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Gigabyte MA69GM-S2H Motherboard Review - AMD690 Update

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Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Gigabyte
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The AMD 690 Chipset Gets Updated

AMD 690 Chipset - Back Again


A few months ago, AMD released its first new chipset in years in partnership with their newly acquired partner, ATI.  The chipset combined a base-level integrated graphics core based on the Radeon X1000 series of GPUs and even HD playback to bring a new IGP solution to the AMD AM2 platform. 


This month, AMD and their motherboard partners are releasing an update to the chipset in form of improved overclocking ability and better HD decoding performance.  By simply tweaking the BIOS and making some driver enhancements AMD is hoping to make the AMD 690G chipset more appealing to potential users.


We'll cover the improved overclocking ability in our BIOS features section a bit later, but I'll describe what AMD is doing on the HD playback front here.  While the integrated graphics core on the AMD 690 chipset doesn't have any of the UVD features that we saw introduced on the Radeon HD 2000 series, AMD is claiming that their chipset coupled with an adequately fast processor can now playback 1080p content smoothly.  The phrase "adequately fast processor" should be clarified some:










































 


Format


X2 CPU Speed


Min Memory


Windows Vista


MPEG2


1.8 GHz


2 GB


VC-1


2.2 GHz


2 GB


H.264


2.4 GHz


2 GB


Windows XP


MPEG2


1.8 GHz


1 GB


VC-1


2.2 GHz


1 GB


H.264


2.4 GHz


1 GB


Basically, you can see that you'll need a decent speed Athlon X2 processor to get the highest quality, H.264 encoded video (including latest Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs) to playback smoothly.  It's not surprising to see that the move from Windows XP to Windows Vista will cost you another 1 GB of memory minimum. 


Since the on-board graphics core on the AMD 690G doesn't have any HD decode features on it, I am curious if these decode requirements would apply to other AMD-platform chipsets.  In other words, what does the AMD 690 chipset actually do in this case?  AMD is claiming that they have tweaked the communication between the IGP and CPU in order to increase performance for video processing as well as gaming.  The benefit of this configuration though is that you don't need a discrete graphics card from either AMD or NVIDIA in order to watch HD video on your PC -- that means lower power consumption and lower price.


Motherboard Specifications (from Gigabyte's USA Website)































BIOS

  1. 1 4Mbit flash ROM
  2. Use of licensed AWARD BIOS
  3. PnP 1.0a, DMI 2.0, SM BIOS 2.3, ACPI 1.0b
Chipset

  1. North Bridge Chipset: AMD 690G
  2. South Bridge Chipset: ATI SB600
  3. Super I/O chip: ITE IT8716
  4. Integrated Peripherals

    1. Realtek RTL8110 Gigabit Ethernet
    2. Realtek ALC889A Audio Codec
Processor

  1. AMD Socket AM2 Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core / Athlon 64 / Sempron processors
Internal I/O Connectors

  1. 1 24-pin ATX power connector
  2. 1 4-pin ATX 12V power connector
  3. 1 floppy connector
  4. 1 IDE connector
  5. 4 SATA 3Gb/s connector
  6. 1 CPU fan header
  7. 1 system fan header
  8. 1 front panel header
  9. 1 front audio header r
  10. 1 CD In connector
  11. 1 SPDIF In/Out header
  12. 1 TV Out header
  13. 2 IEEE 1394a header
  14. 3 USB 2.0/1.1 header for additional 6 USB 2.0/1.1 ports by cables
  15. 1 Parallel port header
  16. 1 Serial port header
  17. 1 Power LED header
  18. 1 Chassis Intrusion header
Rear Panel I/O

  1. 1 PS/2 keyboard port
  2. 1 PS/2 mouse port
  3. 1 D-Sub port
  4. 1 DVI-D port (Note 2)
  5. 1 HDMI port
  6. 1 Optical SPDIF Out port
  7. 1 IEEE 1394a port
  8. 4 USB 2.0/1.1 port
  9. 1 RJ-45 LAN port
  10. 6 audio jacks (Line In / Line Out / MIC In/Surround Speaker Out (Rear Speaker Out)/Center/Subwoofer Speaker Out/Side Speaker Out)
(Note 2) The DVI-D port does not support D-Sub connection by adaptor.
Expansion Slots

  1. 1 PCI Express x 16 slot
  2. 1 PCI Express x 4 slot
  3. 2 PCI slot
H/W Monitoring

  1. System voltage detection
  2. CPU / System temperature detection
  3. CPU / System fan speed detection
  4. CPU / System warning temperature
  5. CPU fan failure warning
  6. Supports CPU Smart Fan function (Note 3)
(Note 3) Whether the CPU Smart FAN Control function is supported will depend on the CPU you install.
Other Features

  1. Supports @BIOS
  2. Supports Download Center
  3. Supports Q-Flash
  4. Supports EasyTune (only supports Hardware Monitor function) (Note 4)
  5. Supports Xpress Install
  6. Supports Xpress Recovery2
  7. Supports Xpress BIOS Rescue
(Note 4) EasyTune functions may vary depending on different motherboards.
Memory

  1. 4 DDR2 DIMM memory slots (supports up to 16GB memory)(Note 1)
  2. Supports dual channel DDR2 800/667/533/400 DIMMs
  3. Supports 1.8V DDR2 DIMMs
(Note 1) Due to the limitation of Windows 32-bit operating system, when more than 4GB of physical memory is installed, the actual memory available for the operating system will be less than 4GB; Windows 64-bit operating system doesn't have such limitation.

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