Who says you can’t play decent games on integrated graphics cards? The truth is, nothing quite beats a dedicated graphics option, but integrated graphics have crept their way up on the power scale in recent times. You’d be surprised how many games can run on them, and run at a playable level. If you’ve been tuned into the gaming sector at all recently, you most certainly have heard of the new AMD Ryzen APU’s for laptops, and how they are going toe to toe (and sometimes exceeding) the CPUs and integrated graphics offered by Intel.
Similar to Intel, AMD has also offered their own integrated graphics options with these chips, namely the RX Vega series with its core line-up spanning from Vega 2 all the way up to Vega 11.
The question is are they any good at playing the latest pc games? Well, that depends on how graphically intense the game is.
For the most part, you’d have to significantly scale back settings to even have a chance of running them. A graphically demanding title like Rage 2 is not going to run at a decent frame rate. But games that are lighter on the graphics side and are well optimized fare a much better chance.
This means that budget laptops that only come with integrated graphics cards can actually run many more games than you’d think. It’s worth checking out Zachary’s article on the best gaming laptops under $500 for a snapshot on what you can get at this budget range. The truth is, you don’t need to spend a lot to have a laptop capable of playing some of the popular titles out there.
And now, let’s take a look at some of the games you can run when integrated laptop graphics are your only option:
- FIFA 20
The FIFA series has long held a close place to many people’s hearts. Millions of fans eagerly await each incremental year to try their skills in one of the many offline game modes or try their hand online against other players.
Simply put, if you’re a fan of soccer (or football as they call it in other parts of the world) then you need to get your hands on FIFA 20. It’s extremely popular on the consoles but also has a place with PC users. You can play with your favorite club, individually control your star player (Messi or Ronaldo?), and work through a story mode that puts you in the role of a manager.
The game has always been gentle on graphics cards and you’d be able to get away with great performance – even at higher settings – using the Vega integrated graphics solutions. FIFA 20 is likely to chug along at a minimum 30 fps at the highest settings at 1080p resolution.
- Dota 2 and League of Legends
OK, we admit that we’ve put two games in this point. And that’s because they are so similar…but also so different. Both Dota 2 and League of Legends are one of the most popular MOBA’s and as such have similar objectives – destroy the other team’s Nexus (as is the case with League of Legends) or Ancient if you are playing Dota 2.
While the overall goal of each match up is relatively straight forward, the gameplay differs significantly the further you delve down into the skill tree. Whilst League of Legends is a lot easier to pick up and be competent in, Dota 2 can be downright cruel and unforgiving.
In terms of performance, you can expect to turn up League of Legends close to the maximum settings. Dota 2 is a bit more demanding. You will be able to run it smoothly on at least medium settings for the most part.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO)
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is pretty much synonymous with PC gaming. If you have not heard of it, and you’re a gamer, we’d question if you’re telling the truth. Heck, we’d be surprised if you don’t know about it even if you weren’t a gamer.
Released back in 2012, CS: GO is the fourth game in the Counter-Strike series and still garners a huge following to this day with over 20 million monthly active users.
Being a multiplayer first-person shooter, CS:GO pits two opposing teams against each other – terrorists and counter-terrorists over a variety of gameplay modes. It is so good at what it does that it has one of the biggest eSports followings in all of gaming.
Want a piece of that action? The Counter-Strike games run well on many hardware configurations. You should be able to run this game on medium to high settings at a resolution of 1080p.
Ahh Overwatch – Blizzard’s hugely popular team-based first-person shooter. It can be seen as a spiritual successor to Valve’s Team Fortress 2. Overwatch keeps a similar art style but beefs up the number of characters you can play with and along with it, the complexity of the gameplay mechanics.
You’re put into a team of 6 and are pitted against another team. The objectives can range from securing and defending control points, to escorting a payload within a certain time frame. It’s an exhilarating experience, to say the least, and offers countless hours of pure team-based enjoyment.
Think Overwatch is out of your grasp with those pretty textures and smooth cartoon models? Think again! In a similar vein to many of Blizzard’s games, Overwatch is very forgiving to weaker hardware and is optimized well to run at a decent setting on many integrated graphics options. In fact, the game can run pretty well on something like the Vega 8 integrated graphics. Check out this video if you don’t believe us!
- Fortnite Battle Royale
Battle Royale type games weren’t a big thing until recent times. It all started with a mod for Arma 2 back in 2013, eventually cumulating into the first major standalone battle royale game – PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG). But even that popularity was nothing compared to Fortnite.
Fortnite pits up to 100 players against each other in a fight to be the last player standing. You can play alone or with other players in a squad. Initially unarmed, you are air dropped onto a large map and must frantically search for weapons and other items to stay alive and eliminate other players. All the while the ‘safe area’ of the map shrinks, forcing players to eventually encounter one another.
It’s a cultural phenomenon having amassed more than 350 million registered accounts around the globe as of 2020. Who knew such a simple concept would catch on and light the gaming world on fire?
The game is well optimized and can be played on integrated graphics. Though be prepared to reduce setting to low or medium. The resolution will have to be tailored down as well unless your integrated graphics is one of the stronger varieties.
A final word
Most laptops come with at least 8 GB of RAM and a quad-core CPU that runs at a high enough clock speed. Those specs alone fulfill the minimum requirements for most PC games. The biggest bottleneck to gaming comes down to the graphics card.
If you want to game at the highest settings possible and you want the game to be fluid, then a dedicated graphics card is always the way to go. We’d even say that getting a desktop is the better option which offers a greater performance to price ratio.
That being said, laptops do offer enough performance for many games. The key is simply identifying those games to ensure they run on your laptop. The line-up of integrated Ryzen GPUs from AMD is certainly worth checking out if you want an affordable gaming solution.