July 8, 2012
When it comes to buying a gaming laptop, the accepted wisdom up until this point has been simple; integrated graphics processors are well-suited for playing the classics of yesteryear, but venturing into modern territory - games like Battlefield 3 or Skyrim - requires a dedicated, power-hungry GPU: in other words, a serious card for serious gaming. Nevertheless, Intel and AMD's integrated graphics cores continue to gain traction in the laptop market for being cheaper, and more energy efficient than dedicated graphics cores. But for many, these integrated processors simply can't escape the stigma of being the budget choice for gaming, dismissed completely out of hand. The thing is, we've now reached the point where even IGPs can put up a strong fight against the current generation HD consoles - and in some cases, even surpass them.Cue the long-awaited arrival of AMD's second generation Trinity architecture. This revision sets out to defy common preconceptions of what's possible with integrated graphics, and perhaps more importantly, to make a stand against Intel's popular Ivy Bridge processors and HD4000 graphics chips. This is a bold promise indeed, but given AMD's concurrent position in markets for both CPUs and graphics cards, the potential for it to capitalise here is huge. For the sake of demonstration, we've been sent a prototype laptop by the company to showcase the strengths of its hybrid processor in a practical sense. While this particular unit is unlikely to ever see an actual retail release, the Trinity processor is slowly trickling its way into laptops via other brands, with the most notable entry in the UK market so far being Samsung's NP355V5C notebook.
"Integrated graphics cores are no longer the gameplay jokes they used to be: both AMD Trinity and Intel HD4000 can run Battlefield 3 and Skyrim beyond the console standard."