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Henery Thomas Apr 16


Intel cheapest wow gold introduction of the first modern Core processor in 2008 was a major change in direction, and not just because of its break away from the Netburst architecture which powered Pentium 4. The company also made a pledge to take graphics performance seriously, and it made good on that promise. When the first Intel HD Graphics showed up in 2010 alongside the new Core mobile chips, it more than doubled performance over the preceding Intel Graphics Media Accelerator in some games.

Today, six years later, Intel crusade for improved integrated graphics continues. Each new generation of Core brings a much bigger boost in graphics performance than per core processor performance. Nowhere was this more apparent than with the fifth generation Core launch, as Intel's own slides claimed a mere four percent boost to productivity, but a 22 percent surge in gaming.

But these impressive gains have occurred in the face of more demanding games and ever increasing display resolution. Over the past five years, laptops have leaped from a typical resolution of 1,024 x 768 to 1080p, and premium models push 4K.

To find out what this means for real world performance, we rounded up sevendifferent models of Intel HD graphics spanning fourgenerations; HD 4000, 4200, 4600, 5500, 6000, as well as the HD 520 and 530 which, despite the name,are actually a generation newer than the 6000 series.

The hardware

We used a variety of hardware to perform this test. An Apple Macbook Air running Boot Camp with fully updated Intel graphics drivers served as our stand in for third generation Core processors with Intel HD 4000.

Related: Check out the details of Intel fifth generation integrated graphics

Next up we have the fourth generation chips, represented by the Acer Aspire Switch 11and Zotac Zbox Oi520, which offer Intel HD 4200 and 4400, respectively. The latter is particularly important, as it the most common IGP from the outgoing family. Most Intel powered notebooks sold over the last year have an HD 4400 inside.

Dell XPS 13 (2015) and Intel's NUC with Core i5 processor, with HD 5500 and HD 6000, respectively, carry the banner for the fifth generation. Aside from the Iris 6100, which is not a common choice, HD 6000 is the quickest graphics solution currently available with Core processors.

New to the roundup is HD 520, as tested in an i7 Surface Book with the dedicated GPU turned off. There also Intel HD 530, which we tested in the Core i7 6700K desktop processor. Despite the removal of a numerical from the name, HD 530 is meant to be a new mid tier integrated graphics option for desktop chips.

We also thrown in AMD A10 7870K to provide some additional context. That processor is a quad core that sells for $140 and packs AMD most impressive integrated graphics to date. You can find out more by reading our full review.

Obviously, it impossible to conduct an absolute apples to apples test. The Veriton Core i5 3337U is not as quick as the NUC Core i5 5250U, so processor performance will be in play here, as well. Let's dive right in and see how Intel has matured over the years.

These results are not difficult to interpret. Intel's HD 4200, the low power IGP for the thinnest and lightest fourth generation Core systems, is the obvious loser. Second worst is Intel's HD 4000, the headliner of third generation mobile graphics, which is just slightly beaten by HD 4400, the most common fourth generation IGP.

HD 5500 and HD 6000 quite easily defeat HD 4400, but the difference between them is less than expected. It'd be reasonable to think doubling execution units would lead to a major performance bump, but that's not what's happening here. Instead we see HD 6000 offer an extremely modest gain of just under five percent. Its score of 7,621 represents almost exactly a 100 percent improvement over HD 4000, and a nearly 50 percent increase over HD 6000. That actually exceeds the 40 percent improvement that Intel claimed to the press.

Update: With Intel help, we were able to extract higher scores from the NUC and its Intel HD 6000 graphics. The system hit an average Cloud Gate score of 5,297 and Fire Strike score of 862. These improvements make HD 6000 about 7 percent quicker in Cloud Gate and 15 percent quicker in Fire Strike. Still not a gigantic leap, but certainly better than before.

Blizzard's famous massively multiplayer game is over 10 years old, but it's not a cinch for modern hardware to handle. The game has been updated significantly over the years with new areas, new textures and, most recently, new character models. There's also been a general increase of stuff in the game, from foliage to particle effects to larger areas. Can today's Intel HD hardware handle this evolving title?

The improvement between each generation of hardware is harder to see here than you might expect, particularly in the leap between HD 4000 and HD 4400. It turns out the mid range integrated graphics most people actually have in their fourth generation Core notebook isn't much quicker than the best third generation graphics solution.

We were surprised by the scores, so we re tested HD 4400 with an Acer Aspire R13, which we'd just received from Acer. The story didn't change. Intel HD 4000 and HD 4400 are virtually tied in this incredibly popular MMO.

The new IGPs offer a significant leap in performance, though the size of that leap depends on the level of detail selected. At the low preset, Intel's HD 6000 is no more than 10 percent quicker than HD 5500, but at high detail the difference grows as large as 40 percent.

Clearly, the added execution units in HD 6000 have an impact, but it's arguably a futile effort. The HD 6000's average framerate of 25 in World of Warcraft at high detail and 1080p is barely inside the envelope of what can be called playable, but our test was not conducted during a raid, which would surely turn the game into a slideshow. Even a brand new notebook will prove most comfortable at medium or even low detail if 1080p is the desired resolution.

The new HD 530, available with 6th generationdesktop processors, exceeds the performance of even HD 6000, especially at 1080p resolution and low detail.

Intel latest IGP even comes close to the AMD A10 7870K. However, AMD alternativedoes manage an important win at 1080p and high detail, as it manages to exceed 30 FPS while Intel HD 530 is stuck at an average of 24 FPS.

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth

The latest title in the Civilization series, Beyond Earth is built on the same engine as the incredibly popular Civilization V. These two games have consumed more player hours than any strategy franchise on Steam in 2014. Both games can be demanding in late game scenarios because large numbers of units, cities and improvements appear at once.

We tested the game using the built in benchmark, which is represents a very harsh late game environment. In the real world, the game will run more smoothly than these numbers suggest, but testing in a worst case scenario is a good idea. Being forced to abandon a late game scenario over performance issues can cause serious nerd rage.

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