Intel Iris Xe Max Review: Features, Pros, and Cons

Intel Iris Xe Max Review: Features, Pros, and Cons

The Intel Iris Xe Max is the first discrete graphics processing unit from Intel Corporation in decades. Note that its first attempt was in 1998 when it launched the Intel740 graphics card. However, this hardware was unsuccessful due to its disappointing performance.

Intel made another attempt through the Larrabee microarchitecture but it canceled the project in 2009. It was in 2018 that the company started assembling a team to initiate the development of a discrete GPU to target the PC gaming and datacenter markets.

Nevertheless, codenamed “DG1” and formally launched in 2020 alongside the Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics and the 11th-generation quad-core Tiger Lake Intel Core processors, the Intel Iris Xe Max signaled the return of Intel in the discrete graphics market.

It is also worth mentioning that Intel also has another line of discrete graphics processors placed under the specific Intel Arc sub-brand. These GPUs offer several advantages over the Intel Iris Xe Max. There are also a range of options under the Arc line.

Selling Points: Key Features of Intel Iris Xe Max Discrete Graphics

The selling points of Intel Iris Xe Max are generally similar to the purported features of Intel Iris Xe, its integrated graphics counterpart. These include ultra-high-definition video editing, support for 8K video with 4×4 HDR, and an optimized gaming experience using the Graphics Command Center and Intel Adaptive Sync.

However, it has several notable features that are claimed to be better than the standalone Intel Iris Xe graphics. Take note of the following:

Tiger Lake Optimization: The Iris Xe Max is optimized to not only work together but also work well with the 11th-generation Intel Core Tiger Lake processors to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted user experience.

Intel Deep Link: Users can combine the capabilities of their Intel Core processor, the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics processing unit, and the Iris Xe Max discrete graphics processor to deliver better overall performance.

New Architecture: Intel fabricated this discrete GPU with mobile personal computers in mind. This is the first separated GPU from Intel that uses the Intel Xe architecture to make it usable for thin and lightweight laptops.

Note that the specific Intel Deep Link feature provides several notable benefits to include dynamic power-sharing between the CPU, integrated GPU, and the discrete GPU, additive artificial intelligence for enhanced content creation, and hyper encode for instantly sharing creations and experiences with quad encode engines.

The Pros: Advantages of Intel Iris Xe Max Discrete Graphics

Provides Another Integrated GPU Option for Users

Its introduction essentially provides consumers with another option from several discrete graphics cards or GPUs from other manufacturers in the market. Fundamentally, for entry-level desktops and some upgradable laptops that lack a discrete GPU or have older graphics processors, they can enjoy a considerable performance boost with minimal cost.

Furthermore, it is also important to highlight the fact that this hardware competes against the entry-level GeForce MX graphics cards from NVIDIA and the low-tier Radeon RX GPUs from AMD. Hence, for the first time in a while, the introduction of Intel Iris Xe Max promotes competition in the low-end discrete graphics market.

More on the Benefits of the Deep Link Feature From Intel

Another advantage of the Intel Iris Xe Max, especially when compared to other discrete graphics processors in the market, is that it is compatible with Intel Core Tiger Lake. Note that it is not only compatible but also optimized to work well with the most latest Intel-branded central processing unit. Hardware optimization provides performance gains.

The aforesaid optimization is best demonstrated through the Deep Link Feature that allows the users to take advantage of the Intel Core central processing unit, the integrated Intel iris Xe GPU, and the discrete Iris Xe Max GPU. Smart management and task allocation allow efficient utilization of system resources while ensuring maximum performance.

The Cons: Disadvantages of Intel Iris Xe Max Discrete Graphics

Not Actually a Discrete Graphics for Performance Gaming

A notable disadvantage of the Intel Iris Xe Max is that it is not a discrete GPU built for PC gaming. It can decently handle some game titles, especially casual and less-intensive PC game titles. However, in consideration of graphic-intense game titles and performance gaming that require high frame rates, this GPU will fall short of expectations.

Several reviews and benchmark tests from tech websites and influencers have revealed that the integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics even performed better than its standalone Xe Max counterpart. Some of these tested titles include DOTA 2, Far Cry 5, World of Tanks, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, BioShock Infinite, and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Still A General and All-Purpose Graphics Processor

Using an Xe Max alongside a Tiger Lake Intel Core processor with an integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics processor can provide a considerable level of performance improvement. Of course, because this discrete GPU from Intel is not meant for handling graphics-intensive tasks, it is fair to say that it remains an all-purpose discrete graphics solution.

Intel does not plan to take on the entry-level PC gaming market. However, despite this disadvantage, the key strength of this processor centers on the Deep Link technology. Software or applications that can tap this feature can take benefit from the combined capabilities of a single central processor and two graphics processors.