Intel Iris Pro integrated graphics chips promise great gaming performance for notebooks

Dave James at

With the launch of the 4th Generation Core architecture set to take off at the beginning of June - around the time of the Computex show in Taiwan - Intel are starting to make more noise about their upcoming processors.

The architecture, codenamed "Haswell," is primarily designed as a mobile CPU, so Intel want the new processors to deliver improved graphics performance at reduced power demand. They've made some bold claims about the effectiveness of their 4th Generation Core architecture which, could prove especially useful for notebook owners that like to play games on the move.

Intel's biggest announcement covered the two top-end graphics components of the 4th Gen Core, titled Iris and Iris Pro. We’ve previously talked about these parts as the GT3 and GT3e versions of Intel’s HD Graphics series. According to Intel, they'll deliver twice the graphical performance of the previous generation. Intel are expecting the top Iris Pro part to be able to compete on the speed and visuals offered by Nvidia’s discrete mobile card, the GT650M.

That means the top Haswell 4th Gen notebooks, running the Iris Pro graphics, will be able to more or less stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some mid-range gaming laptops. The important thing to note is that Intel are saying the GT3e parts will offer “similar visual experiences and game play,” which doesn't necessarily mean identical framerates.

What it does mean though is that with the release of the 4th Gen Core this Summer Nvidia is going to have to do some serious thinking about what they do with their low to mid-range mobile graphics cards. With Haswell’s Iris Pro graphics perhaps offering comparable gaming performance they might find it a struggle convincing manufacturers to stick their pricey lower-end cards in future laptops if the CPU is able to offer the same 3D graphics chops.

On the desktop side things are a little different though.

The graphics performance ought to make for tiny gaming-capable machines

Intel have announced the new R-series of chips to run alongside the existing K-series. These will have the new Iris and Iris Pro graphics - though the R-series parts with the Iris Pro component will be BGA only. And that means they will only come in combination with the motherboard they are soldered into.

The R-series comes in with a lower TDP compared with the overclocker’s choice K-series chips, sitting at 65W vs. 84W. One of the main reasons for the lower TDP is the fact Intel are looking to squeeze those top-end graphics parts into a new generation of small form factor machines (think NUC) and all-in-one machines.

Intel's NUC - the potential for a BGA-based Iris Pro Steam Box?

Intel are claiming almost three times the graphics performance of its previous desktop CPU graphics with the core in the top-end R-series. That could suddenly make the idea of a NUC-based Steam Box a rather tempting one.


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