We normally do not get giddy about the thought of reviewing another low budget integrated graphics platform. All right, some of us do, as we are eternal optimists that eventually a manufacturer will get it right. Guess what: AMD got it right - not exactly right, but for the first time we actually have an IGP solution that comes very close to satisfying everyone’s requirements in a low cost platform. Why are we suddenly excited about an integrated graphics platform again?

The legacy of integrated graphics platforms has historically been one of minimum functionality. With Intel as the number one graphics provider in the world, this can pose a problem for application developers looking to take advantage of the widest user base possible. Designing for the lowest common denominator can be a frustrating task when the minimum feature set and performance compared to current discreet solutions is so incredibly low.

The latest sales numbers indicate that about nine out of every ten systems sold have integrated graphics. We cannot understate the importance of a reasonable performance IGP solution in order to have a pleasurable all around experience on the PC. IGP performance might not be as important on a business platform relegated to email and office applications. However, it is important for a majority of home users who expect a decent amount of performance in a machine that typically will be a jack-of-all-trades, handling everything from email to office applications, heavy Internet usage, audio/video duties, and casual gaming.

Our opinions about the basic performance level of current IGP solutions have not always been kind. We felt like the introduction of Vista last year would ultimately benefit consumers and developers alike as it forces a certain base feature set and performance requirements for graphics hardware. However, even with full DX9 functionality required, the performance and compatibility of recent games under Vista is dismal at best. This along with borderline multimedia performance has left us with a sour taste in our mouths when using current IGP solutions from AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel for anything but email, Internet, basic multimedia, and Word; a few upgrades are inevitably required.



We are glad to say that this continual pattern of "mediocrity begets mediocrity" is finally ending, and we have AMD to thank for it. Yes, the same AMD that since the ATI merger has seemingly tripped over itself with questionable, failed, or very late product launches - depending upon your perspective. We endured the outrageous power requirements of the HD 2900 XT series and the constant K10 delays that turned into the underwhelming Phenom release; meanwhile, we watched Intel firing on all cylinders and NVIDIA upstaging AMD on the GPU front.

Thankfully, over the past few months we have seen AMD clawing its way back to respectability with the release of the HD 3xxx series of video cards, the under-appreciated 790/770 chipset release, and what remains a very competitive processor lineup in the budget sector. True, they have not been able to keep up with Intel or NVIDIA in the midrange to high-end sectors, but things are changing. While we wish AMD had an answer to Intel and NVIDIA in these more lucrative markets - for the sake of competition and the benefits that brings to the consumer - that is not where the majority of desktop sales occur. 

Most sales occur in the $300~$700 desktop market dominated by IGP based solutions and typically targeted at the consumer as an all-in-one solution for the family. Such solutions up until now have caused a great deal of frustration and grief for those who purchased systems thinking they would be powerful enough to truly satisfy everyone in the household, especially those who partake in games or audio/video manipulation.

With that in mind, we think AMD has a potential hit on its hands with their latest and greatest product. No, the product is still not perfect, but it finally brings a solution to the table that can at least satisfy the majority of needs in a jack-of-all-trades machine. What makes this possible and why are we already sounding like a group of preteens getting ready for a Hannah Montana concert?

Enter Stage Left; it’s not Hannah, but AMD’s latest edition to their ever-growing chipset portfolio, the 780G/780V chipset. The chipset nomenclature might make one think the 780G/780V is just an update to the successful 690G/690V product family. While the 780G product replaces the 690G, it is much more than just an update. In fact, the 780G is an all-new chipset that features a radically improved Northbridge and a slightly improved Southbridge. 

So let’s take a look at the chipset specifications and delve into the multimedia output qualities of the 780G chipset.

Details and More Details...
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  • yehuda - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    Yes, these are upcoming Intel boards based on the next-gen G45/Q45 chipsets. Thanks for the link.

    The thing is that dual digital boards could have been here today. The 780G boards from Asus and Gigabyte too have DVI+HDMI on the back panel. My complaint is that they won't let you run both ports at the same time, even though the IGP supports that.
    Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Monday, March 10, 2008 - link

    It's really good to see AMD doing something well.

    Well, apart from the southbridge, but at least the USB2 performance issues are fixed, and otherwise most people will never notice the few differences.

    Great chipset for HTPC though. Here's hoping to see what a few more driver revisions can do!
    Reply
  • samivesusu - Monday, March 10, 2008 - link

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcbGV6Pfb6Q">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcbGV6Pfb6Q
    Reply
  • goinginstyle - Monday, March 10, 2008 - link

    Thanks for the image comparisons. I think it is about time that somebody showed HD images from actual titles instead of quicktime trailers. Looking forward to the roundup but mainly more image comparisons and quad-core results for the boards. Is a Q6600 on the G35 going to make the stutter/judder problem go away for h.264 titles? Any chance of audio tests with the boards? Reply
  • TheJian - Monday, March 10, 2008 - link

    Why would you run a quadcore without a REAL video card? You're missing the whole point of this chipset in that case. Which is HTPC market and the CHEAPO CPU market playing games. This is the best HTPC chipset out there. You can run a SEMPRON 1.8ghz chip as TomsHardware showed a few days ago. That's a SINGLE CORE chip. No need for Dual cores they tested here. IF you have the money for a quad core surely you have $190 for a 8800GT. Why would I want Integrated graphics with a quad core? Reply
  • Ajax9000 - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Well, one reason is that IGP-to-HDMI is currently the only way to get better than AC3-class digital audio out of an HTPC (due to the lack of OS kernel-level protected audio path for user accessible buses).

    ... which highlights the strange design of the 780G -- the Southbridge can do Intel HD Audio, but the Northbridge is limited to AC3-class audio.
    Reply
  • sprockkets - Thursday, March 13, 2008 - link

    Or as mentioned L 2.1. Is there anyone that actually notices the difference in audio quality?

    Hey, I wish someone also tested how the Intel nVidia 7xxx series chipset does. Since it has only one memory channel, it must make it all suck.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    I have tested this board with a Sempron 64 3400+ and did not have the same results as Tom's with our hardware and driver setup. I am still working on the numbers but the H.264 (AVC) playback experience was not that pleasurable with our video titles. Yes, playback was possible but any system level requests or bitrate spikes above 40Mbps resulted in judder or stuttering. We will look at the lowest common hardware denominator from a CPU/GPU viewpoint in an HTPC focused article next month. We just shipped a 780G board to our Linux editors to test. Hopefully, we can have some initial results early next month. Reply
  • goinginstyle - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    It might be the fact that I can afford a Q6600 or Phenom by not buying a separate video card. The whole point of having a quad is to setup a encoding system that will not take 14 hours to encode a single movie like my Celeron took. I wish this chipset was available for the Intel cpus but I have to admit that my gigabyte 780g board with a 9500 Phenom is working very well right now. After reading about the post processing information, I am glad I bought a phenom. Now I wonder if a Q6600/G35 would have been better if that combo does not choke on AVC materials. Reply

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