We’re awfully fond of the idea of an ultra-compact, small-form-factor gaming PC, like Intel’s upcoming Skull Canyon NUC, for example.
There’s a surprising amount of performance to be had from such a small device, but we’d never go so far as to call it a device for mainstream gaming.
Well, according to the Vice President and General Manager for Intel’s desktop client’s platform, Gregory Bryant, integrated GPUs (iGPUs) are all mainstream gamers need these days, and only enthusiasts actually need discrete GPUs.
Perhaps Bryant means something else when he says “mainstream”? He doesn’t mean between 30 and 60fps at 1080p on medium to high settings, does he? Or perhaps that’s the domain of the enthusiast for Bryant?
In fact, claims Bryant, their top-end Iris and Iris Pro iGPUs, found in their latest chips, can outperform 80% of discrete GPUs.
Intel must mean 80% of all discrete GPUs… ever – we’re talking since the time of the Voodoo and Savage 3D cards.
Joking aside, low-end, entry level discrete GPUs produced by NVIDIA and AMD are definitely slower than Intel’s top-end solutions, but they’re not the best choice for gaming.
They’re not only in no way sufficient enough for an acceptable gaming experience at 1080p, or at least what a gamer worth their salt would call sufficient, but what Bryant also fails to mention is that the CPUs that use their top-end Iris and Iris Pro iGPUs are far from cheap.
It’s far more cost effective to purchase a more capable GPU and relegate the number crunching to a more affordable CPU. Trust us, games are far more GPU intensive and you’ll gain better frame rates as a result.
iGPUs have certainly come a long, long way, there’s no doubts about it. “We have improved graphics 30 times what they were five years ago,” Bryant said Bryant at a J.P. Morgan forum at last week’s CES. But games are also quite a bit more demanding than they were five years ago.
Their upcoming top-end iGPU, the Iris Pro 580, offers a lot of performance for an integrated solution, but it still only manages the sorts of numbers you’d get from a GeForce GTX 750, which struggles at settings most would call “mainstream”.
|Chip Name||GPU Core||GFlops (GPU Only)||GFlops (Whole Package)|
|AMD Radeon R7 360||Tobago Pro||1536 GFlops||N/A|
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti||Maxwell GM107||1389 GFlops||N/A|
|AMD Radeon R7 250X||Cape Verde XT||1216 GFlops||N/A|
|Intel Skylake Gen9 GT4/e||Intel Iris Pro 580||1152 GFlops @ 1 GHz||TBC|
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750||Maxwell GM107||1044 GFlops||N/A|
|AMD Radeon R9 M370X||Venus XT||992 GFlops||N/A|
|Intel Skylake Gen9 GT3/e||Intel Iris 560/570?||884 GFlops (Estimation)||TBC|
|AMD Carrizo FX-8800P||GCN 1.2||819 GFlops||1070 GFlops|
|Intel Core i7-5775C||Intel Iris Pro 6200||768 GFlops @ 1 GHz||883 GFlops|
|AMD Kaveri A10-7850K||GCN 1.1||737 GFlops||856 GFlops|
|Intel Core i7-5557U||Intel Iris 6100||724 GFlops||845 GFlops|
|AMD Richland A10-6800K||VLIW4||648 GFlops||779 GFlops|
|Intel Skylake Core i7-6700K||Intel HD 530||442 GFlops||TBC|
|Intel Haswell Core i7-4790K||Intel HD 4600||400 GFlops||512 GFlops|
*Table courtesy of WCCF Tech.
And consider this, the Iris Pro 580 is only going to be installed into high-end CPUs you absolutely don’t need for mainstream gaming.
Mainstream gaming is about a balance between your CPU and GPU performance. In what way is an enthusiast CPU and a “mainstream” GPU appropriate?
We love what Intel and AMD are doing with integrated solutions, but there are a good portion of the gaming market that are constantly sold the wrong hardware, and it stymies their experience at every turn.