Nvidia Pascal is being resurrected to beat Intel Ice Lake integrated graphics

Nvidia Pascal
(Image credit: Nvidia)

We had already suspected that Nvidia was going to be releasing new Pascal GPUs when they showed up in a driver update, but now we've seen a much more substantial leak - they might be coming soon.

Now, while these laptop chips have been made official by Nvidia, we still have no idea what they'll be capable of. Luckily, over at NotebookCheck some leaked benchmarks have given us a clearer picture of what to expect. 

The benchmarks show the GeForce MX350 performing at a level close to the old GTX 960M. Both the MX330 and MX350 show a slight performance edge over the earlier MX250. But, both fall well short of the GTX 1050, and even further below the GTX 1650.

The specs show the GPUs as 16nm chips with 25W power draws. That's higher than the previous generation of MX GPUs, which came in 10W and 25W variants. 

These new Nvidia MX graphics chips also appear to support up to 8GB of GDDR5, which is a surprisingly high amount when you consider the GTX 1650 doesn't even come with that much and the MX250 only packs in 2GB (though it supports up to 4GB). The MX330 appears to have 384 CUDA cores while the MX350 has 640.

Still ahead, but losing ground?

This is fairly similar to how we learned about the GeForce MX250, which subsequently launched in a number of laptops.

While it's fun to think about all the performance offered by the best graphics cards, many people don't need that level of performance on a day-to-day basis. They can get by on less, and therefore save considerable money.

These new MX300-series GPUs could fit that niche yet again. Offering performance above Intel's integrated options without dramatically boosting the price or draining the battery. Nvidia claims the MX350 can offer up to 2.5X the performance of Intel Iris Plus Graphics on an Intel Core i7-1065G7.

For the previous generation, Nvidia had claimed the MX250 could offer 3.5X the performance of Intel UHD Graphics 620 on a Core i5-8265U. We saw the MX250 in the HP Envy 13t stomp on the benchmark results of an LG Gram 17 with Intel UHD Graphics 620, though not quite to the tune of 3.5X. Also, when looking at the gaming benchmark of the LG Gram 17, even a 3.5X would have only made games barely playable at 1080p.

While we can expect the MX350 to take performance to a higher level, we're actually seeing the gap narrowing between Intel's integrated options and Nvidia's low-end dedicated options. Some might hope for these new GPUs to come in and offer extra cheap laptops with some gaming potential, but it feels more likely they'll offer graphics improvements in professional workloads like photo and video editing. 

Considering Nvidia may not need to offer low-end GPUs for gaming, this approach makes sense. If a cheap laptop with GeForce Now can challenge a gaming console, it wouldn't need to offer built-in gaming performance with a dedicated graphics processor.

Mark Knapp

Over the last several years, Mark has been tasked as a writer, an editor, and a manager, interacting with published content from all angles. He is intimately familiar with the editorial process from the inception of an article idea, through the iterative process, past publishing, and down the road into performance analysis.