That was a problem for Intel as its so-called Extreme Graphics couldn’t handle Aero. The chip maker was forced to raise its game, and it launched the G965 chipset, which introduced the GMA X3000 graphics core.
The other significant aspect of Vista is its whole-hearted support for DRM. This meant that Hollywood was prepared to allow its precious high-definition Blu-ray movies to run on Vista. The hefty amount of processing power required by Blu-ray's codecs will flog your CPU to death unless you help it out with a dedicated video decoding unit and the logical place for this is within the graphics chip.
The dedicated video decoding core, usually branded a Universal Video Decoder (UVD), is increasingly important for movie buffs and Media Centre fans as HD movie playback may be the sternest task that the PC faces. So a decent UVD will allow you to specify a processor that's slower, cooler and cheaper.
Digital output is essential and it's increasingly common to find motherboards with one VGA, one DVI, an HDMI and possibly a DisplayPort connector. Most graphics chips are perfectly capable of supporting two digital displays in any permutation, but there are very few motherboards that support more than one DVI connector.
Finally, we have gaming on integrated graphics which isn’t the contradiction in terms that you might think. During our testing, we found that it was surprisingly easy to play Far Cry on quite reasonable settings. Granted the original Far Cry dates back to 2004, but back in the day we found you needed a GeForce 6800 to make the game run properly.
Now that’s progress.
At present, the only chipset that supports the Core i7 is the Intel X58 so you can't use Intel’s new processor with integrated graphics. Motherboards for the Socket 939 Athlon 64 have completely vanished. This neatly divides the current crop of IGPs and chipsets into two groups. In the blue corner, we have the Intel and Nvidia chipsets that support LGA775 Core 2, and in the green corner we have AMD and Nvidia for Socket AM2+ Phenom.
SiS and other stuff...
If you're looking for a motherboard that uses an SiS chipset, the Intel D201GLY2/2A (with embedded 1.3GHz Celeron CPU) would be one choice. I got one and was really pretty impressed with what it could do, especially considering the limited processing power it has.
Integrated graphics are OK in my book, even if they don't perform all that well. It bothers me that the graphics options from nVidia and ATI either have huge heatsinks or cook themselves into an early grave. I've never lost an integrated graphics chipset...compared to a few ATI and nVidia boards that just got too hot.
I don't really care for speed, but I need to know which maximum resolution is supported? Can I, for example connect 2 30" LCDs onto an Intel board with 2 DVI connectors? Do know that I have to know which resolutions the chipset supports.
Please help this idiot (me)
Um... My brain is a little slow today... which these of motherboards would be best for building a cheapish, cool and QUIET media centre PC? Or would a Playstation 3 (at 250 GBP) be better for this task?
Cometh the AMD fanboyz....
Is it me or are the only whiners here the AMD fanboyz?
@! Desktop integrated graphics shoot-out
But of course, ATI & nVidia long for the day when they can give away the farm cheap instead of having quad display gamers buy a video card. Perish the thought of paying more for more features.
About the CPU, these boards really should've been fitted with the slowest CPUs that weren't completely castrated with less than 1MB L2 cache, otherwise it's a bit silly talking about power consumption and someone cheaping out on the video tends to do the same on the processor. Regardless, at least we had more than a small amount of assurance the processor (nevermind the memory bus??) itself wasn't a bottleneck for the video benchmarks.