Extended Compatibility and Performance Results – Medium Detail

Batman: Arkham Asylum


Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Athena

Crysis: Warhead

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Empire: Total War

Fallout 3

Fallout: New Vegas

Far Cry 2

FEAR 2: Project Origin

H.A.W.X. 2

Mafia II

Metro 2033

Medium Gaming Average - 20 Titles

Bumping quality settings up to Medium puts the screws to the HD 3000, dropping nearly every test game below 30FPS. Besides Mass Effect 2 and STALKER (which we mentioned on the previous page), only Empire: Total War breaks the 30FPS mark, and it’s not even a clear victory there. Yes, Intel can run Medium detail at 42FPS, but the game prevents us from selecting the “High” defaults, which is where we would have preferred to test. (This is possibly another case of blacklisting, although not as severe as Fallout 3.)

At our Medium settings, the discrete GPUs easily pull away from Sandy Bridge, with both the Acer 5551G and ASUS N53JF nearly doubling (95-96% faster on average) the HD 3000. Rendering quality also gets worse in HAWX 2, with the entire skybox missing once detail levels are increase, so you get a black sky. (It’s still better than the horribly corrupted rendering that Arrandale’s IGP managed at lower settings.)

Ultimately, Sandy Bridge’s IGP is far more capable than many would have expected. Sure, it doesn’t even try to support DX11 or OpenCL, but at least for gaming DX11 is typically too much for even midrange GPUs. Intel uses 114 million transistors in Sandy Bridge on the graphics, which is quite small considering transistor counts on other GPUs. The HD 5470 for example—a chip that is frequently surpassed by HD 3000—has an estimated count of 242 million transistors.

This is where Intel’s manufacturing prowess comes into play, as SNB uses a refined 32nm process that allows Intel to push clock speeds far higher than other competing offerings. What’s more, late 2011 should bring the follow-up Ivy Bridge processor, which shrinks the process even further to 22nm. At that node, Intel could potentially double the number of EUs (Execution Units) and further increase clocks. If Intel puts the requisite effort into improving driver compatibility and adds DX11 support, and if rumors of high-bandwidth stacked memory prove true, next year we could see integrated graphics reach the point where they match HD 5650/GT 425M, effectively killing off anything less than the upper-midrange and lower-high-end discrete GPUs.

Sandy Bridge Graphics: Extended Compatibility and Performance Results All the Performance, and Good Battery Life As Well!
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  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link

    True, it's been around a while, but I found it interesting that while performance dropped, it wasn't the "slideshow effect". If the system sat idle, the CPU would start to cool down, so when I fired up a benchmark it would run fast for a little bit. It was very perplexing until I figured out what was happening. First run on MediaEspresso gave me 11s with Quick Sync. Then I ran it again and it was 17s. The next time it was suddenly down to 33s.
  • QChronoD - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link

    I'm hoping that someone will annouce something like ASUS's new U36JC that has an i5-2410 at CES. I'd love to be able to go a full day at school without needing to recharge in almost every class (and actaully be able to play minecraft between classes)
  • PlasmaBomb - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link

    GTX 260M comes in next at 17 seconds (174FPS)

    That should read the GTX465 comes next...
  • PlasmaBomb - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link

    To correct the correction (I was going by the graphs), the graphs for the G73J should read GTX460M (I noticed the reference to the GTX460M in the text later and checked the G73J article).

    God help us all when it comes to talking/writing about the Sandy Bridge chips themselves, "the i7-2539"...
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link

    Fixed, thanks. I had some good ones in those graphs... G73Jw with 260M and 456M, but no 460M! LOL
  • iwodo - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link

    now all that is left are Gfx drivers, i hope intel put 10x more resources at their current Gfx Drivers team.

    Other then that, i am waiting for Ivy Bridge........
  • ET - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link

    I imagine that a single resolution is the best way to compare different machines, but it would have been nice to see some gaming benchmarks at the native res. 1600x900 is not a whole lot higher than 1366x768 (37% more pixels), so I imagine it's possible to game with low details at that resolution. Many Anandtech articles add such figures into the benchmark tables, and I was really missing them here.
  • JarredWalton - Monday, January 3, 2011 - link

    I ran out of time, but I did test 1600x900 at our "High" defaults. Umm... not really what you'd want, as everything is completely unplayable. Perhaps post-CES I'll get a chance to do additional testing, but my feeling is most actual notebooks using SNB will likely ship with a 768p display. Some might do 1080p as well, but they'll be more likely to include Optimus GPUs for gaming.
  • therealnickdanger - Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - link

    Good idea testing at 1366x768. Not only does it fall in line with most notebook screen resolutions, but it also give good indication of 720p performance. Given that many, many gamers play PS3 and 360 (most games being 720p@30fps), it's very good to see that most games are completely playable from low-medium settings. Some games could probably even get away with higher settings and still stay around 30fps.

    It's awesome that Intel is putting the "HD 3000" GPU in all its mobile chips, but I'm very curious how the different clock speeds of the GPU and CPUs will affect performance.

    ULV Sandy Bridge numbers soon?
  • therealnickdanger - Tuesday, January 4, 2011 - link

    Oh yeah, I forgot to add:

    What's with Dark Athena? Is it really that stressful to run or is there a driver issue?

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