Intel is acting like it cares more about GPUs than CPUs, and that's a good thing
Something to look forward to: With the launch of their first discrete GPU next year, Intel will be approaching the GPU market from an incredibly weak position: the disappointing budget option serious gamers laugh at. For the first time in what feels like decades, Intel is the underdog, but they’re working hard to change that.
Key to any product’s success is a strong platform and network. Ryzen, for example, not only introduced high core counts but also faster memory support, ECC memory support, backward compatibility with motherboards and usable box coolers. Intel didn’t seem to get the memo on the CPU side, but their graphics team was taking notes.
As PC Gamer noted recently, Intel’s decision to rebuild its graphics control panel from the ground up demonstrates the focus they’re putting on graphics. As you can see from their video in the tweet below, it’s not a casual update but a serious upgrade.
“Optimizing graphics for your games is essential, but control panels can be confusing,” Intel says. Speaking of confusing control panels, take a look at Intel’s Xtreme Tuning Utility for CPU controls. It’s out of date and way behind AMD’s Ryzen Master software, so why aren’t they updating that?
Graphics control panels can be confusing, but not for much longer. pic.twitter.com/scaHSAfQBH
— Intel Graphics (@IntelGraphics) January 14, 2019
Even though drivers for integrated graphics are generally less essential than for discrete cards, Intel has matched Nvidia on the support front, too. Since the release of the RTX series, there have been six driver updates for both the RTX cards and Intel’s iGPUs.
When the Windows October Update launched, Intel had updated graphics drivers ready before Nvidia or AMD. Their last update for the CPU lineup, the Turbo Boost Max 3.0 update, came back in July while their iGPUs have already received two updates this year.
Intel also has plans to introduce adaptive sync to their integrated and discrete GPUs and are calling it a “priority.” While Nvidia only recently opened up to support FreeSync monitors, Intel is actually willing to go a step further. When a fan asked Intel, AMD, and Nvidia if they’d consider a joint adaptive sync certification program only Intel responded, and they called it a “great idea.”
Of all three manufacturers, Intel has the best setting recommendation program. The Gameplay Portal lets users search by either processor or game, and once both are determined, it spits out a screenshot of the in-game settings that the processor can run at 60 fps (or as close as it can get).
The solution isn’t as flexible as Nvidia’s Game Optimization program, which can theoretically let players adjust between performance and quality and consider other system specs. However, Nvidia’s solution has a terrible reputation for being completely wrong and full of glitches.
The elephant in the room is, of course, only a small portion of gamers rely on iGPUs, and most of what Intel is doing is overkill. Even with Intel’s plans to break the Teraflop barrier and double the performance of their iGPUs with the next generation, all their game-oriented services are still niche.
Casual Fortnite or Overwatch gamers who play on their iGPUs probably haven’t noticed all the little things Intel has been doing. For Intel, though, that’s okay, because they’re not doing it for them. They’re doing it for hardcore enthusiasts that purchase their discrete GPU next year, which, if it receives as much focus as their iGPUs as of late, could be a real hit.