To test we used our usual set of benchmarks using an AMD X2 5200+, running at 2.6GHz and 2GB of Corsair CMX1024-6400C4 running at 800MHz with latency settings of 4-4-4-12. For comparison we selected an equivalent Intel system, with a Viiv motherboard and a CPU that comes out at around the same price as the AMD system. For this we used an MSI G965MDH, based on Intel G965 chipset and a Core 2 Duo E6300. The same hard disk and RAM was used on both platforms.
In practice however, the testing proved not to be quite as dramatic as we’d hoped. It turns out all our games, except Counter-Strike: Source, would only run on one or other of the systems which made comparison difficult. In this game then we found that at a resolution of 640 x 480 the X1250 far outstrips the capabilities of the Intel chip, which cannot even run the game at an acceptable frame rate. The Intel board would not run our Battlefield 2 and Call of Duty test but equally the AMD would not run Quake 4 or Prey.
Clearly then neither of these is really up to high-level gaming, which is disappointing but not too big a deal. However, for something like the Sims (ed…noooooo) or World of Warcraft on a large TV, this would be ideal. Still, gaming isn’t really where these are aiming and a PCI Express slot is available should you need it. On the upside the board proved reliable and sailed through our 2D tests without any crashes.
In 2D the Intel system proved to be faster on balance, but we already know about the prowess of Intel’s Core 2 Duo architecture. In practice the AMD board system is more likely to be fitted in a media centre system where a low voltage lower clocked CPU will make more sense.
On the performance front then only the Counter-Strike: Source test really shows the potential for this board, which means that it’s down to the HDMI port to lead as the star feature on this system.
The SRP for this board is just over £50, so it should be cheaper on the high street, making it a very affordable and attractive system. The performance is there should you need it, though we still wouldn’t recommend using it for anything but the most undemanding games. As an affordable media centre board though, it will do very nicely, though with the absence of a DVI port, we’d only really want to connect it to a suitably equipped TV or the BenQ FP241W.
A small, passively cooled, well featured motherboard, with the benefit of an integrated HDMI port that will pass through audio without cables. This is a fantastic feature to have for the price. If you’re hooking up to an HDMI equipped display, the MSI K9AGM2-FIH is a very powerful argument for going AMD.