In fact, you shouldn’t consider processors with integrated graphics a specific niche product targeted for a specific user group with unique needs. Extensive integration is a global trend and processors like that have already become common in the low-end and mainstream price segments. AMD Fusion as well as Intel Sandy Bridge replaced CPUs without integrated graphics in the current product ranges, so even if you do not plan on going with the integrated graphics core, there is hardly an option without it at this time. Especially since you don’t have to use the integrated graphics core and may disable it if you like.
So, when we decided to compare processors with the integrated GPU inside, we arrived at the conclusion that the ultimate goal in this case would be to compare the performance of contemporary processors in the $60-$140 price range. Let’s see what products are currently available from AMD and Intel in this particular price range and which ones we managed to get to our lab in time for testing.
AMD Fusion: A8, A6 and A4
For desktop processors with integrated graphics core AMD offers special Socket FM1 platform, which is compatible exclusively with Llano processors – A8, A6 and A4. These processors have two, three or four general-purpose Husky cores with the microarchitecture similar to that in Athlon II, and a Sumo graphics core, which inherited microarchitecture from the junior Radeon HD 5000-series solutions.
Llano processors line-up seems to be pretty self-sufficient and includes processors with very diverse computational and graphics performance levels. However, there is one obvious consistency here: processors with a larger number of cores and maximum clock frequency always have the fastest graphics core inside.
Intel Core i3 and Pentium
Intel is going to oppose AMD Fusion processors with their Core i3 and Pentium CPUs, which do not have a collective name but are equipped with integrated graphics cores and have comparable prices. Of course, more expensive quad-core processors have integrated graphics cores, too, but they obviously play a secondary role there that is why we didn’t include any Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs into our today’s tests.
Intel didn’t create individual infrastructure for inexpensive integrated platforms that is why Core i3 and Pentium processors may be used in the same LGA1155 mainboards as all the other Sandy Bridge CPUs. However, if you want to engage the integrated graphics core, you will need a mainboard based on one of the special chipsets, such as H67, H61 or Z68.
All Intel processors that can be regarded as direct competitors to Llano have dual-core design. Moreover, Intel doesn’t really focus on the graphics performance that much at all: most of these processors have a weaker version of the HD Graphics 2000 core with six execution units. The only exception is Core i3-2125 – it features the most powerful graphics core Intel currently has - HD Graphics 3000 with twelve execution units.