It's now technically a three horse race in the discrete GPU space, because if you head over to Best Buy, you'll find a desktop system by CyberPowerPC that is configured with an Intel graphics card. Move over, AMD and Nvidia.
Well, sort of.
The system is a CyberPowerPC Xtreme Gamer (opens in new tab) desktop with an Intel Core i5 11400F processor (Rocket Lake), 8GB of RAM, and a 500GB SSD. There is no mention of the power supply unit, but it need not be a high wattage model. That discrete GPU that sits inside? It's an Intel Iris Xe DG1.
The DG1 is not the GPU that will have AMD and Nvidia shaking in their boots (or leather jackets). Intel's first implementation of the DG1 was the software development vehicle (SDV) kit it subsequently made available to its independent software vendor (ISV) partners over a year ago. We took one for a test drive (opens in new tab) and were not particularly impressed—it struggled even at 720p at minimum quality settings.
To be fair, though, that was simply a test vehicle for developers to get their feet wet with the Xe architecture. At the time, Intel told PCWorld (opens in new tab) that the final hardware, software, and drivers for its discrete Xe graphics cards will all be very different than what early impressions of the DG1 SDV showcased.
Fast forward to a few months ago, at least one add-in board partner began offering a custom DG1 to OEMs (opens in new tab). Asus designed a colorful, dual-fan DG1 graphics card that looks every bit a modern day discrete GPU, and it's very possible (perhaps even likely) that the specifications of the final hardware are different than DG1 SDV, as Intel suggested would be the case.
Still, don't expect stellar gaming performance. The listing on Best Buy does not mention which AIB built the DG1 inside the CyberPowerPC, but if the specs are the same as the Asus model, then we're looking at a cut down version of Intel's Iris Xe Max mobile GPU, with 80 execution units (down from the 96 you'll find in the Tiger Lake laptop processors), 4GB of LPDDR4X memory tied to a 128-bit memory bus, and a 1,700MHz GPU clock.
The price is another indicator of performance—at a time when discrete GPUs command a premium, the entire system is listed at just $750, GPU and all. There is absolutely no doubt that this version of the DG1 is intended for the entry-level market, especially when Best Buy references the Xe GPU as delivering "amazing HD video capabilities for work, home, casual gaming, and remote learning."
Even so, it's interesting that system builders are now leveraging Intel's discrete GPU hardware in shipping systems. It's a good sign that things are on track—Intel recently said its DG2 offering is "right around the corner." That's the discrete GPU that could shake things up and truly make this a genuine three horse race.