The benchmark results progressed as we anticipated, and followed the natural rule of greater graphics power resulting in higher game scores and framerates. Certainly no surprise there, but the benchmarks did confirm the AMD claims, and showed that Hybrid Graphics is a potentially valuable feature, and one that offers very real framerate increases for potential upgrades. Of course, the reality of Hybrid Graphics is that it only makes sense if you already own an AMD 780G motherboard, and the price-performance of adding a Radeon HD 3450/3470 card makes sense. After all, if your upgrade budget can handle a dedicated GeForce 8600 GT, Radeon X1650 XT or HD 2600 card, then performance will be higher than Hybrid Graphics can offer.
One of the most impressive features of the AMD 780G and its Radeon HD 3200 integrated graphics is simply that it works as advertised. Certainly, performance is the top challenge facing integrated graphics, but game compatibility ranks right up there as well. As stated earlier, getting all of the game benchmarks to run correctly is always a potential issue in any IGP performance evaluation, but the AMD 780G was indistinguishable from a dedicated video card, and easily handled everything we tossed at it.
Throughout the benchmark testing, we wanted to evaluate the performance and features of the new AMD 780G chipset, and its integrated Radeon HD 3200 graphics core. This meant full testing in both standard and Hybrid Graphics modes, across a wide range of game environments. Although we had planned to include an integrated graphics core, we wanted to stay away from too many comparisons to dedicated video cards. But that doesn't mean we didn't test a few out to see how the AMD 780G stacked up.
In terms of overall GPU architecture, the Radeon HD 3200 core is essentially a lower clocked version of the Radeon HD 3450 video card, and exhibits similar performance. In terms of NVIDIA cards, the GeForce 8400 GS would be an adequate comparison, although the HD 3200 does offer a 3DMark06 score on par with the GeForce 8500 GT.
When used in Hybrid Graphics mode, the AMD 780G + Radeon HD 3450 shows increased performance, and in terms of raw power, moves into GeForce 7600GS/Radeon X1600 territory. This is certainly nothing to get too excited about if you already have a dedicated video card, but it's a nice step forward for integrated graphics, and gives us a point of reference for any potential upgrades.
One other factor worth mentioning is the potential speed increase that a full HT 3.0 link could provide. Unfortunately, this is only available when using the latest Phenom processors, and as these are power-hungry quad cores, it doesn't fit in with the overall design of the 780G platform. The AMD 780G seems tailor fit for a lower power dual-core, even tri-core, Phenom processor, but these models have yet to be released. This results in a platform best suited to a 45W Athlon X2, but one designed to run best with a Phenom.
The AMD 780G platform prides itself on its miserly power usage, and AMD advertises the 780G Northbridge as using 15W of power at load, while the SB700 checks in at only 4.5W. Both chips uses approximately 1W at idle. This definitely piqued our interest, as did the 45W AMD Athlon X2 4850, and AMD's intention to push the 780G chipset in the power-conscious HTPC market. We put this to the test with the same hardware configuration we used in the benchmark testing.
At idle, the AMD 780G platform used between 55W and 60W, and while running a high-end 3D game test, power usage ramped up to the 90-95W range. Our torture test of a Sandra CPU benchmark plus the PCMark Vantage Gaming test (to be sure both the CPU and GPU were fired up) all running concurrently only pushed the system to the 95-100W level, with a few spikes over the 100W barrier. These are excellent results, and sticking under 100W in a demanding environment is very impressive.
Part of this comes from the low power components, like the processor and chipset, but there are also design considerations as well. The Gigabyte board was a power-saving mATX model, with no cooling fans present on either the Northbridge or Southbridge. This space-saving, low-noise design also pays off in the power department, and automatically offers lower power usage than a high-end platform with NB/SB cooling fans on a full-size ATX or Extended ATX format.
Please keep in mind that these numbers relate to total system power consumption, of which the chipset is only one part.