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Integrated Graphics Performance

We already discussed the performance of the graphics core available in Haswell-based CPUs in our dedicated review. So today we won’t run too many tests just because the new Core i3 series features the same GT2 graphics as the quad-core CPUs for the LGA1150 platform. There are certain nuances in its implementation, though.

The i3-4340 and i3-4330 have nothing to do with them, though. These CPUs use the Haswell's standard Intel HD Graphics 4600. It is Intel’s midrange graphics core and also the most advanced one available in desktop LGA1150 CPUs, including 20 execution devices and supporting Quick Sync technology. In the Core i3 series it is clocked at a standard 1150 MHz (the Core i5 and Core i7 clock their integrated graphics core at 1100 to 1250 MHz).

The integrated graphics core of the i3-4130 model is called Intel HD Graphics 4400. It belongs to the same GT2 class but has only 16 instead of 20 execution devices. The clock rate is no different at 1150 MHz. The HD Graphics 4400 works with up to three monitors simultaneously and supports Intel’s Wireless Display and Quick Sync technologies.

It is because of the i3-4130 model with its HD Graphics 4400 that we feel obliged to run a few graphics benchmarks. We’ll compare four CPUs here: a Core i3-4340 with Intel HD Graphics 4600, a Core i3-4130 with Intel HD Graphics 4400, a dual-core Ivy Bridge i3-3225 with HD Graphics 4000, and AMD’s A10-6800K with Radeon HD 8670D.

As a tentative test of the 3D performance of the integrated graphics cores, we will run Futuremark 3DMark. Its Cloud Gate test is designed to benchmark DirectX 10 performance of typical home PCs whereas the most resource-consuming Fire Strike is targeted at gaming DirectX 11-compatible configurations.

Although the HD Graphics 4000 has the same number of execution devices as the HD Graphics 4400, Intel’s new graphics core works faster due to improvements in the texture-mapping units and in the early stages of the graphics pipeline. The resulting advantage of the HD Graphics 4400 amounts to 10 to 20%. With fewer execution devices, it is, however, slower than the HD Graphics 4600 by about 20%. AMD’s integrated graphics in the A10-6800K is much faster than Intel’s solutions, though.

Now we’ll run four games: a racing sim GRID 2, a 3D shooter Metro: Last Light, and two action games Tomb Raider and Batman: Arkham Origins.

We’ve got the same picture in every game: the HD Graphics 4400 is faster than the Ivy Bridge's GT2 implementation by an average 12%. Today's maximum GT2 variant is better yet, ensuring a 20% higher performance. This might be expected since the HD Graphics 4600 incorporates 20% more execution devices. AMD’s integrated graphics is unrivalled, though.

To test the Quick Sync technology implemented in the HD Graphics 4400, we use CyberLink MediaEspresso 6.7 which supports both Intel’s Quick Sync and AMD’s VCE. The test consists of transcoding a 1.5GB 1080p video clip in H.264 format (a 20-minute episode of a popular TV series) into a lower-resolution version for watching on an iPhone 4S. So, the target format was H.264, 1280x768 pixels with a bitrate of about 6 Mbps. We selected the highest transcoding quality.

These results suggest that Quick Sync works in exactly the same way on the HD Graphics 4600 and HD Graphics 4400. This is good news because in the Ivy Bridge generation the junior variants of the integrated graphics core had a lower-speed version of Quick Sync. You may be alarmed to see that the Haswell-based CPUs take more time to transcode the video than the Core i3-3225, but there is an explanation. There are just new quality profiles for Quick Sync in the Haswell-based CPUs. Transcoding takes more time but produces a much better result, which is closer to software-based transcoding.

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