ECS GF9300T-A Black Series is a socket LGA775 motherboard based on the latest chipset from NVIDIA, GeForce 9300, which features on-board video with a DirectX 10 engine and is the first NVIDIA chipset for the Intel platform to support Hybrid SLI. In this review we will compare the performance of GeForce 9300 to GeForce 7100, Intel G31, Intel G33 and Intel G45. Check it out.

Together with GeForce 9300, NVIDIA also released GeForce 9400. Both are single-chip solutions and the only difference between the two is the clock rate under their graphics engine run. In the table below we compare the basic specs from these two new chipsets with the other chipsets with on-board video we included in our review. The clock rates for FSB, DDR2 memories and DDR3 memories are the maximum and the chipset supports devices that work at lower rates. You can only install DDR3 memories if the motherboard manufacturer added DDR3 sockets to the board. This is not the case with ECS GF9300T-A: even though the chipset supports DDR3, the motherboard has only DDR2 sockets, so you can’t install DDR3 memories on this motherboard.

All chipsets below support dual channel memory technology.

Chipset GeForce 9400 GeForce 9300 GeForce 7100 Intel G45 Intel G33 Intel G31
GPU Clock 580 MHz 450 MHz 600 MHz 800 MHz 400 MHz 400 MHz
Graphics Processors 16 16 5 10 2 2
Graphics Processors Clock 1,400 MHz 1,200 MHz 600 MHz 800 MHz 400 MHz 400 MHz
DirectX 10 10 9.0c 10 9.0 9.0
Shader Model 4.0 4.0 3.0 4.0 2.0 2.0
FSB 1,333 MHz 1,333 MHz 1,333 MHz 1,333 MHz 1,333 MHz 1,333 MHz
DDR2 800 MHz 800 MHz 800 MHz 800 MHz 800 MHz 800 MHz
DDR3 1,333 MHz 1,333 MHz No 1,066 MHz 1,066 MHz No
PCI Express 2.0 2.0 1.0 2.0 1.0 1.0
USB 2.0 Ports 12 12 10 12 12 8
SATA-300 Ports 6 6 4 6 4 (ICH9) or 6 (ICH9R) 4
RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 0+1, 5 0, 1, 10, 5 (w/ ICH10R) 0, 1, 10, 5 (w/ ICH9R) 0, 1, 10, 5 (w/ ICH7R)
ATA-133 Ports No No 1 (2 devices) No No 1 (2 devices)
Hybrid SLI/CrossFire GeForce Boost GeForce Boost No No No No

Graphics engines before DirectX 10 used separated units for each kind of processing (pixel shader, vertex shader, etc), while DirectX 10 and above parts use a unified system where each processing unit can be used for any kind of processing. Thus comparing the number of processors available on chips using different technologies is a little bit tricky. GeForce 7100 has four pixel shader units and one vertex shader units, so we put “5” as the total number of processors. Intel G33 and Intel G31 use the same graphics engine and they have only two pixel shader units and no vertex shader units (on these chipsets this stage is performed by the system CPU).

Other features present on GeForce 9300 and 9400 chipsets include the support for GPGPU (a.k.a. CUDA) technology, which allows the graphics engine embedded inside the chipset to run regular programs, improving performance (the program must have been compiled to do that) and a full hardware-based HD (Blu-Ray) video decoder (feature also available on Intel G45), allowing the decoding of HD video to be done by the chipset instead of the system CPU, not only improving performance but also freeing the CPU to do other tasks while decoding is being performed (i.e., low CPU load during HD video decoding). They also support HDMI with audio, making these chipsets a good candidate for a media center PC (HTPC, Home Theater PC), i.e., a computer for playing movies and audio on your home theater setup.

The new GeForce 9300 and 9400 support Hybrid SLI. This technology allows the on-board video to work in parallel to a discrete video card under SLI mode, increasing gaming performance (usually when you install a “real” video card the on-board video is disabled). The video card must support this technology and in fact only a few support this. Read our tutorial SLI vs. CrossFire for further information.

In our benchmarking we will compare the performance from ECS GF9300T-A (GeForce 9300) to the one from ECS GF7100PVT-M3 (GeForce 7100), Intel DG45ID (Intel G45), MSI G33M (Intel G33) and MSI G31M3 (Intel G31).

Before going to our tests, let’s take an in-depth look ECS GF9300T-A.

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.