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Nvidia GeForce 9400 mGPU

G45 And GeForce 9400: Integrated Chipsets For Core 2
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The GeForce 9400 mGPU is based on the GeForce 9300 chipset, which we reviewed in the fall of 2008. It is based on the G86 core (GeForce 8400 GS), which means that there are 16 unified shaders. The only difference between the GeForce 9300 and the 9400 is clock speed: there is a 450 MHz core clock and 1,200 MHz shader clock for the GeForce 9300 mGPU, while the 9400 speeds up to 540 MHz core and 1,400 MHz for the shaders. Needless to say, this is sufficient horsepower to translate into a nice advantage over Intel’s offering.

Chipset Features

Although Intel’s G45 consists of the classic two-chip layout (northbridge and southbridge) and Nvidia decided to build a single-chip solution, their technical characteristics are similar. Bus speeds of up to FSB1333 are supported, as are all Core 2 processors including the Extreme Editions this time. Once again, these have to be supported by the particular motherboard, due to the high power requirements.

One x16 PCI Express slot will accept a gamer’s dedicated graphics board if he or she gets tired of the integrated unit’s performance. Other features, including 12 USB 2.0 ports, 6 SATA/300 drives with AHCI and NCQ plus RAID support, five 32-bit PCI 2.3 slots, HD audio, and Gigabit networking, can be found on any product starting at the lower mainstream.

Nvidia Features

There are some good reasons why some users might prefer the Nvidia GeForce 9400 chipset over the G45, despite Intel’s tradition of providing reliable and stable platforms. On the one hand, there is GeForce Boost, which allows plugging in an additional GeForce 8400 GS or 8500, and running it in Hybrid SLI mode, teamed up with the on-board solution. Hybrid Power, which is supposed to shut down graphics cards that aren’t used, didn’t work on our test sample, and it was mentioned as “only available in select designs” in Nvidia reviewer’s guide (Ed.: It's worth noting that this feature is, for lack of a better word, dead following the release of Nvidia's more energy-efficient GeForce GTX 260 and 280 GPUs).

On the other hand, there is the option to utilize Nvidia’s 16 unified shaders and their floating point performance to accelerate applications that were adjusted to take advantage of CUDA or PhysX. CUDA is Nvidia’s effort to bring parallel processing to mainstream applications, while PhysX is very much self-explanatory: it is about delivering more realistic physical environments in games and other simulations of reality, by utilizing the GPUs’ processing power in games optimized for the API.

PureVideo HD

Nvidia claims that 100% of the decoding workload (HDCP and video) can be offloaded to its GPUs, which we found to be very close to correct. Although we used quad-core processors, the CPU load was well below 10% at all times. Intel’s chipset showed increased CPU load on the slower test CPU, while the systems running the GeForce 9400 mGPU remained almost at the same level.

The only really confusing thing was our attempt to download the latest drivers, which can be found neither in the GeForce nor nForce 8/9 sections. Instead, you have to select nForce—which alone may be impossible for someone who is not familiar with the Nvidia portfolio—check nForce 7 series and then select nForce 730i/GeForce 9400/9300.

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  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 8 April 2009 19:09
    another article to prove that Intel IGP is inferior :D 
  • 0 Hide
    wild9 , 9 April 2009 00:14
    ..and the reason why people still buy AMD rigs :) 
  • 0 Hide
    wild9 , 9 April 2009 00:28
    Quote:
    Instead, you have to select nForce—which alone may be impossible for someone who is not familiar with the NVIDIA portfolio—check nForce 7 series and then select nForce 730i/GeForce 9400/9300.


    I hope nVidia picks up this. There are similar problems when trying to source drivers for AMD platforms, or find general information on their feature sets. With different labels to represent the same product it can be very confusing. Surely they can simplify it.
  • 0 Hide
    mi1ez , 9 April 2009 00:32
    Could you run an AMD card in the NVidia board and use physx accel through the mobo?
  • 0 Hide
    edisback , 9 April 2009 05:24
    Wow, Is Tom's Hardware saying that the G45/ GeForce 9400 motherboard architecture has made such a leap forward in power efficiency that the 'System idle power'(if not quite peak power) figures are not that dis-similar to the G31 motherboards reviewed in the "G31 And E7200: The Real Low-Power Story" story?

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-e7200-g31,2039-13.html

    The power savings from the G45/ GeForce 9400 motherboard architecture(s) must be considerable considering the extra power required for the Quad processor's and all the extra components on the G45/GeForce 9400 motherboards ......


    Have the G45/ GeForce 9400 motherboards knocked the G31/ E7200 combo of their low power perch?
  • 0 Hide
    madogre , 9 April 2009 22:41
    No you cant run physx on the 9400 and then run an ATI GPU for gaming.
  • 0 Hide
    BenSheriff , 8 September 2009 10:26
    who the hell wants to run ati lolz. Nvidia always provides better clarity and perforamnce amd/ati has always got error , bugs , delays and ofc HEAt issues!