There are a few quad cores but the Q6600 that we might have chosen is flagged with an exclamation mark and our early stepping would not run. Other acceptable processors are dual core models that run as slow as 1.6GHz and which cost as little as £40.
It was unfortunate that we couldn’t use our Q6600 as we had test figures from an Asus P5E-VM HDMI with a G35 chipset that passed through our hands some months back. Happily the CPU test results of the Core 2 Duo E8500 and Core 2 Quad Q6600 are uncannily similar so we feel confident in comparing a 3.16GHz dual core and a 2.4GHz quad core that run on different front side bus speeds.
There is nothing to choose between the performance of the G965 and G35 but the G45 offers significantly higher performance in PCMark05 and doubles their score in 3DMark06.
Although our test results show that the E8500 and G45 combo draws less power than Q6600 and G965 we are quite sure that this is due to the different processors, rather than greater efficiency offered by the new chipset.
Just for larks we decided to see whether the extra performance of G45 yielded any tangible benefits apart from an inflated score in a benchmark and were staggered to find that we were able to play Elder Scrolls:Oblivion at 1,280×1,024 on Medium Quality settings. We’ve certainly had better gaming experiences but there’s no denying that this is new territory for Intel graphics.
Blu-ray movie playback loaded the CPU to the same low level as the other Intel chipsets and our old favourite the AMD780G. It’s been a while since we saw G35 in action and we’d need a back-to-back comparison to decide whether the new HD features in G45 make a significant difference but the benefit of dual digital graphics outputs is a sure-fire winner.
We are quite sure that any of these chipsets would be admirable candidates for inclusion in a media centre and that’s what is really significant about the DG45ID motherboard and the G45 chipset. Until the Intel board arrived by courier we were happy to acknowledge that Intel had the advantage over AMD in almost every sector of the market. The exception to that rule was media centres as the superior graphics and video decoder of AMD 780G meant that any sensible person would only consider AMD hardware in their living room but the G45 chipset levels that particular playing field.
We were thoroughly impressed by the DG45ID motherboard and G45 chipset that it’s based on. Indeed, we are quite sure it would make a superb Media Centre. It would also do equally well in pretty much any PC that wasn’t intended for serious gaming which is, what, about 95 percent of the PC market.