Conclusions and Final Thoughts
From nearly all angles, the platform performance on the new AMD 690G chipset is on par with the NVIDIA offering for the same budget market. There are a few areas where the AMD chipset has some weakness — the SB600 chipset still isn’t as fast as the NVIDIA chipset in USB performance. This shouldn’t really be a deal breaker for most users though as large data transfers over these buses aren’t common unless you are transfer DV video from a camera or something like that.
The networking and PCIe bus performance didn’t show any issues like ATI’s original SB450 south bridge did a couple of years ago. The SB600 has fixed all of these issues and the pairing of the RS690 north bridge and the SB600 south bridge make for a happy couple.
As expected, the X1250 didn’t blow us out of the water with gaming performance but it did provide at least something to work with. Games like Far Cry played pretty decently at the lower resolution and quality settings and you should have no problem with mainstream games like The Sims and its many expansions. If you are looking to play FEAR or Battlefield 2142, even at the lowest performance settings, you are stretching beyond the capability of the X1250 GPU core.
In our quick testing, the HQV benchmark played very well, indicating that the Avivo technology was integrated and working correctly. I didn’t compare the quality to the 6100 motherboard I had here though as NVIDIA’s 6100 chipset does not include PureVideo support; you have to bump up to the 6150 series for that.
The AMD 690’s best features are the built-in support for HDMI and DVI right from the graphics logic. I tested the output of the HDMI with an LCD HDTV I have in the office and it worked flawlessly with the Catalyst driver 7.2 provided for our testing. Having this option for users looking to build an HTPC system should be a big plus — with one caveat. The X1250 does NOT support HD-DVD or Blu-ray decoding. The GPU core is just not fast enough to handle the H.264 off loading and as such I feel the HDMI and HDCP support is really just fluff. Sticking with VGA and DVI would have been fine for most users.
The rest of the chipset is pretty standard but includes enough options to keep most budget users and business users satisified.
As of this writing, I haven’t been able to get pricing on any retail AMD 690 motherboards but I would expect them to start showing up as the week progresses; I’ll update this article as the pricing shows up.
As for estimates, AMD is claiming that these boards will be found for well under $100, making them a good pricing competitor in regards to both the NVIDIA 6150 chipset and the Intel 965G chipset that are usually priced higher. This is definitely a budget solution meant for media center boxes or business users so even a $10 price difference can mean a lot.
The RS690 chipset reintroduces the world to chipsets by AMD — and for its intended audience it is a complete success. Users looking for a budget computer for an HTPC or businesses looking for an alternative to current offerings, the AMD 690 chipset fits the bill. There are some issues that will stick out like sore thumbs for enthusiasts including the lack of a stronger integrated GPU and the lack of support for HD Avivo, but if you can live with those, then give AMD’s new RS690 chipset a try.
Be sure to use our price checking engine to find the best prices on ATI/AMD chipset motherboards, and anything else you may want to buy!