Intel Core i7-2600K and i5-2500K Processors Debut

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HD Graphics vs. Discrete GPU - Gaming


For this next set of tests, we pitted the integrated processor graphics incorporated into the Sandy Bridge-based Intel Core i5-2500K and Core i7-2600K processors against a couple of the least expensive, current-generation discrete GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD, the GeForce GT 430 and Radeon HD 5550, respectively.

Intel HD Graphics vs. Discrete GPUs 
Gaming Benchmarks


At the high-quality, graphics intensive settings we used, the Intel HD 3000-series graphics integrated into the new Core i5-2500K and Core i7-2600K processors couldn't keep pace with either discrete GPU, plain and simple. The higher peak Turbo frequency for the integrated HD 3000 graphics core in the 4600K gave it a measurable lead over the 2500K, but neither offered anything close to playable framerates.

With that said, we consider these tests "worst case scenarios", with high resolutions and high levels of anti-aliasing and anisotropic filtering. The integrated Intel HD 3000-series GPU core has much less memory bandwidth than either of the discrete GPUs and it slows considerably with all this pixel processing giong on. Without any anti-aliasing enabled, the Intel HD 3000 graphic core actually in the Core i7-2600K actually put up 22.9 FPS in ET:QW and 16.72 FPS in L4D2 at 1920x1200. Since the L4D2 framerate remained relatively low, we also dropped the resolution a bit to 1680x1050 and were able to hit 20.39 FPS.

The moral of the story? While the integrated Intel HD 3000 series graphics core won't be competing with discrete GPUs in most games with high image quality settings, it is perfectly capable of some casual gaming.

With that said, throughout all of our testing, we only ran eight games on the Intel HD 3000 series graphics core. And while none of the titles we ran exhibited any issues, Intel's graphics drivers haven't been the most compatible in the past. Although the HD 3000 series core is more powerful than anything to come from Intel in the past, that doesn't necessarily mean it'll work with every game, even though it may have the horsepower to do so. Just something to keep in mind.


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