It looks like we’ll have to stop joking about Intel’s integrated graphics. With the arrival of the 10th-gen Ice Lake CPU, we’re finally seeing impressive graphics performance. Sure, we called out just how much faster it is in our performance preview, but to appreciate how much of a jump 10th-gen Ice Lake brings, you have to take a few steps back.
We went to our database of reviewed laptops and cobbled together 3DMark Sky Diver scores from various laptop generations. The chart includes 2013’s 4th-gen Haswell U and its HD4400 graphics, as well as 2015’s 5th-gen Broadwell U’s HD 5200. We also included the lone and fairly rare Iris 540, used in 2015’s 6th-gen Skylake U. We didn’t include low-power chips, such as Cherry Trail’s HD and Core M variants, because we can stoop only so far.
The results aren’t exactly apples to apples, because graphics performance has varied with drivers, BIOS, and OS evolutions, as well each device’s cooling ability. On the other hand, those updates never improved Intel’s integrated graphics much anyway.
As you can see in the chart below, it’s been mostly one horrible slog in graphics performance from 2013 until 2019, with barely an upward blip. If you subtracted Iris graphics from this, it’d be so flat you could practically use it as a floor level.
If you’re wondering about the graphics load, 3DMark Sky Diver is a DirectX 11 test designed for “mid-range” gaming PCs and laptops. 3DMark’s advice is to stick to this test unless your score exceeds 12,000. The test runs at 1920×1080 resolution and uses about 1GB of graphics memory. The tessellation detail is rated at a medium load by 3DMark. There are two tests run with the first using 1.6 million vertices, 150,000 tessellation patches, 3.9 million triangles and 30.3 million pixels and 0.78 million shaders per frame. Graphics test 2 uses 0.9 million vertices, 90,000 tessellation patches, 1.5 million triangles, 13.9 million pixels and 2.7 million shaders per frame.
Because we wanted to focus on pure graphics performance, our chart shows only the graphics score from Sky Diver.
But again: This is really to illustrate how big of a jump this is for Intel. After years of just phoning it in, we can honestly say it’s looking like we won’t be able to use those integrated graphics jokes for much longer.