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

Introduction

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.

  • macer1
    the real question is how would this perform if mated to an Atom processor in an nettop.
    Reply
  • mcnuggetofdeath
    "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.
    Reply
  • mcnuggetofdeath
    ^^^ and support for DDR3. Although thats a change to the board, not the CPU.
    Reply
  • anamaniac
    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.
    Reply
  • SpadeM
    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
    Reply
  • apache_lives
    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
    Reply
  • I'm sorry, is this an Intel benchmark site? All other reviews put SYSTEM power consumption for Athlon II 250 well below Intel E7200.
    Reply
  • aproldcuk
    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?
    Reply
  • wh3resmycar
    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.
    Reply
  • Pei-chen
    Good timimg, I was wondering if 785G is better than 790GX or not yesterday. Thanks.
    Reply