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Editor's Corner: 790GX On The Web

Editor's Corner: 790GX On The Web
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With the all-night benchmarking sessions and ensuing story on AMD’s new 790GX chipset out of the way, I sat down this morning to read what others on the Web had to say about the platform.

The company’s latest performs well, no doubt about it. The integrated graphics is most definitely faster than 780G and the inclusion of SB750 is a real life-saver on motherboards slated to cost somewhere around $150. Without ACC, it’d be incredibly difficult to justify the extra cost tacked onto 790GX boards versus 780G—and it might just be worth it to hold off until 790FX boards with SB750 are priced out.

Geoff over at TechReport came to a similar conclusion on pricing in his story, adding a tidbit on AHCI support on the SB750 southbrdge that I wasn’t able to test. Apparently the new I/O controller forces enthusiasts to jump through the same hoops to get AHCI support as its predecessor—something we’d hope would be changed by now, but apparently hasn’t been. I did have the opportunity to try adding a RAID array to an existing single-drive configuration. And while it was no problem to incorporate a pair of 500 GB drives, set them up for RAID 0 operation, and keep my boot drive separate, the simple act of switching to RAID mode meant the already-configured drive with Vista on it wouldn’t boot.

In his conclusion, Marco over at HotHardware had less of an issue with 790GX’s price tag and instead focused on an important point that seems to really be propping up AMD’s processor line up right now: the idea of a platform. Intel used to own this concept, selling its processors, chipsets, motherboards, networking controllers, RAID cards (the list goes on and on) in a package that was assumed to work better together because it all came from the same company. Just look at Centrino. Same sort of idea adapted for the mobile space. I remember when AMD launched the 760 chipset—the first Athlon platform with DDR support. It was determined to get out of core logic as soon as its partners had jumped on board the DDR train. Now the company can’t get enough of platforms, and we’ve seen several good ones as a result. Truly, though, 790GX is the first chipset to tie the platform and processor together with ACC. Previously, CrossFireX was the best reason to match AMD CPUs and AMD chipsets (and that was dubious at best since Intel supports CrossFire as well on platforms boasting faster CPUs). Now it’s ACC. Hopefully we see more of that platform message.

Unrelated to the 790GX, but interesting nonetheless, AMDZone’s Chris Tom worked some Intel G45 numbers into his coverage of AMD’s newest chipset. While the platform’s integrated core is still the slowest out there, it looks to be significantly faster than anything Intel has ever offered before. In fact, a couple of Chris’ benchmarks show G45 edging past Nvidia’s 780a SLI. We were also hoping to include G45 scores, but had to cut the testing short when we ran out of time. We are working on a comparison between G45 and a lesser-known AMD platform, though.

Perhaps more pressing for folks planning on picking up 790GX right away was Gary Key’s preview on AnandTech. In it, Gary recounts a number of issues he experienced with the initial batch of 790GX boards, including CrossFire with 4800-series Radeons, HDMI resolution problems, and trouble between OverDrive and the Phenom X4 9950 BE (AMD’s 2.6 GHz, 140 W model). His observations may help explain why we weren’t able to get our hands on the MSI and Foxconn boards in time for the chipset debut (we’ve already spoken to Asus and our problem with its board is unrelated to the issues Gary describes).

Based on Gary’s detailed list of outstanding quirks, it might be a good idea to either 1) hold off on 790GX until the board vendors iron out its wrinkles (see the story for specifics on where exactly you can expect to see issues today) or 2) simply wait until the 790FX/SB750 platform of your choosing becomes available. After all, enthusiasts building more powerful platforms will probably want to forgo the integrated graphics anyway in favor of more discrete connectivity.

Our conclusion on the 790GX still stands. The integrated platform is impressive, offering better graphics performance (albeit from a piece of silicon that isn’t new), more overclocking headroom, and new storage functionality. We’re still on the fence regarding the target audience, since 790GX boards will cost much more than 780G and are missing the HybridPower-like functionality that’d make them a solid win for power users. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see what others are saying and experiencing with similar hardware.

If you’ve seen any other 790GX stories with interesting scores, unique features, or unexpected twists, let me know in the comments section and I’ll add my impressions. And to all who contributed feedback on our own coverage, thanks for making your voice heard.

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  • 0 Hide
    jeb1517 , August 7, 2008 2:06 PM
    "...the simple act of switching to RAID mode meant the already-configured drive with Vista on it wouldn’t boot."

    I tried this on the 780G board. I had xp installed on my SATA drive but everything was in IDE mode and I wanted to switch to AHCI mode. When I changed the option in BIOS, it gave me another option to let SATA ports 4 and 5 remain in IDE mode while the other ports were switched to AHCI. I connected my drive to port 4 and windows booted. After loading up, the "Found new hardware" wizard started and it installed the AHCI drivers from the motherboard CD. I then shut the computer off, switched my drive to port 1 and Windows booted. HOWEVER, with AHCI enabled, the boot sequence would pause for about 10 seconds which became really annoying (XP loading bar would freeze) and I didn't feel like dealing with it so I went back to having everything as IDE. Maybe you'll have better luck.
  • 0 Hide
    ivaroeines , August 7, 2008 2:08 PM
    I think this chipset it perfect for DIY's with a limited budget that need or want a replacement of their older computer, for people with 3 to 4 year old computers or older. For these people you get a gpu that most likely is faster than what they have now, most of them wont have to replace enclosure or powersupply( some may need to for connectivity ). They get a fairly future proof mainboard that will support not yet released cpu's and graphicscard for further upgrades at a later date. A cpu/mainboard/ram/gpu upgrade at this price is hard to beat. There are of course downsides, SB600/SB7** ACHI issue, AMD cpu performance and the single IDE channel are possibly the worst. You can not play current games on this platform alone, but the people im talking about couldnt do that on their current system either, but the initial investment is very small compared to what you get.
  • 0 Hide
    theLaminator , August 7, 2008 4:40 PM
    Quote:
    amd cpu performance ???

    ok yeah intels making faster dchips but compare teh price difernece for what you get when you buy it the intel's are all that "Wow" inducing 1200 bucks diference from amd's top processor (230 at New egg) to intels top model(1400 at new eggs) and the intel chip is only 20-25 % faster ? do the math for teh price diference the intel chip doesn't offer near the performance it should that price is like 6 times what amd's cost so where is the performance ?


    What about the Q9300? It doesn't have an unlocked multiplier but its faster a 45nm processor and only costs 35 dollars more. My experience with 45nm tells me you're not gonna be able to OC that black edition to the same speeds you could the Q9300
  • 0 Hide
    Pei-chen , August 7, 2008 6:14 PM
    theLaminatorWhat about the Q9300? It doesn't have an unlocked multiplier but its faster a 45nm processor and only costs 35 dollars more. My experience with 45nm tells me you're not gonna be able to OC that black edition to the same speeds you could the Q9300

    No joking. I was thinking about selling my E6400 + board and go AMD instead of getting a Q6600 but I just couldn't justify that move. Nothing from AMD could beat Q6600 at stock or overclocked and the Q6600 is cheaper than 9950BE.
  • 0 Hide
    sdliddo , August 7, 2008 6:41 PM
    Just wondering how this IGP would work with a 1680 X 1050 monitor.
    Got a VERY limited cash right now but computer broke. Doubt I'll have cash until like December so I was thinking this might work for me.
    Only playing WoW.
    Any thoughts
  • 0 Hide
    gsacks , August 7, 2008 7:52 PM
    Comparisson between the G45 a a lesser known AMD platform? WTF.
    Please, if you are going to do a comparison, look at the soon to be available intel ITX board with the G45 chipset compared to the Nvidia and AMD ITX boards from Jetway and J&W respectively. That is the review that lots of HTPC enthusiasts are looking forward to.
  • 0 Hide
    elerick , August 7, 2008 8:04 PM
    this would be perfectly fine for wow. A laptop with low end gpu can run it fine, this should be able to have decent settings turned up and play smoothly. Just dont expect the world out of onboard video.
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , August 7, 2008 8:30 PM
    sdliddoJust wondering how this IGP would work with a 1680 X 1050 monitor. Got a VERY limited cash right now but computer broke. Doubt I'll have cash until like December so I was thinking this might work for me. Only playing WoW. Any thoughts


    Even if it means WoW at a lower resolution, the 790GX should be perfectly fine for the job. You should see how many people played with 4-5 year old hardware in my old guild :-P
  • 0 Hide
    sdliddo , August 7, 2008 8:58 PM
    cangeliniEven if it means WoW at a lower resolution, the 790GX should be perfectly fine for the job. You should see how many people played with 4-5 year old hardware in my old guild :-P


    Hahaha. Yeah. Given the fact i want the P4 replaced I'm thinking of putting this on my older CRT monitor which runs 1152 X 864 resolution. Gonna have to shelve my nice 1680 x 1050 monitor until i can earn enough to get another computer. Of course will running just an X2 4800 be okay with this? or should i go with phenoms?
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , August 7, 2008 9:17 PM
    gsacksComparisson between the G45 a a lesser known AMD platform? WTF.Please, if you are going to do a comparison, look at the soon to be available intel ITX board with the G45 chipset compared to the Nvidia and AMD ITX boards from Jetway and J&W respectively. That is the review that lots of HTPC enthusiasts are looking forward to.


    Sacks,
    I'll ask around about the ITX versions. For the time being, microATX platforms should still give you a good idea of what the Intel and AMD core logic can do from a performance and functionality standpoint, right?
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , August 7, 2008 9:19 PM
    sdliddoHahaha. Yeah. Given the fact i want the P4 replaced I'm thinking of putting this on my older CRT monitor which runs 1152 X 864 resolution. Gonna have to shelve my nice 1680 x 1050 monitor until i can earn enough to get another computer. Of course will running just an X2 4800 be okay with this? or should i go with phenoms?


    An X2 should be plenty. The only killer I found with WoW was when the patch came out that implemented the new audio engine. Really killed a lot of people in raids :-/
  • 0 Hide
    sdliddo , August 7, 2008 9:36 PM
    cangeliniAn X2 should be plenty. The only killer I found with WoW was when the patch came out that implemented the new audio engine. Really killed a lot of people in raids :-/


    Thanks for the replies since I've been pretty apprehensive about new builds given all those new stuff coming out and such that I felt that getting a high end computer won't do me much good unless I enjoyed replacing everything every year. Not a good idea IMHO.

    Any ideas on the kinds of FPS I'll be getting on this on Shatt or any high population areas on WoW? LOLZ. I've noticed my poor X800 would cry or crash or both everytime I visit that place. Then again it was on a 1680 X 1050 resolution so I might get lucky or something.

    Hoping to see this board on the market soon. I get the feeling this should do well in cutting back on some problems not to mention electricity costs -- I hope. :D  Thanks again.
  • 0 Hide
    computerfarmer , August 8, 2008 2:54 AM
    Quote:
    "...the simple act of switching to RAID mode meant the already-configured drive with Vista on it wouldn’t boot."

    I tried this on the 780G board. I had xp installed on my SATA drive but everything was in IDE mode and I wanted to switch to AHCI mode. When I changed the option in BIOS, it gave me another option to let SATA ports 4 and 5 remain in IDE mode while the other ports were switched to AHCI. I connected my drive to port 4 and windows booted. After loading up, the "Found new hardware" wizard started and it installed the AHCI drivers from the motherboard CD. I then shut the computer off, switched my drive to port 1 and Windows booted. HOWEVER, with AHCI enabled, the boot sequence would pause for about 10 seconds which became really annoying (XP loading bar would freeze) and I didn't feel like dealing with it so I went back to having everything as IDE. Maybe you'll have better luck.


    I had this same issue with my 780g motherboard. My freezing lasted for 30 seconds on each boot, Vista64. After loading CCC with driver 8.7 and the southbridge driver 8.7, this problem was fixed.
  • 0 Hide
    gsacks , August 8, 2008 4:23 AM
    cangeliniI'll ask around about the ITX versions. For the time being, microATX platforms should still give you a good idea of what the Intel and AMD core logic can do from a performance and functionality standpoint, right?


    Yes, a comparison of the chipsets on any form factor would be sufficient to determine general performance. But the newest generation of ITX boards also has a smaller premium that previous versions and the lower power consumption and heat output of the newest CPUs makes that form factor more feasible for a mainstream system in a small enclosure. I have a pretty nice ITX case (looks similar to a Shuttle XPC) with a VIA board that we've been using as a second computer for basic tasks. It is nice and small and does not look out of place in the family room. But it can barely handle streaming video. I'll probably just replace it with a cheap laptop, but then I've got this nice case that would fit well right under the HDTV to stream content from a server and maybe stick a blu-ray player in there. For a smaller, less cluttered look the itx form factor is appealing. Plus, HTPC cases for mATX are either ridiculously expensive or really ugly. That's why I am interested in the ITX boards. Also, I still want to know what you meant by "lesser known AMD platform". Where you just referring to a different chipset?
  • 0 Hide
    cangelini , August 8, 2008 4:38 AM
    Yes, it's a different chipset that populates a board costing about $30 less than the 780G ;-)
  • 0 Hide
    ivaroeines , August 8, 2008 11:09 AM
    jeb1517"...the simple act of switching to RAID mode meant the already-configured drive with Vista on it wouldn’t boot."I tried this on the 780G board. I had xp installed on my SATA drive but everything was in IDE mode and I wanted to switch to AHCI mode. When I changed the option in BIOS, it gave me another option to let SATA ports 4 and 5 remain in IDE mode while the other ports were switched to AHCI. I connected my drive to port 4 and windows booted. After loading up, the "Found new hardware" wizard started and it installed the AHCI drivers from the motherboard CD. I then shut the computer off, switched my drive to port 1 and Windows booted. HOWEVER, with AHCI enabled, the boot sequence would pause for about 10 seconds which became really annoying (XP loading bar would freeze) and I didn't feel like dealing with it so I went back to having everything as IDE. Maybe you'll have better luck.


    For normal persons AHCI dont give much of an advantage if any at all over IDE setting( with one possible exception, it may have a minor impact on power consumption ), AHCI will improve read/write performance on servers but on a normal desktop computer you will not notice any difference. In normal non RAID computers its better to use IDE setting because you avoid having to use the preload IDE driver prior to OS-install.
  • 0 Hide
    dark41 , August 14, 2008 4:22 AM
    I guess if you're anti-Intel, the 790GX makes sense. Otherwise it doesn't.

    All the overclocking head room in the world doesn't do any good when the CPUs won't overclock enough to take advantage of it.

    Most of what I've read is pretty much the same as every other Nvidia chipset. They're very buggy, most of which will probably never be worked out of them. I wouldn't touch these boards with a 10 ft pole right now.
  • 0 Hide
    aweapons357 , September 15, 2011 12:42 AM
    i know this is an EXTREMELY old post..but to anyone who can benefit froom this..i'll tell you how to EFFECTIVELY raid on ANY 780G board..(Foxconn is the one i'm currently using..Gateway Bengal)..there are actually 2 ways to do this..the very 1st thing yoou do is to get the most recent RAID drivers for your HDD & put them either on a 1) CD, 2) a floppy, or 3) a USB thumb drive..(the most recent drivers to date are the AMD 3.0.1540.151 RAID drivers)..alright..for option 1..(with Vista Installation DVD)..set up your array by going to your BIOS..in Advanced Chipset option..go to Sata Mode..choose RAID..& then F10 to reboot..put in your DVD..go to your raid setup when Ctrl+F prompt comes up..go to option 2 to define your array..choose your raid type..(raid 0 is good with data..raid 1 is good with video)..fast build is on..gigabyte boundary on..assign your drives..then hit Ctrl+Y twice..then hit escape twice..then hit Y to reboot..upon reboot..hit your space bar to boot from your CD/DVD..let Vista screen come up..press INSTALL NOW..load your raid drivers from earlier..& then set up windows on your raid array..ok..that's the 1st option..(which is the easiest)..(laughing)..option 2 is with your Factory disks..this option requires 1) an extra HDD..& 2) any HDD cloning software..(i used HD CLONE 4.0 Free Edition)..put your spare HDD in the top left sata slot..(this will make that HDD the primary master)..after that..put your other HDD's in the 2nd & 3rd slots on the left..(they'll be the slaves for the time being)..go in BIOS & switch your sata mode to AHCI..F10 to reboot..install your windows on the PM (primary master)..after that..install your raid drivers from earlier..reboot..go to bios..switch sata option to raid..F10 to reboot..go in to your raid setup with Ctrl+F..press 2 to define an array..raid 0, (or whatever your choose) 64K (or whatever your choose) fastbuild on, gigabyte boundary on, assign your drives..DO NOT ASSIGN YOUR OS DRIVE..Ctrl+Y twice..escape twice..& Y to reboot..you'll go in windows..go to computer management..initialize & label your raid drive..(it's the bigger one..like almost twice the size of a single drive)..reboot again..then??!! you clone your HDD's..(from the OS drive to the raid drive)..shut down computer..take out the OS drive..(remember..your raid drives HAVE to be identical in every way..the same brand, the same model, and the same size..the OS drive does not have to be the same)..restart your PC..& you'll go straight into windows..& you'll be in raid mode..you're done..do NOT buy cloning software like Acronis, MRBWizard and the other ones..it's a waste of time & money..i've dumped almost 300 dollars on software & motherboards just to realize that i could've done this for free..(laughing)..anyhows..i hope this can help someone who MIGHT be using a 780G board..(or/and Gateway's Factory Restore disks)..it'll also work if you're using Gateway recovery partition)..this is for Vista users..but i think it CAN work for XP if you press F6 while installing windows..(i'm not sure though)..thank you all..Peace..& God bless you & yours..