For a long time now there have been only two players in town if you wanted discrete graphics for your PC. AMD or NVIDIA or for some 3DFX but that’s changing as the first systems with another discrete option are now on the market. Intel Iris Xe Max, A GPU from Intel.
Yes! We are talking about Intel’s new Iris Xe Max line-up. The company most known for strapping integrated graphics to their CPUs has now branched out to challenge not just AMD but NVIDIA in a space that they have long dominated. But let’s not get too excited as the Xe MAX is just a starting point for the chip giant not a total game changer.
Instead of rivalling a beefy GPU like the RTX 3080 or the RX 6800 XT, Intel’s first GPU is meant primarily for thin and light notebooks. But WHY? The answer is that the chip is being marketed much more towards content creators and less towards the gamers. No that doesn’t mean you can’t game on the Intel Xe MAX as Intel is touting 30 to 45 FPS in modern graphically intense titles at 1080p.
Although the Xe MAX is a dedicated GPU and not some kind of integrated graphics it has a rather small die. Which definitely puts a cap on how much it can actually do for gamers. And unlike other solutions where an integrated GPU can work with a discrete chip to render the same frame much faster like we experienced with the Radeon dual graphics Xe MAX can’t do this with the main CPU further limiting its performance in the gaming horizon.
But things should be much more interesting on the content creation side. The Intel Xe Max supports machine learning to speed up rendering tasks. Although we just stated that it can’t work together with the I-GPU. The built-in AI can assign separate tasks to the integrated and dedicated GPUs which could be helpful for editors trying to process multiple video clips simultaneously. One key benefit that Intel is heavily trying to get to its consumers is how its dynamic power sharing can more efficiently allocate power between the CPU the discrete and I-GPU. Though how much battery will you actually save will depend on your workload.
Early reviews indicate that Intel Xe Max is a significant step up in terms of performance from a typical I-GPU for content creators. However given the obvious limitations of the chip it probably isn’t going to blow you away. But this is still an important first step for Intel as its set to release an actual gaming graphic card with modern features like ray tracing support sometime in 2021. Intel claims that Xe Max rivals NVIDIA’s entry level solutions for gaming and beats them in certain rendering tasks. It’ll be interesting to see if they can hold their own against existing high end desktop parts assuming people can get their hands on one.
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