** Updated on 5th August 2009 **
AMD's 780G was arguably a breath of fresh air when it debuted last year. The excellent integrated graphics chip on the 780G was based on ATI's entry level discrete GPU and compared to the insipid graphics performance from Intel's integrated graphics chipsets, the 780G was clearly superior.
Fortunately for Intel, AMD's 780G was restricted to the AMD platform, though that meant NVIDIA found itself with a competitor instead. As we experienced for ourselves in our AMD IGP chipset and motherboard roundup, NVIDIA's GeForce 8200 and 8300 chipsets did manage to compete reasonably against the 780G, with its 8-channel LPCM HDMI audio output a clear feature advantage over its AMD rival. But AMD held the upper hand when it came to heat and power consumption, both important criteria for motherboards with integrated graphics.
More than a year later, even this slim advantage for NVIDIA will be gone, as AMD updates the 780G with the 785G. In many ways, it's a minor upgrade, since this chipset remains a 55nm part like the 780G. However, HTPC users will find much cheer from the support for multi-channel LPCM via HDMI (up from just two channels on the 780G), along with an updated integrated graphics chipset that's on par with AMD's Radeon HD 4000 series in terms of features. This means the features you'll find on the company's discrete GPUs, like its Universal Video Decoder (UVD) 2.0 (with full hardware acceleration for HD playback) and DirectX 10.1 are similarly found on the 785G. (Update:- AMD has informed us that the AMD 785G only has two-channel LPCM support via HDMI like its predecessor).
With these upgraded features, the Radeon HD 3200 graphics chipset found in the 780G will also be rechristened the Radeon HD 4200. The core clock for its shaders however remains the same at 500MHz and features like CrossFireX and HyperTransport 3 will be supported like its predecessor. Also, one will likely also find the Radeon HD 4200 equipped with SidePort memory like those found on the 790GX chipset to improve the graphics performance, if only slightly.
The 785G itself is expected to be paired with AMD's newer SB710 Southbridge chip. Again, it's a slight upgrade from the SB700 that used to be found with the 780G. The main addition is support for AMD's Advanced Clock Calibration (ACC) feature, which allows for greater overclocking allowance and is compatible with AMD's OverDrive tweaking utility.
We're be doing a full review of the AMD 785G chipset based motherboards in the near future but first, we'll be taking a quick look at the graphics and HD playback performance of the Radeon HD 4200 onboard. After all, with the updated GPU being the main difference on this chipset, this is what should matter to most consumers.
With that in mind, we have configured a new 785G board from Gigabyte, the GA-MA785GPM-UD2H with similar hardware configuration used for our previous AMD IGP shootout and will be comparing the 785G directly against those older motherboards. (While there are DDR3 models available, ours is a DDR2 AM2+ board). Of course, the drivers for the AMD 785G are newer and different; from what we can tell, their version numbers (8.63RC1) are similar to that found in the current Catalyst 9.7 drivers (version 8.632). When do embark on the detailed motherboard reviews, we'll be sure to keep comparisons more comparable, but for now in this article, we're giving you a quick glimpse of what to expect.
The following motherboards were tested:
With the following configuration: