Product Type: Intel graphic cards
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Avoid Like The Plague
Intel 810 chipset
Member Name: rob_writer
Intel 810 chipset
Date: 23/06/01, updated on 23/06/01 (1136 review reads)
Disadvantages: but nasty
If you take only one piece of advice from reading this review then let it be - STAY CLEAR OF THE INTEL 810 Motherboard. With it's dire integrated graphics god only knows how it became so popular....oh wait, the reason is because it's so cheap.
But in this case you certainly do get what you pay for. That is, not very much!
The Intel 810 motherboard is a low cost Pentium 3/Celeron chipset designed for very low cost systems, and even though it has been superseded remains very popular. While I would always say it is best to plump for a good quality motherboard this isn't what is at fault, by far the worst thing about this motherboard is it's integrated graphics, and even more unforgivable the lack of an AGP slot.
It was developed by Intel when memory prices were high, and in theory it was great. It allowed you to share system RAM with the graphics card which meant that you didn't have to buy any expensive RAM for use specifically for graphics. This had been done before, but the then new AGP bus would allow much speedier access to the RAM so graphics performance would be better than previous, similar systems. And I suppose it is, but Intel 810 graphics still lag miles behind any recent graphics card.
The sad thing is that shops like PC World and Dixon’s sell the vast majority of their PC's with these Intel 810 graphics. There is certainly a place for budget graphic chipsets like the Intel 810 for use in low cost systems where performance isn't key, but I have seen 1Ghz machines on sale which come with Intel 810 graphics. This is actually really silly, because the graphics will prove to be such a bottleneck that the PC will perform nowhere nears its maximum. It's like having a Ferrari that’s fitted with a rev limiter than stops you going faster than 20mph - it really is that bad!
Another down point of the Intel 810 is that it uses system RAM as graphics memory. That's not a probl
em if you have plenty of RAM anyway, but by their nature budget systems won't have excess RAM so it's just another 4Mb you don't have. There is the option to include some RAM on the motherboard which is especially for the Intel 810 graphics but not a lot of systems make use of this, which gives a small boost to performance.
Personally I don't have Intel 810 graphics but I have used a number of peoples systems who do, and I can report that they are as bad as their reputation would suggest. For general Windows use they aren't awful, and I can't really tell the difference between using this and a better card. Try to play a game though, and you're going to suffer (It can just about manage a game of minesweeper, but anything more advanced and you can forget it).
You can just about get away with new games if you use the lowest possible resolution and lowest detail, but even then some games are going to protest. Even when playing a two or three year old Rally game (can't remember the name) you couldn't get round a corner without a few stutters. It isn't ideal for games at all, and if you know that you will want to play games then don't go near this. And if you're buying your PC for home use then sooner or later someone is going to want to play a game, whether it be the children or the parents! If all you need is a PC for the office, or to surf the internet then you're OK - just be sure that's all you want before you buy.
As I said before the Intel 810 motherboard has no AGP slot which makes upgrading the graphic difficult. You'll have to use a PCI graphics card which are becoming increasingly rare, although there is a PCI version of the GeForce 2 MX which performs well. The problem is that AGP was introduced to replace the ageing and slow PCI bus. It will still perform well, and is a worthwhile upgrade. It is also worth noting that you will have to disable the onboard graphics. This shou
ld be an easy job if you have a standard BIOS, but some PC's come with custom BIOS's from the companies that make them, and often these don't give you this option. The only option then is to flash your BIOS with a different version which is not guaranteed to work, it's a risky option.
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