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Move Over G45: Nvidia's GeForce 9300 Arrives

Move Over G45: Nvidia's GeForce 9300 Arrives
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Intel wears the desktop processing performance crown. Yet AMD maintains a faithful following of value-oriented customers who see suitable speed from the company’s quad-core Phenoms at a price point way below Intel’s Extreme Edition CPUs. Even more compelling to AMD’s admirers is the company’s chipset lineup, which was bolstered by the acquisition of ATI.

At the high-end, you have 790FX—now being paired to the SB750 southbridge on a number of compelling motherboards (check back for a roundup of the available 790FX/SB750 combinations later this month). The mid-range is being covered by 790GX, with its integrated graphics and SB750-driven Advanced Clock Calibration overclocking aid. And cleaning up at the sub-$100 motherboard price point is 780G, a capable chipset with “powerful-enough” Radeon HD 3200 graphics able to handle any low-impact desktop environment you can throw at it. The platform isn’t really suited to first-person shooters, but it is a DirectX 10 part able to handle extremely low-resolution gaming at playable frame rates.

Nvidia's hybrid computing approach calls for multi-core CPUs and many-core GPUs

But this story isn’t about AMD’s favorable position in the eyes of those buying motherboards with onboard graphics, though we will revisit the power and performance characteristics of its 790GX chipset a little later. Rather, we’re looking at a brand new platform from Nvidia called GeForce 9300, which Intel may grow to simultaneously love and hate. They’ll love it because Nvidia’s latest mGPU bites at the throat of AMD’s mainstream attractiveness. They’ll hate the GeForce 9300 because it’s indiscriminate in its attack, meaning it also snaps at Intel’s own recently-polished G45. And given Nvidia’s experience in integrated graphics, this platform is really something for Intel to eye warily.

Integrated Chipsets: Always Advancing, Never Catching Up

With predictable regularity, AMD and Nvidia refresh their chipset lineups using technology derived from once-modern discrete architectures. Each time, the list of advancements seems like it could bring desktop gaming into the realm of possibility for budget-minded buyers. But motherboard-down graphics just never seem to catch up enough for much else besides basic productivity and a little entry-level entertainment. Intel’s offerings fare far worse, victims of underpowered graphics hardware and unfortunately tardy driver development—which brings us to where we are today.

All on its Own: The GeForce 9300 is a single-chip platform

Despite its Computex unveiling in June of 2008, G45 is still suffering from the teething pains of what we’d consider to be a brand new piece of hardware. Problems with hardware-accelerated Blu-ray playback, disappointing 3D performance, and dismal game compatibility have plagued testing with the latest drivers. Crysis, Unreal Tournament, and World in Conflict all demonstrated severe rendering issues that’d make each of those games unplayable, even if frame rates were acceptable. Moving on.

AMD fares much better—expected, since the graphics engine driving its 780G and 790GX chipsets is more than a year old and is consequently quite mature. Like Intel’s G45, AMD’s integrated chipsets are able to offload Blu-ray playback, though you’ll see later in this review that the technology is still evolving and far from perfect. Nvidia’s GeForce 9300 needs to usurp AMD’s incumbent platform story in order to win favor. G45 isn’t nearly as threatening, it’d seem.

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  • 4 Hide
    Ryun , October 15, 2008 2:47 PM
    Good article but I feel compelled to say that I don't understand your choice for pitting the 790GX (~$140 board) and a 5400+ (~$80) with an the E7200 (~$120) and the G45 (~$100).

    Wouldn't it have made more sense to pair up similarly priced components, such as the 780g and 5400+ vs a E2180 and G45? Maybe someone could explain the reasoning?
  • 1 Hide
    ricstorms , October 15, 2008 3:24 PM
    I think a better Intel processor for an apt comparison should have been the E5200, which is only about $10 more expensive than the 5400+. Also, no mention was made that the 790GX platform is much more versatile, thanks to its 2 PCIExpress x16 slots (albeit running in x8 mode in Crossfire). Also, I would have liked to see the overclocking results with all three platforms, that is one of the strengths of the 790GX platform. (since AMD processors have fallen from grace, its almost impossible to find good reviews, I didn't see one in a google search for the 5400+ black edition)

    I think that the 780g platform is more analogous to the 9300. I would have liked to seen either a 8650 or a 6000+ competing on that than a 5400 on the 790GX, many of its features are not being used here. That being said I still think the Nvidia/Intel platform would fair better. It seems to me that this article is at some points aimed at gamers and at other home theater enthusiasts. I think the article would have been better suited focusing on either one, not both.
  • 0 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , October 15, 2008 3:26 PM
    I agree with Ryun about the price comparison.

    Cheapest G45 board is around $109 from Intel (discarding ECS) on newegg. G31 is outdated.

    $100 730i board would be pitted against G45 board directly.

    780G boards are slightly cheaper and still more capable then NVIDIA MCP7x and any Intel IGP solution. JetWay is offering JetWay HA07 790GX/SB750 board for $90 on newegg at the moment.

  • -1 Hide
    Reynod , October 15, 2008 3:30 PM
    I still don't understand how you can say the AMD system draws less power at idle then declare the Intel system to be the winner i nthe power stakes??

    Can you please explain that one?

    I would hardly put a 5400+ in a HTPC either ... I'd throw in a low power dual core ... bet that would make mincemeat out of the Intel systems and still give quality playback and much smoother graphics up on the screen.

    Plus we all know the NVidia Graphics chips in this iteration are defective ... why buy a defective mobo to begin with?

    It might not last very long.

    Doesn't make good purchasing sense.

    Even Apple are publicly stating that all current GPU's have defective substrates causing bonding issue, reducing the lifeltime of the GPU largely based on thermals I guess.

    The E7200 is a good performer ... very good in fact.
  • 2 Hide
    Liuqyn , October 15, 2008 3:31 PM
    if they had done that, then they would have had to admit that AMD was still the better value for entry level gaming and HTPC use.
  • -2 Hide
    marees , October 15, 2008 3:42 PM
    I agree perfrectly with Ryun that you cant compare e7200 with ath 5400.

    I would like to add that a phenom (8450?/9550?) processor should have been used because of the higher hyper transport speed advantages and also to check if the power consumtion is different.

    Hopefully TomsHarware will update the figures including scores for phenom processor and also nvidia 8200/8300 chipsets for amd processors, just for completeness sake.
  • 0 Hide
    chaohsiangchen , October 15, 2008 4:16 PM
    ReynodPlus we all know the NVidia Graphics chips in this iteration are defective ... why buy a defective mobo to begin with?It might not last very long.


    Not true. Don't believe anything comes out from Charlie Demerjian until proven.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , October 15, 2008 4:23 PM
    Well written! Next time do you mind posting a bit on if the board is capable of OCing a bit?
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , October 15, 2008 4:31 PM
    ryunGood article but I feel compelled to say that I don't understand your choice for pitting the 790GX (~$140 board) and a 5400+ (~$80) with an the E7200 (~$120) and the G45 (~$100).Wouldn't it have made more sense to pair up similarly priced components, such as the 780g and 5400+ vs a E2180 and G45? Maybe someone could explain the reasoning?


    Ryun,
    The Intel- and AMD-based platforms both add up to $220. Assuming all other components are the same (memory, HDD, PSU, etc), you end up with two machines that cost the same amount of money.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , October 15, 2008 4:45 PM
    ricstormsI think a better Intel processor for an apt comparison should have been the E5200, which is only about $10 more expensive than the 5400+. Also, no mention was made that the 790GX platform is much more versatile, thanks to its 2 PCIExpress x16 slots (albeit running in x8 mode in Crossfire). Also, I would have liked to see the overclocking results with all three platforms, that is one of the strengths of the 790GX platform. (since AMD processors have fallen from grace, its almost impossible to find good reviews, I didn't see one in a google search for the 5400+ black edition) I think that the 780g platform is more analogous to the 9300. I would have liked to seen either a 8650 or a 6000+ competing on that than a 5400 on the 790GX, many of its features are not being used here. That being said I still think the Nvidia/Intel platform would fair better. It seems to me that this article is at some points aimed at gamers and at other home theater enthusiasts. I think the article would have been better suited focusing on either one, not both.


    Hi Rick!
    You're right on the money about the 790GX's support for CrossFire. I'll look for a place in the piece to add mention of that. The 790GX chipset isn't going to add anything to overclocking in this particular comparison, though, since it's not a Phenom in the socket, but an Athlon 64 X2.

    I believe this platform is best suited to an HTPC crowd, but I couldn't ignore Nvidia's insistence that gaming is good here as well. And to that end, I'd still recommend an add-in board under $100 like AMD's Radeon HD 4670.
  • 5 Hide
    cangelini , October 15, 2008 4:47 PM
    chaohsiangchenI agree with Ryun about the price comparison. Cheapest G45 board is around $109 from Intel (discarding ECS) on newegg. G31 is outdated. $100 730i board would be pitted against G45 board directly. 780G boards are slightly cheaper and still more capable then NVIDIA MCP7x and any Intel IGP solution. JetWay is offering JetWay HA07 790GX/SB750 board for $90 on newegg at the moment.


    I didn't want to use a 780G board and then have the AMD enthusiasts in arms because we weren't using the best possible chipset to represent its efforts ;-)
  • 3 Hide
    cangelini , October 15, 2008 4:52 PM
    ReynodI still don't understand how you can say the AMD system draws less power at idle then declare the Intel system to be the winner i nthe power stakes??Can you please explain that one?I would hardly put a 5400+ in a HTPC either ... I'd throw in a low power dual core ... bet that would make mincemeat out of the Intel systems and still give quality playback and much smoother graphics up on the screen.Plus we all know the NVidia Graphics chips in this iteration are defective ... why buy a defective mobo to begin with?It might not last very long.Doesn't make good purchasing sense.Even Apple are publicly stating that all current GPU's have defective substrates causing bonding issue, reducing the lifeltime of the GPU largely based on thermals I guess.The E7200 is a good performer ... very good in fact.


    Reynod,
    Lack of clarification there. It should read Intel holds the edge against our Nvidia comparison platform. AMD does in fact have the edge at idle. I'll fix that.

    I don't have anything indicating that the chipset is defective so I wouldn't make that claim. However, my mailbox is open for business if you have documentation showing that it is!
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , October 15, 2008 4:53 PM
    Liuqynif they had done that, then they would have had to admit that AMD was still the better value for entry level gaming and HTPC use.


    Hey, I'm still using a 780G/Phenom combination in my own desktop. But you can't deny that a Core 2 Duo + 730i is much more compelling than Intel's position with G45.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , October 15, 2008 4:58 PM
    mareesI agree perfrectly with Ryun that you cant compare e7200 with ath 5400.I would like to add that a phenom (8450?/9550?) processor should have been used because of the higher hyper transport speed advantages and also to check if the power consumtion is different.Hopefully TomsHarware will update the figures including scores for phenom processor and also nvidia 8200/8300 chipsets for amd processors, just for completeness sake.


    Marees, I could add a Phenom, but I'd need to update the Intel platform to match--and the results would likely look similar.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , October 15, 2008 5:00 PM
    Shadow703793Well written! Next time do you mind posting a bit on if the board is capable of OCing a bit?


    Thanks Shadow, I'll keep that in mind. Didn't expect much interest in overclocking, but I'll work on a roundup of 730i stories for tomorrow that links to some of the other folks' experiences with overclocking to help get you that information.
  • 0 Hide
    Mathos , October 15, 2008 5:02 PM
    cangelini


    I just wish they'd hurry up and get the X2 6500 out, would have been more suited to this comparison than the 5400, mainly due to high hyper transport speed which effects the 780g/790gx. Unfortunately I haven't seen hide nor hair of them yet anywhere. Would of been a good match up against e7200 performance wise too, or at least better than the 5400+.
  • 0 Hide
    bfstev , October 15, 2008 5:02 PM
    I think he was refering to the wide spread heat issues with nvidia's defective batch of GPUs. I'd be surprised if this integrated solution fell into that category as i dont believe nvidia would simply let that slip through to this when they know about the problem.

    Also just wanted some clarification, on the bottom of page 2 you state that the nvidia solution offers upto 12 USB 1.0 ports. just wanted to ask if that was suppose to be 2.0 or not as 1.0 seems to be quite the disadvantage
  • 0 Hide
    Blueridge , October 15, 2008 5:10 PM
    From the price of view, you're right, you get machines that cost the same... but I feel that the performance is a little bi out of balance... Could it have been possible to select a cheaper AMD mobo a little better CPU for this article?
  • 2 Hide
    cangelini , October 15, 2008 5:12 PM
    blueridgeFrom the price of view, you're right, you get machines that cost the same... but I feel that the performance is a little bi out of balance... Could it have been possible to select a cheaper AMD mobo a little better CPU for this article?



    Perhaps, but then AMD wouldn't have looked as good in the games as a result of a slower GPU clock (from a 780G board, for instance). I see the argument in both directions, but sided with graphics over processing.
  • 0 Hide
    warezme , October 15, 2008 5:31 PM
    Looks like a good board for all in one type system. Its to bad they don't bench a little bit older games like HL2. I have a laptop with the equivalent descrete graphics (8400GS)and it runs extremely smooth and very nice looking settings at native res on this type of older but very fun games. I can see how this board at $100 with a cheap CPU is a very good deal.
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