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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.07.04]
Manufactured by: ATI and Intel
Motherboards supplied by Gigabyte

 

Why am I doing this?

That's what has been running through my head while testing these motherboards. Why am I testing integrated graphics? Are any of my readers ever going to build a system with integrated graphics?

Well, you might not. At least not for your main system. But what about a backup system? Or an HTPC? Or a rig for your momma. In those cases, it might make sense to save a good $100 when building your next PC.

Today we're going to look at three different chipsets with integrated graphics, that support the latest Pentium 4 CPU's. Well mostly two; one of them is so outdated it's not even funny. Nonetheless, it supports the latest s478 CPU's so I thought I'd include it.

The Entrants

I wanted to stick to one manufacturer when testing all of these chipsets. The first name I came up with was Gigabyte. With an astounding array of boards to choose from, they had everything I needed and then some. I decided to stick with micro-ATX boards in the $100 price range; if you're building a high end PC, you're probably not going to be concerned with integrated graphics anyway.

Most of these boards share a lot in common. They all support Hyperthreading, dual channel DDR400 memory, 800 MHz Frontside Bus rates, and the Prescott core CPU's. The only difference in terms of CPU support is that the 915G board naturally only supports the new LGA775 CPU's. It is also currently the only chipset with integrated graphics that supports PCI-Express.

Southbridge-wise, features are also quite similar. However, even though ATI's newest southbridge, the IXP 300, supports SATA, Gigabyte decided to utilize an external Silicon Image chip instead. I wouldn't make a big fuss of that normally, but the Sil3112A has some major problems when SP2 is installed (as you'll see later).

Note that we'll be focusing mostly on game performance, and thus will not be spending a lot of time talking about individual specs of these boards, etc. That's not to say we're going to skip disk and peripheral performance of course! Overall chipset performance is very important to us, so it has to be discussed, even in a graphics-oriented review.

We will start things off with a quick look at the boards themselves.

Next Page: (Board Layout)