Graphics designers and most PC gamers are readily apprehensive toward the capabilities of integrated graphics processors. These graphics-intensive users prefer machines with separated or discrete GPUs to ensure smooth and uninterrupted user experience and overall usability.
However, Intel Corporation reasserts the purported value of integrated graphics technology with the introduction of its Intel Iris Xe. Found on the 11th-generation quad-core Intel Core i5 and i7 “Tiger Lake” processors, this hardware component promises faster photo and video editing, smoother gameplay, and an immersive high-definition viewing experience.
Intel Iris Xe has also become a standard hardware component of Intel Evo-branded laptops. It also powers mid-range to high-end computers that prioritize a slim and lightweight design profile without compromising graphic performance and battery life.
Selling Points: Key Features of Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Note that Intel has made several bold claims about the capabilities of this new component. Take note of the following main selling propositions and specifications:
Photo and Video Editing: Compared with the previous Intel UHD components, this integrated graphics processor allows content creators to export 4K files with the help of an artificial intelligence engine powered by Intel Deep Learning Boost technology.
Video Gaming: It also supports a decent PC gaming experience of up to 1080p at 60FPS without the need for a dedicated and separated graphics processing unit. There is also a supplementary software that allows a one-click optimization of specific game titles for a better gaming experience.
Content Consumption: Intel claims that the support for 8K video with 4x4K HDR enables users to connect up to four HDR displays at once. The hardware also supports Dolby HDR Vision and Dolby Atmos 3D sound.
Battery Performance: This integrated graphics processor is also based on a new architecture that provides a good balance between power efficiency and graphics processing performance. Not that the Xe-LP variant is designed specifically for power efficiency while the Xe-HPG variant focuses more on graphics performance.
Works Alongside Iris Xe Max: Another feature of Intel Iris Xe is that it works alongside the discrete graphics processor Intel Iris Xe Max through the Intel Deep Link technology. Machines with Tiger Lake Intel Core CPUs can combine the processing capabilities of both GPUs.
The Pros: Advantages of Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Remember that the “Iris” brand represents the high-performance versions of integrated graphics components from Intel. The newer-generation Intel Iris Xe is essentially faster and better than Intel UHD Graphics, specifically the prior Intel UHD 620. Nevertheless, for a better appreciation of its capabilities, take note of the following pros or advantages:
Decent Gaming Performance for Average Gameplay
One of the reasons why some PC users prefer having a discrete graphics processor is that integrated graphics processors have performed poorly in the past, particularly when it comes to running video games. Intel intends to change this perception.
A notable advantage of Intel Iris Xe is that it was built and designed in consideration of PC gaming. This hardware offers a considerably upgraded gaming experience when compared with the previous Intel UHD integrated graphics components.
Data from Intel showed that this hardware can compete against the entry-level Nvidia GeForce MX350. On some game titles such as Gears 5, Doom Eternal, Battlefield 5, Apex Legends, and Metro Exodus, it can outperform the discrete GPU from Nvidia.
Compared to AMD Ryzen 7 4800U equipped with an integrated AMD Radeon graphics processor, the integrated GPU from Intel also performs better in game titles such as Fortnite, Grand Theft Auto V, League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Go, and Dota 2.
It is also worth mentioning that the Xe provides ultraportable laptops, including Evo-branded ones featuring Intel Core i5 or Core i7 Tiger Lake chips, with enough graphics processing capabilities to run average-to-above-average PC game titles.
Capable Photo and Video Editing for Content Creation
The graphics processing capabilities of Intel Iris Xe also translate to equipping a machine with a capability to edit photos or images using applications such as Adobe Photoshop and editing videos using Adobe Premiere and Sony Vegas.
A built-in low-power AI matrix engine enables power-efficient photo and video editing applications, as well as rendering and exporting use-cases without compromising performance, even when dealing with large and complex files.
Furthermore, because of its integrated nature, it is an ideal component for laptops with slim and lightweight design profiles. This graphics processor fundamentally equips ultraportable devices with a decent capability to edit photos and videos.
Specific Benefits of Integrated Hardware Components
Popular system-on-chips or SoCs such as the Apple M1, as well as the Apple M1 Pro and Apple M1 Max, have demonstrated both the benefits and capabilities of fabricating and integrating different hardware components into a single main hardware.
The specific benefits of SoCs include their suitability for mobile and portable computers due to their smaller footprint, processor, instruction set architecture, and microarchitecture efficiency stemming from the integrated nature of the components, and power efficiency.
Intel has been designing Intel Core chips in consideration of component integration. To be specific, these chips include both a CPU and GPU, as well as an image processing unit on some models and variations, and input-output controllers.
The benefits of SoCs are also evident in the specific benefits of Intel Iris Xe. For example, the Intel Deep Link Technology allows intelligent power-sharing between the CPU and the integrated graphics processor to boost overall performance and power efficiency.
Furthermore, because the GPU is integrated with the CPU into a single hardware, manufacturers opting for an Intel Core processor can design and produce portable computers with decent processing capabilities. This is evident from Evo-branded laptops.
The Cons: Disadvantages of Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Not Suitable For Graphics-Intensive Video Gaming
Of course, while it is true that this integrated graphics processor is usable for average-to-above-average PC gaming, one of the notable cons or disadvantages of Intel Iris Xe is that it is not an ideal option for resource-intensive and graphics-heavy game titles.
The same data from Intel has proven the aforementioned point. Compared with the entry-level Nvidia GeForce MX350, it lags behind when playing game titles such as Fortnite, Dungeon Defenders Awakens, Grand Theft Auto V, and PUBG.
Gamers that require faster refresh rates and higher frames-per-second are better off choosing a machine with discrete GPUs marketed for PC gaming. The fact remains that an Xe-equipped computer remains an all-purpose machine rather than a gaming PC.
It is also important to note that maximizing the graphics performance of this integrated graphics processor from Intel might require opting for an Intel Core variant with a higher configuration, specifically a top-tier Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 processors.
Different Xe Microarchitectures and Intel Core Variants
Not all Intel Iris Xe graphics processors are designed and built the same. The same is true for the entirety of Intel Core processors. It is important to highlight the fact that there are different chips designed and built for different use cases and entry points.
The Xe-LP variant is a low-powered GPU marketed for entry-level machines, including power-efficient and mid-range ultraportable laptops. It provides discrete graphics performance and takes advantage of the built-in power management capability of relevant Intel Core chips.
On the other hand, the Xe-HP microarchitecture is a high-performance variant aimed at enterprise-level consumers, while the Xe-HPG microarchitecture is another high-performance variant marketed toward enthusiast-level users and performance gamers.
Then there is the Xe-HPC variant marketed for intensive computing use cases such as data centers and artificial intelligence training applications. Note that this variant is also suitable for supercomputers and scalable computer networks.
Because of the variations mentions above, it is imperative for consumers to take note of their preference or specific use-case intention while checking the details of the Intel Core or an equipped machine they intent to buy and use.
Summary of the Pros and Cons of Intel Iris Xe Graphics
The introduction of the Xe marks another milestone for Intel Corporation. The company has been working for several years to resolve the criticisms thrown at its integrated graphics solution, especially in consideration of better-performing solutions from other chipmakers.
Users who have purchased a device equipped with a Tiger Lake Intel Core chip and an Xe integrated GPU can expect three-fold to four-fold performance boosts, especially when compared to previous Intel Core chips and other entry-level GPUs.
However, remember that not all Intel Core chips have an Xe graphics processor. It is always better to check the label. Furthermore, different Core variants have different Xe architectures and configurations tailor-fitted for specific use cases and entry points.