It’s always interesting to see what kind of performance you can squeeze out of low-end hardware. Integrated graphics are generally considered useless for gaming, and this is obviously true if you compare them with high-end gaming machines like the new Alienware lineup or any other genuine gaming laptop. However, the fact remains that most laptops still ship with integrated graphics just because it’s a cheap and power-efficient solution.
There are different kinds of integrated though; Intel has their theoretically decent IPGs that should – at least in theory – be able to play World of Warcraft and other less demanding games at playable framerates. Unfortunately the driver support still stinks. AMD, on the other hand, has the ATI legacy to lean on, so their driver support is in another league. AMD-based laptops with the integrated HD 4250 are a dime a dozen these days, so we figured it might be interesting to see what they are capable of.On the left is a CPU-Z dump from a sub-$400 HP Compaq CQ62 with a single-core AMD CPU and the aforementioned Mobility Radeon HD 4250, which uses the laptop’s working RAM instead of proprietary video RAM. This is an immediate setback for performance, as is the slow V140 processor.
IGPs are much more processor dependent compared to dedicated GPUs, so if you have a laptop with a faster dual- (or quad-) core AMD CPU you will likely see considerable improvements to overall graphics performance.
But let’s move on to the gaming benchmarks. Crysis 2 is pretty much out of the question here, but older games should have no problems running on this relatively weak configuration of the HP CQ62.
Counter-Strike Source, released in 2004: CS source is based on Valve’s Source Engine, the same engine used to power both the entire Half-life 2 series and Left4dead series. We used the built-in video stress feature of the game, in lowest graphical detail.
Tom Clancy’s HAWX, released in 2009: HAWX is an arcade type air combat game displaying great visuals on landscapes, mountains, and cities as well as sharp details on aircrafts. We used the built-in benchmark of the game, also in lowest graphical detail.
Stalker: Call of Pripyat, released in 2010, is the third installment in Stalker series originally released in 2007. We used the demo benchmark to get the overall average in the tests.
So the question is: “Can I play games on a laptop with a Mobility Radeon HD 4250?” It depends on the game. The answer is “Yes” for less demanding games and “No” for demanding ones even if it is an older game. Counter-Strike: Source is fully playable, garnering the most frames per second, mainly because it is the oldest game out of the three and it doesn’t really require a high-end PC to play it.
HAWX is the only game you don’t want to play with this laptop as it is the most demanding, while Stalker: Call of Pripyat is still playable even if it is newer than HAWX. Remember that we tested all these three games in lowest graphical details. Setting any game to “Medium” will definitely lower the score and cause the game to become unplayable.
Thanks to Gary Navat for the gaming tests.