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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  • greenfuzion - Thursday, April 17, 2008 - link

  • Schugy - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    The new AMD chipset is a good choice for a MythTV frontend and it will play normal mpeg2 tv flawlessly.
    But I won't need any HD capabilities because video players like kaffeine or mplayer won't support HDCP crap or any hardware accelleration.
    With the lousy closed source nVIDIA linux driver not supporting pureview I can't even watch the unencrypted EA Burnout Paradise demo video fullscreen (VIDEO: [avc1] 1280x720 24bpp) without any performance problems. But I think a Sempron 3000+ SOA and a 7600GT should be enough for this resolution far away from full HD.
    I won't spend any money for HD hardware or HD content because there's no sense in it.

  • najames - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Since these boards are intended as media PCs, I think you should be doing thorough testing of the onboard LAN. My Biostar TA690G does a decent job on gigabit, my Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H sucked at sending, ok in receiving. Intel Pro1000 PCI-e x1 replacement card did a lot better on the Gigabyte, although I still question the boards throughput. I have done a LOT of LAN testing on Linux for a building server. This kind of stuff needs to be checked, writing to a single WD 640GB drive.

    ftp> put mint.iso
    local: mint.iso remote: mint.iso
    200 PORT command successful. Consider using PASV.
    150 Ok to send data.
    226 File receive OK.
    722104320 bytes sent in 6.41 secs (109965.8 kB/s)
    ftp> quit
  • yehuda - Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - link

    Gigabyte's 690G and 690V boards suck at network performance because they use a PCI controller as upposed to a PCI Express controller in most other boards.

    Fortunately, the GA-MA78GM-S2H is free from this drawback. You can check the network results here:

    That said, I can't explain your comment on questionable throughput with the replacement PCI-e card.
  • rhofmann - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    1080p HD decode is great, but in my experience I've found that the de-interlacing required by 1080i broadcast HD content has been an Achilles heel for HTPC output with integrated graphics.
  • jamawass - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Never thought I'd see the day when Tomshardware actually published a better review than Anandtech. I don't understand how a review article on AMD 780g ends with a paragraph on an Intel chipset talking about strengths in"office applications", heck a igp chipset 10 yrs ago was good in office applications.
    This is the best IGP chipset currently and the article should have stated that categorically instead of using lame " AMD got it almost right". What use is lpcm audio when the image is paused and juddering on your screen?
    Power consumption, sound use are all relevant when reviewing a platform like this I just didn't see the empahsis on these in this article.
  • TheJian - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    I was surprised by TomsHardware too. I haven't put much stock in their site for years (since a ways before they soldout). In the beginning Tom Pabst did an excellent job HIMSELF. But now it's just his name on the site. I expected to read their review over here, and Anandtech's review over at Toms...LOL. Maybe I'll have to start paying more attention to Toms. Jeez, did I say that out loud? Or am I just thinking it... :)

    Toms review was definitely shooting straight. Totally agree that Audio (any kind not just over HDMI) can't get me to lean towards Intel if the picture sucks to begin with. What's the point in Hi-Def if it looks like crap? OH wait...That's right it still sounds good! LOL. Whatever...
  • gochichi - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Refurbished Dell Vostro 400 desktop with a superior Intel Quad chip, Vista Home Premium, 2GB RAM (upgradeable), 160GB HDD, DVD+/-, 8300 GS (which should do just about as well, very very close I imagine), keyboard, mouse and some sense of synergy. Meaning, you get a keyb/mouse/case that match in some way... even if the thing is not particularly small, it's pretty small and high quality looking than most reasonably priced cases.

    Heck, forget price, only a few cases are passable PERIOD. Vista's pricing even the so-called "OEM" price really messes things up also.

    The Vostro mentioned above, which would outperform any Phenom is $459.00 ready to go... already assembled, perfect matches etc.

    Before you ask me... why don't I just buy it if I like the deal so much? I just might, I just might is the answer.
  • Zstream - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Utter rubish! A Vostro 400 huh?

    Lets go to dell's site. A Vostro 400 with Intel® Core™2 Duo Proc E4500 (2.20GHz, 2MB L2 Cache, 800FSB), one gig of ram, dvd-rom, 160gb hard drive...

    I would purchase a 780g/tri-core htpc over this any day of the week.
  • gochichi - Tuesday, March 11, 2008 - link

    Did you ever consider that you can't find the unit I'm talking about anymore.

    I said nothing about a 2.2Ghz Duo anything. I was talking about a QUAD 2.4 Ghz with a small HDD, 2GB of RAM and a remedial video card (that would perform about as well as the 780G, maybe a little better it was a 8300 GS).

    Dell WAS selling 2.4Ghz quad refurbs as duos... but I don't know if that's changed.

    All of this is really irrelevant. I guess the broader point is that building a computer from scratch blows for a number of reasons (unless you're really going to spend in top end stuff).

    1. Getting a decent case/PSU for under $100.00 is a feat, and even then it's too much.
    2. Vista or any other MS system is over priced.

    About the 780G, my first reaction was: "it's only $70.00" and I started going from there. But you know what? At the end of the day, you're really saving $30.00 on what a remedial 8400 GS would cost. $30.00 when you're building from scratch just isn't that much. AMD has provided a decent part for OEMs though. Hopefully they can deliver.

    As for the Vostro 400 w/ Quad and Vista Home Premium for $469.00 hopefully I'll be able to find it again and buy it. $40.00 upgrades it to 4GB of RAM and you can actually put any video card you want in that thing (just one though obviously). So 9600GT down the line, or wait it out and get something next gen.

    Part of the advantage of building from scratch is overclocking. But no matter how much you overclock a Phenom, it's still pretty much not as good as a basic 2.4Ghz intel Quad. Those things have been around forever. Intel is totally yawning as they pummel AMD. Overclocking also means even pricier parts and headache and I'm just not seeing how you could possibly beat the bang/$ of the Vostro.

    Now, that's me. You want to build a system based AMD and this chipset, it sounds like fun... but it doesn't sound smart.

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