Okay I need to wrap up this article. What I left out in this review was the fact that the embedded GPU in the mainboard also is an excellent HD UVD video decoder (Avivo HD functionality). Before ending my tests I did quickly inserted a HD-DVD (yeah I know!) and played Bourne Identity (VC-1) decoding with PowerDVD over the embedded GPU. The overall CPU load remained roughly at 50% ... so that's 50% still free. At that point it was decoding at 1080P, that's just awesome stuff. Two minor downsides are the lack of High-Definition sound pass-through, and good enough, a you will not achieve a perfect score in HQV and HD HQV, a quick test gave me 52 out of 100 points.
So while the AMD 780G series is not exactly targeted at the high-end enthusiast audience, you have to admit that what we have shown you today is pretty darn impressive. Honesty, I wouldn't mind having my work PC to be based on this 780G chipset. It's performing really well, is very energy aware and just offers a very decent set of features. The only thing I can think of it lacked, was a DVI port and better overclocking options in the BIOS, that would have been nice. But for 70 USD, not bad.
Also this, follow me here, if you drop 80 bucks on the ECS mainboard as tested today, and another 80 bucks on the X2 4850 processor ... then all you need is a PSU, HD, DDR2 memory (dirt cheap these days) and a chassis. For less than 300-350 USD you can build an excellent HTPC. The mainboard comes with full HDMI (video& audio), plenty of features and connectivity and the embedded GPU is powerful enough to decode your HD streams over the GPU.
The Hybrid technology while fun to play around with unfortunately is not very realistic. Problem is you need to match the GPU's and with this mainboard adding a Radeon 3450 does work performance wise, yet is by far not enough for today's gaming experience. So the idea is cool, yet gamers will opt on a far better graphics card anyway, like the Radeon 3850/3870.
But that aside, what I'm seeing here today is pure value versus really good features and low power consumption. And I find that might impressive. So please, think outside the high-end scope for a minute and have a good look what we actually have been showing you today.
The ECS "Black Series" A780GM-A mainboard is a good example of what the 780G chipset can do for you when properly implemented. It comes in an aesthetically pleasing way, easy to use BIOS and at a very fair price. I'm seriously considering building a Full HD HTPC out of the platform we showed you today ...
This week we'll receive a AMD revision B3 Phenom processor, I can't wait to see how well it will perform on that. So yeah, I'm impressed by this mainboard, and I don't say that very often, especially in this price range.
AMD 780G & Athlon X2 4850e (ECS A780GM-A) Granted, usually I'm not the one to get excited about budget integrated mainboards. But at the CeBIT AMD announced their 780G chipset, and for the first time in history I was pretty excited about the technology. In addition to releasing the low-power 55nm RS780 chipset AMD has also brought forward another energy efficient pile 'o transistors under the name of Athlon X2 4850e. We'll take a look at that one as well.