowered CPU?

    We were not testing an office chipset. We are testing chipsets marketed as an all in solution to the home, home/office, multimedia, HTPC, and casual gaming crowd. The office chipsets are the Q965/963 and 690V solutions. The G965 and 690G are not targeted to the office workers and were not tested as such. Our goal was to test these boards in the environment and with applications they are marketed to run.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    We mentioned this above, but basically we were looking to keep platform costs equal. Sure, X2 3800+ is half as expensive and about 30% slower than the 5200+. But since the Intel side was going to get an E6300 (that's what we had available), the use of a low-end AMD X2 would have skewed results the other direction. We could have used an X2 4800+ to keep costs closer, but that's an odd CPU choice as well as we would recommend spending the extra $15 to get the 5200+.

    The intent was not to do a strict CPU-to-CPU comparison as we've done that plenty (as recently as the">X2 6000+ launch). We wanted to look at platform and keep them relatively equal in the cost department. All you have to do is look at the power numbers to see that the 5200+ with 690G compares quite well (and quiet well) to the E6300 with G965.

    The major selling point of this chipset is basically that it supports HDMI output. That's nice, and for HTPC users it could be a good choice. Outside of that specific market, though, there's not a whole lot to put this IGP chipset above other offerings. That was what we were hoping to convey with the article. It's not bad, but neither is it the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    If you care at all about GPU performance, all of the modern IGP solutions are too slow. If you don't care, then they're all fast enough to do whatever most people need. For typical business applications, the vast majority of companies are still running Pentium 4, simply because it is more than sufficient. New PCs are now coming with Core 2 Duo, but I know at least a few major corporations that have hundreds of thousands of P4 and P3 systems in use, and I'm sure there are plenty more. Needless to say, those corporations probably won't be touching Vista for at least three or four years - one of them only switched to XP as recently as two years back.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Perhaps it's because the companies releasing these products make so much noise about how much better their new IGP is compared to the older offerings from their competitors? If AMD had released this and said, "This is just a minor update to our previous IGP to improve features and video quality; it is not dramatically faster and is not intended for games" then we would cut them some slack. When all of the companies involved are going on about how much faster percentage-wise they are than the competition (never mind that it's 5 FPS vs. 4 FPS), we're inclined to point out how ludicrous this is. When Intel hypes the DX9 capability of their G965 and yet still can't run most DX9 applications, maybe someone ought to call them on the carpet?

    Obviously, these low performance IGPs have a place in the business world, but Vista is now placing more of a demand on the GPU than ever before, and bare minimum functionality might now be adequate for a lot of people. As for power, isn't it interesting that the HIGHEST PERFORMANCE IGP ends up using the least amount of power? Never mind the fact that Core 2 Duo already has a power advantage over the X2 5200+!

    So, while you might like to pull out the names and call us inane 15 year olds, there was certainly thought put into what we said. Just because something works okay doesn't mean it's great, and we are going to point out the flaws in a product regardless of marketing hype. Given how much effort Intel puts into their CPUs, a little bit more out of their IGP and drivers is not too much to ask for.
  • TA152H - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link


    Maybe they didn't intend their products to be tested in the way you did. As someone pointed out, playing at 800 x 600 isn't that bad, and doesn't ruin the experience unless you have an obsession. Incredibly crude games were incredibly fun, so the resolution isn't going to make or break a game, it's the ideas behind it that will.

    You can't be serious about what you want AMD to say. You know they can't, they are in competition and stuff like that would be extremely detrimental to them. Percentages are important, because they may not running the same games as you are, at the same settings. You would prefer they use absolutes as if they would give more information? Did AMD actually tell anyone these were excellent for all types of game? I never saw that.

    With regards to CPUs and GPUs, you are trying to obfuscate the point. Everyone uses a CPU, some more than others. But, they do sell lower power ones, and even single core ones. Not everyone uses 3D functionality. If you don't get it, I DON'T want it on certain machines of mine. I don't run stuff like that on them, and I don't want the higher power use or heat dissipation problems from it. What you call effort isn't at all, it's a tradeoff. Don't confuse it with you get something for nothing if Intel puts more into it. You pay for it, and that's the problem. People who use it should, people that don't, shouldn't, so the kiddies can play their shoot 'em ups.

    Just so you know, I'm both. I have mostly work machines, but two play machines. I like playing some games that require a good 3D card, but just don't like the mentality the the whole world should subsidize a bunch of gameplayers when they don't need it. That's what add-in cards are for. I would be equally against it if no one made 3D cards because most people didn't need them. I like choices, and I don't want to pay for excessive 3D functionality on something that will never use it, to help gameplayers out. Both existing is great, and IGPs will creep up as they always have, when it becomes inexpensive (both in power and initial cost) to add capabality, so the tradeoff is minor.
  • StriderGT - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Does this chipset support 5.1 LPCM over HDMI or not??? Or more plainly can someone send 5.1 (games, HD movies, etc) digitally to receiver with the 690G? According to your previous article on the 690G 5.1 48khz was supported over the HDMI port. Now its back to 2 channel and AC3 bitstream. Which is it? Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    It is two channel plus AC3 over HDMI. That is the final spec on production level boards and drivers. We will have a full audio review up in a week or so that also utilizes the on-board codec. Reply
  • StriderGT - Thursday, March 8, 2007 - link

    Why is this happening? Why on earth can't they produce a PC HDMI Audio solution that outputs up to 7.1 LPCM (96khz/24bit) for ALL sources!?! They already do that for 2 channel sources!!!! Do you have any info from the hardware vendors regarding the reason/s they will not produce such a straightforward and simple solution?!?

    PS There are lots of people demanding a TRUE PC HDMI Audio solution not this SPDIF hacks...
  • Renoir - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    I'm also interested to know more specifics about the audio side of this chipset. The support of HDMI v1.3 suggests that with an appropriate driver and supporting playback software Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD bitstreams should be able to be sent via HDMI to a v1.3 receiver with the necessary decoders. Is this a possibility? Reply

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