Today we'll take a closer look at the four Intel's integrated graphics solutions: GMA HD 2000, 2500, 3000 and 4000.
The difference between HD 4000 and HD 2500 is merely quantitative: the lower-end graphics has 6 instead of 16 stream processors. For tests we've taken the previous generation Core i5-2400 with HD 2000, having the same basic clock rate as Core i5-3450 with HD 2500. GMA HD 4000 is represented by Intel Core i5-3570K which has higher clock rates than Core i5-3450 with HD 2500. Intel Core i7-2700K completes the testbed with its GMA HD 3000. To challenge HD 4000, we've added discrete Radeon HD 6450 with Intel Core i5-3570K as the fifth competitor.
To provide a better picture of hardware progress, we've set the same maximal frequency for all the GPUs—1300 MHz, and utilized DDR3-1333 RAM only.
For the tests we've used GMA HD drivers v. 220.127.116.1196 and AMD Catalyst 12.3.
The tests for integrated graphics include five groups. 3D Modeling and Games are the same as of our reference test method. To give integrated graphics a better chance we also perform the Games testing group at low resolution and quality settings accordingly. From the reference Mathematical and Engineering Computations group we've removed MAPLE и MATLAB, because they do not use GPU. Though this set of benchmarks has therefore become the same as of 3D Modeling, we leave them both, representing the CPU score for the Mathematical and Engineering Computations and the GPU score for the 3D Modeling group of tests (still, both the testing groups have certain requirements to both the processor and graphics). Finally, we've added high-resolution video playback as a benchmark tool.
The scores on diagrams are relative to that of our reference testbed that always scores 100 points. As for integrated graphics, it's based on Celeron G540 and Radeon HD 6450 512MB. Detailed (absolute) results are provided in this summary.
This group of tests reveals the boost from the developed drivers: at its beginning Core i5-2400 scored only 47 points. The new generation HD Graphics is a certain leader: even HD 2500 easily beats HD 3000. However, the low-end discrete graphics doubles the scores, therefore, if you're going to buy a notebook for 3D modeling, you'd better choose one with a stand-alone video; or you can wait for the new Intel Celeron processors with the new GPUs, much better than the old HD 3000.
Mathematical and Engineering Computations
There is a certain GPU influence on these "processor" scores, so Core i5 with GMA HD 2500 outperforms once-top Core i7 with GMA HD 3000. The discrete graphics is still the leader; however, the gap is smaller.
Alien vs. Predator
The game demands DirectX 11, therefore doesn't support the previous generation HD Graphics. Even HD 4000 shows 10 fps; Radeon HD 6450 is 1.5x times slower; and HD 2500 is the third, though with better results than we could expect due to its smaller number of stream processors.
Here HD 4000 gets twice as much as HD 2500, and the latter outperforms Radeon HD 6450!
Batman: Arkham Asylum GOTY Edition
The older game engine lets HD 4000 beat the comfortable level of 30 fps. GMA HD 3000 lacks just a little; HD 2500 hardly scored 20 fps, though beat Radeon HD 6450 and all the more GMA HD 2000.
Here the champion is Radeon HD 6450, then go HD 4000 and HD 3000, yielding a bit (bear in mind, that the latter gains much from the mighty i7-2700K CPU). On the whole, GMA HD 2500 stands just between HD 2000 and HD 3000, as its model number assumes.
Crysis: Warhead x64
Being a total nightmare for low-end integrated graphics, Crysis juices from HD 2500 slightly more than from Radeon HD 6450, placing the former closer to HD 3000 than to HD 2000.
Low settings return common sense to the tests, and HD 2500 outperforms its predecessor just a little.
GMA HD 3000 simplifies rendering and therefore shows better results. Elsewhere the scores represent the minimal level juiced by the game engine.
GMA HD 2500 is the outsider, due to the peculiarities of F1 benchmark, which has different requirements to different architectures. The flawless victory of Radeon HD 6450 proves that even the high-end Intel HD Graphics can easily yield to a low-end discrete GPU.
Far Cry 2
GMA HD 4000 is the leader, though the amount of fps is too low for comfortable gaming. GMA HD 2500 shows twice smaller performance, but stands closer to HD 3000, than to HD 2000—that's good.
Far Cry 2 becomes playable at low quality settings, but here the progress of HD 2500 in comparison to the predecessor grows smaller. However, the benchmark is too tough for any integrated GPU: Radeon HD 6450 leaves them all behind.
On the contrary, in this test Radeon HD 6450 is the last. In general, it seems that a discrete graphics wins, when the processor uses all the resources, which it doesn't have to share with the integrated GPU. Also, we clearly see the better results of the 2nd generation Intel HD Graphics—the reason is its "cheating", simplified rendering.
At low quality settings you can afford comfortable gaming on GMA HD 3000 and 4000; HD 2500 is right at the threshold, closer to HD 3000. Radeon HD 6450 is the last, because here it operates without any rendering simplifications.
As for integrated GPUs, benchmarks at high quality settings are sooner synthetic, nevertheless, the results are rather interesting. GMA HD 2500 performs at the level of Radeon HD 6450; GMA HD 4000 shows 1.5x higher results (could do better, having 16 stream processors against the 6 of HD 2500).
At low quality settings, Radeon HD 6450 shares the first place with GMA HD 4000; the former gets advantage, because the CPU and the GPU don't share TDP and memory. GMA HD 2500 nominally falls behind HD 3000, but being of a later generation, handles with the tests that can't even be launched on HD 3000, as well as on HD 2000 (here we also face an obvious fps progress).
In the new generation the difference between the high-end and low-end GPUs has increased. The reason is obvious: the new high-end has 2.5x more stream processors than the low-end, and earlier this advantage was only twofold.
High-resolution Video Playback
The table represents the processors' loads in percents; for more information feel free to refer to our reference test method.
Here Intel GMA HD 2000/3000 performs with many artifacts in VLC Video Player 1.1.7, and in Media Player Classic Home Cinema 1.4.2499.0 x86 doesn't perform at all. Fortunately, the problem is solved in the new generation HD 2500 and HD 4000. Having the same encoding hardware, they are loaded almost at the same level, corrected to the different processor parts.
In games, the new generation low-end GMA HD 2500 falls behind low-end discrete solution, but usually strikes back under high load. Besides, a discrete GPU has certain advantages due to having own resources. In non-gaming tests we still face problems of Intel drivers; however, they've been significantly developed: a year ago Maya performance on GMA HD 2000 was two times smaller! Way to go, Intel.
In general, if to speak about the technologies supported, the gap between integrated and discrete GPUs is getting smaller and smaller. However, the scores are still very, very different.