Intel HD Graphics cards are considered some of the best in terms of gaming capabilities, but not all models are created equally. We’re here to review the Intel HD 520 Graphics Card to see what it can bring to your gaming experience and where it might be lacking.
Intel HD 520 Graphics Review
Intel has been at the front of the pack for many years, with not only their processors but also their video graphics chipsets. In terms of what impact the graphics card has on your gaming experience, this small device has a lot of say.
Just like your television set, the pictures that you see on a computer screen are actually composed of tiny dots that are grouped together to form shapes that your brain interpret as images. These dots are called ‘pixels’ and at any given time there are more than a million of them being shuffled around into various shapes, colors and textures to form a picture.
Intel prides themselves on making graphics cards like the Intel HD 520 Graphics that help produce these pictures to help your brain have a great gaming experience. The result is a fully immersive and entertaining visual experience for gamers and other users, depending on the quality of the graphics card in question.
Intel And Graphics Cards
The information that instructs the graphics chip to make and change the picture comes from your computer’s CPU. The significant power of the current generation of CPUs is enormous and it requires something especially capable to manage the graphics information being generated.
Graphics is such a specific and important part of gaming that most laptops and bench tops are provided with a highly specialized unit referred to as a graphics card, graphics chip or graphics processing unit (GPU). The Intel HD 520 is one such card, so we want to know how it performs.
Some computers have the capability to produce graphics already installed in the motherboard, known as ‘integrated’ units. Others GPUs are separate from the motherboard and generally higher capability. The graphics from integrated setups though is not generally as useful for modern gaming or high-end graphics imagery.
Intel HD Graphics 520 is one of those, and one of the leading integrated GPUs in the market. This integrated GPU was premiered when Intel released its Core i7-6700K and Core i7-6600K desktop chips as part of the Skylake series introduced in 2015. The Skylake CPU’s were designed to be 2.5 times quicker in terms of processing, which is an incredible 30 times superior performance in graphics and triple the battery life of its predecessors.
Overview Of The Intel HD Graphics 520
To learn a little more about the Intel HD Graphics 520, let’s see what features it offers. This can indicate whether or not it will be powerful enough for your gaming setup and the titles you intend to play.
The 520 Intel HD Graphics 520 decodes H.265/HEVC via hardware and does this more effectively than previous models. In terms of using it with different displays, the 520 is capable of working with DP 1.2/eDP 1.3 or HDMI at 1.4a. Using a display port converter will enable you to add HDMI 20, and it is capable of controlling up to 3 displays at once. Laptops and notebooks with processors powered at 15W TDP are able to power this GPU, so ensuring that you have enough power is key.
These GPU’s are developed by Intel and can be found in a range of Intel’s Skylake processors and provide 24 Execution Units and, depending upon what model CPU it is working with, are clocked near 1050 MHz. Here are some of the specs you’ll get with the Intel HD 520 Graphics card or Skylake GT2:
- First launched 2015
- 24 Execution units
- 32,768 MiB of memory
- 14nm process
- Up to 3 display supported at a time
- Intel Gen 6 architecture
- 24 unified pipelines
- 350 MHz base frequency
- 300 – 1050 boosted MHz core speed
- DDR3/DDR4 Bus width 64/128 bit shared memory
For those with an understanding of computers and gaming machines, the Skylake processor units can be tweaked to improve the performance of the CPU and the GPU. This improves its capacity to manage those higher end games.
As the Corei7-6700HK is equipped with an unlocked multiplier, it can be tweaked to close on 7GHz, which is an outstanding increase provided you can afford the cost and the power drain it might incur on your machine.
Performance of a GPU relies mostly on the memory and clock speeds of the particular unit it is installed with but as an indication with the upper-end Core i7-6688U, it will match the Nvidia GeForce 820M.
From a gaming perspective, this means that it is mostly going to be useful only for games of generation 2015 and prior, given the always-increasing demands of modern gaming and especially with the introduction of many 3D and virtual reality games.
Intel’s Skylake CPUs have an integrated Intel HD Graphics 520 graphics processor. These run the Core i5-6200U and i7-6500U processors, which you will find in the more common laptops and notebooks, as well as the older or less powerful laptops that were specifically aimed at gaming.
The HD5500 was its predecessor and was moderately slower, so this represents an improved GPU with speeds ranging from 1000 to 1050 MHz dependent upon the model. The Intel HD Graphics 520 runs the low resolution, 4K, and full HD videos smoothly on an Intel Core i5-6200U processor housed in an HP Pavilion 15, 15.6 inch Full HD laptop with 1TB capacity 5400 hard drive and loaded with Intel’s HD 10.18.15.4281 drivers.
It is important to note though, that other processor units such as i3, and the thermal design of different laptop chassis and settings for the BIOS will affect the performance of any graphics unit and the Intel HD Graphics 520 is no exception.
The tests that we review used a connected computer with a capture card to avoid the slowing that can occur when you install and use a performance analyzer on the laptop you are testing. While running League of Legends it ran on the top-level graphics setting and 1080p 1920×1080 resolution. The result was around 50 frames per second with good quality, showing you what the 520 graphics card is capable of.
Gaming With The Intel HD 520 Graphics Card
To get an idea of what types of games you could play comfortably on the Intel HD G520 Graphics card, we’ve reviewed some popular ones. Once we move forwards in time, the Intel HD Graphics 520 struggles to keep up with the rigors of the modern game. Having said that, if you are prepared to sacrifice a little picture quality and slightly slower load and play rates it can still do a reasonable job of many of the current titles like:
- 2018 X Plane: Playable at 18.8fps with a display of 1280 x 720 at lower end resolution
- 2017 Team Fortress 2: Playable at 48fps with a display of 1366×758 at medium resolution
- 2017 Rocket League: Playable at 48.5 fps with a display of 1280 x 720 at low resolution
Minecraft is one of those older generation PC games and is at the sort of interest level that a very casual gamer might use, as a side product to the laptop they have for business or school. The Intel HD Graphics 520 manages to run this seamlessly at around 60 to 70fps.
For those who enjoy first-person shooter games and similar, then Global Offensive was a fairly common and enjoyable game at the time this GPU was released. Using the Intel HD 520 graphics card allows you to enjoy this particular title on the high setting at 720p resolution, giving you about 65 fps which is quite good.
Games That Work With The 520
Here is a quick list of some of the other games that can be played using the Intel HD Graphics 520. Each game will need to be tweaked in terms of settings, with some lower quality than others, but most will do just fine.
- Assassin Creed Black Flag
- Batman Arkham City
- Just Cause 2
- Mafia 2
- Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain
- Modern Warfare 3
- Prototype 2
- Saints Row 4
- Zombie Army Trilogy
Notebooks Featuring Integrated Intel HD Graphics 520
The Intel HD 520 was fairly common in notebooks and laptops during its release. There are just some of the computers that used it as the integrated graphics card.
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Intel Core i3 6006U, 4 GB, 15.6 inch, 1920×1080, Intel HD Graphics 520, 256 GB
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- 15.6″ TOUCHSCREEN HD LED BACKLIGHT (1366 X 768) DISPLAY, INTEL INTEGRATED HD GRAPHICS
- 8TH GENERATION QUAD CORE I5-8250U PROCESSOR, 1.6GHZ UP TO 3.4GHZ, 8 MB CACHE
- INTEL WIRELESS-AC WLAN + BLUETOOTH 4.1, 100/1000M GIGBIT ETHERNET (RJ-45 CONNECTOR), 1X USB 3.0 TYPE C, 2X USB 3.0, 1X HDMI, 1X MEDIA CARD READER, 1X COMBINATION AUDIO JACK
- WINDOWS 10 HOME, UP TO 6-HOUR BATTERY LIFE, TRAY-LOAD DVD DRIVE
Intel Dual-Core Celeron N3060, 4GB DDR3L SDRAM Memory, 500GB
- Intel Dual-Core Celeron N3060 1.6 GHz with Intel Burst Technology up to 2.1 GHz, Intel HD Graphics
- 4GB DDR3L SDRAM Memory, 500GB 5400 RPM Hard Drive, 1 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, 4 in 1 card reader
- 15.6 in HD LED (1366 x 768) Display, DVD RW Optical Drive, HD webcam, HDMI
- 802.11b/g/n Wifi, Bluetooth 4.0, 1G LAN Ethernet, 3-cell lithium ion (up to 3 hrs)
- 2x 1.5W Stereo Speakers with Dolby Advanced Audio Processing 1x USB 3.0 2x USB 2.0 1x HDMI 1x Media Card Reader 1x Combination Headphone/Microphone Jack 1x VGA
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Intel Core i3 6006U, 4 GB, 13.3 inch, 1366×768, Intel HD Graphics 520, 128 GB
- Intel Core i3-6006U Dual Core Processor (2.00 GHz, 3M Smart Cache)
- 13.3″ HDF Display (1366×768)
- 4GB (1x4GB) 2133 MHz DDR4 Memory
- Windows 10 Pro
- Max Memory: 8 GB
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Intel Celeron N3350, 4 GB, 15.6 inch, 1920×1080, Intel HD Graphics 520, 128 GB
- AMD A-Series Dual-Core Processor A9-9420 (Up to 3.6GHz); 15.6″ HD (1366 x 768) Widescreen LED-backlit Display; Integrated AMD Radeon R5 Graphics; 6GB DDR4 Dual Channel Memory; 1TB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive; Windows 10 Home; 2-cell Li-Ion (4810 mAh) Battery, Up to 5.5 Hours Battery Life
Who Is The Intel HD Graphics 520 Aimed At?
There’s no doubt that the 520 graphics card is a high-quality GPU, but not ideal for gaming at higher levels. The Intel HD Graphics 520 has qualities that most users will find useful such as improved frame rates, increased caches to improve feeding to the GPU, color compression that is virtually lossless, higher fill rates at the back end.
Although these don’t necessarily mean an excellent gaming experience, they do assist. The best in graphics performance can usually be achieved by using a stand-alone, non-integrated GPU with one of the brands more dedicated to graphics. However, the Intel HD Graphics 520 does provide good graphics for basic needs, just not at the high level that is demanded by the gamers who take their passion seriously.
A laptop or notebook that has this card integrated would better suit general users. Those who need their laptops for home and office use, with a little bit of gaming or entertainment on the side. Although it can game, it’s not really a serious option, so you should keep that in mind.
Downloads And Updates Available
Intel has a solid and well-deserved reputation for customer service and ongoing support and its graphics products are no exception. It provides frequent software updates to its graphics systems, all of which are downloadable. Here are some examples of Intel HD Graphics 520 upgrades currently available:
Intel Windows 10 Graphics Driver
Intel Windows 8.1 and 7 Graphics Driver
Intel Windows 7/8.1/10 Graphics Driver
Final Thoughts On The 520
The Intel HD Graphics 520 can be a reasonably good option for the lower demand specifications of earlier games and some of the current crop that are not going to tax your GPU, CPU, and memory too much.
This card is better suited as al all-round option for those who want to use their laptops to view movies, photos, and minimal gameplay. The computers that have this GPU fitted are marketed more at the business and student end users who need a bit of everything, and that’s where it tends to deliver the best results.
With this in mind though, we won’t understate Intel’s impressive and ongoing performance and product range, but choosing one more specific to gaming might be best. You are unlikely to find a laptop or desktop that will do it all for all of the people, all of the time. Even with the aforementioned tweaking, you will likely be looking elsewhere for your serious gaming machine needs.
Intel’s marketing people are on the money with this chip as a generally handy GPU that will service a wide range of end users really well. For those with much more demanding and specific graphics needs, it’s probably better to upgrade to something that’s been designed specifically for these needs and users.
Last update on 2022-06-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API