The AMD 780G chipset is the first new chipset that was designed by AMD after the AMD/ATI merger and it performs like a winner. Usually when a company designs a chipset with integrated graphics they just take half of a desktop GPU and stick it inside the chipset, but the 780G is the first chipset generation to have the whole graphics engine inside. Basically, the 780G has an RV620 (HD3450) inside and that is why the board has features like Hybrid Graphics. When it comes to Hybrid Graphics video cards like the RV610 (Radeon HD 2400) and RV620 (Radeon HD 3450) will work, but RV635 and above cards will not work. By using the whole graphics engine inside and adding new features the transistor count on the tripled and the die size is larger than the 690G chipset. What is shocking though is that the idle power of the 780G is only 0.95W, which is less than then 1.40W found on the 690G chipset. AMD has really worked on the idle power optimizations in this series of chipsets and it really shows in the power consumption numbers. Our entire test system would idle at 45W and that was with the memory running 800MHz with agressive CL4 timings that needed 2.1V to operate. If the memory timings were relaxed to CL5 at 800MHz the voltage could be backed down to 1.8V, which lowered the idle Wattage under 45W! For those that are wondering the chipset TFP for the 780G is 15W and the SB700 is 4W. This platform is ideal for office settings where computers will run all the time or for those that are looking for something ‘green’ for the environment.
If you are looking for RAID 5 support the current 780G/SB700 boards are not for you, but AMD is working on a new south bridge called the SB750. The SB750 is due to come out in Q2 2008 and is nothing more than a tweaked SB700 with RAID 5 support. AMD didn’t want to hold the launch of the 780G platform for just RAID 5 support and rightly so as the 780G/SB700 are a great combination. AMD expects system builders to sell AMD 780G powered systems in the $499 price range, which is a lucrative price point for all the features that it has to offer.
The Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard is a great example of what the 780G chipset can do when properly used. The board didn’t leave us with any bad to say as it was found to be stable with a BIOS that could easily worked with. The Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H is also priced right at just $99 plus shipping. The just released AMD Athlon X2 4850e processor that we used for testing runs right at $90. This means that for under $200 you have a platform that can playback HD content without the need of a video card and idles at 45W. With internal Blu-Ray players available for under $145 it makes you think about building a HTPC around this motherboard and processor due to the price tag alone. For well under $500 you could have a killer HTPC that is HD media ready! Looks like we will be replacing the 690G in our HTPC with the 780G in the days to come.
Legit Bottom Line: The AMD 780G chipset uses less power, offers more features and has better performance when compared to the AMD 690G chipset that it replaces. Finally, we can play both VC-1 and MPEG4 encoded HD content on our HTPC without stutters!