On March 16th, 2021 Intel unleashed its 11th Gen Core Desktop Processors also called Rocket Lake-S desktop CPUs or just Rocket Lake. We have reviewed both the Intel Core i9-11900K and Intel Core i5-11600K CPUs. We did in-depth benchmarks testing both multi-threading and single-threading performance, and also looked at gaming performance at 1080p and 4K.
When it comes to gaming performance, however, we tested both CPUs linked above with a dedicated video card, the GeForce RTX 3080 Founders Edition. The goal of those reviews was to look specifically at how the CPU itself affected game performance. However, there is another aspect to Intel desktop CPUs, and that is its Intel Integrated Graphics.
12th Gen Integrated Intel Xe Graphics
Something that Intel has had a leg-up on the competition with for a long time is having integrated graphics in its desktop-class CPUs. Of course, being integrated and sharing system memory for bandwidth they have never been competitive for any serious gamer. However, there has been a change in the 11th Gen Rocket Lake desktop CPUs.
Remember, the 11th Gen Rocket Lake CPUs are made up of a new architecture for the CPU portion. They pack a 10nm IP into a 14nm package, and this new Cypress Cove core is what brings the IPC improvements to the CPU. Well, it doesn’t stop there.
Intel also integrated its 12th Gen Graphics into Rocket Lake as well. This is a big architectural change from the last generation Comet Lake CPUs. The 12th Gen Integrated Graphics is based on the Intel Xe architecture from its Tiger Lake offerings. That’s right, the superior new Intel Xe graphics are now integrated into the new Rocket Lake CPUs.
With Intel’s Gen 12 Graphics Intel claims up to 50% better-integrated graphics performance using 32 EUs. The components inside the CPU that make up this graphics pipeline are the Gen 12 Display, Gen 12 Media, and Gen 12 Graphics. For naming purposes, Intel decided to call this Intel UHD Graphics 750. But rest assured Intel UHD Graphics Xe 750 is very much based on the Intel Xe graphics architecture, and very different from the last generations Intel UHD Graphics 630.
Intel UHD Graphics 750
The Intel Graphics 630 was introduced in the Kaby Lake CPUs and upgraded in the Coffee Lake generation in 2017 as Intel UHD Graphics 630 (GT2) with higher clock speeds. It is based on Gen 9.5 architecture. It also moved over also to the Comet Lake generation of CPUs. It is what is inside the Intel Core i9-10900K. It has 24 execution units and can boost up to 1200MHz in the Core i9-10900K.
With the new Intel UHD Graphics 750 in the Core i9-11900K Intel has taken the new Gen12 Xe architecture from the Tiger Lake CPUs, codenamed Tiger Lake Xe. It was also called Intel Iris Xe. The Intel UHD Graphics 750 has 32 execution units and combined with higher clock speeds and the new architecture brings a big leap in graphics performance. In the Intel Core i9-11900K, it can boost up to 1300MHz. It also supports DX12.1, Vulkan, OpenCL 3.0, and OpenGL 4.5 as well as Intel QuickSync.
As with all integrated graphics, it does use the system memory for its memory access. This means it is limited by the bandwidth of your system memory. In the Intel Core i9-10900K Intel Graphics UHD 630, this was officially DDR4-2933, and in the Intel Core i9-11900K, Intel Graphics UHD 750 is now officially DDR4-3200. However, for our testing today we will set the memory frequency at the same 3200MHz for both platforms so they have equal memory bandwidth.
Intel UHD Graphics 750 Drivers
For both the Intel UHD Graphics 630 and the Intel UHD Graphics 750 we are able to use the same Intel graphics driver. Intel just released Rocket Lake support in the latest driver that was previously released for Comet Lake integrated graphics. This driver is Intel Graphics – Windows 10 DCH Drivers Version 22.214.171.12416. These drivers are newer than the press driver (9220) that was provided to the press for the launch of 11th Gen CPUs. Therefore, we are testing with the absolute best driver possible you can get today from Intel for Rocket Lake.
These drivers are not without issue, however. If you bring up the ReleaseNotes.PDF document you will find some pretty show-stopping known issues. There are issues related to crashing and hanging in games, graphic anomalies, flickering, and display blank out issues.
Intel Graphics Command Center
After installing the drivers, you will have access to the Intel Graphics Command Center app in Windows. This app lets you control many aspects of display settings. You can add games to it which allows you to set some custom 3D settings per game. You will be able to change Anti-Aliasing settings with the options of Application Controlled, Always On CMAA Only, or Always Off.
CMAA stands for Conservative Morphological Anti-Aliasing and is a form of post-processing AA. In performance, it sits between FXAA and SMAA 1X in terms of computation cost. It’s geared for integrated graphics performance while still providing better than FXAA image quality. You can even set the level of edge smoothness versus performance in Command Center. There are also options for Anisotropic Filtering, VSYNC and Texture Filtering bias towards performance or quality. There is also a Game Sharpening option to add sharpening to games if they are low resolution or blurry.
Under preferences, you will find more options to adjust game performance. In games that use Tessellation, there is an Adaptive Tessellation option you can enable in the Command Center. This will globally make it so that any game that uses tessellation lessens the amount of tessellation taking place. In this way, it should speed up performance. Of course, you can just turn tessellation off inside the game for the best performance. There is also support for integer scaling to reduce blur in pixel-based games.
Also, to our surprise, Intel supports a Smart VSYNC option. It will control the maximum framerate to minimize stuttering and tearing. It says that it should be enabled on non-VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) or non-Adaptive sync displays to reduce stutter and tearing by limiting the refresh rate to your monitor. That’s a feature we didn’t expect to see, but apparently, Intel does offer this if you don’t have an adaptive-sync or VRR display.