Although Intel's Sandy Bridge architecture drastically improved the company's previous integrated graphics solutions, the HD 2000 and 3000 are far from ideal when playing modern games. In our review, the Core i7-2600K's IGP barely achieved playable framerates in games such as Resident Evil 5 and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 with extremely low quality settings. In fact, the latter title fell to 21.5fps when running on low quality at 1680x1050.
Gamers are undoubtedly best served by a discrete graphics card, but folks stuck with Intel's IGP might be able to squeeze a few more frames out of the chip with a new driver update. Released today for all Sandy Bridge desktop and mobile processors, the update reportedly improves performance by 37% in StarCraft 2, 10% in Resident Evil 5, 29% in Dawn of War: Chaos Rising, 28% in Bad Company 2, 12% in Dirt 2 and 16% in Supreme Commander 2.
Along with the raw performance boost, the fresh software brings a slew of bug fixes, many of which are game-related. Intel has resolved rendering artifacts and other corruption issues in roughly two dozen games and benchmarks, including StarCraft 2, Dawn of War II - Retribution, Crysis, Dragon Age II, Brink, and Minecraft. One bug caused intermittent crashing when using an HDMI display, while another caused rendering issues in Chrome and Firefox.