Integrated graphics has improved dramatically over the years. The current installation of Intel’s integrated graphics has quite a lot to offer right now, not just against its previous iteration, but entry-level discrete solutions as well.
The Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors are equipped with Intel HD Graphics (GMA HD), a tweaked up version of the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X4500 seen on last generation MSDT chipsets. The move from 65nm to 45nm fabrication has made GMA HD more power efficient.
The increase in execution units allows for improved fill rate per clock. Memory bandwidth has also been improved from previous generation integrated graphics.
Intel claims a revised Unified Shader Architecture, enhanced hardware vertex processing, and improved 3D rendering efficiency with Hierarchical Z and Fast Z Clear among others. Let us check out what these changes do for real world applications by running a couple of games!
The first game we are going to compare the test platforms with is Resident Evil 5, a DirectX 10 survival-horror third-person shooter.
GMA X4500 has significant difficulty with Resident Evil 5, and hence we are running the benchmark in DirectX 9 mode, alongside low graphics settings.
Replicating the same benchmark settings on the new Intel HD Graphics, we are getting 30 frames per second to 17.1 frames per second, nearly twice the frame rate over the GMA X4500.
The next title used is Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X. H.A.W.X is a DirectX 10 arcade flight video game set in the same universe as Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter. We are benchmarking both graphics controllers using low details, but HDR and special effects are left on.
Though not a twofold increase, we are getting about 60% more frames on Intel HD Graphics compared to GMA X4500.
At 1280 x 1024, we are still getting 60% more frames. In both cases, we see significant improvements in graphics performance. While it is a challenge to play H.A.W.X with GMA X4500, Intel HD Graphics handles the game just fine.
Considering your average Blu-ray motion picture is encoded at 24 frames per second, the new Intel HD Graphics actually does quite well for the occasional gamer; great news for mainstream desktop buyers.