One sunny day at FS…
Bob: Hey, what's up with that system you're running over there? It doesn't have a video card!
Me: Yeah, I know, I'm using the video that's integrated on the chipset.
Bob: Integrated video! Why?
Me: I figured I'd do an article comparing the integrated video on today's latest chipsets from Intel, VIA, and ALi.
Bob: Yeah, but why would I want integrated video?
Me: It's not for you or me, but our parents! Think of all the times you've had to build systems for your sisters or mom and dad. Wouldn't it be great if you could just build them an inexpensive box that's easy to upgrade? When they're ready for more performance, just throw in a GeForce card or sound board and everything works like a snap.
Bob: Oh yeah! You're right, that would make things so much easier. They can get their word processing/Solitaire on, maybe even a little bit of Starcraft. Then, when they've got a bit more money, throw in a decent video card if they want a little more power.
Me: Yeap, and the system wouldn't cost them anything more than $500 because you don't have to pay for separate sound and video cards. All you need is a CPU, RAM, floppy, CD-ROM, and hard drive to get the basic system up and running.
Bob: Ah, I see. Well, carry on with your testing my FS brother…
Okay, maybe he didn't say that part.
Integration. It's coming
With the GeForce 2's and Pentium 4's stealing most of the news headlines, it's pretty easy to forget about the hardware on the low-end of the market. However, with more efficient designs and more advanced manufacturing technologies, an increasing number of components are becoming integrated into each other.
To system manufacturers, these integrated components are an important key to cutting system costs. After all, if you can find one component that performs the same tasks as two or three separate products, you effectively reduce the amount of time it takes to manufacture the system.
Traditionally, system vendors have integrated discrete chips for audio and video on the motherboard itself. As time went on, some chip manufacturers (including NVIDIA) offered solutions with audio and video integrated on a single chip. System manufacturers have used both of these methods throughout their PC lineups to keep system manufacturing costs down.
With newer chipsets such as 815, Aladdin TNT2, and VIA's brand new PM133, this level of integration has been taken to another level -- right down to the system chipset.
Today we're here to wrap up the performance of each of these offerings. Not only did we test the video and office application performance of each of these chipsets with integrated video, we also threw on a GeForce2 MX 3D accelerator to wrap things up. First, lets quickly go over our new combatants.