updated 11:55 am EDT, Wed August 6, 2008
AMD 790GX Chipset
AMD on Wednesday sought to please two extremes of computer users at once through the unveiling of its 790GX mainboard chipset. The platform is focused on gamers and includes a new southbridge chip that allows overclocking Phenom Black Edition processors without entering the BIOS; it also supports CrossFire for up to two add-in Radeon HD video cards. However, even entry users are accomodated, AMD says: the chipset integrates the new Radeon HD 3300, which is billed as the fastest onboard graphics system available. Tests have it competing with some recent stand-alone cards, while AMD says it can support both modern 3D effects as well as hardware decoding of 1080p video.
Those users in between the budget and gamer divisions can also save on power, AMD points out. Hybrid CrossFireX support lets owners add a Radeon HD 2400 or 3400 series dedicated video card and dynamically switch between these and the integrated graphics to conserve energy when the advanced 3D of the stand-alone card isn't necessary. The Radeon HD 3300 itself also supports newer display formats such as DisplayPort and HDMI for newer screens and HDTVs.
As with most of AMD's computer chipsets in the past, the company itself won't sell mainboards based on 790GX but instead is turning to third parties such as ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI to produce designs of their own. These should be offering boards very soon at prices that vary depending on the feature set.