Lets face it: there are a good number of us out there who are forced to build a PC on a very limited budget. Be it because we are building a second PC simply for recreational use, want a system for the kids, are are simply looking to build a low cost machine, many are faced with the difficult task of building a high performance computer system on a budget.

As recently as a few years ago, attempting to build such a value system would often result in a major disappointment. Many times reducing the cost of a system required stepping back to older technology and products with limited support and very lackluster performance. Luckily, the task of building a budget system is getting easier and easier with the advent of component integration.

The idea of component integration is certainly nothing new. It is quite logical to think that placing many components on a single chip would save cost over many separate chips, power components, PCBs and the like. It was not until rather recently, however, did the technology allowing a high degree of component integration come into realization. Although some see the future as a complete system integrated onto a single square of silicon, we are not quite there yet. Instead, manufacturers of today are attempting to integrate one or two common components onto an already existing chip.

Perhaps the most likely site to find component integration today lies in the north bridge controller of a chipset, a location where it is fairly easy to integrate fairly costly system components. We have seen everything from sound to video integrated in north bridge chips, but the one integration that seems to have caught on is video integration, where a graphics chip is embedded onto an existing north bridge chip.

Normally we are quick to scold integrated video due its poor performance when compared to higher performing, and higher costing, separate video cards. Since every integrated video solution has been implemented to save cost, many times performance is cut as well in order to make the chips easier to produce.

However, rather than quickly brush integrated video solutions off as a nonviable solution, one must first consider the reason for integration: reduced cost. Although a integrated video may not be desirable in a high performance gaming system, it may strike the perfect balance between price and functionality in a value system. But with many integrated solutions currently available, one question remains: which solution is the best? Follow us as AnandTech takes you through the world of integrated video solutions in order to find out which is the right solution for you and your value system.

Integrated Video: How it Works
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