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Updated: AMD 785G: The Venerable 780G, Evolved

Updated: AMD 785G: The Venerable 780G, Evolved
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Ed.: After discussing with AMD earlier today, it would seem that eight-channel LPCM is not one of the features present in 785G. As a result, we've made a couple of edits to the original story, while you'll find on this page, and page three. Overall, our assessment of 785G does not change. However, true HTPC enthusiasts will likely want to reconsider 785G if software-decoded Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD MA is a buying requirement.

Since the beginning of last year, integrated graphics processors (IGPs) have become a lot more exciting. Consumers now have solid options from all of the major players, including AMD’s 780G/790GX, Intel’s G45, and Nvidia’s 8200/9300/9400. All of these components have their respective strengths and weaknesses, but compared to past offerings, these chipsets are light-years ahead.

Now, AMD is bringing a new product to the table, and the fresh 785G chipset is an evolution of the 780G; certainly not revolutionary. It was created to address some of the features that the 780G lacked, such as eight-channel LPCM audio over HDMI, picture-in-picture video acceleration, ATI Stream technology support, DirectX 10.1, and Windows 7 compatibility. In addition, AMD promises lower power usage with the 785G. None of these features represent a "killer app" for the company, especially since the competition already offers most of these capabilities in their existing products. But taken as a whole, the 785G is a very positive step in the right direction. That is, of course, assuming it can deliver the goods, which our testing will flesh out.

The State of IGP

While Intel's G45 for Socket 775 is over most of its teething problems and can playback a Blu-ray disc in a competent fashion, it isn't very impressive in the graphics department. Nvidia's 8200 for Socket AM2+ isn't much better when it comes to 3D horsepower, but Nvidia has addressed that weakness with its GeForce 9300/9400 chipsets for Socket 775. As far as AMD’s portfolio goes, the 780G is a fantastic low-budget chipset, and the 790GX is a solid midrange offering. With these products leading the IGP segment when it comes to price/performance superiority, why change the 780G now?

Perhaps AMD's best reason to introduce the 785G chipset isn't the chipset itself, but its new Phenom II-based processors that can be used with it, including the Athlon II. While the original Phenom was somewhat anemic compared to Intel's Core 2 offerings (and was stigmatized early on for its TLB issue), the Phenom II sports a more refined architecture that has returned AMD to price/performance leadership with some of its parts.

With this in mind, there probably isn't a better time to re-introduce the improved 785G as an alternative to Nvidia's 9300/9400, and to highlight the 785G's strengths over Intel's G45.

Display 60 Comments.
  • -3 Hide
    anamaniac , August 4, 2009 6:37 AM
    Very interesting.
    A integrated GPU that can game. =D

    Makes my lil Pentium D with a 4670 seem puny...
    3.3GB/s memory bandwidth (single channel DDR2 533... though 2 sticks, it runs in single channel... damn prebuilts) also seems sad on my rig...

    macer1the real question is how would this perform if mated to an Atom processor in an nettop.


    Good question. A dual core Atom with a 4200 integrated would be nice.
    We all know Intel makes shitty mothebroards and AMD makes kickass motherboards anyways.
  • 9 Hide
    SpadeM , August 4, 2009 7:21 AM
    mcnuggetofdeath^^^ and support for DDR3. Although thats a change to the board, not the CPU.


    Not correct, the P2 has a built in memory controller so the switch to ddr3 affected that controller
  • 1 Hide
    apache_lives , August 4, 2009 8:27 AM
    anamaniacVery interesting.A integrated GPU that can game. =DMakes my lil Pentium D with a 4670 seem puny...3.3GB/s memory bandwidth (single channel DDR2 533... though 2 sticks, it runs in single channel... damn prebuilts) also seems sad on my rig...Good question. A dual core Atom with a 4200 integrated would be nice.We all know Intel makes shitty mothebroards and AMD makes kickass motherboards anyways.



    Native ram for a pentium d is PC4200 which has a max of 4.2gb/s per channel etc and the FSB has the max of 6.4gb/s

    The Intel atom would most likely underpower any video card out there, and Intel does actually make a good reliable business platform where video performance is not required etc
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 4, 2009 10:13 AM
    I'm sorry, is this an Intel benchmark site? All other reviews put SYSTEM power consumption for Athlon II 250 well below Intel E7200.
  • 1 Hide
    aproldcuk , August 4, 2009 11:27 AM
    This article raised a lot of questions for me. What about Hybrid Crossfire for example? What kind of cards can be used together with this new IGP? Is the discrete graphics card on standby if no performance is required? If no then how much extra outlet wattage is expected? And how much extra if actively in use? I'm interested in using the 785G solution in the 24/7 HTPC setup with the possibility to do occasional gaming as well. My current setup with 690G chipset and Athlon 64 X2 BE-2350 CPU draws around 50 watts most of the time and up to 90 watts under heavy load. Is it too much to expect similar levels from 785G and Phenom II X3 705e combo for example?
  • 1 Hide
    wh3resmycar , August 4, 2009 12:10 PM
    when can we see the mobile version of this? this is most certainly a welcome update compared to the 780g-hd3200 chipset. and beats any nvidia igp hands down. id love to see this on an $700-$800 laptop. good thing im still holding back on buying a new notebook.
  • 4 Hide
    Pei-chen , August 4, 2009 12:30 PM
    Good timimg, I was wondering if 785G is better than 790GX or not yesterday. Thanks.
  • 0 Hide
    neiroatopelcc , August 4, 2009 12:33 PM
    ArticleThere are two lessons to be learned here: first, if you really care about the environment, turn your PC off (or at least configure it to enter sleep mode) when you're not using it, and second, don't be afraid of purchasing a better processor for fear that it will cost you big money in power consumption.


    Perhaps the next task could be a power comparison to tell us how long a computer needs to stand in active state to consume more power than turning it off and back on again (including starting msn,av software and a bunch of other stuff running in the background).

    Anyway good article :) 
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 4, 2009 12:47 PM
    McNuggetOfDeath: There were changes to the Phenom II architecture, 45nm is not what enabled higher clocks, it was architectural changes(mostly regarding internal latencies). There were also other changes as well that enabled higher IPC and smoother overall performance.

    PS: Phenom II does support DDR3, there are only 2 models out of 12 that don't...
  • 2 Hide
    Onus , August 4, 2009 2:04 PM
    Pei-chenGood timimg, I was wondering if 785G is better than 790GX or not yesterday. Thanks.

    ========
    My take on it is except for some specific HTPC features, the 790GX is still the better of the two, especially if any gaming is involved. They compared an OC'ed 785G to a stock 790GX; what if they'd OC'ed the 790GX also?
    And, lest anyone develop any false hope, the Intel IGP has once again been shown to be a toad.
  • 8 Hide
    DarkMantle , August 4, 2009 3:19 PM
    One of the best things this chipset brings is a lower cost on AM3 motherboards, if you want to use PhenomII processors paired with DDR3 ram and a single video card, you can pay 89-99 dollars for the motherboard. I think this is important.
  • 7 Hide
    judeh101 , August 4, 2009 4:11 PM
    I would totally use this with my home theatre PC.
    Let's seee... Decent performance, able to play HD videos, low cost. That covers everything I need for a HTPC!
  • 2 Hide
    cleeve , August 4, 2009 4:12 PM
    aproldcukThis article raised a lot of questions for me. What about Hybrid Crossfire for example? What kind of cards can be used together with this new IGP?


    We concentrated on the new aspects of the 785G in this article; hybrid crossfire is exactly the same as it was with the 780G, that is to say it maxes out with a 3450 card.
  • 4 Hide
    Ryun , August 4, 2009 5:16 PM
    "At idle, the Phenom II X2 is drawing the highest load: 92 W on the 790GX motherboard. In contrast, the E7200 is drawing 68 W on the most efficient platform, Intel's G45. It looks big on the chart, but it's a difference of 14 W."

    Nope, it's using a 24 W difference. I think that's why your numbers are different too. I get:

    24 Watts * 24 hours = 576 WHrs / 1000 W/KW = .576 KWHrs * $0.15 cents/KWHr * 365 days = $31.54

    Good article otherwise, thanks.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 4, 2009 5:17 PM
    Quote:
    refined architecture" ? To my knowledge, and please correct me if im wrong, all that was changed between the original phenom and the phenom 2 was the addition of more L3 cache allowing it to do more simultaneously and a die shrink allowing for higher clocks. That does not a refined architecture make. When AMD added an on die memory controller to their processors years ago they had made a huge advancement in architecture. Im sad to see them fall away from the performance crown. Here's hoping their new Bull Dozer architecture brings something genuinely intriguing to the table.


    That is incorrect, if that was the case, the Phenom II wouldn't benchmark so much better and it wouldn't overclock so much better. Just because it has the Phenom name to it, doesn't mean all they did was give it a bit more L3 Cache and call it a day. You could've given the original Phenom more L3 cache all day long and it wouldn't still ran like poop. Not necessarily poop, but just not as well as the Phenom II.
  • 4 Hide
    KT_WASP , August 4, 2009 5:34 PM
    cleeveWe concentrated on the new aspects of the 785G in this article; hybrid crossfire is exactly the same as it was with the 780G, that is to say it maxes out with a 3450 card.


    If this is true, then why does the Hybrid crossfire graphic on the first page show HD4350, HD4550 and HD4650 as compatible hybrid crossfire GPUs?

    It makes sense.. the 780G used an integrated 3200-series GPU, so it was compatible with lower-end dedicated 3000-series GPUs. The 785G uses an integrated 4200-series GPU, so it should be compatible with the lower-end dedicated 4000-series GPUs.

    Can you clear this up? I was also wondering what GPU's can be used as Hybrid crossfire with the 785G. I thought I knew from that graphic on page 1, but your response confused me.

    Thanks
  • 1 Hide
    aproldcuk , August 4, 2009 5:53 PM
    cleevehybrid crossfire is exactly the same as it was with the 780G, that is to say it maxes out with a 3450 card.

    Thanks for clearing it out, Cleeve! There is not much sense using Hybrid CF then. However, my original question still remains: how much extra wattage may one expect with mid-range 4600 or 4700 card added for example? Does disabling the device help here a bit more when not in use? Hope this is not too off-topic already...
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