|ASRock Core-100HT Intel i3-330M HTPC|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Thursday, 01 July 2010|
Page 12 of 14
Lightweight Gaming Performance
While most readers will understand that comparing integrated video on the ASRock Core 100HT HTPC to any NVIDIA GeForce or ATI Radeon add-in graphics solution would be unfair, and at the same time it's also unfair to match the integrated Intel HD Graphics chip to NVIDIA's GeForce 9400 GPU on the ION platform. While discrete graphics have the advantage of large memory buffers and powerful dedicated graphics processors, they can never fit inside the micro-size package an integrated or mobile GPU can. So what kind of games can the mobile GPUs play?
Benchmark Reviews has tested frame rate performance using several video games displayed at 720p (0.92 MP) and 1080p (2.07 MP) HDTV resolutions, and the ASRock Core 100HT HTPC platform proved itself capable of every streaming video and 2D application we threw at it. While playing 3D games the results were considerably different, even with relatively low-demand titles such as Team Fortress 2, World of Warcraft, or Fallout 3. These games were not very enjoyable when played on a 1080p HDTV, even with all of the settings turned down. At 720p (1280x720) the performance perked up, and frame rates made the video action more fluid. Perhaps I was being unrealistic, and expecting that people would actually pass-up their gaming console or PC just to play these games on an HTPC in the first place. After all, this still amounts to comparing integrated graphics against add-in video cards.
Since most intense action and first-person shooter games are best experienced on high-resolution monitors and not HDTV resolutions, I decided to change my format and play some of the more entertaining titles that depend less on graphics power. The first was Battlefield Heroes, an online-only first-person shooter that requires very little graphic processing but still offers outstanding game play and hours of fun. Comparing the desktop gaming experience of playing Battlefield Heroes on high-resolution monitors (1680x1050 or 1920x1200) against the integrated Core i3 GPU experience on my 1080p HDTV actually offered no perceivable difference, which is exactly what desktop graphics should begin to fear.
When it came to games like Spore, The Sims, or parlor games such as Mahjong, Bejeweled 2, Solitaire, online Poker, or puzzles, the integrated Intel HD Graphics will work just fine. It's not uncommon for someone to play these games on a desktop computer, but it's much more comfortable to relax on a couch or recliner and take it all in with your feet up. The Intel Core i3-330's HD graphics chip certainly doesn't threaten gaming consoles since they've got advanced graphics processors and a proprietary format, but then again consoles don't have WoW, Spore, or The Sims to their credit. The bottom line is that integrated graphics on ASRock's Core 100HT system will handle all the streaming video content you can ask of it, but desktop-level graphics detail is reserved for 2D and entry-level 3D titles.