Earlier in October, Intel teased its dedicated laptop GPU, and now it’s rolling out the technology. The chip designer has revealed that several types are available for the first laptops using its Iris Xe Max graphics chip, including the recently released Acer Swift 3X, the ASUS VivoBook Flip TP470 and Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 2-in-1. You can buy the Dell hybrid at Best Buy now, but you have to wait for the Acer and ASUS computers to make their way stateside.
As you might expect, Iris Xe Max is Intel’s answer to the low-end GPUs you often see in compact thin-and-light portables. For famous games such as Hitman 2 and Metro Exodus, the company promises “great” 1080p gaming (although it will not compete against systems with beefier GPUs). It’s also smart enough to switch to integrated graphics when they could be more efficient. Dota 2 runs slightly quicker on the built-in Iris Xe than either the Xe Max or NVIDIA’s MX350, Intel claimed.
However, outside games, it may be more appealing. New Deep Link tech allows apps to break tasks between Intel’s built-in GPU on Tiger Lake-based PCs‘ and the Iris Xe Max, often providing performance that would usually require a video card. By early 2021, Intel is claiming double the single-stream video encoding capability of a GeForce RTX 2080, but we’re going to have to see how well this translates in the real world. The Xe Max can commit all of its power resources to the CPU for apps that rely more on conventional computing.
You’ll presumably see more laptops, but in the first half of 2021, Intel has also teased partnerships to roll out budget desktops using the underlying architecture of the Intel Xe Max (Xe-LP). Next year, you can also have fully gaming-ready desktop GPUs from Intel. In that light, Iris Xe Max really lays the basis for a more ambitious entry into the space of graphics. Whether or not everyday users are receptive is another matter. The GPU market was notoriously unable to tolerate more than two competitors, and for many consumers, Intel is still associated with sluggish graphics.