Intel's G45 Express chipset

The Tech Report: "There was a time when enthusiasts had little interest in integrated graphics chipsets. At best, we only considered the IGPs of yesteryear as platforms for the next PC we'd build our mothers or corporate desktops we'd deploy to the masses of slack-jawed users in our domains. Older integrated graphics solutions simply didn't have the graphics horsepower to run games-not just at acceptable frame rates, but at all-and they didn't offer much in the way of video playback acceleration.

Lately, however, integrated graphics chipsets have enjoyed a renaissance. AMD and Nvidia are using functional blocks ripped from their high-end GPU architectures, assuring not only broad compatibility with games, but surprisingly adequate performance. These graphic cores have also been bestowed with dedicated video processing engines that serve up silky Blu-ray playback with even an Econobox sub-$100 CPU. And the chipsets as a whole have become quite energy-efficient, too, capturing the attention of enthusiasts looking to build silent PCs for their living rooms.

AMD and Nvidia have moved the goal posts forward by quite a leap with their latest integrated graphics chipsets, but what about Intel? The chip giant is the overwhelming integrated graphics sales leader, commanding the lion's share of the overall graphics market on the strength of its IGP business alone. What does Intel's latest G45 Express integrated graphics platform bring to the table?

* DirectX 10-class unified shader architecture? Check.
* Full Blu-ray decode acceleration? Check.
* Second-generation PCI Express slot for discrete graphics upgrades? Check.
* Proven south bridge with all the feature boxes, er, checked? Check.
* Front-side bus that hooks into the spoils of Intel's Core 2 processor lineup? Bonus!"

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