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AMD’s new chip will make budget gaming laptops obsolete

OPINION: This week, AMD released more details on its upcoming Ryzen 6000 processors for laptops. These new chips look impressive, with up to a 1.3x CPU performance boost over the previous generation, support for DDR5 and a claimed battery life of up to 24 hours. 

But my personal favourite new feature (at least before going hands-on with the new mobile processor) is the move to RDNA 2 integrated graphics. 

For those unfamiliar with integrated graphics, this is a GPU that’s built into a processor. Most CPUs feature integrated graphics, as it’s required to create an image on your screen, whether it’s just your desktop background or an immersive world in a video game. If a CPU doesn’t have integrated graphics, then it will need to be paired with a discrete GPU, such as AMD’s Radeon and Nvidia’s GeForce chips. 

Integrated graphics have historically only been powerful enough for the basics, with laptops requiring a discrete GPU in order to engage with heavy-duty tasks such as gaming or video editing. But that’s starting to change. 

In recent years, both AMD and Intel have both been focusing on improving the power of their processors in order to allow laptops to game without a discrete GPU. Intel has made big strides with its Intel Xe GPU, but it looks like AMD may just have leapfrogged its rival for gaming performance. 

AMD provided the below benchmark scores, which indicate that upcoming Ryzen 6000 processors will be capable of significantly higher frames rates than Intel 11th Generation processors when playing modern video games in Full HD. What’s even more remarkable, AMD suggests its new laptop processors will pack an even more graphics power than Nvidia’s discrete MX 450 GPU. 

Credit: AMD

AMD suggests its integrated Radeon 680M graphics (housed inside Ryzen 6000 processors) are capable of playing “pretty much every game out there” at a 1080p resolution, as long as you’re happy to dial back the graphics settings. 

Previously, you’d need to buy a gaming laptop in order to guarantee your laptop can run any game, but AMD is ripping up the rulebook with its RDNA 2-powered processors. 

AMD didn’t stop there with the benchmark data, as it also showed results comparing its Ryzen 7 6800U processor to Nvidia’s GTX 1650 MaxQ GPU (paired with an Intel Core i7-10750H). The AMD processor wasn’t quite powerful enough to beat Nvidia’s discrete GPU natively, although the company did suggest its Ryzen 6000 processors are capable of a superior performance when activating FSR.

Ryzen 7 6800U (without FSR) Ryzen 7 6800U (FSR: balanced) Nvidia GTX 1650 (with Intel Core i7-10750H)
Godfall 47 fps 61 fps 57 fps
Deathloop 54 fps 73 fps 73 fps
Back 4 Blood 76 fps 97 fps 95 fps
Call of Duty: Vanguard 73 fps 114 fps 81 fps
Credit: AMD

FSR (FidelityFX Super Resolution) is AMD’s software technology that can boost a game’s performance via spatial upscaling. However, it’s important to remember that activating FSR will reduce the image quality, with in-game objects seeing noticeably less detail. So to say the Ryzen 7 6800U is capable of a better gaming performance than the Nvidia GTX 1650 would be unfair. 

But these results are still nevertheless impressive. When buying a budget gaming laptop, users probably aren’t too fussed about image quality, as long as it’s playable and looks decent. The Ryzen 7 6800U seemingly ticks all of those boxes, and will also potentially provide many other benefits to laptops.

Discrete GPUs generally make laptops thicker and heavier, while also guzzling up power to considerably reduce the battery life. With AMD’s laptop processors now capable of achieving a similar performance to an entry-level GPU, manufacturers won’t have to bother with a discrete GPU, allowing them to make thinner and lighter laptops without compromising on battery life.

Imagine a laptop like the Dell XPS 13 being capable of a 60fps 1080p gaming performance, while also retaining everything that makes it such an excellent productivity laptop. With such a portable, there would be no need for people to buy a budget gaming laptop instead. 

Of course, it’s important we don’t get too carried away. We only have AMD’s own benchmark data right now, so it’s worth being sceptical until we test the Ryzen 6000 processors for ourselves. 

But the prospect of being able to play any game you fancy on a productivity laptop is very appealing, and is arguably far more beneficial than improved CPU speeds. 

Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon. 

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