Unfortunately, we can’t name a definite winner among the integrated Intel and AMD platforms we have just tested. The verdict will depend a lot on your expectations of the platform.
The thing is that AMD 785G chipset is a really good solution in terms of performance. And it would be really strange if one of the leaders in graphics chips design turned out unable to offer a high-quality graphics core for the integrated chipset. As a result, AMD platform doesn’t leave Intel a single chance in 3D tests. However, in this case it is important to remember that we can only speak of high performance in reference to integrated solutions with certain allowances, because any budget discrete graphics card will easily outperform Intel GMA X4500HD as well as ATI Radeon HD 4200. Therefore, we wouldn’t consider integrated solutions a possible gaming choice even for the low-end segment. The best these systems owners can count on is acceptable gaming performance in lowest resolutions, where they will barely be able to enjoy any of the nice visual 3D effects. In other words, games are definitely not the primary application type for platforms with integrated graphics.
However, when it comes to general office or home systems, they can become an excellent choice. Here AMD platform is the leader offering slightly higher performance at a slightly lower price.
Radeon HD 4200 works very well in media centers, too. It easily performs hardware acceleration of HD video playback in various formats, supports HDMI interface and appears a more preferable solution in terms of software player support than GMA X4500HD. However, even the new AMD chipset is not absolutely flawless: the developers didn’t implement fully fledged HDMI 1.3 support. As a result, if you intend to use eight-channel sound in LPCM format, then AMD 785G is not the way to go. Luckily for AMD, this function is really demanded only by very few enthusiasts who work with really powerful acoustic systems.
But despite all the advantages of the integrated platform from AMD it also has a few serious drawbacks: the power consumption of systems assembled with this company’s components turns out higher than the power consumption of Intel systems. At the same time, AMD chipsets are more energy-efficient and the issue lies with the CPUs: Phenom II and Athlon II so far cannot compete in this aspect against Intel Core 2 processors. Therefore, if energy-efficiency matters a lot for you, which is directly connected with the ability to build quiet compact systems, but at the same time you have no intention to invest into special energy-efficient processor models, then your best bet will be on Intel components.
However, despite all the things we have pointed out above, AMD 785G platform is a finished and stable solution that you can definitely decide on without risking to stumble upon some unexpected difficulties. It offers excellent compatibility and great driver support. Radeon HD 4200 graphics paired with a 45 nm Phenom II or Athlon II processor is a well-balanced components combination that is very likely to become popular in the integrated solutions market. Many mainboard makers understand it very well that is why they welcomed the launch of the new AMD chipset with great enthusiasm and very soon we will see a wide range of Socket AM2+ and Socket AM3 integrated mainboards of different form-factors.
Therefore, we would like to express our sincere hopes that the companies designing mainboards won’t leave out Mini-ITX form-factor, which is becoming more and more popular lately. Especially since AMD is ready to offer special energy-efficient processors that can work perfectly fine in maximally compact system cases.