Performance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: In the synthetic tests, the ASUS M2A-VM HDMI was on par with the comparison boards in most areas. We did see a small spike in SANDRA XI's Arithmetic Dhrystone scores and memory performance was a bit flat when switching between discrete and integrated graphics. FutureMark PCMark05 testing revealed similar results, while the ASUS M2A-VM HDMI managed the best score in the 3DMark05 CPU test. We recorded slightly lower burst speeds in HD Tach 3.0 although SANDRA XI's File System Performance test showed all boards performed on the same level. Real world application testing favored the nForce430 based motherboards, most visible in the Office XP SP2 test. When it came to gaming, all integrated graphics tests favored the 690G motherboards with the Radeon XPress X1250 IGP, although the tests evened out when discrete graphics were used. DVD Video Quality testing favored the nForce430/6150, with the ASUS M2A-VM HDMI delivering adequate results.
Since its release, it seems there is a lot of attention being garnered by the 690 series chipsets, and not without good reason. As an integrated graphics solution, the 690G offers a decent step up in performance compared the nForce series models tested, while reducing overall power consuption. Performance as a whole is competitive, but nothing sets the 690 apart from the nForce series, with minor victories scored by each in the various tests.
What is impressive about the M2N-VM HDMI is its all-in-one approach to video, providing all the options the 690 series chipset has to offer in a single package. While most OEMs we checked offer either DVI only, or separate HDMI or DVI models, or no 690 based boards at all, ASUS comes in and delivers a complete package that incorporates all of the chipset's features. By adding a riser card to the design, ASUS can expand the M2A-VM HDMI's capabilities, but there are trade offs of course. First, from the start a PCI slot is occupied, limiting the board's expansion. Second, S-Video and Composite options are offloaded to the riser, as are the SPDIF connectors.
In the end, the ASUS M2A-VM HDMI is as complete a 690-based board as you'll find. And for an average price of $80, the M2A-VM HDMI offers a solid balance of features and performance that make it a good fit for a multitude of environments at a reasonable price.