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Benchmark Results: Battlefield 3

Second-Generation Ultrabooks: Faster And Cheaper With Ivy Bridge

If you want a quick recap of the hardware composing Intel's HD Graphics 4000 engine, see page three of our Intel Core i7-3770K Review: A Small Step Up For Ivy Bridge. Briefly, the Ivy Bridge architecture adds up to four execution units (totaling 16), along with a number of performance optimizations that yield better frame rates than the HD Graphics 3000 solution on many Sandy Bridge-based CPUs.

The Core i5-3427U in our reference Ultrabook boasts an HD Graphics 4000 implementation that runs as fast as 1.15 GHz, and scales down as low as 350 MHz. Intel's Core i5-2467M shares the same ceiling and floor. Because the Sandy Bridge-based part employs HD Graphics 3000, though, we can expect it to be substantially slower.

We can see Ivy Bridge's advantage in a game like Battlefield 3, though the absolute performance you see is closely tied to the power profile you select (as we've seen in past reviews). These profiles are controlled independent of Windows' settings. Notebooks based on Intel platforms offer three choices: Maximum Battery Life, Balanced (the default), and Maximum Performance. Each profile presents a different balance between performance and battery life. 

The Intel-built reference design doesn't seem to have profiles properly implemented, which is why the Core i5-3427U's performance doesn't change. Even with the Core i5-2467M-based Ultrabook running at its Maximum Performance profile, though, HD Graphics 4000 delivers as much as 2.5x-better performance. It's only a shame that Intel's graphics implementation isn't quick enough to make any tested resolution really playable. Faster though it may be, the Ivy Bridge architecture maxes out running mainstream games at most.

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