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The Future of Gaming with Integrated GPU

The future of gaming looks amazing and is set to grow. Apple surprised us with MacBook Pro 16 (2021) with its M1 Max processor and its integrated 32-core GPU, clocked 1296MHz. This integrated GPU has 32 unified pipelines for the 32 cores, 512-bit memory bus width, and 10.4 FLOPS performance at FP32. Its actual gaming performance is also admirable for an integrated GPU. Based on tests by Notebookcheck, the integrated GPU can reach around 40 fps in Borderlands 3 (2019) at 1080p ultra settings, which is comparable to the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 Mobile. In Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018), it reaches nearly 90 fps at 1080p ultra settings or comparable to the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 2070 Mobile.

Although the current M2 processor delivers slower graphical performance with its 10-core integrated GPU, the company is preparing the M2 Pro and M2 Max processors, which will be faster than the current M1 Pro and M1 Max. With the M1 Max being able to deliver comparable performance to mid-range dedicated mobile GPUs, it seems that the future of gaming looks promising with integrated GPU. Apple isn’t the only company that delivers powerful performance with integrated graphics. The company has released three Ryzen 9 mobile chips, the 6980HX, Pro 6950H, and 6900HX with integrated Radeon 690M GPU.

The Radeon 690M integrated GPU has 768 shaders and is clocked up to 2.4GHz based on the RDNA 2 Rembrandt architecture. However, it is about 50 percent slower than the 32-core GPU of the M1 Max and gives you 22 fps in Borderlands 3 (2010) at 1080p ultra settings or slightly faster than the dedicated Nvidia Geforce 1050 Ti mobile, based on tests by Notebookcheck. For desktop PC, the AMD Ryzen 5700G with its Vega 8 is currently the fastest integrated graphics solution with its 512 shaders and 2.1 GHz boost clock. Regardless, the 5700G and its integrated GPU are much slower than their mobile counterparts, giving you an unplayable frame rate of 14 fps in Borderlands 3 at 1080p ultra settings. You need to bring down the settings to medium at 1080p resolution to reach the borderline playable frame rates of 30 fps. If you don’t mind playing mostly older titles with Ryzen 5700G, you can reach 45fps with GTA V (2015) at 1080p high settings. This will save you a lot of money because you don’t need to buy a dedicated GPU. 

Surely, these integrated graphics are still far from approaching the performance level of GeForce RTX 3090 Ti, but with recent games playable at 1080p at medium to ultra settings, we could be optimistic about the future prospects of integrated graphics. The MacBook Pro 16 with an M1 Max processor is currently sold for around $3,900, which is still far from an ideal gaming solution, with the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti now available for $1,500. Even so, the technological advancements in integrated GPUs have reached a new height with Apple omitting the use of dedicated GPU for its high-end MacBook Pro models. AMD is working on Zen 4 architecture with 3D V-cache and better-integrated graphics performance. In a few years, integrated graphics will become an increasingly viable solution, whether you choose a laptop or desktop PC.

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