Exclusive first look: AMD’s blistering budget 690 chipset

AMD claims that its first foray into the chipset market has the best integrated GPU for running Vista’s Aero theme – and it may have a point.

Exclusive first look: AMD's blistering budget 690 chipset

The AMD 690 chipset is the first fruit to be borne of the company’s $5 billion purchase of graphics company ATi last year. Boards featuring the chipset are expected to retail for around £50, in a clear attempt to significantly undercut comparatively featured Intel boards. Add in the cost of AM2 Athlon 64 CPU and some DDR2 RAM and you could build a Vista-capable PC for well under £200, plus the cost of Windows.

The chipset comes in two flavours, the premium 690G and the more restrictive 690V. We tested two 690G boards, both of which feature HDMI outputs for HDCP-protected video and audio. And our exclusive first tests produced amazing results. Watching video in Vista’s Flip 3D window selector produced no stuttering, while Aero’s window animations were impressively smooth. By comparison, our test system with Nvidia’s Nforce 430 chipset saw jerky window animations and noticeably choppy video in Flip3D.

AMD has always boasted that its ‘open platform’ philosophy – where every chipset maker is encouraged to support AMD processors – creates competition and, therefore, better products for customers. With the release of the AMD 690 nothing really changes in this department; AMD insists that Nvidia, SiS and VIA will continue to provide new products for AMD processors.

For the full details on what else 690 has to offer, and for our exclusive verdict on which board to buy, pick up issue 151 of PC Pro, in shops from 15 March.

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