Intel DG41MJ: Affordable 775 Mini-ITX

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3D Performance

To get a rough estimate of how well each board's integrated graphics plays games, we ran 3DMark05/06. As synthetic benchmarks they have limited value, but they give a rough idea of how well an IGP performs.

3D Performance: Futuremark Comparison
Motherboard
Graphics
3DMark05
3DMark06
Zotac GeForce 8200-ITX
GF8200
1623
869
Asus M3N78 Pro
GF8300
1669
902
Intel DG41MJ
X4500
1796
1038
Asus P5Q-EM
X4500HD
1708
1092
MSI KA760GM
HD 3000
2289
1049
Gigabyte MA78GM-2SH
HD 3200
2293
1116
Gigabyte MA790GP-DS4H
HD 3300 (Sideport)
3377
1668
System configuration: 2GB of RAM, 256MB of VRAM assigned (128MB for motherboards with 128MB of Sideport memory). AMD systems in green (X2 4850E), Intel systems in blue (E7200).

Except for a couple of video decoding features, the X4500 IGP is identical to X4500HD and the 3DMark results reflect this. The onboard graphics on Intel's G4x chipsets are a couple of steps behind AMD"s HD 3200 and HD 3300 in 3D performance.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Intel DG41MJ is very power efficient, and with the exception of an actual high bitrate H.264 encoded Blu-ray movie, plays most content with little difficulty. The chipsets run fairly cool, but the board's automated fan control system is a disappointment. It is too passive, letting the processor get too hot before kicking in, and once activated, it is not aggressive enough in the face of high CPU temperatures. It may be optimized for use with Intel's stock heatsink/fan, or another HSF that has higher native speed than the fans we tested with. It is probably best to disable it if you plan to stress the system on a regular basis.

The DG45FC is equally power efficient, but its video decoding ability is superior. In addition, it offers a bevy of features including HDMI, S/PDIF, RAID, eSATA, an extra SATA port, and a PCI-E 1x slot instead of PCI. Not everyone needs these extra features, but in particular, digital audio and video outputs are essential for the most common application of mini-ITX systems: Home theater PC. Between the two, we would choose the DG41MJ only if cost was a major issue because the DG45FC can be had for only $25~$30 more. (It should be noted that both Intel boards only support processors rated 65W or lower.)

At the other end of the spectrum, there are much cheaper Zotac boards that use variants of the outdated GeForce 7 chipset, such as the Zotac NF610i-ITX, which can be found on line for under $60. However, as our review details, the NF610i-ITX has many limitations which reinforce the notion, "You get what you pay for".

Intel DG41MJ
PROS

* Low power consumption
* Runs fairly cool

CONS

* High CPU utilization during H.264 Blu-ray playback
* Lacks HDMI, S/PDIF
* Restrictive BIOS
* Poor fan control

Our thanks to Intel for the motherboard sample.

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Asus M4A78-HTPC/RC: A Complete HTPC Solution?
Zotac GeForce 9300-ITX WiFi: Good Things Come in Small Packages
Asus M4A78T-E AM3 motherboard
Intel DG45FC: Loaded LGA775 Mini-ITX Board

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