Back in November 2004 we previewed ATI’s first foray into the AMD performance market, this product was the Radeon Xpress 200 and the motherboard series showed a great deal of promise in both system and graphics benchmarks. ATI’s next real attempt at a product for AMD enthusiast’s was the 590 series chipset launched in September 2005. Gone were the onboard graphics capabilities however the boards based on the 580/Xpress 3200 were feature packed and performed as well as any other on the market at the time.

Some time ago there were rumours of an updated chipset in development at ATI, the RX690, which was exciting the enthusiast community. Mysteriously this chipset vanished from the ATI roadmap in the run-up to the merger with AMD and when the 690 line finally broke cover it was primarily in the form of the 690G, a value orientated chipset which for the most part was being used on Micro-ATX motherboards featuring integrated graphics.

Whilst the real performance users may be a little disappointed not to have new boards available with higher specifications than the 580, those on a budget have a plethora of new boards to choose from and we have two such products to test today, Sapphires Pure Innovation and MSI’s K9GAM2. Let’s see how they compare to one of the current value segment leaders, the Asus M2NPV-VM.



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