The times when mainboards with integrated graphics were regarded only as budget solutions for office PCs are long gone. Contemporary chipsets with integrated graphics cores offer sufficient performance not only for office work but also for different home usage models. The latest generation solutions like that acquired a pretty high-performance 3D core. Although it is still inferior in performance to discrete graphics accelerators, it nevertheless provides quite acceptable speed even in some contemporary games. However, it is not the primary reason for growing popularity of integrated platforms. The main stimulus for increasing interest to integrated solutions is the newly acquired ability of the latest chipsets to accelerate high definition video playback on the hardware level. As a result, they turned into a popular choice for home media systems, because they are much more energy-efficient than systems with a discrete graphics card. Therefore, solutions like that will be a perfect choice for living-room environment: they can easily fit into small system cases with consumer electronics design and can work just fine with noiseless cooling systems.
Some time ago Intel was an absolute leader in the integrated chipsets market. The platforms from this manufacturer were widely recognized not only due to the fact that Intel G45 (and its modifications) offers excellent combination of features, but also due to the fact that this chipset supports Core 2 processor family that still boasts the absolutely best consumer qualities. As a result, an LGA775 processor combined with a mainboards on the chipset from the same maker is seen as a very stable high-quality platform, which is, in fact, very close to being true.
However, the stronghold of the integrated Intel platform may be quite shaken up by an alternative solution from AMD. Frankly speaking, AMD has been offering good integrated chipset for quite some time now. After ATI acquisition, AMD managed to release the entire lineup of high-performance integrated chipsets including such solutions as 780G and 790GX. With the solutions developed by one of the leading graphics chip developers, AMD managed to design chipsets that definitely supersede Intel G45 in graphics performance and other features. But AMD’s problem was that they couldn’t offer any equally successful CPUs for this platform. Luckily, as soon as they switched to 45 nm process, AMD CPUs have become significantly better and now they can compete on equal terms against their competitors. AMD undertook one more measure to promote their integrated platform: they updated their chipset lineup by adding a new solution – AMD 785G with several minor but very important improvements. As a result, an AMD 785G based mainboard and a Phenom II or Athlon II processor became a good option for a home or office platform.
Actually, that is why our today’s article saw the light of day. It is going to compare the integrated systems based on Intel and AMD components. The main heroes of our today’s story will be the chipsets from these two makers: AMD 785G and Intel G45. And two very similar MicroATX mainboards from Gigabyte will be the guinea pigs. Therefore, let’s start by introducing to you two Gigabyte mainboards first.