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£20 boosts Intel mobo performance by 25 per cent

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Review We've mentioned Intel's cute i815E mobo, Easton, quite a lot recently, and one of the things we liked about the board is the flexibility it offers to choose between using the on-chip 3D graphics, to improve performance with a Graphics Performance Accelerator (GPA) card which plugs into the AGP slot to provide 4MB of display cache, or an upgrade to a 'proper' AGP graphics card.

Kingston, Samsung and Micron are now producing GPAs which Intel claims can boost graphics performance by up to 30 per cent.

We've now got our hands on a GPA to try and it does indeed boost graphics performance - our system's overall 3Dmark 2000 score went up by around 25 per cent from 1,047 to 1,297. (1GHz Pentium III, 256Mb PC133 SDRAM)

Not bad for a widget costing just £20.

The 4Mb GPA fits into the board's AGP slot and has a notch to engage with the slot's retention mechanism to stop it falling out. Unfortunately, try as we might, we couldn't get the little sucker to fit in the slot at all with the retaining mechanism in place, so we removed it. So far the GPA hasn't fallen out…

32Mb texture rendering jumped from 36.5 to 49.8 FPS and high polygon count (eight lights) went up from 1.6 million triangles a second to 1.8 million.

While the on-chip 815 graphics still aren't going to attract hardcore gamers, a £20 outlay on a GPA does deliver a meaningful performance boost.

Order yours today. ®

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