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ASUS M2A-VM HDMI 690G Motherboard

Posted by computerandlaptops on August 15, 2008

ASUS M2A-VM HDMI 690G Motherboard

At the end of February ’07, AMD released their first new chipset since the AMD/ATI merger.  The goal with the new 690G/V series was to bring improved integrated graphics to the market, with better performance and broader compatibility.  Initial impressions were generally positive; with an integrated Radeon XPress 1250, support for two monitors and options for DVI or HDMI outputs, the 690 series did bring something different to the table. 

Since the 690G’s release, we’ve spent some time with several models from MSI and now ASUS, with the M2A-VM HDMI being the latest model to land in our labs.  What’s interesting about the M2A-VM HDMI is that rather than offering an HDMI model or a DVI model, ASUS incorporates both through the use of a riser card.  In fact, when perusing the product line up of such companies as Gigabyte, DFI and ECS we found most offered only DVI versions of the 690G.

With competitive performance and relatively broad video options for a chipset with an IGP, the 690 series shapes up to be a rather versatile chipset, bringing features that suit entry-level workstation, HTPC and desktop users alike.  What ASUS has done is incorporate everything the chipset has to offer into a single package, making the M2A-VM HDMI unique at this stage of the game.

THE ASUS M2A-VM HDMI MOTHERBOARD

Specifications and Features

Specification and Featuresd Features

 

 

 

CPU:
Support AMD Socket AM2 Athlon64 / Athlon64 FX / Athlon64 X2 / Sempron 
AMD Cool ‘n’ Quiet Technology 
AMD64 architecture enables simultaneous 32-bit and 64-bit computing  
AMD Live! Ready  

Chipset:
AMD 690G 
ATI  SB600

Front Side Bus:
2000 / 1600 MT/s

Memory:
Dual channel memory architecture  
4 x 240-pin DIMM, support max. 8GB DDR2 800/667/533 ECC and Non-ECC,un-buffered memory 

VGA:
Integrated  ATI Radeon X1250-based graphics
Maximum shared memory of 256 MB
Supports HDMI Technology with HDCP compliant with max. resolution 1920 x 1080p
(It may not display 1080p smoothly when playing HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc due to current version player limit)
Supports YPbPr component TV-out with max. resolutions 1280 x 720p and 1920 x 1080i
Supports DVI-D with max. resolution 2560×1600 (@ 60Hz)
Supports RGB with max. resolution 2048 x 1536 (@85Hz)

Dual VGA output support:
RGB & DVI/HDMI
DVI & HDMI
TV-out(YPbPr/AV/S) & DVI/HDMI
(Simultaneous output for YPbPr, AV, S, and RGB is not supported)
 
Expansion Slots:
1 x PCI Express x16 
1 x PCI Express x1 
2 x PCI   

Storage:
1 x UltraDMA 133/100 
4 x Serial ATA 3Gb/s supporting RAID 0, RAID 1,RAID10  

LAN:
PCIe Gb LAN

Audio:
ALC883 High Definition Audio 6-channel CODEC  
Supports Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, and Jack-Retasking 
Supports S/PDIF out on bundle card port

Overclocking Features:
SFS (Stepless Frequency Selection) from 200MHz to 400MHz at 1MHz increment  
Adjustable CPU Voltage at 0.0125V increment 
ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall) 

IEEE 1394:
Supports 2 x 1394a ports

USB:
10 USB2.0/1.1 ports

Special Features:
ASUS MyLogo2 
ASUS CrashFreeBIOS3 
ASUS EZ Flash2 
ASUS Q-Fan 
ASUS O.C Profile 
ASUS Music Alarm 

Back Panel:
I/O Ports 1 x Parallel
1 x PS/2 Mouse
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x DVI
1 x VGA
1 x RJ45
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 
6-channel Audio I/O 

Internal I/O Connectors:
3 x USB 2.0 connector supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
High Definition Front panel audio connector
COM port connector
CD audio-in connector
1 x S/PDIF output connector
CPU / Chassis/ Power Fan connectors
Chassis Intrusion connector
IEEE 1394 connector
24-pin EATX power connector
4-pin ATX 12V Power connector 

BIOS:
8Mb Flash ROM, Award BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SMBIOS 2.3

Manageability:
WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, WOR by PXE,  WOR by PME 

Support:
CD Drivers  
ASUS PC Probe II  
ASUS LiveUpdate Utility 
Anti -virus software(OEM version) 

Accessories:
User’s manual
2 x Serial ATA cables
2 x SATA power cables
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x FDD cable
1 x I/O Shield
ASUS 2in1 Q-Connector(System panel connector,USB connector)
HDMI/AV/S/SPDIF module
YPbPr cable

Form Factor:
uATX Form Factor, 9.6″ x 9.0″ (24.5cm x 22.9cm)  


Accompanying the M2A-VM HDMI is a retail package that complements the hardware rather well.  Covering the basics, ASUS provides a multilingual Quick Start Guide that covers general board information in nine languages except for English.  The User’s Guide provided was English only and covered virtually every feature and setup option in clear detail.   Supporting the documentation are two CDs, one including all essential drivers while the other offers a collection of useful software such as:

 

Norton Internet Security 2007                               InterVideo DVD Copy Trial                  
Norton Internet Security 2006                              Acrobat Reader
Corel Snapfire 11 SE                                           DirectX v9C

ASUS also included essential hardware to help utilize all of the board’s features.  A single Floppy, one IDE and two SATA cables cover drive connection needs while providing two SATA power adapters to convert Molex to SATA power connectors.  A Q-Connector kit was also included, which makes connecting USB and case headers a breeze.  This is one of those seemingly simple items that really make life a bit easier during the system assembly process.  For HDMI, ASUS includes a KDMI/AV/SPDIF module that fits in one of the board’s PCI slots, adding HDMI, SPDIF, S-Video and Composite video options.  Wrapping up the bundle is a I/O shield for fitting the board properly to a case.

MSI N280GTX-T2D1GOC, GeForce GTX 280 Redux

NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 200 series of graphics cards, that launched about 60 days prior to the publishing of this article, have undergone a significant price reduction since they first debuted.  At the time, NVIDIA flexed its GPU muscle with a high-end, single GPU graphics design that their primary competition (AMD) could only compete with by throwing two GPUs at the problem.  As such, NVIDIA initially priced their flagship GeForce GTX 280 at a significant premium; $649 upon its introduction on launch day.  Would you believe us, if we told you back then, that these cards would be selling for $200 dollars less in only about two months time?  You can believe it today, however, as many etailers have cards on the shelf right now at $449 and even less, with rebates etc.

Since then, we’ve seen the launch of AMD’s latest ATI dual GPU-based flagship.,the Radeon HD 4870 X2.  There’s no question, in all of the numbers we’ve shown you, it’s faster than any standard retail GeForce GTX 280.  On the other the hand, AMD’s Radeon HD 4870 X2 also costs $100 – $150 more currently, generates a lot more heat, consumes more power and in general has a more prominent acoustical signature, versus a GeForce GTX 280.  So with that stage set, we’ll take you through the ins and outs of another retail version GeForce GTX 280 from MSI, as well as compare and contrast it versus other cards above and below its price range.  Journey on for our view of the GeForce GTX 280 redux and see how MSI’s N280GTX-T2D1GOC shapes up in the current high-end 3D graphics landscape.

 

MSI’s N280GTX-T2DIG GeForce GTX280

 

Specification and Features

 MSI N280GTX-T2D1G Features

  • 650MHz Core clock
  • 2300MHz Memory clock
    2nd Generation NVIDIA® Unified Architecture
  • PhysX™ Ready
  • 3-way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
  • Microsoft® DirectX 10 Support
  • NVIDIA® CUDA™ Technology
  • PCI Express 2.0 Support
  • GigaThread™  Technology
  • NVIDIA® Lumenex™ Engine
  • 16x Anti-aliasing Technology
  • 128-bit floating point High Dynamic-Range (HDR) Lighting
  • OpenGL® 2.1 Optimization and Support
  • Dual-link DVI Support
  • NVIDIA® PureVideo™ HD Technology
  • Discrete, Programmable Video Processor
  • Dual-stream Hardware Acceleration
  • Dynamic Contrast Enhancement & Color Stretch
  • HDCP Capable
  • Integrated SD and HD TV Output

Video Output Function

  • TV-Out (via S-Video to Composite)
  • HDTV-out
  • Dual-link DVI x 2 
  • VGA (via DVI to D-Sub adaptor)
  • HDMI (DVI to HDMI adaptor)

 

Bundle MSI developed driver and utilities

  • MSI Live Update Series (Live Graphics Card BIOS & Live Graphics Card Driver)
    Automatically online download & update Graphics Card BIOS & Drivers, reduce the risk of getting the wrong files, and never have the trouble on web site searching.
  • MSI Graphics Card Driver
  • MSI StarOSD
    StarOSD can monitor system information, adjust monitor figuration, and overclock system.
  • MSI Dual Core Center
  • MSI GoodMem
    Automatically release the system memory space, reduce the risk of system hang-up.
  • MSI LockBox
    Instantly enter the data lock mode when you must leave your system for a while.
  • MSI WMIinfo
    Automatically list the detail system configuration, it helpful for engineering service people.
  • MSI VIVID
    Vivid brings the easiest way to optimize graphic quality. Colorize your vision when browsing digital photos!!! Sharpen characters edge!!! Enhance contrast when playing game!!!
  • MSI Live
    including all real time life information you need, such as Live MSI Product News, Live Daily Information, Live Personal Schedule Manager, Live Search and more.
  • E-Color
  • MediaRing
  • ShowShift
  • ThinSoft Be Twin
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • 1 year limited warranty

 

MSI’s bundle is fairly standard issue with respect to the current lineup of flagship cards from NVIDIA.  There is no included game bundle with the N280GTX series but the card does come with a driver CD that offers a bunch of MSI-built utilities, like Live Update, which will actually upgrade your graphics card BIOS, if an update is released by MSI.  MSI also includes the standard GeForce GTX 280 bundle of cables and converters that we’ve seen in other bundles, including S-Video and Component output cables, a thermal sense cable for ESA compliant cases, as well as a DVI to SVGA d-sub converter and a DVI to HDMI converter.

This standard assortment of add-ons, in addition to MSI’s quick start guide, comprises the bundle for the MSI N280GTX-T2D1GOC.  MSI’s warranty is a little on the light side for our preference, offering only 1 year of coverage while many competitive offerings come with 3 year or even lifetime warranties.
 

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