Gaming Performance

Normally on an Ultrabook we would not dedicate an entire page to gaming performance, because the integrated GPUs do not perform very well on our gaming tests. However, with this being our first example of Broadwell-U, it is a good time to revisit this and see how the new graphics capabilities of Broadwell compare to the Haswell processors.

With the Core i5-5200U in both of the XPS 13s that we received, we have 24 execution units, compared to only 20 on Haswell-U. In addition, the 14nm process should help with throttling. The FHD model (1920x1080) arrived with a two 2GB memory modules and the QHD+ version came with 2 x 4GB.

First, let's look at the synthetic benchmarks, starting with 3DMark and then moving on to GFXBench.

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

Futuremark 3DMark (2013)

The 3DMark results begin to show the increased GPU performance of the Gen8 graphics. Broadwell-U outperforms all of the Haswell-U parts on all of the tests, and the QHD+ model gave a fraction more performance as well in a few tests.

GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen 1080p

GFXBench 3.0 T-Rex Offscreen 1080p

GFXBench 3.0 Alpha Blending Offscreen 1080p

GFXBench 3.0 ALU Offscreen 1080p

GFXBench 3.0 Driver Overhead Offscreen 1080p

GFXBench 3.0 Fill Rate Offscreen 1080p

GFXBench 3.0 Render Quality (Medium)

The initial results for the new GPU look pretty good, with the new GPU soundly beating the Haswell-U parts. The HP Stream 11, with just 4 EUs, trails quite far behind. GFXBench is one of our newer benchmark choices for Windows 8, and we will add more data as we get a few more devices to test.

Next, let's look at our gaming benchmarks. Due to the low performance of the integrated GPUs, I just ran our gaming tests at the Value (1366x768 ~Medium) settings.

Bioshock Infinite - Value

GRID 2 - Value

Metro: Last Light - Value

Sleeping Dogs - Value

Tomb Raider - Value

Here we can see once again that the new GPU is certainly stronger, but it is still not quite enough to make any of these games very playable on our Value settings. The Dell XPS 15, with its discrete GPU, carries a huge lead over the integrated GPU offerings. Still, the new Gen8 Graphics with more execution units per processor, as well as a change to the architecture of each execution unit, has made a healthy improvement. The new GPU has only eight EUs per sub-slice now, as compared to ten in Haswell-U, which help in many workloads. Ian has a nice writeup on the changes.

However, our gaming benchmarks are not tested at the lowest possible settings. All of the benchmarks start at 1366x768 with medium settings, so let's drop down another notch.

Gaming Benchmarks - Lowest Settings

By setting the games to their lowest settings, some of them are now playable. We are still a long ways off of the performance of a discrete GPU, but slowly integrated graphics are improving.

Finally, we have a new gaming benchmark to add to our repertoire. Anand first used the DOTA 2 bench for the Surface Pro 3 review and it will be our go-to benchmark for devices like this without a discrete GPU. Our Value setting will be 1366x768 with all options off, low quality shadows, and medium textures. Midrange will be 1600x900 with all options enabled, medium shadows, and medium textures, and Enthusiast will be 1920x1080 with all options maxed out.

DOTA 2 Benchmarks - XPS 13 QHD+

We do not have any other comparison points at the moment, but it is very clear that a game like DOTA 2 is very playable on a device with an integrated GPU. Frame rates, even with good settings, are very reasonable.

So Broadwell has raised the stakes again, but the end result is Intel's Integrated GPU is still not going to let you play AAA titles with good frame rates. Hopefully we can get some good comparisons between Broadwell-U and the AMD APUs in the near future. It will also be interesting to see what happens on the higher wattage Broadwell parts, some of which will contain significantly more EUs.

System Performance and Wi-Fi Display


View All Comments

  • Alexvrb - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    I like the idea of a flip-up webcam. Reply
  • OrphanageExplosion - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Any thoughts on the keyboard flex seen in the LinusTechTips vid? Makes the unit look really flimsy and I *really* wanted to upgrade to this from my 2012 MBA... Reply
  • Black Obsidian - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    Watch that video again, and look at how much flex is being exhibited by the table itself. It's not all (or even mostly) the keyboard. Something's flimsy alright, but it's not the keyboard.

    In my experience, the new XPS13 does have more keyboard flex than the MBA, but but only slightly, and it's far from being a deal-breaker.
  • cump - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    I have a 2011 mba and the xps 13 doesn't feel flimsy at all imo. Reply
  • Dug - Friday, February 20, 2015 - link

    So under Power Options- Change advanced power settings- Display- Enable adaptive brightness- Setting: Off doesn't work? Reply
  • eanazag - Monday, February 23, 2015 - link

    The comparison is totally confusing. Dell has much better battery life, but Surface is still on Haswell. Surface has a touch screen plus pen, but the keyboard is a necessary $130 add-on. USB ports are not similar. The base Dell wireless doesn't have Bluetooth, but Surface does. Webcam placement can be a big deal; while Surface has front and back cams. Surface can be had with a docking station designed for it.

    This would be a tough choice between either device.

    Personally, I hate click pads. I don't care where; I just don't like them anywhere.
  • uditrana - Wednesday, April 29, 2015 - link

    Also Microsoft Store has had a 100$ price cut on the models they have for a while now. Reply
  • ingwe - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    Wow this looks great for a travel laptop! I wish that the 256 Gb hard drive and 8 Gb RAM were standard but oh well.

    There seems to be a lot of good options for high end mobile right now. Between this Dell, the Razer, Surface Pro, and Apple's line up I don't know what I want my next upgrade to be. (I get these are all very different options, but they all seem to be executed really well).
  • Duraz0rz - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    Wow. I don't really need a laptop, but this really makes me want one. I don't really do a whole lot on my desktop any more, really, so I might actually consider it or the Surface Pro 3's Broadwell refresh (assuming there is one). Reply
  • ymcpa - Thursday, February 19, 2015 - link

    Judging by the recent price drops and trade-in promotions for the Surface pro 3, a refresh might show up pretty soon. Reply

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