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Intel revamping its control panel for integrated graphics speaks to a larger strategy

If you follow Intel's graphics team on Twitter, you may have noticed that the company is fairly excited about something hardcore gamers are likely to scoff at—Intel is working on a brand new control panel for "Intel graphics," otherwise known as integrated graphics. So what, right? Well, not so fast.

Forget for a moment that there are actually people who use integrated graphics to play games (not at high settings, obviously). What interests me about this is that it's a continuation of a renewed focus on graphics at large, ahead of its plans to introduce its first modern discrete GPU product next year.

Whether Intel can truly give Nvidia and AMD a run for their money in the discrete space, especially as it applies to gaming, remains to be seen. However, I'm encouraged by what I'm seeing from Intel so far.

I've pointed out before that Intel is creating good habits by now releasing timely graphics driver updates, including launch drivers for certain games. It released a driver update just yesterday, in fact. There's also a dedicated portal on Intel's website to look up recommended settings for specific games, tailored to different processors, as shown above.

I bring this up because Intel's decision to revamp its control panel isn't all that interesting in a vacuum, but it does further underscore that Intel is taking graphics seriously, just as it needs to if it hopes to compete with established players.

In this case, Intel wants to make optimizing graphics settings easier and less confusing "for a billion people." 

"I'm really excited about the upcoming control panel for Intel graphics. It's designed for the lower power PC gamer on the go, it's instructional for those new to performance tuning, and we're planning a beta program so you can help us make it even better," says Chris Hook, Intel's graphics marketing boss (who previously held a similar role at AMD).

The new control panel is coming "soon." Intel also hinted at more changes in the pipeline. In a response to criticism over the performance of integrated graphics, Intel acknowledged that "regular driver updates and improving the graphics control panel are first steps" on a longer journey.

Where that journey leads, we'll find out in 2020. Unfortunately, getting any juicy tidbits from Intel on its discrete GPU plans is pretty much impossible right now. HotHardware tried, and while Intel answered some questions, the company offered up mostly broad strokes. However, Intel did make clear that it plans on supporting open standards, including VESA's adaptive sync, which Nvidia recently threw its weight behind as well.

It will be interesting to see what develops between now and Intel's first discrete GPU launch in 2020. In the meantime, I hopes it keeps doing things like this.