On The 915G And GMA 900
The new Graphics Media Accelerator 900 is not an alternative for graphics cards if you're a PC gamer, regardless of DirectX 9 support. If you want to play PC games more frequently, there's no getting around investing $80-$100 for a modern 3D graphics card. Equally inappropriate for games are the entry-level graphics cards of the $40-$50 range, a segment that Intel attacks with its GMA 900. For occasional gaming and playing outdated game titles, however, the GMA 900 offers sufficient performance, if you can live with having to lower the level of graphics detail. Thanks to DirectX 9 support, the latest games and future titles can be tested.
It remains to be seen, though, how PC manufacturers will advertise PCs with GMA 900. To put it another way: a PC with either a GMA 900 or a cheap entry-level graphics card is anything but a PC for gamers! The 3DMark and Aquamark scores might look promising, but the real game performance does not.
For office PCs, however, Intel's new integrated graphics really does present an alternative. Its power consumption is next to nothing, and the image quality is, at least with our test samples, excellent. Also, for motherboards with a passively cooled chipset, there's no fan to cause noise pollution. Through the partially variable allocation of system memory to the integrated graphics (DVMT), the GMA 900 comes out in a positive light compared to competing solutions, which constantly access their allocated main memory, even when the graphics chip doesn't require it in 2D applications. Notebook buyers should welcome the mobile variant of the chipset, codenamed ALVISO, which will be introduced to the market in the second half of 2004. Here, Intel will make life difficult for ATI and NVIDIA, because relatively few customers consider good 3D performance to be important in a notebook.
Thanks to GMA 900, Intel will certainly be able to further strengthen its position among the graphics card manufacturers more than ever before in the future. Compared to its predecessor i865G, the new i915G represents a great stride forward, and this should be a relief to the tech support department for game publishers.
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