Battle of the IGPs
Our long journey with Frame Rating, a new capture-based analysis tool to measure graphics performance of PCs and GPUs, began almost two years ago as a way to properly evaluate the real-world experiences for gamers. What started as a project attempting to learn about multi-GPU complications has really become a new standard in graphics evaluation and I truly believe it will play a crucial role going forward in GPU and game testing.
Today we use these Frame Rating methods and tools, which are elaborately detailed in our Frame Rating Dissected article, and apply them to a completely new market: notebooks. Even though Frame Rating was meant for high performance discrete desktop GPUs, the theory and science behind the entire process is completely applicable to notebook graphics and even on the integrated graphics solutions on Haswell processors and Richland APUs. It also is able to measure performance of discrete/integrated graphics combos from NVIDIA and AMD in a unique way that has already found some interesting results.
Battle of the IGPs
Even though neither side wants us to call it this, we are testing integrated graphics today. With the release of Intel’s Haswell processor (the Core i7/i5/i3 4000) the company has upgraded the graphics noticeably on several of their mobile and desktop products. In my first review of the Core i7-4770K, a desktop LGA1150 part, the integrated graphics now known as the HD 4600 were only slightly faster than the graphics of the previous generation Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge. Even though we had all the technical details of the HD 5000 and Iris / Iris Pro graphics options, no desktop parts actually utilize them so we had to wait for some more hardware to show up.
When Apple held a press conference and announced new MacBook Air machines that used Intel’s Haswell architecture, I knew I could count on Ken to go and pick one up for himself. Of course, before I let him start using it for his own purposes, I made him sit through a few agonizing days of benchmarking and testing in both Windows and Mac OS X environments. Ken has already posted a review of the MacBook Air 11-in model ‘from a Windows perspective’ and in that we teased that we had done quite a bit more evaluation of the graphics performance to be shown later. Now is later.
So the first combatant in our integrated graphics showdown with Frame Rating is the 11-in MacBook Air. A small, but powerful Ultrabook that sports more than 11 hours of battery life (in OS X at least) but also includes the new HD 5000 integrated graphics options. Along with that battery life though is the GT3 variation of the new Intel processor graphics that doubles the number of compute units as compared to the GT2. The GT2 is the architecture behind the HD 4600 graphics that sits with nearly all of the desktop processors, and many of the notebook versions, so I am very curious how this comparison is going to stand.
Introduction and Technical Specifications
Courtesy of MSI
The Z87 MPOWER board is one of the first boards released as part of MSI's Z87 update of the much vaunted MPOWER line. The board supports the next generation of Intel processors based on the LGA1150 socket (Haswell), and is packed full of features and overclocking goodness. In-line with the MPower's established theme, the Z87 MPower board maintain's the black and yellow stylings from the last generation with the MSI brand logo proudly displeased on the chipset heat sink. At a retail price of $229.99, the Z87 MPower would be a nice value add to any enthusiast or gaming system.
Courtesy of MSI
Courtesy of MSI
In keeping with its enthusiast appeal, MSI incorporated a full 16-phase digital power delivery system into the Z87 MPower, ensuring CPU stability under the most intense system loads. MSI integrated the following features into the Z87 MPower: eight SATA 6Gb/s ports; an mSATA 6Gb/s port; a Killer E2205 GigE NIC; Atheros 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth adapter support; three PCI-Express x16 slots for up to tri-card support; four PCI-Express x1 slots; Lucidlogix Virtu® MVP 2.0 support; onboard power, reset, BIOS reset, base clock control, OC Genie, and Go2BIOS buttons; multi-BIOS and OC Genie mode switches; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; and USB 2.0 and 3.0 port support.
Courtesy of MSI
Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2013 - 03:31 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: yoga 11, video, ultrabook, podcast, MacBook Air, haswell, gtx 760
PC Perspective Podcast #257 - 06/27/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the GTX 760, Ultrabook Reviews, Intel Enterprise SSDs and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano and Morry Teitelman
Program length: 1:43:31
Week in Review:
0:41:30 ASUS Z87-Pro Motherboard Review
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: General Tech | June 27, 2013 - 02:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: H87, zotac, haswell, mini-itx, mini ITX, 802.11n, msata
Zotac has announced a new H87ITX-A-E motherboard, which is a mini-ITX form factor board for Intel's latest generation "Haswell" 4th Generation Core processors. The board is designed for small form factor systems and should enable some low power PCs for HTPC, DVR, home server and desktop tasks.
The board has a unique layout. Zotac has placed four SATA III 6Gbps ports, a single Mini-PCI-E slot, one mSATA (6Gbps) connector, and hte PCH at the top of the board where the CPU socket would traditionally be. The LGA 1150 CPU socket sits just above the single PCI-E x 16 slot and between the VRMs and two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB RAM). There are also headers for four additional USB 2.0 ports and two additional USB 3.0 ports. Zotac is bundling a pre-installed 802.11n Wi-Fi card in the Mini-PCI-E slot.
The Zotac H87 Mini ITX Wi-Fi series board has robust IO that includes:
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 2 x Gigabit Ethernet
- 5 x Analog audio jacks
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF
- 2 x Wi-Fi antennas
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DisplayPort
- 1 x DVI
The Mini-ITX motherboard appears to be available in Japan via Amazon's Japanese site, but US pricing and availability are still unkown. From the specifications though, it looks like a capable motherboard that is worth keeping an eye on. If the price translation is accurate, the board may be around $150 when it hits US shores, though that is not the official MSRP (which could change).
Subject: Mobile | June 24, 2013 - 02:01 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, Samsung, office 2013, haswell, atom z2760, ativ tab 3, ativ q, ativ, android 4.2.2
Late last week, Samsung announced new hardware at an event in London. Among the products shown off, Samsung unveiled the 10.1" ATIV Tab 3 and the 13.3" ATIV Q Convertible notebook. Both machines are x86-64 and run the full version of Windows 8.
Samsung ATIV Q
The ATIV Q is the premium device, with Intel's latest Haswell processor, a high resolution display on a unique sliding hinge design, and a thin ultra-portable form factor. The 13" convertible notebook is 14mm thick and weighs about 2.8 pounds. The system features an impressive 13" touchscreen display with a resolution of 3200 x 1800 (275 PPI) and 178-degree viewing angles.
The ATIV Q has a unique sliding hinge design that allows the display to lay flat in slate tablet mode, held above the keyboard parallel to the keyboard, and in laptop mode with the display snapped to the top of the keyboard and at an angle. The display further supports the company's S-Pen stylus. In order to maintain the 14mm thick figure, Samsung has packed the processor and some of the other internals into the display hinge rather than the traditional placement in the laptop's base (under the keyboard). The hinge also hosts USB 3.0 and mini-HDMI ports. Here's hoping the build quality is good and the hinge is sturdy as having the internals packed into the hinge is a risky proposition.
Other IO (located around the laptop's base) includes USB, power, and Ethernet jacks. Note that the ATIV Q does not have a touch pad. Users will need to use the eraser point or the touchscreen to navigate.
Internally, the ATIV Q features an Intel Core i5 CPU with HD 4400 graphics, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a battery that is reportedly capable of delivery 9 hours of normal usage. The integrated HD 4400 graphics will not get you much, but it is just barely enough to run older games at around 30 FPS at 1280 x 1024 and reduced quality settings according to reviews of systems with similar specs around the net.
On the software side of things, the ATIV Q runs the full version of Microsoft's Windows 8 operating system. Samsung is also bundling the PC with a virtualized installation of Android 4.2.2 that runs on top of -- and can share files with -- Windows 8. Users can access and run traditional Windows applications, Windows 8 (Metro/Modern UI/Whatever It is Called This Week) apps, and applications from the Google Play store. The WIndows 8 and Android OSes further share folders such that files can be shared between them. Application shortcuts for the Android apps can also reportedly be linked to from the Windows 8 Start Screen.
ATIV Tab 3
The ATIV Tab 3 was also announced at the Samsung event in London. This device is a 10.1" tablet measuring 8.2mm thick and weighing 550g (approximately 1.21 lbs). It is powered by an Intel Atom Z2760 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal storage. The 10.1" display has a resolution of 1366 x 768. Samsung is reportedly including a battery rated at 10 hours of usage. The system supports microSD cards for expansion, which is good because there is not going to be much storage space left for user-space files after the OS and bundled programs.
The ATIV Tab 3 comes with the full version of Windows 8 and the full version of Microsoft Office 2013.
Pricing and availability for the two new ATIV tablets has not yet been announced. The Q is a tablet to watch out of for though. So long as the build quality is there, I think it will be popular with those fans of convertible notebooks (of which I am one).
Subject: General Tech | June 24, 2013 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: haswell, linux
With the initial difficulties seen with Linux crossing Intel's Bridges it is nice to see decent compatibility from Haswell at launch. While the GPU side does lag somewhat behind the performance offered by the Windows driver it is nowhere near as far behind as in the previous architectures. For raw CPU calculations it is running at peak performance on newer Linux kernels, offering not only a decent upgrade but significantly improved power efficiency. Phoronix have gathered their various reviews to give you a look at the current overall compatibility of Haswell as well as performance results in their latest post.
"Since the Computex launch of Intel's much anticipated Haswell processors at the beginning of the month, there's been much Linux coverage on Phoronix concerning the compatibility and performance of these new Intel processors from both the processing and graphics sides. Here's a summary of all of our discoveries and findings over the past few weeks."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 136: A whole heap of AMD news
- TSMC reaches deal with Apple to supply 20nm, 16nm and 10nm chips, sources claim @ DigiTimes
- Raspberry Pi Bitcoin miner @ Hack a Day
- Walkera QR Ladybird V2 RTF Micro Quadcopter @ Metku.net
- ModSynergy 10-Year Celebration Contest: USA-International Edition @ ModSynergy
- Red Bull Training Grounds Santa Monica - StarCraft II Tournament @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2013 - 12:08 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: windows 8, ultrabook, u430 touch, u330 touch, sshd, Lenovo, haswell
Lenovo recently unveiled a n umber of new laptops and tablets running Microsoft's latest touch-friendly operating system. New devices include the Lenovo Mix convertible tablet, three new S-series laptops, and two new U-series ultrabooks.
The Lenovo Mix is the company's latest convertible. Primarily a tablet, the 10.1" device comes with a detachable AccuType keyboard case. It weighs 1.2 pounds and is a mere 0.4" thick.
Boasting a 10 hour battery life, the Lenovo Mix features a dual core Intel Atom processor, 64GB internal flash storage, microSD card support, and Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Fi, and (optional) 3G+GPS radios. The main attraction is a 10.1" IPS display with a resolution of 1366x768.
The Lenovo Mix will be available later this summer with a starting price of $500.
Lenovo S210, S400, and S500
In addition to the convertible tablet, Lenovo is also releasing three new S-series laptops. These new Windows 8 machines start at 3 pounds and 0.8" thick. They all feature a "tactile metallic finish," Dolby Advanced Audio v2 certification, and pre-installed Lenovo software such as Lenovo Companion, Lenovo Support, Lenovo Cloud.
The Lenovo S210 is a 11.6" laptop that supports Intel's Ivy Bridge Core i3 processors. Moving up from there, the Lenovo S400 is a 14" laptop and the S500 is a 15.6" laptop. Both the S400 and S500 support Intel Ivy Bridge Core i5 processors and discrete NVIDIA graphics.
All three Lenovo S-series laptops will be available for purchase later this summer. The laptops have a starting price of $429 for the S210, $499 for the S400, and $579 for the S500.
Lenovo U330 Touch and U430 Touch
Lenovo is also releasing two new ultrabook-class ultra-portable laptops. The Lenovo U330 is a 13.3" machine and the Lenovo U430 is a 14" thin-and-light. The laptops use a metal chassis, start at 3.7 pounds and 0.74" thick. Users will be able to interact with the ultrabook using voice or motion controls as well as the multi-touch touchpad and 10-point capacitive multi-touch display.
The Lenovo U330 is a 13.3" ultrabook that measures 12.7" x 8.8" x 0.74" and weighs 3.7 pounds. Display options include 1366 x 768 and 1920 x 1080 displays. Lenovo is providing the option of a 10-point multi-touch add-on for the display. Hardware specifications include an Intel Core i3-4010U or a Core i5-4200U CPU, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 42 Whr battery. Storage options include a 500GB or 1TB hard drive paired with 16GB of flash storage as cache, or a single 256GB SSD.
The Lenovo U330 Touch will be available in orange or gray later this summer with a starting MSRP of $799.
Meanwhile, the Lenovo U430 Touch is a larger machine that measures 13.2" x 9.2" x 0.81" and weighs 4.2 pounds. This machine comes with a 14" 1600 x 900 or 1920 x 1080p display with 10-point multi-touch panel option. The ultrabook is powered by Intel's Fourth Generation Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processors, optional NVIDIA discrete graphics, up to 8GB of RAM, and a 52 Whr battery. Storage options include a 1TB or 500GB SSHD with 16GB cache or a single 256GB SSD.
IO options on the laptop include HDMI video outputs, USB 3.0 ports, and a SD card reader.
The U430 Touch will be available later this summer with a starting price of $899.
All this new hardware is a lot to take in, but overall the specifications look good.
Subject: Processors | June 21, 2013 - 09:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, cpu, Broadwell, 14nm
Alongside the good news of 8-core Haswell-E parts, VR-Zone revealed an updated Intel road map that makes no mention of the 14nm Haswell architecture die shrink Broadwell. Broadwell was originally intended to be the next "tick" in Intel's yearly "tick-tock" chip release schedule set to release next year. If recent reports are true, this will no longer be the case. Instead, 2014 will be dominated (at least on the Intel side of things) by consumer Haswell and enthusiast-grade Haswell-E chips.
What is going on with Broadwell?
Broadwell is essentially supposed to be a CPU using the Haswell micro-architecture that is built on a (impressively) smaller 14nm manufacturing process. There may be a few minor tweaks to the architecture or updates to the instruction set extensions, but the big difference between Broadwell and Haswell is the die shrink from 22nm to 14nm. The die shrink will allow for better low-power performance and will be beneficial in battery-powered mobile devices first and foremost. Likely as a result of the main benefits being mobile parts, Intel has previously announced that Broadwell chips would be BGA only, which means that there would not be a traditional LGA socket-ed desktop part. Broadwell chips would only come soldered onto motherboards in bare-bones systems, laptops, and tablets for example.
Despite the small architectural differences, the die shrink alone is a monumental task. Intel needs to not only be able to shrink Haswell and its wealth of transistors to 14nm, but it has to do so in a way that allows them to get the yields and power efficiency characteristics that they want. This is extremely hard, and the move to manufacturing nodes below 22nm is going to get exceedingly difficult. Intel accomplished 22nm with its Tri-gate 3D transistors, but with 14nm they are going to have to push beyond that, and even with its huge money vault, physics is working against them in a big way here. As a result of the huge challenges of moving to 14nm, it seems at this point that Broadwell will not be ready in time for a 2014 launch after all. Instead, Intel is now shooting for a 2015 launch of the BGA Broadwell chips alongside the LGA (socket-ed) 14nm Sky Lake processors (the "tock" to Broadwell's "tick").
Some enthusiasts and media have painted the Broadwell delay to be, at least in part, due to less competition from AMD. That is possible, but I can't help but thinking that slowing down Broadwell is the last thing Intel would want to do. The sooner Intel is able to move its Haswell (and future) micro-architecture-based chips to 14nm and beyond, the sooner AMD is put all that much farther behind. If Intel had managed 14nm Broadwell in 2014, AMD would have been screwed out of a lot of SFF NUC-type systems as well as mobile devices as they would not really be able to compete on performance or power efficiency! (Then Intel could happily focus on trying to bring down ARM in the mobile space, which it seems to want to do heh.) In some internal discussion with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath, I think that Intel would have loved to bring 14nm chips next year but, because of manufacturing process woes, the chips are simply not ready.
The new plan: Refresh Haswell in 2014 with a new Z97 chipset
Now, with the launch of Broadwell moved back to at least 2015, consumers will now be presented with a refresh of 22nm Haswell chips on the consumer side around Q2 2014 and the upcoming launch of enthusiast-platform Haswell-E processors in the second half of 2014.
The Haswell (LGA 1150) refresh will include better binned chips with a lineup that is likely to see a slight speed bump in stock clockspeed across the board as well as an updated Z97 chipset. The new chipset will support 1000 MB/s SATA Express and boot-level malware protection technology in the form of Intel Device Protection and Boot Guard. Granted motherboards using the updated Z97 chipset are not going to be all that alluring to those users already running Z87 chipsets with their Haswell processors. However, users that have not yet upgraded might as well go with the newer chipset and enjoy the small tweaks and benefits that go along with it. In other words, if you were holding out waiting to upgrade to a Broadwell CPU plus motherboard combo, you are going to be waiting at least another year. You will be able to grab a refreshed Haswell CPU and a Z87 or Z97 chipset-based motherboard next year though (which should still be a healthy upgrade if you have a pre-Sandy Bridge system).
Also worth noting is that if you have already upgraded to Haswell, you can rest easy knowing that you have at least another year of your chip being the newest model--quite a feat considering how fast the tech world traditionally moves!
On the other hand, if Haswell just isn't fast enough, there is always Haswell-E to look forward to in 2014! Haswell-E will bring 8-core, 16-thread chips with 20MB of L3 cache (up to ~140W TDP) and the X99 chipset, which should keep the top-end enthusiast market happy no matter the state of Broadwell.
I'm looking forward to more details regarding the 14nm manufacturing process, and hoping that once the chips are on the way the company will be willing to talk about some of the challenges and issues they faced moving to such a small process node (perhaps at IDF? One can hope.) In the mean time, Haswell has another year to shine and make Intel money while AMD works on its HSA and APU strategies.
What do you think about the 14nm Broadwell delay? Does it impact you, or were you waiting for Haswell-E anyway?
Subject: Systems | June 20, 2013 - 03:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hwlb, Richland, haswell
It has been quite a long time since we have seen new processors on the HWLB, Ivy Bridge has enjoyed a long reign as the most powerful consumer chip for high end and mid-range machines and the A10 -5800K Trinity has been on the Low End machine since its initial release. All three system recommendations have now change with the release of Haswell and Richland.
Starting with the most affordable machine, the $455 Low End machine is now powered by the brand new AMD A8-6600K Richland, not the fast chip but a good compromise if you insist on picking up a discrete GPU for hybrid Crossfire. If you skip that GPU you can opt to spend $30 for the A10-6800K and reduce the total cost of the system by $35. MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65 motherboard will provide a stable platform to run on but please update the BIOS to take full advantage of Richland's new features.
The Mid-Range system has moved up to Haswell, perhaps not a great upgrade from an existing Ivy Bridge system but perfect for a new build. The i5-4670K is the lowest priced unlocked chip from Intel, a good choice considering the lockdown on overclocking on the non-K parts. MSI's Z87-G43 was chosen for the flexibility of output ports but it does only sport a single 16x PCIe slot, if you expect to upgrade to a system with dual GPUs the 4670K would be a bottleneck and you are better off saving your pennies for the High End system. Also new is the XFX Double D HD 7870 GHz and Block Edition which sports a custom cooling solution to go with its hefty factory overclock. This system offers you a lot of ways to tweak performance and if you are just starting to dabble in overclocking this system would be a great place to start.
Intel has finally dethroned the i7-3770K which lasted longer than just about any other part has on the HWLB, the new i7-4770K is now available with the wide variety of new features offered by Haswell. The chip also needs a new home and the very impressive, and golden, ASUS Z87-EXPERT is perfect for this chip as it sports a huge amount of SATA 6Gbps, USB 3.0, and audio ports along with PCIe 16x and Thunderbolt. Also new this month is NVIDIA's GTX770 which will offer you all the performance of the GTX680 but at the same price as the previous pick, the GTX 670.
The Dream system remains mostly unchanged for now, Ivy Bridge E just offers more power for the truly extreme user. Keep your eye out for updates though, there are more releases scheduled this year that could make it onto the PCPer HWLB!
Apple has seen a healthy boost in computer sales and adoption since the transition to Intel-based platforms in 2006, but the MacBook line has far and away been the biggest benefactor. Apple has come a long way both from an engineering standpoint and consumer satisfaction point since the long retired iBook and PowerBook lines. This is especially evident when you look at their current product lineup, and products like the 11” MacBook Air.
Even though it may not be the most popular opinion around here, I have been a Mac user since 2005 with the original Mac Mini, and I have used a MacBook as my primary computer since 2008. I switched to the 11” MacBook Air when it came out in 2011, and experienced the growing pains of using a low power platform as my main computer.
While I still have a desktop for the occasional video that I edit at home, or game I manage to find time to play, the majority of my day involves being portable. Both in class and at the office, and I quickly grew to appreciate the 11” form factor, as well as the portability it offers. However, I was quite dissatisfied with the performance and battery life that my ageing ultraportable offered. Desperate for improvements, I decided to see what two generations worth of Intel engineering afforded, and picked up the new Haswell-based 11” MacBook Air.
Since the redesign of the MacBook Air in 2010, the overall look and feel has stayed virtually the same. While the Mini DisplayPort connector on the side became a Thunderbolt connector in 2011, things are still pretty much the same.
In this way, the 2013 MacBook Air should provide no surprises. The one visual difference I can notice involves upgrading the microphone on the left side to a stereo array, causing there to be two grilles this time, instead of one. However, the faults I found in the past with the MacBook Air have nothing to do with the aesthetics or build quality of the device, so I am not too disappointed by the design stagnation.
From an industrial design perspective, everything about this notebook feels familiar to me, which is a positive. I still believe that Apple’s trackpad implementation is the best I've used, and the backlit chiclet keyboard they have been using for years is a good compromise between thickness and key travel.