A little competition...Intel's G45
As a comparison for the 790GX's HD 3300 IGP, we'll be looking at its predecessor, the 780G with Radeon HD 3200 graphics, but also Intel's new G45 that features the X4500HD integrated graphics core.
Here's the Intel's DG45ID, dominated by the large heatsink covering the northbridge.
The layout is good for a mATX board. The 4-Pin CPU power connector isn't ideally placed, as it means having a power cable between the CPU cooler and the case exhaust fan. The use of a 4-pin CPU power connector also indicates the board is not designed for the most power-hungry processors, with a number of quad-core 65nm processors not compatible . However all 45nm dual- and quad-core chips, up to 1,333FSB are supported, including the toasty Core 2 Extreme QX9650.
There are no noticeable intrusions around the CPU socket, meaning compatibility with most aftermarket coolers shouldn't be affected.
The G45 northbridge is cooled by a passive aluminium heatsink.
An evolution of the G35, the G45 features an improved X4500HD graphics core that promises better IGP performance and multimedia feature-set over its predecessor.
Intel is focussing on the IGP's use for HD media playback (hence the HD in the model name), with improved hardware-accelerated decode and post-processing of the VC-1, MPEG2 and H.264 high-definition codecs.
The board sports four DDR2 DIMM slots, with support for up to 8GB of DDR2-800. There are no voltage adjustments available for the memory, which meant we had to run 800MHz RAM with slightly more relaxed timings than usual.
The ICH10R southbridge provides six SATA2 connections, although only five internal ports are provided with the sixth connection used for the rear-panel eSATA The ports are not of the front-facing variety, which may prove a problem when running longer expansion cards in the adjacent PCIe or PCI slots.
The ICH10R features support for Intel Matrix RAID with RAID 0,1,5 and 10 modes.
As usual with recent Intel chipsets, there is no native PATA support, and the DG45ID does away with legacy connectors completely, featuring no additional PATA controller, so a SATA optical drive is now a must.
Expansion options are provided via a lone PCIe 2.0 x16, dual PCIe x1 and single PCI connection.
Rear connectivity features DVI and HDMI display outputs, which are able to be used simultaneously, as well as six USB2.0, one eSATA, one FireWire, one Gigabit Ethernet and both optical S/PDIF and analogue multi-channel audio outputs.
Coupling Intel's latest chipset technology in a mATX form-factor, the DG45ID is no-frills board that ships with a £80 price-tag.