Logo   Banner   TopRight
TopUnder
Transparent
AMD 785G Chipset Launch: ASUS and Gigabyte
Transparent
Date: Aug 04, 2009
Section:Motherboards
Author: Michael Lin
Transparent
Introducing AMD 785G


For the last several years AMD has delivered a series of solid, cost-effective mainstream chipsets with integrated graphics. First with the original 690G which offered a wealth of features and surprisingly competent IGP performance. Then later with the 780G and 790GX chipsets, which added a little more graphics horspower and IGP features, while keeping the price palatable. Now AMD is ready to kick it up another notch with today's announcement of the new 785G chipset.

You might not be entirely surprised to hear the 785G being announced. The 785G is one of the worst kept secrets this season, with plenty of leaks and glimpses over the past month. However, today we are able to bring you full coverage of the new chipset with a complete shakedown on our test bench. We have three retail samples in our lab from ASUS and Gigabyte, and we're going to lay them out spread eagle before your ogling eyes. But first, let's check out what's new in AMD's latest mainstream chipset.



The block diagram above shows a high-level overview of the chipset's main features and illustrates how each component is connected in the architecture. The first thing you'll notice is the big Athlon II badge at the top. While the 785G is compatible with all existing AM3 processors, AMD seems to think the Athlon II is an ideal companion for 785G, considering its affordable price point.

Another obvious new addition to the 700 series is DDR3 support. While the 780G and 790GX were primarily DDR2 chipsets, the 785G swings both ways. The 785G northbridge can also come partnered with either the SB710 or SB750 southbridges. While both the SB710 and SB750 southbridges offer native support for RAID 0, 1 and 10, the SB750 gets the addition of RAID 5 support. Perhaps the biggest new feature offered by the 785G over its predecessors is a Radeon HD 4000 series integrated graphics processor.

The 780G had been equipped with a Radeon HD 3200 which was clocked at 500MHz, while the 790GX had a HD 3300, which was essentially just a HD 3200 with a higher 700MHz core clock. The new 785G is equipped with a Radeon HD 4200 which is clocked at 500MHz.While the HD 4200 carries the same default clock as the older Radeon HD 3200 IGP, it offers a host of new features which help boost performance.  And as we'll see in later pages, there also seems to be quite a bit of room left for overclocking.



Like all Radeon 4000 series cores, the HD 4200 supports DirectX 10.1. It also offers HDMI 1.3 compatibility and it has AMD's second generation Universal Video Decoder (UVD) technology which allows the GPU to assist in decoding video during playback. New in UVD2 is support for multiple stream acceleration (useful for Picture-in-Picture) and a host of video quality enhancement features like Dynamic Contrast, HD Flesh Tone Enhancement and HD Color Vibrance.

Like all recent AMD IGP equipped chipsets, the 785G offers support for Hybrid CrossFire, which allows you to link the IGP up with a discrete graphics card for additional performance. Partnering the IGP with a discrete Radeon card (up to the HD 3450) can boost performance, though higher performance Radeons will likely perform best on their own. Lastly, as we draw nearer to Windows 7's public release, the new 785G comes with a full set of Windows 7 WHQL drivers.

According to AMD, today on the day of launch, there will be about 30 retail ready 785G based boards available from 9 manufacturers. We have three of these in our lab, the M4A785TD-V EVO from ASUS, as well as Gigabyte's GA-MA785GMT-UD2H and GA-MA785G-UD3H. Let's take a look at what they have to offer and then we'll put 785G through some benchmarks to see how it stacks up to the competition.

Transparent
ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO: Specifications
For the AMD 785G chipset launch, ASUS is ready with three different implementations; two mATX boards and one ATX. There's the M4A785D-M PRO and the M4A785TD-M EVO; the two mATX boards. The ATX board is the M4A785TD-V EVO and we have it in the lab today.



click to enlarge


ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO Motherboard
Specifications & Features
Processor and Chipset
Based on AMD 785G chipset
AMD SB710 southbridge
Supports AMD AM3 Processors

Memory
4 x DIMM (Max. 16 GB combined)
Support DDR3 1800 / 1600 / 1333 / 1066 / 800
ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual channel memory architecture
   
Expansion Slot
2 x PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (x16 + x4)
2 x PCI-Express x1
3 x Conventional PCI slot
   
Video
Integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200 GPU
Hybrid CrossFireX Support
128MB SidePort Memory - onboard DDR3 1333
Maximum shared memory of 512MB

Storage

5 x SATA 3Gb/s ports (RAID 0,1,10,JBOD)
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
   
Audio
Integrated VIA VT1708S audio codec
8-channel audio

Networking
Integrated Realtek RTL 8112L LAN
Supports 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s and 1000Mb/s
   
Internal IO
ATX 24-pin power connector
ATX 4-pin 12V power connector
3 x FAN connectors
1 x CD-in connector
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x Front panel header
1 x Chassis intrusion switch connector
3 x USB 2.0 front-panel connectors
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
5 x SATA II connectors
1 x COM connector
1 x LPT connector
1 x IDE connector
1 x S/PDIF Out Header

Back Panel I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
1 x DVI
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x eSATA
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x RJ45 LAN
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O

Accessories
1 x User's manual
1 x Driver & Utility DVD
1 x I/O Shield
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
4 x SATA cable
1 x Q-Connector

Special Features
 - 100% Solid Capacitors

 - 8+2 phase power design
 - ASUS Green EPU
 - ASUS GPU NOS
 - ASUS TurboV
 - Turbo Key
 - ASUS Express Gate
 
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm)






click to enlarge

The first thing you'll notice about the ASUS 785G boards are the long and cryptic model names. In this case 'PRO' doesn't seem to mean "better" since the M4A785D-M PRO is the only one of the three that doesn't have SidePort memory while the two EVOs both pack 128MB of DDR3-1333. SidePort memory is integrated RAM dedicated to the IGP and its presence noticeably boosts performance over using shared memory alone. The M4A785TD-V EVO supports 512MB of memory sharing along with the SidePort memory for a possible maximum of 640MB of video memory. However, remember that the "shared" part of shared memory means that 512MB will be coming out of your available system memory so plenty of RAM is recommended.

The ATX form factor M4A785TD-V EVO is the most fully featured of ASUS' three 785G boards, with two PCI-E x16 slots which support Hybrid CrossFireX, allowing two discrete graphics cards to link up with the onboard IGP for a three-way CrossFire configuration. Hybrid graphics, referring to the ability to link an IGP with a discrete graphics chip, is a neat feature that can really boost the system's performance when using lower performance chips like the Radeon 3450, but higher performance hardware will perform better alone.

Feature-wise, the M4A785TD-V EVO is pretty packed. There is a full implementation of every one of the 785G's main features as well as some extras. The bundle is also quite good, including everything you might need to get started like four SATA cables, an IDE cable and a Q-connector set.

Transparent
ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO: Features
The ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO is a very sharp looking board with a black PCB and light blue accents. The heatsink design is especially appealing. The northbridge and MOSFET heatsinks are like little anodized aluminum sculptures. The whole look just screams 'premium'.

The northbridge heatsink is actually a two-piece unit. The dark gray bottom piece is attached to the northbridge and the blue accent piece is in turn attached to it. The blue accent piece actually slides into the bottom piece and isn't fixed by anything; it's relatively loose and has some room to slide around and can be removed entirely. This means it only makes token contact with the bottom piece and likely doesn't have much affect on the heatsink's overall thermal properties. However, it does look pretty cool and the thermal contact issue could be easily alleviated with the application of some thermal adhesive.


(click to enlarge)

Overall ASUS did a good job with the M4A785TD-V EVO's layout. The CPU socket is free of obstructions and there is plenty of room in nearly all directions for a large CPU cooler. The memory slots are placed a bit close to the CPU socket, but this won't likely be an issue unless all four memory slots are occupied, since the slots are arranged in such a way that dual-channel can be achieved with DIMMs in just the blue slots.

Interestingly the M4A785TD-V EVO uses a 4-pin 12V power connector instead of a more typical 8-pin. It's located at the top corner of the board neat the rear I/O, right above the MOSFET heatsink. Its location is well selected and shouldn't present any wire routing issues.

   

 (click to enlarge)

 (click to enlarge)


The expansion slots are all well accommodated and it's clear that ASUS took the time to move the various connectors and ports out of the way of the two PCI-E x16 slots. With a dual-slot full-length video card in each of the PCI-E x16 slots, all of the board's various connectors are all still accessible. This is a rare feat that few motherboards manage, and it makes the M4A785TD-V EVO especially well suited for set-ups that require large and long PCI-E expansion cards.

All five of the board's internal SATA connectors are located in a tight cluster under the DIMM slots. All five of them are also oriented conventionally so the cables would all connect perpendicular to the PCB. This is desirable in most builds since there is a reduced chance the SATA connectors will be obstructed by a hard drive cage or other chassis structure.


(click to enlarge)

All of the board's USB and Firewire headers are located along the bottom edge of the board, a typical location which should work well in most cases. The IDE connector is located right under the southbridge and oriented horizontally, which is advantageous since a vertically oriented IDE connector may result in the flat ribbon IDE cable interfering with installed expansion cards.

   

 (click to enlarge)

 (click to enlarge)


However, there are a few minor issues. The front audio connector is located at the bottom-left corner of the board, which is undesirable since that is basically the furthest position it could be to the location of the front audio panel on most ATX cases. The board also lacks 3-pin fan connectors for case fans. Only the minimum of 3 fan connectors are provided; a 4-pin for the CPU and 3-pin connectors for the northbridge and power supply.

Overall, despite some minor issues, the M4A785TD-V EVO's layout is excellent and it is clear some thought has gone into accommodating typical builds.

Transparent
Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H: Specifications
Gigabyte also has several different 785G-based motherboards ready for the launch today. We have two of them in our labs, the ATX Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H and the mATX Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H. The two boards are similar overall but differ in a few key areas. First, let's take a closer look at the mATX GA-MA785GMT-UD2H.



click to enlarge


Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H Motherboard
Specifications & Features
Processor and Chipset
Based on AMD 785G chipset
AMD SB710 southbridge
Supports AMD AM3 Processors

Memory
4 x DIMM (Max. 16 GB combined)
Support DDR3 1666 / 1333 / 1066 / 800
ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual channel memory architecture
   
Expansion Slot
1 x PCI-Express 2.0 x16
1 x PCI-Express x1
2 x Conventional PCI slot
   
Video
Integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200 GPU
Hybrid CrossFire Support
128MB SidePort Memory - onboard DDR3 1333
Maximum shared memory of 512MB

Storage

5 x SATA 3Gb/s ports (RAID 0,1,10,JBOD)
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
1 x Floppy Disk Drive connector
   
Audio
Integrated Realtek ALC889A audio codec
8-channel audio

Networking
Integrated Realtek RTL 8111C LAN
Supports 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s and 1000Mb/s
   
Internal IO
ATX 24-pin power connector
ATX 8-pin 12V power connector
3 x FAN connectors
1 x CD-in connector
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x Front panel header
1 x Chassis intrusion switch connector
3 x USB 2.0 front-panel connectors
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
5 x SATA II connectors
1 x serial connector
1 x parallel connector
1 x IDE connector
1 x FDD connector
1 x S/PDIF In/Out Header

Back Panel I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x eSATA
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x RJ45 LAN
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O

Accessories
1 x User's manual
1 x Quick install guide
1 x Driver & Utility DVD
1 x I/O Shield
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
2 x SATA cable

Special Features
 - 100% Solid Capacitors

 - 2 oz copper PCB
 - 4+1 phase power design
 - Dual BIOS chips
 - Gigabyte Easy Energy Saver
 - Gigabyte EasyTune
 
mATX Form Factor
9.6 inch x 9.6 inch (24.4 cm x 24.4 cm)






click to enlarge

The Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H, the smaller of the two Gigabyte boards we have, is actually most similar to the ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO we just checked out in the previous pages. Just like the ASUS, the GA-MA785GMT-UD2H is packed with features including support for Hybrid CrossFire, DDR3 support and integrated 128MB SidePort memory. The most obvious difference between the two boards is the form factor, where the Gigabyte is a compact mATX board.

Taking a look at the specification sheet, you'll notice that the GA-MA785GMT-UD2H is nearly functionally identical to the ASUS, except that its smaller mATX frame means it has less expansion slots and is most noticeably missing the second PCI-E slot. While the Gigabyte and ASUS use different audio codecs and Ethernet LAN chips, they are functionally identical with essentially the same features. The one area where the two boards diverge in feature sets, other than their obvious size and expansion differences, is the Gigabyte's addition of an iTE IT8718 chip which allows for floppy disk drive support via a single FDD connector. This isn't exactly a killer feature, but some users might find it handy.

In terms of features, the Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H is equally well equipped as the ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO. It also comes with a a fairly typical bundle including a IDE connector and two SATA connectors.

Transparent
Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H: Features
The Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H is another sharp looking board. However, it isn't quite as elaborate as the ASUS board on the preceding pages. Instead of miniature sculptures, Gigabyte opted for a heatsink configuration that is all business. Due to the smaller form factor, the UD2H is also noticeably more cramped with every inch of PCB seemingly covered by multiple components.


(click to enlarge)

Despite having less room to work with yet still sporting nearly the same feature set as the larger ASUS board, the GA-MA785GMT-UD2H manages a very practical layout. There is actually slightly more room around the Gigabyte's CPU socket compared to the ASUS board since there are no MOSFET heatsinks to get in the way. However, the DIMM slots are located even closer to the CPU socket, though only by a hair.

   

 (click to enlarge)

 (click to enlarge)


The UD2H's IDE connector is located relatively high on the board, above the SATA connectors. The board's floppy connector is located directly above the IDE connector and they are both oriented vertically. However, this shouldn't present much of an obstruction problem since they are located far enough up the board to be clear of the expansion slots.

Like the ASUS board, the UD2H's five internal SATA connectors are tightly clustered together near the bottom-right corner of the board. Their position means the upper most three SATA connectors might be blocked by an extended length dual-slot graphics card. However, this isn't as big an issue as with an ATX board since most mATX builds won't use all five available SATA connectors anyway.


(click to enlarge)

The board offers three internal USB headers for use with front-I/O or other connectors. All three are located directly under the southbridge which should be a good position free of interference with expansion slots. The single FireWire header is located at the bottom edge of the board while the front audio connector is near the middle-left edge of the board, next to the rear-I/O components.

   

 (click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)


The UD2H's single PCI-E x1 slot is located right next to the northbridge and Gigabyte smartly cut a valley in the heatink to make plenty of room for an expansion card. Like the ASUS board, the UD2H only offers 3 fan connectors, but this is of less concern on an mATX board, since mATX cases don't usually mount as many fans as a typical ATX case.

Overall, the Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H is a very well constructed board. Despite the shear number of connectors crammed into the 9.6" square (24.4 cm) mATX form factor, Gigabyte managed to lay out the board relatively well.

Transparent
Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H: Specifications
The second Gigabyte 785G board we have in the lab is the GA-MA785G-UD3H. Unlike the UD2H, the UD3H is a full ATX form factor board with a full set of expansion slots including dual PCI-E x16 slots which can be linked together in a variety of CrossFire configurations, with and without the IGP.



click to enlarge


Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H Motherboard
Specifications & Features
Processor and Chipset
Based on AMD 785G chipset
AMD SB710 southbridge
Supports AMD AM3/AM2+/AM2 Processors

Memory
4 x DIMM (Max. 16 GB combined)
Support DDR2 1333 / 1066 / 800
Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual channel memory architecture
   
Expansion Slot
2 x PCI-Express 2.0 x16 (x16 + x4)
3 x PCI-Express x1
2 x Conventional PCI slot
   
Video
Integrated ATI Radeon HD 4200 GPU
Hybrid CrossFireX Support
Maximum shared memory of 512MB

Storage

6 x SATA 3Gb/s ports (RAID 0,1,10,JBOD)
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
1 x Floppy Disk Drive connector
   
Audio
Integrated Realtek ALC889A audio codec
8-channel audio

Networking
Integrated Realtek RTL 8111C LAN
Supports 10Mb/s, 100Mb/s and 1000Mb/s
   
Internal IO
ATX 24-pin power connector
ATX 8-pin 12V power connector
3 x FAN connectors
1 x CD-in connector
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x Front panel header
1 x Chassis intrusion switch connector
3 x USB 2.0 front-panel connectors
2 x IEEE 1394a connector
6 x SATA II connectors
1 x serial connector
1 x parallel connector
1 x IDE connector
1 x FDD connector
1 x S/PDIF In/Out Header

Back Panel I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
1 x DVI-D
1 x D-Sub
1 x HDMI
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x RJ45 LAN
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O

Accessories
1 x User's manual
1 x Quick install guide
1 x Driver & Utility DVD
1 x I/O Shield
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
2 x SATA cable

Special Features
 - 100% Solid Capacitors

 - 2 oz copper PCB
 - 4+1 phase power design
 - Dual BIOS chips
 - Gigabyte Easy Energy Saver
 - Gigabyte EasyTune
 
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm)





click to enlarge

The Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H is quite different from the two previous 785G boards we checked out. It's the only one of the three to support AM2 processors and implement DDR2 instead of DDR3. It's also the only board out of the three to not include any SidePort memory and not have an eSATA port. However, to its credit, it's also the only board of the three to boast two FireWire internal headers which in conjunction with the port on the rear I/O allows for up to three IEEE 1394a connectors. While the UD3H lacks an eSATA port, it gets an extra internal SATA port for a total of six.

Other than these differences, it is identical to its stablemate, the UD2H.  Even the bundle is the same, which is somewhat unfortunate since 2 SATA cables is enough for an mATX board, but might come up short for full ATX builds.

Transparent
Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H: Features
Out of the three boards we're looking at today, the Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H is by far the most colorful. From an aesthetic standpoint, this might not be a particularly good thing. One wonders why Gigabyte didn't just stick to the blue and white theme used on the UD2H.


(click to enlarge)

In many ways the UD3H is very similar to the UD2H at first glance. They use the same cooling setup, and the top-left quarter of the UD3H is laid out identically to the UD2H. However, the right edge and bottom half the the board are laid out quite differently, mostly for the better.

   

 (click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)


Thanks to the extra room provided by the ATX form factor, the UD3H's DIMM slots are placed further away from the CPU socket, though only very slightly. Once again, there are no MOSFET heatsinks which leaves plenty of room for large CPU coolers.


(click to enlarge)

The board's 6 SATA connectors are clumped together near the bottom-right edge. In this location, two of the six connectors may be blocked by an extended length PCI-E x16 graphics card, though this would only be a problem if two video cards are used since the orange PCI-E x16 slot is only x4 electrically, with only 4 PCI-E lanes instead of the full 16.

   

 (click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)


The GA-MA785G-UD3H is the only board in the group that has two FireWire headers, both of which are located along the bottom edge. The three USB headers are located in a rather poor position directly above the second PCI-E x16 slot. This location might cause the USB headers to interfere with the nearby PCI-E x1 slot, though this is likely avoidable with five PCI-E slots to choose from. Just like the other two boards, the UD3H only offers three fan connectors.

Overall, the Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H is a well laid out board, though not quite as well as the ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO.

Transparent
Test Setup & Synthetics with SANDRA

To assess the performance of the 785G chipset, we put the boards featured earlier through a gauntlet of benchmarks. Starting with some preliminary testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA benchmark suite, we then move to PC Mark Vantage followed by 3D rendering tests with Cinebench and Kribibench, and finally mp3 encoding with LAME MT. We also test the 785G's Radeon 4200 IGP with a number multimedia apps as well as games.

For these tests the 785G was represented by the ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO and the Gigabyte MA785GMT-UD2H. They were both equipped with an AMD Phenom II X3 720 processor and DDR3. For reference, we pitted them against Intel's G41 chipset and NVIDIA's GeForce 9300, both equipped with the Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 processor.

HotHardware's Test Systems
Covering the bases

AMD 785G
Phenom II X3 720, 2.8GHz
2GB DDR3-1066
Radeon HD 4200

On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio
150GB WD Raptor
10K RPM SATA
Windows Vista Ultimate

Intel G41
Core 2 Q8200S, 2.33GHz
2GB DDR2-800
Intel X4500

On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio
150GB WD Raptor
10K RPM SATA
Windows Vista Ultimate

GeForce 9300
Core 2 Q8200S, 2.33GHz
2GB DDR2-800
GeForce 9300

On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio
150GB WD Raptor
10K RPM SATA
Windows Vista Ultimate

 Preliminary Testing with SiSoft SANDRA 2009
 Synthetic Benchmarks

We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA XII, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran three of the built-in subsystem tests that partially comprise the SANDRA 2009 suite (CPU Arithmetic, CPU Multimedia and Memory Bandwidth).  All of the scores reported below were taken with the hardware running at default speeds and settings. 



The Gigabyte MA785GMT-UD2H performed very slightly better than the ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO in SANDRA's CPU Arithmetic test. These results are the average of 3 runs, so the difference is a bit more than a simple one-time fluke, but still too small to make any real difference.



The SANDRA CPU multimedia performance test tells a similar story as the CPU Arithmetic test. Once again the two boards are deadlocked. This is as expected since they implement the exact same chipset.



Again, as with the previous two tests, the results of the SANDRA Memory Bandwidth tests shows the two boards perform essentially the same, as expected.

Overall, all of the various SANDRA CPU benchmarks we ran reported scores in line with expectations. While this first round of benchmarks with SANDRA hasn't been especially illuminating, it does confirm that neither board has any glaring deficiencies. In the rest of the benchmarks, we expand our scope and put the two 785G boards up against some real competition.

Transparent
General Performance: PCMark Vantage

Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Simulated Application Performance

Next, we ran our test motherboards through PCMark Vantage, Futuremark‚Äôs latest system performance metric built especially for Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage runs through a host of different usage scenarios to simulate different types of workloads, including High Definition TV and movie playback and manipulation, gaming, image editing and manipulation, music compression, communications, and productivity. Most of the tests are multi-threaded as well, so they can exploit the additional resources offered by multi-core CPUs.




For PCMark Vantage, we pit the two 785G boards up against AMD's top-end 790FX. Intel is also represented here by the G41 Express and NVIDIA GeForce 9300 chipsets. The Intel chipsets were powered by Core 2 Quad Q8200 processors while the AMD boards all used AMD Phenom II X3 720 processors. All boards were using their respective IGPs except the 790FX which doesn't have an IGP and was equipped with a GeForce GTX 280. Keep these configuration notes in mind when looking at the benchmark results.

Overall, the new 785G chipset performed very well, nearly matching up to the premium 790FX chipset.

Transparent
General Performance: LAME MT & Kribibench

In our custom LAME MT MP3 encoding test, we convert a large WAV file to the MP3 format, which is a popular scenario that many end users work with on a day-to-day basis to provide portability and storage of their digital audio content.  LAME is an open-source mid to high bit-rate and VBR (variable bit rate) MP3 audio encoder that is used widely around the world in a multitude of third party applications.

LAME MT
Audio Encoding

In this test, we created our own 223MB WAV file (a hallucinogenically-induced Grateful Dead jam) and converted it to the MP3 format using the multi-thread capable LAME MT application in single and multi-thread modes. Processing times are recorded below, listed in seconds. Once again, shorter times equate to better performance.

LAME MT can support of maximum of only two threads, hence the X3's strong performance versus the lower-clocked quad-cores here. Once again, the new Phenom II processors perform well, albeit this time just a bit shy of the Intel-based competition.
 


The new AMD 785G boards are very competitive here and they even catch up to the premium AMD 790FX chipset which lagged behind in both multi-threaded and single-thread tests. Performance compared to the Intel platforms is very similar overall.

Kribibench v1.1
CPU-Bound 3D Rendering

For this next batch of tests, we ran Kribibench v1.1, a 3D rendering benchmark produced by the folks at Adept Development.  Kribibench is an SSE aware software renderer in which a 3D model is rendered and animated by the host CPU and the average frame rate is reported.  We used two of the included models with this benchmark: a "Sponge Explode" model consisting of over 19.2 million polygons and the test suite's "Ultra" model that is comprised of over 16 billion polys.


Kribibench offers us our first taste of the AMD 785G's 3D Rendering performance. The new AMD 785G perform very well and fall in right behind the premium AMD 790FX chipset. Note that Kribibench uses the CPU for all of its rendering so the graphics processor has no effect on the results.

Transparent
General Performance: Cinebench R10

Cinebench R10 is an OpenGL 3D rendering performance test based on Cinema 4D from Maxon. Cinema 4D is a 3D rendering and animation tool suite used by 3D animation houses and producers like Sony Animation and many others.  It's very demanding of system processor resources and is an excellent gauge of pure computational throughput.

Cinebench R10
3D Rendering

This is a multi-threaded, multi-processor aware benchmark that renders a single 3D scene and tracks the length of the entire process. The rate at which each test system could render the entire scene is represented in the graph below.




Cinebench offers us a second perspective on the AMD 785G's 3D Rendering performance. Once again, as with Kribibench, all rendering is accomplished by the CPU alone. Here we see that the Intel Q8200 has a clear advantage over the X3 720, thanks to its additional core which Cinebench is able to take full advantage of. The AMD 785G is still very competative and falls in step with the AMD 790FX.

Transparent
IGP Multimedia Performance


Let's face it, though integrated graphics have come a ways in recent years, it's still not a viable option for a true gaming machine. While newer IGPs can handle modern games at acceptable frame rates for lite or casual gaming, you'll still have a hard time driving the latest first-person shooters on a high-res screen at high settings. However, IGPs of today also aren't completely useless outside of gaming. Far from it. More and more, alternative functions are being found for GPUs. One of the most popular non-gaming functions for GPUs is accelerating the encoding and decoding of video. In this day and age of HD video, IGPs have gained new purpose as video playback accelerators.

The 785G is equipped with an integrated Radeon HD 4200, a boost up from its predacessor the 780G, which was equipped with a HD 3200. Besides the obvious improvements like the integration of the newer HD 4000 series GPU engine, the HD 4200 also receives AMD's UVD 2 feature set which offers decode acceleration for MPEG2, H.264 and VC1. The UVD feature set also includes support for post processing effects such as de-interlacing, de-noise and pull down detection. Version 2 of UVD adds support for dynamic contrast, bicubic scaling, picture-in-picture acceleration as well as image quality enhancements like color vibrance and flesh tone enhancement.

 IGP Video Playback Performance
 Video Decoding with Radeon HD 4200

We put the 785G through a set of 1080P HD video tests and measured their CPU utilization levels to get a feel for how much of the heavy lifting the IGP is offloading from the CPU. We used two short video clips of less than 5 minutes in duration for this test. Each video clip was played 3 times on a loop while the CPU utilization was constantly monitored. The first clip is encoded with WMV and played back using Windows Media Player 11. The second clip is encoded with H.264 and played back using Apple Quicktime 7.6. In both cases the system was not running any other application.


(click to enlarge)


In the first test clip encoded in WMV, we saw low CPU utilization hovering between 15%-25%. The video was smooth at all times and we never noticed any stutter or image quality imperfections.


(click to enlarge)


In the second clip encoded in H.264, we see slightly higher CPU utilization rates since H.264 is a bit more robust in terms of encoding which also requires more processing power to decode. In this test, the Radeon HD 4200 still offloaded a fair amount of the decoding and CPU utilization hovered between 30%-45%. As with the WMV test clip, we didn't observe any video quality issues.

Overall, the Radeon HD 4200 provides a significant amount of video playback acceleration, certainly enough to handle general multimedia and HTPC playback duties with ease without the need for a discrete graphics card. This is makes the 785G a good choice for use in HTPCs where you won't necessarily have a discrete graphics card. The ability to handle HD video playback with the IGP means you can use the money saved on the graphics card for a DVR / TV tuner card, in the case of a HTPC.

Transparent
IGP Gaming: Crysis, ETQW

While the 785G's integrated Radeon HD 4200 isn't exactly ideal for gaming, its predecessor still packed a decent punch. So we've put the Radeon HD 4200 through a series of gaming tests to see how it handles some popular mainstream titles.

Crysis v1.21
DirectX 10 Gaming Performance


Crysis

If you're at all into enthusiast computing, the FPS smash-hit Crysis, should require no introduction. Crytek's game engine produces some stunning visuals that are easily the most impressive real-time 3D renderings we've seen on the PC to date.  The engine employs some of the latest techniques in 3D rendering like Parallax Occlusion Mapping, Subsurface Scattering, Motion Blur and Depth-of-Field effects, as well as some of the most impressive use of Shader technology we've seen yet.  In short, for those of you that want to skip the technical jib-jab, Crysis is a beast of a game.  We ran the full game patched to v1.21 with all of its visual options set to 'Medium'.


Crysis is a crushing heavy duty work load for the IGPs in our test and none of them produce especially playable results with graphical settings at medium. The AMD 785G's integrated Radeon HD 4200 puts up a strong showing in the first gaming test. Both the Radeon HD 4200 and the GeForce 9300 put up a good effort but the GMA X4500 is a no go.


Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
OpenGL Gaming Performance


Enemy Territory:
Quake Wars

Enemy Territory: Quake Wars is Based on an enhanced version of id's Doom 3 engine and viewed by many as Battlefield 2 meets the Strogg, and then some.  In fact, we'd venture to say that id took ET's team-based warfare genre up a notch or two.  ET: Quake Wars also marks the introduction of John Carmack's "Megatexture" technology that employs large environment and terrain textures that cover vast areas of maps without the need to repeat and tile many smaller textures.  The beauty of megatexture technology is that each unit only takes up a maximum of 8MB of frame buffer memory.  Add to that HDR-like bloom lighting and leading edge shadowing effects and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars looks great, plays well and works high end graphics cards vigorously. 


Enemy Territory: Quake Wars was much more forgiving than Crysis and the Radeon HD 4200 as well as the GeForce 9300 were able to produce somewhat playable frame rates. The GMA X4500 on the other hand barely did any better here than in Crysis. While the GeForce 9300 performed better than the Radeon HD 4200 in both gaming benchmarks, it's also a much more expensive chipset. GeForce 9300 based motherboards can currently be found in the region of $130+, while the new AMD 785G debuts in the sub-$100 segment. The savings could easily be put to a value graphics chip which, in conjunction with the Radeon HD 4200 via Hybrid CrossFire, can would increase performance considerably.

Transparent
Overclocking the IGP with HL2

Our last gaming benchmark is Half-Life 2: Episode 2.

Half Life 2: Episode 2
DirectX Gaming Performance


Half Life 2:
Episode 2

Thanks to the dedication of hardcore PC gamers and a huge mod-community, the original Half-Life became one of the most successful first person shooters of all time.  And thanks to an updated game engine, gorgeous visual, and intelligent weapon and level design, Half Life 2 became just as popular.  Episode 2 offers a number of visual enhancements including better looking transparent texture anti-aliasing. We used a custom recorded timedemo file to benchmark all cards in this test.



The Half-Life 2 benchmark gave some interesting results. For the first time, the AMD 785G caught up with the GeForce 9300. Both chipsets produced very playable frame rates at high image quality settings. We also see that the ASUS board seems to lag behind the Gigabyte board a little bit at 800x600, though not by enough to really make any difference. The difference dissapears at 1280x720.

Overclocking Results
OC'ing the AMD 785G

The AMD 785G is aimed at the mainstream and is hardly marketed at the overclocking crowd. None of the AMD 785G boards are even equipped with anything beyond basic cooling. However, we couldn't resist trying our hand at some quick, rough and dirty OC'ing.

The first thing we found, nearly immediately, is that the 785G doesn't especially like having its CPU overclocked. Were weren't able to get very far with the HT clock at all, encountering stability issues as early as 240MHz, up from the stock of 200MHz. We did notice, however, that the system continued to show some signs of momentary stability well beyond 280MHz, though it was still much too unstable to even stay booted in Windows reliably. Perhaps some additional cooling could lead to some better results.

The next thing we found out is the IGP absolutely loved being overclocked. The amount of headroom left in the Radeon HD 4200 is phenomenal. Without any effort we were able to punch up the HD 4200's core clock from the stock of 500MHz to 650MHz. With a little extra voltage we were able to just touch 800MHz, though with somewhat questionable stability. At that point to decided to apply some extra cooling to the northbridge, in the form of a 80CFM case fan. We set up the fan to blow directly onto the northbridge heatsink and with some extra juice we pushed the Radeon HD 4200 to an impressive 1000MHz, twice the stock frequency. We were able to achieve this with both the ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO and the Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H.


As you can see, doubling the clock frequency boosts performance quite tangibly. Even at the fairly impressive overclock of 1000MHz, we still felt that there was still some more room left. With a new, beefier northbridge heatsink, possibly water cooled, we'd bet it would be entirely possible to get even higher frequencies out of the 785G.

Overall, it looks like there is plenty of headroom left in the AMD 785G northbridge, or at least the Radeon HD 4200 portion of it. This is pure speculation, but given what we've seen here, we wouldn't be too surprised if AMD released a new chipset down the road that was just the 785G with a higher IGP clock and possibly a new southbridge.
 

Transparent
Performance Summary & Conclusion

Performance Analysis:
Throughout our benchmarks, the new AMD 785G chipset performed very well. Compared to other AMD chipsets, it certainly performs well considering its price point, even keeping up with the premium priced 790FX for the most part. Compared to competing chipsets in the Intel camp, the AMD 785G looks like a very good value. In the general performance tests, the 785G kept pace with the whole field, and in gaming tests, the 785G showed that its IGP was clearly superior to Intel's GMA X4500. The GeForce 9300 outperforms the 785G in some games, but not by a wide margin and the 785G was able to come out on top in Half-Life 2.

We also found that the 785G's integrated Radeon HD 4200 is a very capable overclocker. We were able to double the core clock frequency without much effort. The Radeon HD 4200 seems to have a huge amount of headroom left for overclockers to discover. Overall, the AMD 785G chipset performed very well indeed, especially considering its price range.


  

Over the last few years, AMD has produced several very good mainstream chipsets that were affordable and packed with features. The 785G is AMD's latest mainstream chipset and our initial impressions are very favorable. AMD has taken the already solid 780G chipset and updated it with a host of enhancements and new features while keeping the same sub-$100 price-range. If we're being honest, we'd say the 785G is even better than the up-market 790GX.

Perhaps the biggest improvement is the updated IGP. The 785G packs a Radeon HD 4200 in its northbridge and for an IGP, it's quite a performer that will handle casual gaming competently. Perhaps more importantly, the 785G's IGP provides a host of very useful features like hardware acceleration for HD video. All 785G based motherboards also come with a plenty of video outputs and all three of the motherboards we looked at today offered VGA, DVI and HDMI outputs. The chipset also provides excellent of multi-monitor support, driving up to two monitors by default and two more for a total of four if a discrete Radeon card is used in Hybrid CrossFire mode.

The rest of the 785G's feature set is equally impressive. Depending on the specific OEM implementation chosen, you will have your choice of DDR2 and DDR3. The 785G can also be found with either a AM2+ or AM3 socket. Whether you are putting together a new system from scratch or pulling something together from your spare parts bin, there is a 785G based motherboard out there that will accommodate you.

The three motherboards we looked at today from ASUS and Gigabyte really showed the level of flexibility and variety available with the 785G. The ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO has the richest feature set of the bunch, with an AM3 socket, DDR3 memory support, 128MB SidePort memory and dual PCI-E x16 slots with Hybrid CrossFireX support (though only x16 + x4 electrically). The Gigabyte GA-MA785GMT-UD2H packs nearly the same feature set into a smaller mATX package which makes it ideal for HTPC builds. Then we looked at the Gigabyte GA-MA785G-UD3H, which features support for sockets AM3, AM2+ and AM2, along with DDR2 support and dual PCI-E x16 slots for maximum flexibility. The best part is, none of these three boards debut at a price that exceeds $100. The ASUS is the most expensive of the bunch and can be found for $100, while both Gigabyte boards are available for $90.

Overall, AMD has produced one of the more flexible chipsets currently available for any platform. With the exception of top-end discrete multi-GPU gaming and serious server builds, the 785G can be configured to handle just about anything you want and you won't even need to sell your organs to afford it. With a sub-$100 debut price range, the 785G based motherboards are some of the best values around and they will be an excellent choice for nearly everyone in the market for a mainstream AMD motherboard.



 

  • Excellent Feature Set
  • Great Value
  • Solid IGP Performance
  • Hybrid Graphics Support
  • Hardware HD video acceleration
  • Quad-display support through Hybrid Graphics
  • Windows 7 WHQL Drivers Available At Launch
  • Stunted CrossFire Support (x16 + x4)
  • Platform performance still trails Intel

 



Content Property of HotHardware.com