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Wednesday, 15 August 2007 11:01

MSI G33 MS7357 IGP board tested

Written by Sanjin Rados

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Review: How good are G33 graphics?

 
MSI G33 M7357 is a motherboard with integrated graphics and it should be interesting to anyone who doesn’t find graphics that important, and wants to get a good deal in buying an office computer. This combination of chipset with graphics processor in the chip is quite convenient for the OEM market, so we often find computer configurations with some integrated solutions. The prices of these computers are lower than discrete graphics systems’ prices, but the capabilities are also proportionally lower.

Intel's graphics media accelerator GMA 3100 is a part of G33 Express chipset and it’s capable of running Vista Aero, high-definition video content, usual office applications, and gaming on low resolutions. If you really want real PCIe graphics, Bearlake G33 Express chipset with one PCI Express x16 port, isn’t much slower than mainstream oriented P35 Express chipset. However, P35 scores better, especially while overclocking, and G33 just can’t top it.

When we talk of new generation of Intel chipsets, integrated graphics have three iterations, two of which are already available. The cheapest version is named G31, somewhere in the middle is our tested G33, while G35 will be a top product and we’re expecting it soon. At the same time it will be more interesting to readers, while G33 and G31 are more OEM orientated. G33 Express saves power, so thermal dissipation of the chipset (including G33 and ICH9 together) will be less than 20W.

G31 still uses the old Input/Output Controller Hub (ICH) ICH7, supports only DDR2 800 memories, it is limited by system bus of 1066MHz, but it will support 45nm processors as well as current Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors. Of course, besides all that it’s cheaper.
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Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3100 is a common feature of both G31 and G33, and it is still only DirectX 9c and it supports Shader model 2.0 and OpenGL 1.4. Although we don’t see Shader model 3.0 or 4.0, DirectX 9c is a prerequisite for Vista compatibility and the “Vista ready” sticker.

The top of the offer, G35, supports DirectX 10, Intel claims. It is based on the new graphics media accelerator 3500, with Shader model 4.0, OpenGL 2.0 and it will replace currently popular G965 chipset. The new and the old chipsets will be pin-compatible and they will use the same ICH8 Southbridge. We learned from Intel that the driver for this chipset will solve many game and application compatibility problems.

G33 Express chipset is not supposed to replace the G965, but rather the lower 945G model, and it comes with new Input/Output controller version ICH9. Apart from the standard options, options with RAID support (ICH9R) or Digital-Home option (ICH9DH) are also available. New features of ICH9 Southbridge are twelve USB 2.0 plugs, and integrated native support for port multiplayer and port disable on eSATA ports.

This chipset supports the latest multi-core processors up to FSB 1333 as well as upcoming 45 nanometer quad core Yorkfield and dual core Wolfdale processors. All Core 2 Duo, Pentium dual core and Celeron processors are supported, but those based on Netburst architecture are not. We’re talking about Pentium D, Pentium Extreme, Pentium 4 and Celeron D. The exception are Celeron 400 series and Intel Pentium Dual core E2000 series that are supported.

With the third generation of chipsets, Intel decided to offer DDR3 memory support, and we can see that in G33 and P35 Express chipsets. For now, the only DDR3 memory supported is 1066MHz, but that is about to change as X38 chipset is about to be launched, and it is supposed to support the new PCI Express 2.0 standard.

The G33, as a weaker version of this chipset, is not likely to offer DDR3 support. G33 Express currently supports DDR2 memory 677/800MHz, but also DDR3 memory running at 1066MHz. MSI G33 works with DDR2 800/667MHz memory with system bus at 1333/1066/800MHz.

Some already seen options like Turbo Memory are featured in the G33 chipset. Combined with ICH9R Southbridge, Turbo Memory can be seen as PCIe 1x card or NAND memory on the motherboard. It has a task of improving the system performance or speeding up the boot process.

It is time to take a look at the MSI G33 motherboard and its characteristics.

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Last modified on Friday, 07 September 2007 10:43
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