Performance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: We found AMD's new 690G chipset to perform on roughly the same level as NVIDIA's 430 series chipsets. In synthetic testing and several other CPU intensive tests, all three boards tested delivered comparable results. Comparing synthetic memory scores, the 690G recorded the lowest scores when 256MB of system memory wall allocated to the IGP's frame buffer, but also showed the most gain when using discrete graphics. In WorldBench testing, the 690G series board tended to trail NVIDIA's offerings, but often benefited nicely from utilizing discrete graphics. Neither system offered any advantages over the other with regard to hard drive performance, but video image quality testing went best with the nForce 430/6150 and its PureVideo engine. The 690G's AVIVO video performance was only a few steps behind though. As promised, AMD delivered on their claims of a better gaming experience with the integrated X1250, with both gaming tests showing the Radeon X1250 as the top performer. Although higher comparable frame rates and playable frame rates are two different things entirely.
AMD's latest chipset offering looks to be a good balance in between the two current mATX offerings from NVIDIA. Comprised of the RS690 Northbridge and SB600 Southbridge, AMD brings a single solution that boasts an integrated X1250 Radeon graphics engine, AVIVO and native DVI/HDMI. OEM's may appreciate AMD's highly integrated solution, that offers competitive performance and a comprehensive feature list. AMD also has a leg-up with native DVI and HDMI support, as well as being a bit more energy efficient. Unlike NVIDIA, the only difference between the 690G and 690V is support for HDMI/DVI. Both offer AVIVO and the same functionality, unlike the 430/61xx series, where the GeForce 6150 comes with PureVideo and the GeForce 6100 does not but offers better 3D performance. We also liked AMD's larger frame buffer option. The nForce 430 line is limited to 256MB, compared to the 690G's 1GB capacity. Ultimately, the AMD 690 series chipset brings a balanced feature-set to the table, that is very competitive with what NVIDIA has to offer.
It has been a long time since we saw a chipset released under the AMD name and the 690 series appears to be a solid offering in the IGP market. However, it does appear that AMD is still playing catch-up with NVIDIA, as the nForce 430/61xx series has been out for quite a while and NVIDIA is poised to release their MCP68 in the not too distant future. With the promise of an integrated GeForce 7 class graphics engine in three variations, in addition to adding integrated DVI/HDMI support, the MCP68 should end up being a more apples to apples comparison to the 690G in the end. We should also consider that NVIDIA's future MCP72 may include DirectX 10 ready graphics. Though, as the saying goes, you can't compare unreleased products to a product that is here today.
Regardless what the future holds, the AMD 690 series stacks up well compared to what is currently available on the market. However, with new offerings on the horizon from NVIDIA, we hope AMD is already looking ahead to the next evolution from the 690 series to maintain and grow in the IGP space.
Look for all major motherboard manufacturers to roll out new models based on the 690 series, including MSI, ASUS, ECS, Shuttle and more. Pricing for motherboards based on the 690 series chipset is not clear at this time. However, our expectation is that they will be priced competitively.