The integrated graphics market
Since their inception, integrated chipsets have traditionally been considered anemic, especially among gamers and hardware enthusiasts. This is largely because chipset manufacturers have been slow to adopt the latest hardware technologies in their products. For instance, industry leader Intel utilized its i752 graphics for years in its integrated chipsets. This graphics core was only updated recently with 845GE, despite the fact that it’s based on technology that is over four years old.
Taiwainese manufacturers VIA, ALi, and SiS aren’t much better, just like Intel, their integrated graphics offer performance roughly equivalent to an NVIDIA TNT2 Ultra graphics accelerator. All of these manufacturers have put an emphasis on value, simply providing enough to output to a 2D display, little or no focus has been put on 3D performance.
GeForce graphics inside
When NVIDIA unveiled its nForce chipset in 2001, all the so-called “rules” of integrated chipsets were changed. The nForce integrated graphics processor (IGP) utilized a variant of NVIDIA’s GeForce2 MX graphics core, a DirectX 7 part with hardware transformation and lighting among its list of features. This put the nForce IGP one graphics generation behind the desktop in terms of feature set when it was launched, significantly narrowing the gap between desktop graphics and integrated graphics. For the first time in the history of integrated chipsets, 3D performance was a significant selling factor.
Of course, by now we all know how nForce ultimately played out. Motherboards based on the chipset arrived much later than expected, and was initially priced higher than expected. NVIDIA later released a lower cost variant without the integrated graphics, but by the time it arrived its feature set was beginning to show signs of age, specifically the lack of support for DDR333 memory.
With nForce2 NVIDIA continued to experience problems with delays, but unlike nForce’s debut, the competition wasn’t able to respond with a product to compete. In addition, NVIDIA brought the chipsets without integrated graphics to market first, with motherboards featuring integrated graphics shipping in 2003. nForce2 supports the latest AMD processors and memory types, as well as sporting an enhanced graphics controller with support for NVIDIA’s TwinView technology.
This brings us to MSI’s K7N2G-ILSR. This board fuses NVIDIA’s nForce2 IGP chipset with integrated graphics, with the Dolby Digital supporting MCP-T. On top of this package MSI includes an onboard Serial ATA controller and an external bracket for outputting to your television. And of course, as an MSI motherboard, the K7N2G-ILSR is priced to move.