Ever since Intel and AMD jointly unveiled that new Intel Kaby Lake CPUs would be paired with an on-package Radeon RX Vega-derived GPU, there’ve been questions about what kind of performance this solution would offer. Now, we know a bit more about it, and the figures are encouraging.
Integrated graphics has long been caught in a certain trap. Gamers rarely want to invest much money into a combined CPU + GPU solution when CPUs can last a decade these days, but GPUs still advance at a quicker pace. Combine this with the high up-front cost of a large on-package solution and the difficulty of cooling a CPU + GPU configuration while still providing a high level of performance, and most gamers haven’t wanted to pay the top-dollar cost of a high-end integrated solution, while low-end buyers don’t usually care much about gaming. It’s really the special circumstances surrounding cryptocurrency that’ve put a spotlight on the Ryzen 5 2400G and made it a stronger solution than it would otherwise be for gamers trying to tide themselves over.
Intel’s Radeon-powered Core i7-8809G, and the Hades Canyon NUC it’ll appear in, are meant to change that. It’s a fully powered GPU with an 1156:128:64 core configuration, compared with the relatively svelte 704:44:16 inside AMD’s Ryzen 5 2400G. While it’ll obviously be priced far above what AMD is shipping in its mainstream APU parts, its early performance is impressive. Figures this high for 1080p performance at Ultra detail suggests a GPU that may well be able to handle 1440p if configured for lower detail levels. One thing we saw with the Ryzen 2400G, at a fraction of the same memory bandwidth, is that you can often trade, say, 720p Medium detail or 1080p Low. Extend that paradigm into this scenario, and you can imagine a situation where AMD’s Vega can hit 1440p at Medium detail and 1080p at High / Ultra. This data from Playwares suggests performs like an RX 570, which is more or less what we’d expect given the integrated GPUs stats.
As always, keep in mind the caveats — this is an early result on early firmware and early drivers, so performance of the shipping product could be better in several respects — but I think we can already see signs of how this is going to break. The only real question left at this point is whether Intel can charge an enormous price premium for the hardware (chances are, it absolutely can) and whether cryptocurrency advocates will immediately snap up these parts, and use them for mining (don’t hold your breath that they won’t). An integrated CPU with an on-package GPU with dedicated HBM2 is a magical mining machine, too. Alternately, Intel might simply make the NUCs so expensive that even miners won’t want them, but that’s going to be much help to those looking for lower-cost GPU solutions.
In short, don’t depend on ever being able to buy one of these at a sane price. What Intel rarely giveth, cryptocurrency inevitably takes away.
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