ECS G33T-M2 is a socket LGA775 motherboard with on-board video based on Intel G33 Express chipset, which supports the new 1,333 MHz FSB and thus is compatible with the latest Core 2 CPUs. Let’s take a look at the performance and features of ECS G33T-M2.
Intel G33 chipset has the same features of the mainstream Intel P35 chipset with embedded graphics added. The two main features brought by G33 and P35 are the new 1,333 MHz external bus, thus accepting the new Core 2 CPUs based on this new external clock rate, and DDR3 support. Please note that DDR3 support does not mean that all motherboards based on G33 or P35 accept DDR3 memories: since DDR2 and DDR3 sockets are different, is up to the manufacturer to decide which kind of memories the motherboard will accept. In the case of ECS G33T-M2 it only accepts DDR2.
Just like Intel P35 Express, Intel G33 Express uses the new ICH9 chip, which comes in four flavors. The vanilla ICH9, used by ECS G33T-M2, is identical to the “old” ICH8 chip found on Intel P965 and G965 chipsets but supporting 12 USB 2.0 ports instead of 10. The ICH9R variant supports RAID, six SATA-300 ports (the plain ICH9 support only four), Viiv support (i.e., support for Quick Resume technology, which allows the PC to imitate the behavior of TV sets, where by pressing the power button located on the remote control the screen goes dark, the sound is muted and the keyboard and mouse stop responding) and the new “Intel Turbo Memory” technology, codenamed Robson Technology, which is a disk cache technology using flash memories, available through the installation of a x1 PCI Express card. Click here to learn more about this technology. ICH9DH (a.k.a. Digital Home) has the same specs of ICH9R but no RAID support. And ICH9DO (a.k.a. Digital Office) has the same specs of ICH9R but no Viiv support – i.e., no support for Quick Resume technology.
The graphics engine of G33, called GMA 3100, is a Shader 2.0 (DirectX 9) part, running at 400 MHz with two pixel shader engines. Vertex shader isn’t processed by the chipset but by the system CPU, i.e., through software.
One very interesting feature of the on-board video produced by Intel G33 Express is that it automatically chooses how much memory it will “steal” from the system RAM to use depending on the application, a technology called DVMT or Dynamic Video Memory Technology.
Traditionally chipsets with integrated video steals a fixed amount of system RAM to be used as video memory. The main problem with this approach is that you have less RAM available for your applications. This problem is worse when you are not running a game: if your system has 1 GB RAM and you set your video to have 256 MB of memory, you will have only 768 MB available to programs. On a system with less RAM available, like 512 MB, this problem is even worse.
So with this motherboard when you are not running a game, the system will steal only the amount of RAM necessary to process 2D video. This amount depends on the video resolution you are using, see in the table below the possible values for this chipset for the most common resolutions.
If you do the math you will see that 800x600x32 resolution only needs 2 MB of video memory, however this chipset does not provide such configuration.
So on a system with 512 MB of RAM installed and running at 1024x768x32 you will have 508 MB available for your programs. When you run a game, the system will dynamically assign more RAM to the graphics engine, limited to 256 MB.
As you can see in Figure 1, this motherboard provides one x16 PCI Express slot for you to install a “real” video card in the future. It also has one x1 PCI Express slot and two regular PCI slots.
ECS G33T-M2 has four DDR2-DIMM sockets, two orange and two purple, accepting up to 8 GB of DDR2-400/667/800 memory. This is great, because several motherboards with on-board video have only two sockets, restricting your options for upgrading your memory in the future. With this motherboard if you want more memory you just have to buy two extra memory modules and install them on the empty sockets. We are saying “two” because this chipset supports dual-channel feature and on this motherboard to enable this feature you simply need to install the modules on sockets with the same color.