As with most motherboards, there are far too many features on the ASRock AOD790GX/128 to mention in a hardware review, but I thought I would touch on a few.
Face it, for the enthusiast and gamer, onboard graphics are pretty much a joke. They work fine for nearly all PC users who spend their time surfing, reading email, watching porn, or using non-graphics intensive utilities, but for gaming, benchmarking, etc, they just don't cut it.
The main feature of the AMD 790GX chipset is integrated graphics that work either alone, or in conjunction with an ATI Radeon video card. Called "ATI Hybrid Graphics", the motherboard GPU, or "mGPU" works with the descreet video card, or "dGPU", to give better performance. Keep in mind that this extra graphics boost will be much more evident with a "mainstream" video card such as the 3600 or 4600 series, rather than an HD 4850 or 4870. The whole purpose is to build a dirt-cheap gaming rig with some kind of decent performance.
The AMD 790GX chipset uses the ATI 3300 graphics, an upgrade from their 3200 graphics, mainly due to cranking up the clockrate. I spent some time playing around with the onboard graphics, probably the first time in 6 years that I have had integrated graphics at my workstation.
I started out running a couple of DX10 gaming benchmarks, but I won't give the results here, as they were very low, as with low-end video cards, the low FPS really brings down the average. Keep in mind that we're talking about graphics compared to the lowest-end video cards, in the $50-75 range, which do no better with upper-end games.
To get a real feel for how the integrated graphics perform, I fired up Crysis. Crysis probably isn't a fair test of the overall performance of the system, I'm sure that there are other DX10 games that are much less graphics card intensive, and will perform much better than Crysis. But Crysis was the only full DX10 game I had around at the time, and it really is the one I'd want to try anyway. I turned off AA and set everything to "Low". I played the game for about an hour. It has been a while since I played games on lower-end cards, but I do remember. Crysis did play, probably as well as on the geForce 8600GT or GTS, the last generation midrange cards. No, the graphics weren't that great, there was some stuttering, but it was playable, more than can be said for nearly all other integrated graphics.
I have said in many reviews that the only overclocking software I have used that is totally stable and works well is ASRock Overclock Tuner, and after using AMD Overdrive, I still feel that way. AMD Overdrive is a dashboard that combines system monitoring and tweaking, including overclocking CPU and mGPU. There is also a link to the Catalyst Control Center.
Launch Overdrive, and you get the "System Information" screen. I did not like the black background with white graphics, I found it nearly unreadable with the monitor at 1680 x 1050. I found nowhere to change the colors. I've seen screenshots online that were white/black, but maybe they were of a different version, Overdrive has been around for some months.
The "Status Monitor" screen shows usage of CPU, GPU, and memory. There are buttons to change between them.
Overclocking is performed in the "Performance Control" screen by sliders. Besides HT, there are sliders for PCI-E frequency, motherboard GPU speed, sideport speed, and relevant voltages.
I really can't report on the performance of Overdrive, as every time I tried to raise the HT, the screen went blank and the system locked up after clicking the "Apply" button. I tried changing settings in the BIOS, looked around for some other reason why it wouldn't work, but to no avail. I'm sure I was doing something wrong, but I had no instructions. I'll do my overclocking the old-fashioned way.
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