RSS Feed

HCW Tech Blog

For the latest info on computer hardware, tech, news, video games, software tips, and Linux, check out our new improved front page: HCW Tech Blog

Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [10.07.04]
Manufactured by: ATI and Intel
Motherboards supplied by Gigabyte


The Specs

Now let's have a look at the hardware specs of these chipsets, and theoretical performance numbers.






  Core speed (MHz) Pixel pipelines Fill rate (MPixels/s) Texture unites per pipeline Fill Rate (MTexels/s)
ATI 9100 Pro IGP 300 2 600 1 600
Intel Extreme Graphics 2 266 1 266 2 532
Intel GMA 900 333 4 1333 1 1333
ATI Radeon x300 325 4 1300 1 1300

One thing is clear when looking at this chart: No matter how EXTREME the name is, the "Extreme Graphics 2" on the 865G is terribly outdated. Otherwise note how well-matched the more conservatively named "Graphics Media Accelerator 900" is to the $100 video card.

Video performance isn't all about clock speed and fill rate though; the card has to sport some nice memory bandwidth, and hardware shader support to be able to play today's games. Let's see how they stack up in that regard:

  Memory Speed (MHz) Memory bus width (bits) Memory bandwidth (GB/s) Pixel shader version Vertex shader support
ATI 9100 Pro IGP 200 128 6.4 1.4 (DX8) 1.1 (Hardware)
Intel Extreme Graphics 2 133 128 2.1 none none
Intel GMA 900 266 128 8.5 2.0 (DX9) 2.0 (Software emulation)
ATI Radeon x300 200 128 6.4 2.0 (DX9) 2.0 (Hardware)

Once again, the 865G is dead right out of the gates. The GMA 900 used on the 915G chipset fares a little better here, thanks to software vertex shader support. We still have yet to see a true DirectX 9 integrated video solution however.

Overall, looking at the specs, we can probably conclude that the X300 will be the fastest, with the GMA 900 following closely. The 9100 Pro IGP should come in after that, with the Extreme Graphics 2 pulling in WAY behind.

Of course, that is all theoretical. The drivers have to stand up to today's games!

The Test

To test this mish-mash of DX8 and DX9 hardware, we tested performance with a few different games. Some old, but still well-played, such as Wolfenstein ET (thanks to the fact that it is free) and UT2K3. I also included some newer games like XPand Rally and Splinter Cell.

Nobody in their right mind is going to even attempt to enable Anisotropic filtering or Antialiasing with ANY sub-$100 card, so we're not going to go there. And we're not going to be testing over 800x600 either. On top of all that, quality settings will always remain in the "low" to "lowest" range. You'll see why when you have a look at the results ;)

Hardware Specs

s478 CPU: Intel P4 3.4 GHz Prescott (865G and 9100 Pro IGP)
lga775 CPU: Intel P4 540 (3.4 GHz) Prescott (915G)
Memory: 1 GB Kingston DDR400 3-3-4-8
Install HDD: Maxtor 80 GB ATA100 7200 RPM
SATA Test HDD: Seagate 120 GB SATA 7200.7
USB 2.0 Test HDD: Maxtor 40GB ATA100 7200 RPM

Software Specs

OS: Windows XP with SP2 and DX 9.0c
Intel Southbridge Drivers: INF Update (Dated 5/7/2004)
ATI Southbridge Drivers: (Dated 7/7/04)
Intel Video Drivers: 14.7 (Dated 8/31/2004)
ATI Video Drivers: Catalyst 4.9 (Dated 9/9/2004)

Let's get this party started, right!

Next Page: (Memory & System Performance)