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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  • SignalPST - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    I'm interested in this topic as well.

    Then again, I still waiting for them to come out with a HDMI sound card.
  • StriderGT - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    Unfortunately there are lots of us who are still waiting for a true HDMI PC audio solution. You can check the thread I started with many technical details for that matter here:"> Reply
  • Patrese - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Great review, thanks... I know I asked that a couple times already, but is there a mATX roundup planned here at AT? I'd like to see the Asus M2NPV-VM and Abit NF-M2 NView compared with its 690G counterparts, as this segment makes for most of the computer sales on most places? BTW, weren't you plaged by memory compatibility issues with the M2NPV-VM oe any of the boards tested? This Asus board showed extremely picky on my experience... Reply
  • Gary Key - Wednesday, March 7, 2007 - link

    The roundup is scheduled on the 19th, trying to pull it in. What BIOS and memory are you using on the M2NPV-VM, so far I have not run into any real issues except with 2GB modules. The abit board is one of my favorites so far. ;) Reply
  • Patrese - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    There shouldn't be a question mark at the end of the "most sales" phrase... There are also a couple typos, sorry about that. Where's the edit button anyway? ;) Reply
  • RamarC - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    i don't really understand the point of comparing chipsets/motherboards between processor families. subsystem performance figures can show glaring deficiencies but otherwise it really boils down to a cpu comparison. the "media/audio encoding" and "media performance" sections are certainly cpu-centric. and pitting a $230 x2 5200+ against a $185 e6300 winds up handicapping the intel contestant. shouldn't the $222 e6400 have been used instead? Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    As stated in the article, AMD is marketing the AM2 and 690G/V as a platform design to compete against the G/Q965 and Core 2 Duo solution. The 690G is targeted to the multimedia, HTPC, home/office, casual gaming crowd and was tested as such. We looked at the total price of a base Core 2 Duo and decent G965 board and then matched the processor choice that would come closest to the price and performance of the Intel offering while meeting the platform cost. Our tests were chosen based upon the target audience for each platform in the home environment. This was not a review of office level machines as the Q965/963 and 690V are targeted to the business user. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    The conclusion mentions that the G965 + E6300 costs around $300 compared to $315 for the 690G + 5200+ (or 6150 + 5200+), so it's more or less a fair "equivalent price" platform comparison. The E6400 ends up being faster than the E6300, but still slower in a few tests (as the text mentions) and even faster in those tests where E6300 already holds the lead. Nothing new there - we've pretty much beat the "Core 2 Duo is faster" drum to death. We feel anyone looking at 690G is going to be interested in the platform as a whole much more than whether or not it is faster than equivalently price Core 2 offerings. Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    There may be too many variables, but perhaps you could come up with a way to normalize the benchmarks. For instance, run the gaming tests first with ultra high-end graphics to try and isolate the performance delta for each plattofrm/cpu combo you will test with. Then run the game benchmarks with the IGP solutions and adjust the scores based on the previous tests. Just a thought off the top of my head. Reply
  • asliarun - Tuesday, March 6, 2007 - link

    Ah, but you're evaluating a chipset here, not a platform or a system solution. Having said that, I agree that it IS difficult to compare chipsets that are targeted for different CPUs. In such a case, a better way to evaluate might be to take an AMD and an Intel CPU that is similar in performance (not in price), and use them to compare their corresponding chipsets. That would highlight the differences between the chipsets. You could always mention the price alongside, or do a separate price/performance comparison alongside.

    My point is that a price/performance comparison should complement a pure performance comparison, not the other way around.

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