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Radeon 9100 IGP vs value VGA - Getting acquainted
Value graphics, a dirty word in the vocabulary of gaming is something that we love to ignore but times maybe changing thanks to ATI. The ability of a integrated graphics chipset to rival value graphics cards is something that dreams were made of. The Radeon 9100 IGP aims to make that dream a reality.

When ATI first released this product in June it was greeted with open arms, being seen as more competition for Intel and greater choice in the Pentium 4 chipset market, where competition is very welcome. ATI took things a step further with the announcement of the Mobility Radeon 9100 IGP, which we believe is the hottest mobile chipset this year. Sticking to matters in hand, the Radeon 9100 IGP aims to provide gamers who want to spend 400 on a system rather than on a single graphics card some quality gaming action.

That may sound silly and downright cheeky to many of you, but there's a huge market for value PCs, and although such a market seems currently restrained to the United States, here in Europe there are signs that the age of ever increasing costs for acceptable performance levels are waning and that's most certainly a good thing.

NVIDIA's nForce platform has proved to be a jewel in the crown of the swashbuckling graphics card designer. In its first revision, it failed to ignite the AMD Athlon world with mediocre performance. Unperturbed, NVIDIA launched the nForce 2 about 12 months ago. To this day it remains the chipset of choice on the AMD Athlon XP platform. ATI, opting for the Pentium 4 platform and going for the value market (as opposed to the high-end targeted by the nForce 2), is looking at a much wider audience. It also means that any mistake could cost ATI dearly. ATI needed to enter this market to ensure "the survival of the company" says Norbert Kuperjans, Director of Technical Marketing. ATI can take heart from that fact that although NVIDIA failed with their first effort in the motherboard chipset business, they came back stronger and became the undisputed market leader with their second product.

The Pentium 4 platform needs more chipset vendors. Although Intel produce solid chipsets, giving users a choice other than a 875P, 865PE/P/G or 848 is vitally important. The unusual thing is that ATI have made this product for customers looking to spend 60-70 on a motherboard, but have included technologies that are present on high-end 120 units. Technologies such as 800MHz FSB, dual channel DDR 400, HyperThreading are all supported.

ATI, regardless of the technologies present in the Radeon 9100 IGP are adamant that this is a value product. What made things more interesting was the notion thrown that the integrated graphics capabilities of the Radeon 9100 IGP was able to compete with the latest generation of add-in video cards also aimed for the value segment.

This produces a very enticing prospect. What if you could get the performance equivalent of a value graphics card such as the Geforce 4 MX 440 or even the Geforce FX 5200 without having to purchase such a card? Instead of spending 70 on a motherboard and 60 on a graphics card you could just spend 70 on a motherboard and get the same performance. We find out whether it really is too good to be true.

As price-to-performance will be playing a large part in our final decision here are the prices of the three units at the time of writing:

Geforce 4 MX 440 64MB - ~50 including VAT
Geforce FX 5200 64MB - ~60 including VAT
Radeon 9100 IGP motherboard - ~75 including VAT (not widely available in the UK for a few weeks)

To clarify, the aim of this article is to see whether the Radeon 9100 IGP solution, coming in at around 75, is able to compete with a discrete solution that will require the user to purchase a motherboard separately, totalling over 110.