Unlike our phones and tablets, laptops are divided into two separate categories. The first is a laptop with built-in graphics that cannot play games. The other is a laptop specially designed for gaming. And most of the laptops sold fall into the first category.
Embarrassing. This is bad for computer gaming and bad for Windows laptops in general.
With the announcement of the 11th generation Intel processor, standard laptops can finally break into this form. Soon, most laptops will be playable – even those small, thin, and light devices you might take for granted. That’s why it’s kicking your ass.
Intel Iris Xe raises the bar
For over a year, Intel has been revolving around its Xe graphics. While fans expect a discrete graphics processor that can compete with the Nvidia RTX 3080, Intel has always paid attention to what they call the Xe LP. These are discrete graphics built-in with low power consumption – nothing quite as elegant as what you build into your brilliant gaming platform.
Now that Iris Xe is available, I’m starting to understand why. If the Iris Xe turns out to be nearly as powerful as Intel claims, the company will change the way we expect our computers to be.
I paid close attention to comparisons with separate graphics cards for beginners.
In short, Iris Xe’s graphics are twice as powerful as last year’s stock graphics. This increased from 64 EU (executive unit) to 96 EU, which represents a nearly 33% increase in gaming performance potential. According to Intel, games like Borderlands 3, Far Cry New Dawn and Hitman 2 can be played for the first time at 1080p for Intel integrated graphics.
But beating your old built-in graphics doesn’t mean much. The comparison with discrete graphics cards for beginners really caught my eye. Averaging nearly 40 frames per second at average settings across many AAA titles this is an impressive feat.
To be honest, the Nvidia MX350 is not a proven graphics processor. It’s often found in thin, thin and light laptops like the Acer Swift 3 or Asus ZenBook 14. Even the Iris Xe can’t keep up with the Nvidia GTX 1650.
Make no mistake about it – there will always be room for a suitable gaming laptop. There’s nothing to pretend that this new generation of Tiger Lake laptops will meet the need for high refresh rates, RGB lighting, and powerful discrete graphics processors. This will also be the case if the performance of these integrated graphics is to double again next year.
The ability to play Fortnite at 50 fps or GTA V at 55 fps makes the potential for these graphics unmatched.
There’s a catch, of course
While graphics aren’t ubiquitous at Iris Xe’s level, they always feel like an extra feature. The bad internal UHD graphics from Intel are still like the ones you get on the Core i5-1125G4 and Core i3-1115G4.
This processor is often sold as an initial configuration in many newer laptops and is not suitable for gaming. This is a very popular configuration, especially one that drops under $ 1000. Technically, Intel has slightly improved these graphics compared to last year’s UHD graphics, but it may not be enough to make serious gaming possible.
The Intel Core i7-1135G7 may be more interesting. Despite being labeled “Core i7” and “G7”, the processor has less Intel Xe EU 16. We’ll have to test this particular configuration to see how it works, but we’re going to take a serious step back from other Core i7 configurations.
Wider adoption of higher-performance integrated graphics will occur at some point, but will remain an asterisk for the current state of Xe graphics.
It outperforms Intel
Intel is a major player in this gaming revolution and its upgrades this year will have the biggest impact.
But don’t forget how it started. Two of its main competitors are the ones pushing Intel to take graphics more seriously. The iPhone and iPad are great examples of where computers need to go. Due to its impressive graphics, any iOS device can play. This has allowed iOS games to evolve the way they do. With the Mac moving to Apple Silicon, there’s no reason to believe entry-level laptops like the 12-inch MacBook and MacBook Air haven’t improved the built-in graphics much.
AMD is in the same position. The integrated Radeon graphics card introduced in the Ryzen 4000 processor is impressive in laptops like the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7.
Given the intense competition, the future of integrated graphics looks promising.