Intel’s HD graphics have previously been notoriously bad since they began integrating them on motherboards and in notebooks. Over the years they’ve improved and the first real shot at Intel having “good enough” graphics was reached with the HD3000, which allowed for 1080p decoding and could run browser-based games with little trouble.

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Beyond that, however, was still a slideshow. HD4000 brought that up even more and even made some games playable at 720p. Now, with Haswell, Intel’s going for better performance with the HD4600. Chinese site ITOCP released a preview of Haswell’s performance and it looks like the latest pre-release drivers have solved some performance issues. Hit the jump for more details. 

Now its worth noting that ITOCP’s test environment is hardly good. They used the Core i5-4570 and the i7-4770, both vanilla chips with HD4600 graphics and locked multipliers. They pitted them against the Ivy Bridge-based Core i5-3550 (which has HD2500 graphics) and the i7-3770K (HD4000). On the AMD front they used the A10-5800K. All chips were at their stock clocks and all power-saving measures were turned off. Interestingly, all of them also ran with the same DDR3-1600 memory modules, which puts the A10 at a disadvantage because it is memory-bottlenecked. To get the most out of it, DDR3-1866 is the minimum required for playability. 

Intel Haswell Skyrim preview Intel Haswell Resident Evil 5 preview Intel Haswell Hitman preview Intel Haswell Tomb Raider preview Intel Haswell Dirt Showdown preview

Skyrim shows a good jump in framerates and because its a CPU-bound title, the i7-4770 scores a tiny bit better thanks to the multi-threading. The minimum frame rates are higher than the maximum frame rates that Ivy Bridge’s HD4000 can muster and for the first time Intel is on par with AMD’s APU. However, no mention is made of what drivers were used for the AMD platform and take into account that its using lower-clocked memory as well.

Resident Evil 5 is one of the games that NAG Magazine itself tests and AMD still had a lead despite the performance deficits. Climbing up to Hitman: Absolution one can see that the platforms are more or less in line with each other. Increasing clocks for either platform would allow both to break the 40fps barrier.

Tomb Raider gives Haswell its second definitive win, with the Core i7-4770 pulling in front for both minimum and maximum frame rates. DiRT: Showdown gives the A10 processor a good lead, but that’s mainly down to the slightly higher GPU and CPU frequencies. DiRT is also an AMD Gaming Evolved title, so I’d expect a win anyway.

All in all, its a good showing by Intel. I expect that AMD would have a bigger lead with, say, DDR3-2133 modules, but that’s a given considering Intel’s HD graphics engine isn’t really sensitive to memory speeds. However, these results are with stock clocks and locked chips, which means that more performance is available with a little bit of tweaking applied.

And would you game on HD4600 graphics? I don’t know. Currently the Core i7-3770 retails for over R3300. Haswell is only going to replace those chips at the same price point. If you really require Intel’s hardware, or if you’re stuck with it  then sure, you’d be able to play most games at 720p without many issues. I would, however, rather recommend investing in a A8 APU from AMD or a Intel Core i3 and pairing that with a R2000-odd discrete GPU as that’s the better choice for gaming on a budget.

Source: ITOCP
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