Intel GMA HD Graphics Performance

January 25, 2010 | 09:40

Tags: #1080p #660 #661 #785g #9300 #core-i5 #cpu #h264 #hd #htpc #perform #performance

Companies: #divx #intel #test

Testing Methods

As always we've aimed to test the systems in likely, real-world scenarios that integrated graphics would be used for. We manual played the games and recorded the FPS using FRAPS 3.03, preferring to use games and a 1,280 x 800 resolution likely used by HDTVs and scaled down from mainstream, widescreen TFT sizes: 19in to 21in.

For the video playback testing, we used h.264 clips, trailers and Blu-ray discs, in popular paid-for and free softwares, to measure CPU usage and power consumption in all the platforms. During these tests, the PSU listed below was replaced with a 350W Enermax Eco80 in order to represent a typical, low power and budget ATX PSU that could be paired with these PCs. We also used an Iiyama 21in FullHD (1,920 x 1,080) monitor with HDCP (over DVI) in the Blu-ray playback tests.

PCs Tested:


    • Intel Core i5-661: 3.33GHz (25x133MHz), 900MHz Intel GMA HD IGP, 2 core, 4 thread, TurboBoost Enabled
    • Intel Core i3-530: 2.93GHz (22x133MHz), 733MHz Intel GMA HD IGP, 2 core, 4 thread.
    • 4GB DDR3 1,333MHz SPD settings
    • Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H motherboard (F5m BIOS)


    • AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition: 3.1GHz (15.5x200MHz), 2 core, 2 thread.
    • 4GB DDR3 1,333MHz SPD settings
    • MSI 785G-E65 with 128MB 1,333MHz GDDR3 Sideport Memory (500MHz Radeon HD 4200 IGP, 2.4 BIOS)


    • Intel Core 2 Duo E8500: 3.16GHz (9.5x333MHz), 2 core, 2 thread.
    • 4GB DDR2 800MHz at SPD settings
    • DFI LANParty Jr. GF9400-T2RS (GeForce 9400 IGP at 580MHz/1,400MHz, 421 BIOS)

Common Components

  • Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB hard disk
  • PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750W PSU
  • Windows 7 Home Premium x64
  • Intel WHQL
  • GeForce Driver 196.21 WHQL
  • ATI Catalyst 9.12 WHQL

System Cost

Please note, we did not feel the need to unify the clock speeds on the test systems - instead testing the fast, dual core CPUs at their default clock speed. This is because the CPU architectures - and therefore IGPs - cannot be directly compared clock for clock.

Be aware of the cost difference between the AMD system and rival Intel ones, which should factor into any system upgrade: for the cost of the Intel system you could buy the AMD one with quite a powerful a discrete graphics card, clearly allowing far superior performance. However, this article is designed for those aiming to buy an IGP for video playback - for ultra low power, the lowest physical profile and silence, for example - yet wanting some gaming on the side.

System Cost and 2D Performance

CustomPC Benchmark

  • Intel GMA HD (Core i5 661: 900MHz IGP)
  • Intel GMA HD (Core i3 530: 733MHz IGP)
  • Nvidia GeForce 9400 (Core 2 Duo E8500)
  • AMD 785G (Phenom II X2 550 BE)
    • 1313
    • 255
    • 1178
    • 185
    • 1044
    • 235
    • 1009
    • 150
Sorted by Overall Score
  • CPC Bench Overall Score
  • CPU & Motherboard Cost (£)

The cost of the Intel Core i5-661 alone is £170, which in itself is more expensive than the price of the AMD CPU and 785G motherboard, which are £70 and £80 respectively. Throw in the Gigabyte GA-H55M-UD2H motherboard for the Intel CPU, at £85, and that comes to a whopping £255! For the £100 difference between the Core i5-661 and AMD's setup, you could drop in a Radeon HD 5750 for an awesome gaming experience.

The slightly cheaper Core i3-530 comes in at £100, saving a solid £70 off the end price but it's still more expensive than the AMD setup. Notably, for £30, you cannot buy an additional GPU worth mentioning though.

So why did we go with the Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition and not its Phenom II X4 965 (which would STILL be cheaper than Intel's premium system)? We didn't want to use a 125W TDP CPU - it's against the "low power" ethos of integrated graphics - however we did want a powerful dual-core in the driving seat so this was the best compromise we could find.

Finally, harking back to the days of Core 2 Duo - you can still buy the Core 2 Duo E8500 for around £125, however the DFI LANParty Jr featuring the GeForce 9400 chipset, like all GeForce 9300 and 9400 motherboards, is now extinct. At the time it retailed for around £110, and we've included it for a comparison.

Cost : Performance Factor

CustomPC Benchmark

  • AMD 785G (Phenom II X2 550 BE)
  • Intel GMA HD (Core i3 530: 733MHz IGP)
  • Intel GMA HD (Core i5 661: 900MHz IGP)
  • Nvidia GeForce 9400 (Core 2 Duo E8500)
    • 6.73
    • 6.37
    • 5.15
    • 4.43
Higher is better
  • Price:Cost Factor

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