Final Words

Where to begin...

As a HTPC solution G45 promises to be the chipset we've all been waiting for, but falls short. Honestly the best combination for a HTPC would probably be an Intel P45 based motherboard (G45 would also work) with an AMD Radeon HD 4670 (or its upcoming, passively cooled successor). The 4670 gives you chipset-agnostic support for 8-channel LPCM and it works better than any integrated solution I've seen thus far, not to mention that you still maintain hardware H.264/VC-1/MPEG-2 video decode acceleration.

If we discount G45 as the perfect HTPC platform (at least without a Radeon 48xx/46xx series add-in card), then it makes this analysis much simpler. As an upgrade to G35, the new chipset does have faster graphics performance, but it's still too low to actually be considered worthwhile for gaming. While G45 will run many titles, even older ones just don't run well at all - not much has changed on the graphics side it seems.

Power consumption is down since G35, but you're looking at a 8 - 11% reduction in total system power consumption by switching from G35 to G45 thanks to the smaller manufacturing process. The power benefits are obviously larger when Blu-ray playback is taken into consideration.

As a business PC platform, like all of Intel's integrated chipsets in the past, G45 works just fine. It's a reliable platform which, although ships with a number of more exotic features (8-channel LPCM, faster graphics), needs some external help to truly be more feature-filled. If you want basic Blu-ray acceleration, G45 offers that - just hook it up to your PC monitor and you're good to go. If you want more, you'll need an add-in card. If you want basic (and I mean basic) 3D acceleration, G45 can deliver. If you want to really give anything serious a try however, you'll need an add-in card.

G45 is a platform that could have been so much, a last hurrah of Intel's integrated graphics solutions, but in the end it amounts to little more than a mild evolution over its predecessors. It's hardly the caliber of product we're used to from Intel, especially given the CPU and SSD launches of late. G45 works, is it excellent? No.

Fix the HDMI repeater issues and we could get this thing into HTPCs at least. Gaming performance seems to have some potential but it's just severely limited in the vast majority of the titles we test. Assuming that you're not impacted by the HDMI repeater issues, and now that many of the early chipset quirks have been worked out, what G45 board should you get?

The Boards

Our selection of G45 based motherboards represents all of the models currently available in the market place. We expect to see additional G45 products from MSI, Foxconn, Biostar, and others coming to market in the next 60 days.

At this point, our favorite G45 board is the ASUS P5Q-EM based on its flexibility to provide the basis for a HTPC, SOHO, or SFF system. Of course, it is also the most expensive board in our group but for those who value quality, support, and the capability of this board to be utilized in a variety of ways then we believe the price differential is worth it.

The Gigabyte GA-EG45M-DS2H board certainly deserves serious attention but only for HTPC or SOHO activities. This board has a split personality. The feature set, BIOS options, and component selection indicate a board that could go toe to toe with the ASUS in an SFF system (maybe even win) while providing an equally pleasing customer experience in a HTPC/SOHO environment. However, Gigabyte decided not to provide a video card expansion option via the PCIe 2.0 x16 capable MCH and instead provides PCIe 1.1 x4 capability off the ICH. This limits the board from being used in a SFF system.

The Supermicro C2SEA is our only ATX based board along with DDR3 capability. The board is priced competitively with the uATX boards, but the current cost of DDR3 might turn away a few buyers. That is a real shame as this board offered excellent performance within the group and best-in-class power consumption numbers. Stability was just incredible and the board ran everything we could throw at without ever whimpering. If you want a set it up and forget about it system, then this is the board for you.

Now the two problem children, you know, the ones that you just want to love even though they frustrate you to no end. Frustration, that single word describes our experiences with the Intel DG45ID uATX and to a certain degree the DG45FC mini-ITX board. These fraternal twins share the same BIOS code and almost the same feature set, hence the same problems we had from hardware viewpoint.

Intel has solved the majority of our problem but the mere fact that we had problems that did not exist on the other boards confounds us. Intel designed this chipset and provided the core BIOS code for it, so one would think they had a leg up on their partners when releasing the product. These advantages did not work in their favor. That said, we truly do like both boards although the lack of processor voltages and a poor implementation of the fan control management system cause us concern for those looking to have a very quiet and efficient HTPC.

The price is right and Intel’s support has been terrific for current products so we fully expect these boards to improve over time, hopefully the drivers improve at the same rate as the hardware. In the end, while we are not as enamored with the DG45ID compared to the other three uATX boards, it is still a good buy when taken into context for a base HTPC or SOHO system. The DG45FC excites us as we finally have a top line chipset available in a mini-TX form factor at a terrific price. We will take an in-depth look at it in the near future, but for now, it is a product with great promise. And one that we really want to see in our HTPC setup at some point.

Power Consumption
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  • Olyros - Sunday, February 8, 2009 - link

    I noticed there's a mention in the article about searching for the perfect mini-itx case. The Nexus Psile case that I'm using for my Intel "DG45FC"-based computer is perfect for it I think. Especially if you are after stylish and quiet computers.
    Here are a couple of links for you to check it out if you want:">
  • lubama - Tuesday, October 14, 2008 - link

    Quote from "Intel's G45 Motherboard round up

    "However, at various times after the system has gone to sleep it will wake back up without intervention for a few seconds and then shuts down. Sometimes this a few minutes after entering sleep mode, other times it occurred an hour or so later. The board requires a full power cycle to come back to life and does not always resume to Vista, instead we receive the error that Vista has been incurred an error after entering the OS."

    Have you found a solution to this problem, seems like you are the only person, other than me, who is catching this issue. I have posted in numerous DG45ID forums and this exact issue is non-existent and haven't received any answers.
  • IntelUser2000 - Sunday, October 12, 2008 - link

    Anand, G965/G35/GM965 has 8 EUs(Execution Units), but each of the EUs contain 2 cores, meaning it has 16 cores. Each cores can also process 2 threads, meaning it has a maximum of 32 thread capability. From that, its not comparable to Nvidia, nor ATI so Intel have their own performance metric.

    For G45, I assume its 10 EUs, 20 cores. Intel papers mention 50 threads.
  • puddnhead - Wednesday, October 8, 2008 - link

    I second (thrid? fourth? fifth? 9th?) the call for the part 2 (what it's pretty obvious everyone is more interested in anyway, not this article).

    I wonder if you coudl at least give us an ETA of not the article itself? You know, if it's this week, this month, or ??? Thta doesn't seem too much to ask, I'm surprised you don't give that from the start.
  • computerfarmer - Friday, October 3, 2008 - link

    Looking forward to part_2.

    I hope they are sooner than the promised reviews from these articles.

    AMD SB750 arrives on the Foxconn A79A-S...
    Date: July 21st, 2008
    Author: Gary Key">

    AMD's SB750: Enabling Higher Phenom Overclocks?
    Date: July 23rd, 2008
    Topic: CPU & Chipset
    Manufacturer: AMD
    Author: Gary Key">

    AMD 790GX - The Introduction
    Date: August 6th, 2008
    Topic: CPU & Chipset
    Manufacturer: AMD
    Author: Gary Key">
  • computerfarmer - Friday, October 3, 2008 - link

    When is PART_2 coming out?
  • duploxxx - Friday, October 3, 2008 - link

    Lots of talk of bringing a great roundup of chipsets...already for a few weeks now.

    Where does anand start? at the least interesting and the most garbage chipset for several years now.

    lets hope your global review is as good as people expect it to be.
    you started off already a bit better then you did in recent gpu reviews, you actually took a cpu that was rather common to be used, although a e7200 or Q8200 would be a much better fit for this kind of boards.

  • whosthere - Tuesday, September 30, 2008 - link

    I didn't see any specifics on the Game Settings. Could you please post them...
  • dutchroll - Monday, September 29, 2008 - link

    Yeah I was thinking much the same thing about the "fanboi" comments.

    Can they spell "hypocrite"? It really betrays your allegiance when you rant at Intel then go all wobbly and weak at the knees while mentioning AMD. AT are damned if they do, damned if they don't as far as reviewing either brand's offerings. They've already stated how good the 780G was. They've stated what bugs are in the G45. So what the heck is the problem?
  • piesquared - Wednesday, October 1, 2008 - link

    The problem is, they promised a SB750 review 2 months ago. The problem is they promised a DFI LP JR. review 1 month ago. The problem is they go well out of there way to avoid any comparison of Intel's ITD, and AMD's IGP. So what if they obscure and bury a line inside an Intel article that gives credit to AMD hardware. They fail to give credit where credit is due, and it is glaringly obvious. And it's even more obvious when this article pops up suddently when Intel has a new driver. They were waiting on Intel's promises of a new driver that would improve performance, and show it's hardware in a better light. Doesn't matter if you crap in a plastic or paper bag, it's still a bag of shit though. I'll make a wager that none of the upcomming "promised" reviews will have any side by side comparisons of Intel's IDT, to any other IGP. Unless of course AT stalls long enough to allow Intle more time to produce yet another driver.....

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