The MSI 785GM-E65 motherboard represents an evolutionary
step forward for AMD's integrated chipsets and the Dragon platform as a whole.
AMD has taken the 780G
chipset, popular with home theatre enthusiasts for its High Definition video
options, and brought forth small, but noticeable improvements to keep pace with
increasing technological demands and Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system.
It's true that the Radeon HD 4200 is virtually identical
to the Radeon HD 3200 IGP in every way that matters, but has been upgraded to
DirectX 10.1, equipped with Unified Video Decoder 2.0, and better hardware
acceleration for certain desktop applications. Motherboards like the MSI
785GM-E65 are fully compatible with Windows 7, and the AMD 785G integrated
graphics support all its new graphics and eyecandy options.
Under testing, PCSTATS found that the
Radeon HD 4200 IGP was a little faster than the Radeon HD 3200 IGP it's
replacing, even though both of them share a 500MHz core clock speed. Both of
these IGPs lose out to the more-expensive Radeon HD 3300 found on AMD 790GX motherboards, which is blessed with a 700MHz
core clock speed, but again the point is largely moot.
None of these IGPs are capable of playing current games
at acceptable resolutions or detail settings, so paying extra money for more IGP
gaming performance is a dead-end. If you're a gamer and you're eyeing an AMD
785G motherboard, save up some extra money and get yourself a Radeon HD 4770 videocard to go along with it.
As you saw, PCSTATS tested the AMD 785 chipset with ATI
Stream, to see just how good a GPU-accelerated desktop really is. When programs
are able to fully harness the abilities of the Radeon HD 4200, the results can
be pretty compelling, with noticeable performance gains in graphics-heavy and
transcoding applications. The biggest drawback right now to ATI Stream is its
limited software support. There simply aren't all that many programs that take
advantage of discrete graphics or IGPs at this point in time.
MSI's 785GM-E65 microATX motherboard is a good platform
which is really feature-ladden. An equivalent MicroATX board from Intel would be
spartan by feature-comparison. There's support for AMD's latest socket AM3
processors, it can handle up to 16GB of DDR3 memory at speeds of DDR3
800/1066/1333, has five SATA 3Gb/s connections (RAID 0/1/0+1/JBOD) and of course
HDMI/DVI/VGA outputs. The only real sacrifice is that it has only one PCI
Express x16 slot, so CrossfireX isn't a possibility, but that's likely not
something you'd want to be doing on a micro-ATX motherboard anyway.
Performance-wise the MSI
785GM-E65 motherboard was a small but solid step ahead of previous AMD chipsets,
and is an excellent match for AMD's new Athlon II X2 250 processor. With DDR3
memory rapidly dropping in price, it's easy to build a versatile micro-ATX
system for under $500 CDN, and getting a decent videocard for
games will only run another $100 CDN or so.
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If you're already running one of AMD's previous
700-series chipsets as the basis for a current PC, the AMD 785G chipset isn't a
dramatic enough change to warrant an upgrade. However the MSI 785GM-E65 and the
AMD 785G chipset is easy to recommend to anyone who has purchased a new socket
AM3 processor and wants to put it into an affordable but fully-featured
motherboard. It's versatile, stable, performs well, and best of all at $95 CDN, ($90 USD, £55 GBP), it's the same price as the
AMD 780G motherboards it replaces - that's value you can take to the bank!
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