Let’s take a look on G31MV-K, a low cost motherboard from Foxconn targeted to Intel socket LGA775 processors and based on Intel G31 chipset. Let’s see this motherboard features.

This board has on-board video produced by Intel G31 chipset, which uses exactly the same graphics engine of Intel G33 chipset, called Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 3100. This graphics engine runs at 400 MHz and is DirectX 9.0c (Shader 3.0), has only two pixel shader units and no vertex shader units (this task is performed by the CPU). As you can see, the graphics engine from both G31 and G33 is outdated, using a technology from two generations ago. But that does not really make much difference, because even chipsets with updated on-board video (supporting DirectX 10) are not powerful enough to run most current games.

G31 and G33 chipsets have exactly the same video performance. The difference between them is on the additional features arena. G31 supports up to 4 GB of memory and, thus, most of the motherboard based on this chipset have only two memory sockets. G33, on the other hand, supports up to 8 GB of memory, and motherboards based on this chipset usually have four sockets. Another important difference between them is the south bridge chip. G31 chipset uses ICH7 southbridge, while G33 uses either ICH9 or ICH9R south bridge. ICH7 has eight USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Mbps network port and four SATA-300 ports, while ICH9 has 12 USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet port and six SATA-300 ports, supporting RAID on ICH9R model.

G31MV-K supports Celeron, Pentium Dual Core, Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad processors, including 45 nm models, with front side bus (FSB) up to 1,333 MHz. It is clearly an ultra-basic board, aimed to users who are looking for the lowest budget computer possible and not worried about expansion capabilities or extra features.

Figure 1: Foxconn G31MV-K motherboard.
Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master's degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.