Motherboard Guide

Sapphire Pure Innovation HDMI PI-AM2RS690MHD review

Sapphire Pure Innovation HDMI PI-AM2RS690MHD (AMD 690G)

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Features and Layout

Features

First and foremost, Sapphire designed the Pure Innovation HDMI to be an entertainment platform. This means that the board utilizes the 690G's onboard video capabilities to its fullest, featuring not only the regular VGA output, but also a HDMI 1.2 (with HDCP) port as well as additional brackets for DVI-D, Composite and S-Video output. The HDMI port on the board is also designed to carry audio, so no additional routing is required on the user's part other than enabling it in the BIOS. This completes most of the necessary hardware requirements that one would need to be able to playback next generation encrypted HD media and content.

The Radeon X1250 IGP core of the 690G chipset may be based on an older (and crippled) Radeon X700 design, which won't give you blazing desktop graphics, but it does incorporate AMD's AVIVO video technology, supporting hardware acceleration of HD video content. At the moment however, it seems that the 690G only supports hardware acceleration for VC-1 (WMV9) with some decoding support for MPEG4. Also, according to Sapphire's technical specifications, the HDMI output on the board will only support up to 720p.

Audio is handled by the capable Realtek ALC882D 8-channel HD CODEC. It also features Dolby Digital Live! Output support for consumer equipment and Sapphire even throws in a set of coaxial S/PDIF input and output ports with the board too.

The rest of the board's features include four SATA 3.0Gbps ports with RAID and AHCI capabilities, one Ultra-ATA port, ten USB 2.0, two FireWire-400 ports and one Gigabit Ethernet LAN connection. All these functions are controlled by the 690G chipset itself, except for FireWire and LAN. Sapphire makes use of a VIA VT6307 controller for two FireWire-400 ports and the PCI-based Realtek RTL8110S-32 controller to provide Gigabit Ethernet support.


Layout

Like all motherboards, based on the AMD 690G chipset, the Pure Innovation HDMI comes in a micro ATX form factor better suited for small form factor and media center casings. Despite its small size though, Sapphire has done an admirable job on the board's layout with every connection positioned very ideally. The four SATA ports are aligned on the side of the board to move them away from being blocked by expansion cards, ATX power connectors do not block the CPU cooler and Sapphire managed all this while making sure the Pure Innovation HDMI would not lose out in terms of features and functionality.