|Processor||AMD Phenom X4 9850 BE @ 2.5 GHz|
|Motherboards||Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H (790GX)|
|Gigabyte MA78GPM-D2SH (780G)|
|ASUS M3N78 PRO (GeForce 8300)|
|Memory||4GB Corsair Dominator CM2X2048-8500C5D|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital WD500YS 500 GB|
|Graphics||Integrated for 790GX, 780G, and GeForce 8300|
|ASUS GeForce 8500GT TOP 256MB (GeForce Boost)|
|Sapphire Radeon HD 3470 256 MB (Hybrid CrossFireX on 790GX and 780G)|
|AMD 790GX||8.521.1 Beta|
|AMD 780G||Catalyst 8.7|
|Nvidia GeForce 8300||GeForce Release 175|
|Operating System||Windows Vista x32|
|PC Mark Vantage||Build 1.0.0|
|3DMark Vantage||Build 1.0.1|
|SiSoft Sandra XII||XII.2008.SP2c (14.24)|
|Apple iTunes||Audio CD Terminator II SE, HQ (160kbps), Convert to AAC|
|Mainconcept H.264||MPEG2 to MPEG2 (H.264), 24 sec HDTV 1920x1080|
|PowerDVD 8 Ultra||60s 007 :Casino Royale playback|
|Half Life 2 : Episode 2||1024x768, low settings, timedemo playback|
|World in Conflict||1024x768, low quality settings, built-in benchmark mode|
|Flight Simulator X||1024x768, default graphics settings, FRAPS recording|
|Cinebench||R10 Version : 10.008|
It’s worth noting that Hybrid CrossFireX and GeForce Boost are Windows Vista-only features, so you can’t add a card to the AMD or Nvidia platforms and expect to see better gaming performance in XP — a real quandary for the legions of gamers who still prefer XP to Vista.
The MA78GPM-D2SH employs AMD’s 780G chipset with 128 MB of side-port memory massaging performance up a bit. And the MA79GP-DS4H is of course the 790GX board, also with 128 MB of side-port. This should give us a good indication of how much benefit is attributable to the onboard RAM. We also planned to include Gigabyte’s MA78GM and Intel’s new DG45ID in the lineup. However, a spate of issues with the boards we had in the lab forced us to narrow the competition a bit.
Another point that we wanted to mention : when 780G launched, AMD was adamant that the best way to configure a Hybrid CrossFireX platform was with the display attached to the motherboard. During periods of idle, the discrete card would power down completely, yielding the power consumption of a purely integrated system. In testing the 790GX, however, we weren’t able to get Hybrid CrossFireX functioning properly unless the display was attached to the add-in Radeon HD 3470 board.
Finally, bear in mind that the integrated graphics core is heavily dependent on memory bandwidth performance. You’ll want to use DDR2-1066 whenever possible, tuned to the most aggressive timings to maximize gaming.