Intel Third Generation Core i7 3770K Reviewccokeman -
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Not everyone that purchases a mainstream system will end up with a strong discrete video card, so Intel has been upping the strength of its IGPU solutions since early 2010 with the Core i5 661. Today, both the Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge mainstream processors feature an integrated graphics processor that support Intel's Quick Sync video feature for GPU accelerated video transcoding. The Core i7 3770K is equipped with Intel's HD 4000 GPU with 16 Execution units, which improves gaming and GPU accelerated performance and video playback. Switchable graphics are also supported via third party software from Virtu, allowing for the best of both worlds; low power consumption in a 2D environment and full graphics power when needed through the onboard video connection. To test out these features, I ran the HD 4000-equipped 3770K through its paces. Firstly, I used 3DMark 11 Entry test, Aliens vs. Predator on low settings, and Civilization V on medium settings while running a resolution of 1680x1050. I then ran the HD 3000-equipped 2600K and HD 4000-equipped 3770K through a popular FPS shooter, also at 1680x1050, using the "Low" preset in-game to see if either could make it above a playable 30 FPS. There are plenty of casual games and MMOs that can run on older integrated solutions from Intel including WoW, but this is about testing with much more different type of game that demands a stronger GPU for playable frame rates.
Switchable Graphics Testing: Virtu
HD 3000 vs. HD 4000 comparison.
It is no surprise that the mainstream user is going to do so much more than game with their computer, especially as it becomes a tool to integrate ourselves into the digital world. For one, GPU acceleration is a way to reduce the time spent on tasks such as encoding video and transcoding video to fit formats usable by our portable smart phone to tablet devices. High definition content playback such as BluRay and 3D BluRay, with supported applications, can result in smooth playback with very little CPU usage, allowing the family to watch content streamed wirelessly to the display while working on other applications. Applications from Arcsoft, Corel, Cyberlink , Badaboom, Loilo, and Mainconcept are already available to support Intel's Third Generation Core series processors. Below are the results of using GPU acceleration to view a BluRay movie with Corel's WinDVD suite and conversion times to convert a 1080p clip for use on an Ipad using just the CPU and then the CPU and GPU combined. The results speak for themselves.
As you can see, utilizing the integrated GPU on its own, as well as coupled with a discrete video card has benefits beyond that of just gaming performance. When coupled with a discrete GPU using Lucid Logix Virtu software, you can see a huge increase in performance without having to swap connections on the back of the PC when a 3D load is generated. There was just a slight drop off in performance running in this configuration. As a stand-alone GPU, the HD 4000 can hold its own with low settings on current games on top of MMOs. It won't give you the best gaming experience at 1680x1050, but reducing the detail level and resolution further should help. Using GPU accelerated applications with the Core i7 3770K shows significant gains in performance across the board, from the 1% CPU usage while watching a BluRay movie to the almost 100% improvement in completion time to convert a video clip for use on an ipad. That is truly technology in progress.