We ran only a single media-transcoding test, so the results are by no means definitive.
Both results were repeatable, but the minor differences really signal a dead heat, with a slight edge going to the older Sandy Bridge GPU. This may be a case where simple clock frequency may have given the older GPU an advantage. Or perhaps applications need to be tweaked a little to make full use of the Ivy Bridge video engine. We’ll have to withhold any final conclusion until we find a few more applications to test.
Entry-Level GPUs Are Dead
AMD and Nvidia created a healthy business out of selling $40-to-$70 graphics cards, offering improved performance and compatibility with modern games. However, the Intel HD 3000 built into Sandy Bridge suggested that these low-end cards may have limited utility, and the HD 4000 component of Ivy Bridge pretty much puts the nail in the coffin.
Serious gamers will want midrange or high-end graphics cards for the smoothest frame rates at high detail settings. At the same time, though, laptop users with Intel graphics may be able to look forward to reasonable performance in today’s games, if they’re willing to sacrifice a little eye candy. Smaller laptop displays aren’t conducive to showing off all the capabilities of modern game engines anyway, so dialing back detail levels may not matter.
With the Intel HD 4000, Intel has shipped a respectable entry-level GPU that’s fully DirectX 11 compliant--and happens to come built inside an excellent CPU. That’s pretty significant for a processor that’s supposed to be just the “tock” in Intel’s “tick-tock” model.