ATI Radeon 9100 IGP RS300 Pentium 4 Chipset Review

Today we've got ATI's very first mainstream desktop Intel Pentium 4 based chipset on the test bed to go under the grinder in the form of the FIC P4M-RS300 motherboard. The ATI Radeon 9100 IGP is designed to compete against Intel's Springdale chipset. Read on and find out just how well it does!
| Nov 30, 2003 at 11:00 pm CST
Rating: 85%Manufacturer: FIC

Radeon 9100 IGP - Introduction

IntroductionIn the Pentium 4 chipset department, Intel have had things their own way for around about 12 months now ever since they released their first Dual Channel capable Granite Bay chipset around this time last year, and even before hand with their older 845x products. Even VIA Technology did not cause too much of a concern for the chip giant as they both battled it out in the court over licensing of the Pentium 4 bus.For its time the Granite Bay offered stunning performance for the Pentium 4 which previously lacked on memory bandwidth to make full use of the processor, as with all previous Single Channel chipsets on the market. The simple answer to the lack of memory bandwidth muscle was to introduce a new technology called "Dual Channel" which theoretically doubled the amount of memory bandwidth achievable by transmitting twice as much data over its split 128-bit DDR memory bus at PC2100 speeds. Intel used this simple yet industry sparking technique with their very popular Granite Bay chipset which included DDR-266 Dual Channel memory providing an adequate amount of memory bandwidth for the system to work with. This simple move was all it took for the Pentium 4 to become a "must have" product among mainstream computer users all over the world - just like nVidia achieved with their Dual Channel nForce2 chipsets a little earlier for the AMD Athlon processor line.Fast forward six or so months and we have current generation Pentium 4 chipsets from Intel, the popular Canterwood and Springdale, which offers all of the features found in the Granite Bay and more. The most important part is the support for Dual Channel DDR-400 memory over the same 128-bit DDR memory bus controller providing just the right amount of bandwidth to work in harmony with all new generation Pentium 4 "C" processors running on an 800MHz FSB.Till around about two months ago, Intel hadn't been bothered as far as competition goes in the Socket 478 Pentium 4 chipset area. That was until ATI released their codenamed "RS300" Radeon 9100 IGP (Integrated Graphics Processor) chipset for the Pentium 4 offering many of the same features as Intel's mainstream Springdale chipset including Dual Channel DDR-400 support and onboard video to rival the best in the business. We've got ATI's very first, now fully licensed and ambitious desktop chipset on the test bed today in the form of the FIC P4M-RS300 motherboard. We already know that ATI is more than capable in the high-end graphics core market: Let's see how they go in the Pentium 4 chipset market!

Radeon 9100 IGP - Specifications

SpecificationsCPU InterfaceUp to 800 MHz CPU FSB for Intel Pentium 4 Processor Supports Intel Hyper-Threading™ processors In-Order Queue (IOQ) depth of 12 Supports Dynamic Bus Inversion (DBI) Supports system bus interrupt delivery System Logic FeaturesIntegrated master clock generator with spread spectrum support AGP 3.0 compliant AGP 8X interface with Fast Write support 266MB/second point-to-point interface to ATI IXP in A-Link mode Unified Memory Architecture (UMA) Dual channel 128-bit DDR SDRAM memory interface DDR400 SDRAM support provides up to 6.4 GB/second bandwidth Up to 4 GB DRAM support with two unbuffered DIMMs 16 MB to 128 MB of main memory configurable as display memory Up to 6 USB2.0 ports Two independent IDE channels with support of mode 0 to 4, and ATA 100 Supports LPC based Super I/O Integrated 3-COM™ Ethernet controller 3D Graphics FeaturesHyperZ™ memory optimization technology Hardware with Pixel Shader 1.4 support Supports up to 2048x1536 @ 32bppSupports 3D textures and Microsoft DirectX texture compression Anisotropic texture filtering and Full Screen Anti-Aliasing (FSAA) Video FeaturesVideo scaling and filtering with advanced 4-tap horizontal and vertical filter Integrated hardware motion compensation and iDCT Enhanced MPEG-2 hardware decode Hardware DVD sub-picture decode 2D Graphics FeaturesHighly optimized 128-bit 2D Engine Hardware cursor up to 64x64x32 BPP Supports a maximum resolution of 2048x1536 @ 32bppSupport for Microsoft Windows XP alpha cursor Display ControllerDual CRT controllers provide independent dual display support Display rotation support Comprehensive DDC and hot plugging support Integrated high precision 300MHz triple 10-bit DAC supports resolutions up to 2048 x 1536 Flat Panel Monitor Support12-bit digital output to support DVI, DFP and VESA P&D via external TMDS Supports up to 1600x1200 screen resolution for LCD panels Support for VESA defined reduced blanking modes TV-Out SupportIntegrated TV encoder with composite, S-Video, and RGB interfaces Supports PAL/NTSC TV formats 10-bit DAC with 8-tap filter and ATI-exclusive enhancements Macrovision 7.02 copy protection standard Supports up to 1024x768 32bpp mode Optimized Software SupportMicrosoft DirectX 8.1 and OpenGL drivers Unified driver support for all RADEON discrete and integrated graphics products Support for Microsoft Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Me

Radeon 9100 IGP - Features

Features- What You Get
Inside of the plain looking P4M-RS300 box from FIC we find a very basic package which puts off the message that this product is suited more toward the value end of the market. We have the manual, IDE and FDD cables, back panel, USB bracket and installation CD. You'll notice that the CD included is burnt; this is because we got an early version of the motherboard and it wouldn't have been ready at time of shipping.The package is very minimal but perfect for the type of user is doesn't not to spend a fortune on their motherboard.- Layout
The FIC P4M-RS300 is based on a Micro-ATX sized form factor measuring only 9.2 x 9.6 inches which goes further to saying that the product is being targeted to the value section of the market.
We have an AGP 8x AGP slot and three PCI configuration layout which should provide more than enough expansion possibilities considering we have video, audio, LAN and a grand total of six USB 2.0 ports (two via USB expansion bracket) all onboard through the ATI IXP 150 Southbridge.
The overall layout of the motherboard is very clean with not an overly great deal to talk about. It's worth noting that only two DIMM slots are provided allowing for a maximum of 2GB of memory in total in Dual Channel mode.
It would have been nicer to have a total of four DIMM slots of those wanting to include 4x 256MB of memory or higher since the Radeon 9100 IGP chipset can support up to 4GB of system memory. Unfortunately the motherboard does not include Serial ATA support either which is a shame since the HDD standard is really starting to take off.- The Chipset
The chief aim of the Radeon 9100 IGP based on TSMC's 0.15-micron process from ATI is to battle against Intel's 865-G (Springdale) chipset in the mainstream market. Don't let this FIC motherboard fool you into thinking the Radeon 9100 IGP is a low-end value solution - it is far from it but it should be very competitively priced when we begin to see retail motherboards on store shelves.The Radeon 9100 IGP includes all the modern Pentium 4 chipset features you would expect such as 400MHz, 533MHz and 800MHz FSB support for all current Pentium 4 processors, Hyper-Threading support for increased performance and AGP 8x. There is no word of "PAT" (Performance Acceleration Technology) type workings on this chipset but you can be sure ATI discovered the secret of the Intel Canterwood and added a similar type of accelerating technology to increase memory speeds like many Taiwanese manufacturers have done on a lot of their Intel Springdale based motherboards to the dissatisfaction of Intel.The Northbridge is passively cooled with a standard chipset cooler much like the reference Intel Canterwood chipset cooler, if not exactly the same. The heatsink hardly warms up under load which is certainly a very good sign, especially for overclockers. The Southbridge does not require any additional cooling like most on the market.

Radeon 9100 IGP - Features Continued

Features Continued- Onboard VideoOne of the key features ATI are pushing with this chipset is the onboard Radeon 9100 DX8.1 graphics which claim to provide the best onboard video experience over competition from Intel with their Extreme Graphics 2 (which 'ain't all that extreme when it comes down to it).
You are able to select the amount of memory you allocate for the onboard video to use. You can use anywhere from 16MB up to 128MB. The other handy thing about this onboard video we noticed when testing was the fact that you don't need to bother about disabling and enabling it. It automatically detects when you have a graphics card in the AGP slot and disables onboard video accordingly. The same applies in the reverse situation.You are able to use screen resolutions up to 2048x1536 @ 32-bit color depth with anisotropic texture filtering and Full Screen Anti-Aliasing (FSAA) even though it might not handle it too well in modern games and definitely not in upcoming titles such as Doom 3 and Half Life 2.We'll talk more about the performance of the Radeon 9100 onboard video performance later in the review. For comparison purposes, we borrowed an ATI Radeon 9200 SE low-end graphics card from a local distributor to compare the onboard graphics performance to an actual AGP alternative. The card we used is from GeCube and has 128MB of memory onboard.
The results can be found later on in the review.- VIA Firewire
Strangely, despite the lack of Serial ATA support, FIC chose to include Firewire onboard for AV enthusiasts through VIA's proven and popular VT6307L chip. It probably would have been wiser to save the money on including Firewire and include an external SATA chip from VIA, Silicon Image or High Point.- Realtek to the rescue!
Even though the Radeon 9100 IGP has integrated 3Com networking, for whatever reason FIC has chosen to ignore it and spend extra money by including the widely used RTL8100C 10/100 Fast Ethernet controller from Realtek. Why FIC didn't just use the high quality built-in 3Com controller is baffling.Being ATI's first ever chipset, they are yet to implement audio into their chipsets - you can bet though that they are working on the very task as you read this, probably for inclusion in the newer IXP 250 Southbridge. As an alternative, FIC has decided to go with the 5.1 capable ALC655 AC'97 chip from Realtek which provides standard line in, line out and microphone in ports on the back of the motherboard for your speaker requirements. This audio chip from Realtek isn't too bad and provides good quality sound for the price.- OverclockingUnfortunately FIC didn't include any overclocking options in their early revision BIOS of the P4M-RS300. This isn't to say the ATI chipset cannot overclock, it just reaffirms that FIC has never been big in the enthusiast department.It would have been nice though to have the most basic of overclocking options - FSB adjustments. This is the first motherboard I have seen in a long time with not a single overclocking option.

Radeon 9100 IGP - Benchmarks - Test System Setup and SiSoft Sandra 2004

Test System Setup
Processor(s): Intel Pentium 4 "C" 2.4GHz (800MHz FSB with HT enabled)Motherboard(s): FIC P4M-RS300 and DFI LANPARTY SpringdaleMemory(s): 2x Mushkin 256MB PC4000 in Dual Channel mode (Supplied by Mushkin)Video Card(s): GeCube Radeon 9800 XT 256MB and GeCube Radeon 9200 SE 128MB (Supplied by Kingmax Australia)Hard Disk(s): Seagate 7,200 RPM 80GB PATAOperating System Used: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP1Drivers Used: ATI Catalyst 3.9 (Overdrive automatic overclocking disabled)We decided to use a slower clocked Pentium 4 processor at 2.4GHz since the two motherboards we used for testing are mainstream products and not high-end so the chances are you will have a processor clocked around this speed rather than higher. We used the slower PATA HDD over SATA since the FIC motherboard does not include SATA support.All of the latest chipset drivers from Intel and ATI were used as found on their support websites. Memory timings were set exactly the same on both motherboards - 2.5-8-3-3. AGP aperture was set to 128MB for every test and Fast Writes was enabled for every test with Vertical Sync disabled for every test. Apart from disabling Overdrive and Vertical Sync within the ATI Control Panel, everything else was left at default settings and no part of the system was overclocked.As far as the onboard video settings go - it was allocated 128MB of the system memory in the BIOS and nothing else was changed. Keep in mind that in all onboard video tests that the total system memory is only 384MB apposed to 512MB for the two other products.Now we've taken a look at the test system setup, let's move onto the benchmarks!SiSoft Sandra 2004SiSoft Sandra (System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) 2004 is a synthetic Windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems.- CPU
In our first benchmark of the day we see the Intel 865PE based on the DFI LANPARTY motherboard take the lead by a small margin.- Memory
The gap widens in this benchmark for the 865PE taking a fairly demanding leading in the memory bandwidth department.

Radeon 9100 IGP - Benchmarks - PCMark 2002

PCMark 2002PCMark2002 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. PCMark2002 consists of a series of tests that represent common tasks in home and office programs. PCMark2002 also covers many additional areas outside the scope of other benchmarks. - CPU
Again we see close CPU performance results like in the Sandra 2004 test with little separating each chipset.- Memory
The memory performance lead of the 865PE carries over in PCMark 2002 as well. It will be interesting to see if these numbers have any real bearing in real world gaming. As ATI's chipset drivers mature, we may see their memory performance increase over time.

Radeon 9100 IGP - Benchmarks - 3DMark 2001SE

3DMark 2001SE3DMark2001 SE is a part of the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 8.1 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce4), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.- 640x480
In the first of our gaming benchmarks comparing all four testing environments we see the Intel 865PE taking around a 600 lead over the Radeon 9100 IGP. We can also see that in the first of our graphics tests that the GeCube 9200 SE AGP card has the lead over the onboard video.- 1024x768
When we increase the resolution a little higher the onboard video is able to make up a lot of ground and take the lead from the GeCube 9200 SE card.

Radeon 9100 IGP - Benchmarks - 3DMark 2003

3DMark 20033DMark03 is the latest installment in the popular 3DMark series. By combining DirectX 9 support with completely new graphics (including the GeForce FX and ATI Radeon 9800), it continues to provide benchmark results that empower you to make informed hardware assessments.Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.- 640x480
In this benchmark the onboard video has a slight lead over the 9200 SE with the difference between the Intel and ATI chipsets being very minimal.- 1024x768
As we increase the resolution the results stay consistent with the lower resolution.

Radeon 9100 IGP - Benchmarks - Comanche 4, Jedi Knight II and Aquamark 3

Comanche 4Comanche 4 is a helicopter simulation using the DirectX 8.1 graphics interface. It is used to test the memory and 3D subsystems of a motherboard and video processor. Any weaknesses will show up through this intensive benchmark.
Under the intensive Comanche 4 benchmark the onboard is able to produce a playable average FSP. Intel just has the lead over ATI.Jedi Knight IIJedi Knight II, Jedi Outcast is an OpenGL game that many have been playing of late. It has greatly improved graphics over its predecessor and it fully supports advanced shaders, as well as very high texture resolutions and effects. There is one demo included in the multi-player section that is good for benchmarking use.
In Jedi Knight using the intensive VIA Arena Outpost map at 1024x768 all the results even up. For the first time the Radeon 9100 IGP has the lead over the Intel 865PE chipset which is a great sign for competition in the industry.Aquamark 3Aquamark 3 is Massive Development's latest creation. Aquamark 3 is designed to run on the new DirectX 9 API's.
In the new Aquamark 3 DX9 benchmark we can see the onboard video and 9200 SE finding it hard to keep pace with the new technologies. The difference between the Intel and ATI chipsets is only around 1 FPS.

Radeon 9100 IGP - Benchmarks - Quake 3

Quake 3Quake III Arena is a real-world OpenGL benchmark that we have been using here at TweakTown for quite a while now because it has proven itself to be one of the best gaming benchmarks around to compare a wide range of different products. Quake III is getting very old, but is still one of the best ways of testing video and PC systems for any instabilities and best performance.- 640x480
Both the onboard video and 9200 SE produce good performance here for their price. ATI takes the lead this time by almost 25 FPS over the Intel chipset.- 1024x768
ATI is still able to fend off the Intel Springdale to the win with the onboard video just out in front of the 9200 SE card.

Radeon 9100 IGP - Benchmarks - Unreal Tournament 2003

Unreal Tournament 2003Unreal Tournament 2003 continues the success that Unreal Tournament generated as an online game and benchmark. UT2003 pulls all of its weight onto the 3D and memory subsystems, pushing graphics reality to the maximum is its game, and you need some serious power to gain playable scores with this game.- Antalus Botmatch
In this benchmark the ATI chipset has the slight lead over the Intel chipset. The onboard video is out in front yet again.- Antalus Flyby
Intel takes the lead back in the last of our benchmarks of the day with onboard video taking the final win yet again proving onboard video can be good.

Radeon 9100 IGP - Conclusion

ConclusionPractice makes perfect, they say. We agree that with a little "practice" ATI will become a great contender in the chipset market - the Radeon 9100 IGP has given us much hope for ATI in this area. For their first go at the desktop chipset game, they did pretty well with the Radeon 9100 IGP for the Pentium 4 - performance comparable to Intel Springdale and total system stability is all there.While the Intel 865PE based DFI LANPARTY motherboard took the majority of the wins here today, the newborn ATI chipset (in the form of the very reference looking FIC motherboard) showed some good signs coming out in front a few times in some of the real world gaming tests - the tests which really matter. With time to improve drivers and BIOS'es, we'll no doubt see performance increased with this chip, especially if the big dogs like ASUS, MSI and ABIT decide to get a hold of it and spend some TLC with it and tweak the heck out of it - which we certainly hope they will in the New Year if they haven't already.While native Serial ATA support on the IXP 150 chipset would have been much nicer, it does include a bunch of features including six USB 2.0 ports and 3Com Ethernet but for some reason FIC choose not to use it with the P4M-RS300. It will be great to see what ATI have for us next year in future chipsets (such as the IXP 250 Southbridge) as far as onboard audio and Serial ATA go as they get more time for development of such devices.Good on you ATI - You've done an alright job with the Radeon 9100 IGP chipset. It has solid performance comparable to the Intel Springdale chipset, the onboard video offers very good performance for an onboard solution surpassing the Radeon 9200 SE graphics card in most tests and we have an affordable price tag. With some time we're sure ATI will become a true force in the chipset business in the following year and onward with their upcoming solutions where they get more time to master the art of manufacturing chipsets for performance desktop motherboards.- ProsGood PerformanceAffordableSix USB 2.0 portsVery solid onboard graphicsNative 3Com networking (but not used with FIC motherboard)Passive chipset cooling sufficient4GB total memory support- ConsNo native Serial ATA support, yetRating - 8.5 out of 10

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm CDT

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Cameron founded TweakTown in 1999 after it originally started off as his personal homepage. Cameron was once, many years ago, the only person at TweakTown producing content, but nowadays, he spends his time ensuring TweakTown operates at its best in his senior management role.

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