iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






NVIDIA nForce 700a, GeForce 8000 Chipsets

For AMD processors.

August 20, 2008

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We proceed to hybrid modes. AMD 780G is generally faster again (we've taken results of Gigabyte MA78GPM-DS2H operating at the nominal frequencies). However, we were disturbed a little by image quality of the Hybrid SLI system, namely by flickering dark areas (ground, sky, all evenly-colored objects are flickering for some strange reason) in Company of Heroes. By the way, the nForce 780a chipset also supports Hybrid SLI with the same set of cards as GeForce 8200/8300, but this function does not look interesting from the practical point of view.

Configuration (Athlon 64 X2 4000+ Windsor, Cool'n'Quiet OFF) Mode Testbed power consumption, W
idle 3DMark 06
nForce 780a+GeForce 9800 GTX Power Saving 69-93 --
nForce 780a+GeForce 9800 GTX Boost Performance 117-134 170-240
GeForce 8300   58-63 73-109
GeForce 8300+GeForce 8400GS Boost Performance 66-69 89-135
AMD 780G   52-57 65-108
AMD 780G+Radeon HD 3450 Hybrid CrossFire 65-70 72-117

nForce 780a demonstrates interesting results in Hybrid Power mode. As you can see, power consumption is reduced noticeably, when power is cut from a graphics card (we measured overall power consumption of a system unit). In other words, GeForce 9800 GTX does not consume much power in idle mode as under load, it still cannot compare with the integrated graphics core in power saving. So, we confirm that it's a very useful technology. But we have several proposals for further improvement: first of all, it would have been good to automate switching modes, so that a computer automatically switched to the integrated core, when you close a 3D game. At present, you are forced to do it manually by clicking an icon in the taskbar. Secondly, it won't hurt to expand the list of cards -- it currently includes only GeForce 9800 GT/GTX/GX2 and GTX 260/280. As you plug a monitor to a motherboard in this configuration (Hybrid Power won't be activated otherwise), we also expected to see some 3D performance drop. Even if it was minimal (within 3-5%), it would still have been good to give users a choice: plug a monitor to a graphics card or to a motherboard. Even if power saving is lower in the latter case, performance won't suffer.

There are no surprises in the comparison between GeForce 8300 and AMD 780G. There is a small difference between them, and it falls within the theoretical data. The difference is minimal under maximum load, because TDP of the first chipset is higher only by 1-2 W. When idle, the AMD chipset effectively disables its computing units, cutting down its appetites almost to zero, while NVIDIA does not seem to introduce this logic to its chipsets so far.

Test Intel G35 GeForce 8200 GeForce 8300 AMD 780G
average % min-max % average % min-max % average % min-max % average % min-max %
MPEG2, 1080p, 24 fps, 16 Mbps 25 8-35 24 20-35 15 10-18 9 5-15
MPEG2, 1080i, 30 fps, 13 Mbps 35 15-50 27 20-35 18 12-23 12 5-20
H264, 1080p, 24 fps, 17 Mbps 80 50-95 15 10-20 13 10-18 10 5-15
VC1, 1080p, 24 fps, 17 Mbps 75 50-90 12 5-15 10 7-12 8 3-10

We described our test procedure and peculiarities of software configuration for HD video playback in our article about AMD 780 chipsets. Read the details there. Here we'll just supplement the table with a new column for GeForce 8300. You can see some improvements exactly where it was necessary, in MPEG2 decoding. On the contrary, the graphics core in nForce 780a is no better than the one in GeForce 8200. So from the practical point of view, a user should switch to a discrete graphics card for video playback. Fortunately, it loads a GPU much lower than games, so there will be little noise (as a rule, graphics card do not even speed up their fans).


The idea to integrate a graphics core into all chipsets looks quite natural for NVIDIA, whose strategical task has always been to promote its own graphics solutions in its chipsets. On the other hand, users start to pay attention to performance of these graphics cores even when they wouldn't have cared in other cases. In other words, if a graphics core, as in case of GeForce 8200/8300, is weaker than in AMD 780G, you have the right to expect that a motherboard on the NVIDIA chipset will be cheaper (even if you are going to use a graphics card and forget about the integrated graphics).

It would have been the right time to put the trump card (Hybrid Power support) on the table -- that is to be able to save power, if you buy a chipset and a graphics card from NVIDIA. But unfortunately, the list of graphics cards supporting this technology was very short. And it's hard to expect that users of 9600GT could succeed in power saving (especially as you have to control this mode manually, that is you must always keep it in mind). The present implementation of Hybrid Power is interesting not for top graphics cards (although power saving is already noticeable in this case), but for top SLI configurations. But in this case, consumer interest and demand for such systems is determined by how convincing results of NVIDIA cards are on the background of competitors'.

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