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Desktop integrated graphics shoot-out

The best IGPs from Intel, AMD and Nvidia slug it out

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Review There was a time, not so long ago, when integrated graphics were so feeble they couldn’t pull the metaphorical skin off a rice pudding. Broadly speaking, the integrated graphics processor (IGP) was fit for little more than the two-dimensional Windows desktop, and a graphics card was necessary if you wanted to play games.

intel vs amd integrated graphics

This separation between gamers and the general public worked remarkably well. The majority of PC users – the ones who don’t play games – could buy a cheap, quiet PC with a chipset from AMD, AlI/ULi, ATI, Intel, Nvidia, SiS or VIA without paying too much attention to the graphics, while gamers would buy a graphics card from ATI or Nvidia.

The chipset business went through a minor change when Nvidia bought AlI/ULI in December 2005 and a bigger change when AMD acquired ATI the following year.

Today, SiS has faded so far into the background that we weren’t even aware that it has a range of Core 2 chipsets. To the best of our knowledge, you can't buy an SiS motherboard in Western Europe. VIA has moved away from the desktop PC market to concentrate on its highly integrated Mini- and Nano-ITX motherboards.

That leaves AMD, Nvidia and Intel in the desktop chipset business, with AMD and Intel making chipsets for their own processors, and Nvidia sat in the middle catering for both makes of CPU.

Windows Vista was launched at the beginning of 2007, after a lengthy gestation period. The OS places significant demands on graphics hardware as the 3D Aero UI in the Premium and Ultimate versions requires a GPU that is compliant with DirectX's Shader Model 2.

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