We’re taking a look at Intel’s first attempt at a full-featured media center motherboard, the DG45ID. It’s also our first look at their new G45 Express chipset, which promises to finally bring DX 10 support and hardware-accelerated HD video playback to their integrated graphics offerings. Can the DG45ID prove itself a worthy choice for your HTPC?
At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a fully-detailed look at how we conduct our testing.
If there is a bit of information that we’ve omitted, or you wish to throw off recommendations or suggest changes, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post in our forums.
When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:
No hardware during our performance reviews is changed during testing, except for the product-type being reviewed, of course. Our current configuration is as follows:
Intel Core 2 Duo E7200 (Wolfdale 45nm, 2.53GHz)
Intel DG45ID (Intel G45-based, Driver 184.108.40.2069)
ASUS P5E-VM HDMI (Intel G35-based, Driver 18.11)
OCZ 4GB DDR2-800 Reaper HTC (DDR2-800 5-5-5-15)
Intel GMA X3500 (G35 GMCH, Driver 18.11)
Intel GMA X4500HD (G45 GMCH, Driver 220.127.116.115)
ASUS EN9600GT Silent 512MB (NVIDIA 174.53)
Onboard HD Audio, ITC Codec
PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500
Intel Stock Heatsink, Interior Airflow
For our testing, we use Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit. We’ve chosen to stick to a 64-bit Windows because throughout the past year of usage, we find it to be much more stable than the 32-bit counterpart.
Once we set up our OS’, nothing changes unless we revamp our entire methodology.
In an attempt to deliver accurate results, games that we test with are played through manually, with the average FPS recorded with the help of FRAPS 2.9.4. In our personal tests, we have found that manually benchmarking games is the best way to deliver accurate results, since time demos rely heavily on the CPU.
In order to deliver the best results, each title we choose is explored to find the best possible level for our benchmarking. Once a level is chosen, we play through in order to find the best route, and then in future runs, we stick to that route as close as possible. We are not robots, so we cannot make sure that each run is identical, but they will never be far off from each other. As we see in our results, scaling is good, so we are confident that our methodology is a good one.
Half-Life 2: Episode Two
In this article, we’ll be testing Half-Life 2: Episode Two. Please note that the settings used for testing with IGPs are different than those we use when testing systems based on discrete graphics processors. IGPs typically lack the oomph to tackle antialiasing or high levels of anisotropic filtering.
We also eschew our typical 2560×1600 mode testing, since there’s no point in making the integrated graphics processor struggle needlessly at resolutions that you’re not likely to attempt to run on an integrated-graphics motherboard. While we attempt to test each game at a resolution of 1680×1050 (which is often far too demanding on many IGPs, and usually unplayable), for this review we’ll be testing the game at a resolution of 1280×1024 pixels – for reasons we’ll explain later in the article.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare
To further put the motherboard’s integrated graphics core to the test, we run through a level of Activision’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. CoD4 is run at a resolution of 1680×1050 pixels, which we feel is the highest reasonable resolution to attempt with an IGP, and corresponds to the native resolution of most 20″-22″ widescreen monitors.
On the next page, we’ll kick off our results with SYSmark 2007 Preview.