The last year the major focus on the PC industry in terms of the CPU war was all Intel. Since the Netburst Architecture was thrown by the way side in favour of the much improved Core architecture, AMD has hit the skids big time, while their CPU's are cheaper per clock speed, Intel has more speed per MHz compared to that of the AMD series.While AMD may now be the less favoured for the high-end desktop, they are more than adequate for the HTPC and value desktop and with the acquisition of the ATI chipset and graphics division, AMD now has a lot more clout behind its CPU's, as it not longer has to rely entirely on companies like nVidia, SIS and VIA to produce its chipsets.AMD has only one chipset currently on the market which is the 690G chipset with the 790X coming later this year. AMD's 690G chipset has really taken off as a budget chipset that has a mighty punch to it.Compared to that of the GeForce 6150 chipset, AMD has really got a winner - its ability to run HDMI as well as superior graphics core makes it a more ideal chipset for the K8, giving you a full AMD system with AMD CPU and AMD chipset.Today we are looking at the GIGABYTE GA-MA69GM motherboard designed with the AMD 690G chipset. So let us see how well it compares to the MSI based motherboard which we recently tested in our labs.
Supports AMD Athlon 64 AM2 Series CPUSupports AMD Athlon 64 X2 AM2 Series CPUSupports AMD Athlon 64 FX AM2 Series CPUSupports AMD Sempron AM2 Series CPUChipset
AMD 690G ChipsetAMD RD690 NorthbridgeATI SB600 SouthbridgeATI A-Link PCI Express x4 Interconnect @ 2GB/sSystem Memory
4 DDR2 SDRAM 240pin DIMM SocketsSupports DDR2-533/667/800MHz64/128Bit Dual ChannelSupports up to 8GB Total Memory (4x 2GB)Bus Frequency
200MHz Internal2000MHz ExternalHyper Transport InterconnectExpansion Slots
1 PCI Express x161 PCI Express x42 PCIConnectivity
1 Parallel ATA port supporting 2 IDE Drives4 Serial ATA ports1 Gigabit Ethernet PortExpansion Ports
1 PS2 Keyboard Port1 PS2 Mouse Port8 USB 2.0 Ports (4 rear accessible, 4 via expansion bracket)1 CRT Port1 DVI Port1 HDMI Port3 Firewire ports (1 rear accessible, 2 via expansion bracket)6 Stereo Audio Ports1 Toslink SPDIF Port
Normally we start with the package and contents, this time our motherboard was sent to us bare OEM because of the early status of the motherboard, so it is straight onto the motherboard itself. GIGABYTE has used the Micro-ATX form factor that most of the AMD 690G motherboards are coming out in. The PCB is the traditional blue that GIGABYTE has used for quite some time, which is quite attractive.The layout of the motherboard is extremely neat even for a budget motherboard. The 24-pin power connector, HDD and FDD connectors are located behind the four DIMM sockets. The 4-pin power connector is located behind the PS/2 ports at the top left of the motherboard, a better design than that of the MSI motherboard. The four SATA ports are located at the bottom right of the motherboard in 2x2 stacks on a 90 degree angle. Basically we are seeing a perfect layout so far.
Like the MSI 690G motherboard, GIGABYTE has gone for a 3 phase voltage system for the CPU. AMD's CPU's have been very energy efficient compared to the Netburst series CPU, it is only now that Intel has swapped over to Core architecture that the Intel brand CPU aren't referred to as the foot warmer, 3 phases of voltage are more than adequate for a non-overclocked AMD CPU but four or above are recommended for overclocking. While GIGABYTE has used solid state capacitors on its top line motherboards, their value motherboard still uses electrolyte capacitors.
The rear I/O ports on GIGABYTEs 690G setup are extremely well set up. There are no serial or parallel ports on the motherboard; these have been removed to make way for the two video ports - one DVI and one CRT - hence providing dual monitor support using the onboard video. Added to this is the HDMI port for HDTV's with HDMI input, a must have for today's digital Home setup. Digital audio is handled by a single Toslink SPDIF port on the back, for the analogue setup there are six 3.5mm stereo audio ports that run off the HD audio chip. Lastly there is a single Firewire port atop of one of the two USB stacks and a Gigabit LAN port on the top of the second USB stack.
Lastly down to the expansion slots and the additional add-ons. GIGABYTE has changed the way we think of the budget motherboards. First if you do not want to use the onboard graphics system, you can use a PCI Express x16 slot coloured blue. For extra speed a PCI Express x4 slot coloured orange is included which allows you to run a RAID controller card but why you would want to in a budget or HTPC system is beyond me. It would have been nice if it was an x4 slot universal with no back to allow an extra graphics card.Lastly the add-ons that is not included on the chipset. To give you the Gigabit LAN support, a Marvell Yukon PCI Express x1 LAN chip is included and for the Firewire support a Texas Instruments 3 port PCI chip is also included.
BIOS and OverclockingBIOS
Now we are down to the BIOS of the GIGABYTE 690G motherboard. Award 6 Modular BIOS is GIGABYTE's choice for BIOS these days. AMI has been used by GIGABYTE in the past but that is ancient history now. Normally GIGABYTE puts its overclocking options under the Motherboard Intelligent Tweaker (M.I.T) menu, but this motherboard has its very limited overclocking options under the Advanced Chipset features.
GIGABYTE only has one major overclocking option, that being the CPU host clock. This can be changed from 200MHz to 400MHz in 1MHz increments. Without any memory voltages, CPU voltages or chipset voltages, we only got to 205MHz.
Clearly you will not be doing any serious OC with this motherboard.
Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Memory PerformanceTest System SetupProcessor
: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+Memory
: 2x 1GB DDR2-1066 Corsair (Supplied by Corsair
: 500GB Seagate 7200.9 SATA-II (Supplied by Seagate
: Integrated GPU and ATI Radeon X1300XTCooling
: GIGABYTE Neon K8 (Supplied by GIGABYTE
: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2Drivers
: ATI SB600 2.506.1540.28, ATI Catalyst 7.3, Nvidia ForceWare 93.73 and DX9cAgain like our MSI AMD 690G motherboard review, no overclocking results were done as the motherboard only hit a marginal 5MHz FSB increase.Our integrated systems were set with the highest amount of memory available in the BIOS to each - for the ASUS M2NPV-VM (based on Nvidia GeForce 6150) it was 256MB, 512MB on the MSI AMD 690G motherboard and 512MB on the GIGABYTE motherboard.All memory settings were set at 1:1 SPD with the FSB at 200MHz.Let us get this show on the road and find out which offers the best performance in our benchmarks.EVEREST Ultimate EditionVersion and / or Patch Used:
2006Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.comBuy It Here
EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the award-winning EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, advanced hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems.
GIGABYTE has not done any extra tweaking to gain a performance advantage over MSI - both 690G motherboards perform identically.
Benchmarks - PCMarkPCMarkVersion and / or Patch Used:
2005 1.2.0Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/pcmark04/Buy It Here
PCMark is a multipurpose benchmark, suited for benchmarking all kinds of PCs, from laptops to workstations, as well as across multiple Windows operating systems. This easy-to-use benchmark makes professional strength benchmarking software available even to novice users. PCMark consists of a series of tests that represent common tasks in home and office programs. PCMark also covers many additional areas outside the scope of other MadOnion.com benchmarks.
Again the GIGABYTE and MSI motherboards perform identical, but both are still ahead of the nVidia / ASUS setup.
Benchmarks - WorldBenchWorldBenchVersion and / or Patch Used:
5.0Developer Homepage: http://www.pcworld.com Product Homepage: http://www.pcworld.comBuy It Here
WorldBench 5.0 is the fifth generation of PC World's industry-standard benchmarking application. Designed to measure the performance of today's wide range of personal computers, WorldBench has been in continuous use at PC World for nine years.WorldBench 5.0 uses the following applications to gauge system performance: ACD Systems ACDSee PowerPack 5.0, Adobe Photoshop 7.0.1, Adobe Premiere 6.5, Ahead Software Nero Express 18.104.22.168, Discreet 3ds max 5.1 (DirectX), Discreet 3ds max 5.1 (OpenGL), Microsoft Office XP with SP-2, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0, Mozilla 1.4, Musicmatch Jukebox 7.10, Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator 1.5 and WinZip Computing WinZip 8.1.
Both 690 motherboards are within one point of each other, enough said!
Benchmarks - Adobe Premiere ElementsAdobe Premiere ElementsVersion and / or Patch Used:
2.0Developer Homepage: http://www.adobe.com Product Homepage: http://www.adobe.com/products/premiereel/Buy It Here
Our test with Adobe Premiere Elements 2.0 is performed with a raw two hour AVI file. It is then compressed into DivX format using the latest version codec. We measure the time it takes to encode and then record CPU usage.
Adobe Premiere Elements shows the 690G motherboards toe to toe once again.
Benchmarks - HDD PerformanceHD TachVersion and / or Patch Used:
22.214.171.124Developer Homepage: http://www.simplisoftware.comProduct Homepage: http://www.simplisoftware.com/Public/index.php?request=HdTach