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


Real Games

Xpand Rally is one of the tests we're going to be including in future reviews. It carries some pretty nice effects that you can enable on the fly when watching replays.

To benchmark Xpand Rally, I simply used Fraps while watching my own replay. This turned out to be a tramatic experience, as the 865G was the first board I tested, and thus was used to record the demo. If you think 15 FPS is a playable framerate, think again...

Settings were once again cranked down, this time to "Performance" in 800x600. No effects were enabled (many of them don't display correctly on the GMA 900, although I'm sure they will be addressed with either a patch or a driver update).

Once again the X300 looks like a champ compared to these chumps. And once again we are seeing the 915G perform lower than a lowly DX8 integrated solution.

UT2K3 was tested using HardOCP's benchmark utility. We used the "Low Quality" script, and averaged out the results of the three demo runs:

Same old story, although this time the GMA 900 performs a bit better. Hell, even the 865G is in the playable range at this level!

Splinter Cell is one of the toughest DX8 based games to be released, and remains so to this day. All settings were at "Low" of course, and the res was set to 800x600. The results below are an average of three different benchmark timedemos throughout three different levels.

Not much more we can say here. X300 barely manages 'playable' framerates here, but none of the integrated solutions come close.

And finally we have Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory. Being a completely FREE game, and a good one at that, this is going to be one of the more popular games with IGP users I think ;)

It's based on the Quake 3 engine

Same old story here; none of the integrated chipsets could manage a 'playable' rate, while the 9100 Pro IGP continued to kill the 915G.

Okay, so not a single chipset we reviewed today could muster up an average framerate of 60 FPS in a single test we performed. But there is no way I am lowering the resolution to 640x480! Let's try to salvage something from all this work though.

After performing these tests, one thing is clear: There are currently no decent integrated graphics solutions for the Intel platform. You WILL be able to 'run' 3D applications (even DX9 applications in the case of the 915G), but even lowering quality settings ALL THE WAY and setting the resoltion to 800x600 will not yield anything close to being playable.

At that level, the $107 X300 is certainly 'playable' and in some of the tests we could have probably gotten away with increasing the quality a bit.

Therefore, it is my opinion that if you are planning on doing ANY sort of gaming - even playing The Sims 2 or Railroad Tycoon - you should invest in a modest DX9 video card, such as the X300 or NVIDIA's new solution which is expected to be announced next week. It will be $100 well spent - your Mom will thank you (mine did!).

And on top of all that, ATI's chipset was lacklustre in terms of system performance. They have a long way to go to catch up to Intel's 925X if they ever want to offer high end solutions (and they do by the way; keep your eyes peeled).