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Integrated graphics
Our round of gaming tests with the GeForce GTX 460 left us with some lingering questions. How much of the poor performance from the Atom and E-350 could be attributed to their four-lane PCIe connections to the graphics card? How much of it was attributable to the relatively high image quality settings we used? Could these CPUs run these games acceptably at lower settings?

We also had some natural questions about how the much-hyped IGP in Zacate stacks up—not only to the known-quantity Pineview IGP, but also to the IGP in AMD's own 890GX chipset for Athlon and Phenom processors. We wanted to see how Zacate's IGP fares against its close cousin in the discrete world, the Radeon HD 5450, as well.

To answer those questions, we conducted a new round of tests using the integrated graphics processors from Zacate, Atom, the 890GX, and a couple of Sandy Bridge chips. We threw in the Radeon HD 5450 on the two lightweight CPUs for comparison, and we also included a GeForce GTX 460, to see if it could perform better in those four-lane PCIe slots at lower image quality settings.

We tested Bad Company 2 at the lowest IQ settings across the board with a 1280x800 display resolution. The Atom's IGP couldn't run this game, so it had to sit out.

Funny, isn't it, how some of the faster CPUs are brought to parity with the Atom and E-350 when they're forced to rely on their integrated graphics processors? Still, neither the Zacate nor the Atom can really muster acceptable frame rates, regardless of the graphics solution used.

We're not quite sure what to make of the fact that the E-350 is measurably faster with the Radeon HD 5450 than with the GeForce GTX 460. The 5450 is a much slower GPU, generally speaking.

Next, we tested StarCraft II at the game's "Medium" quality presets, F1 2010 with its "Ultra low quality" settings, and Civ V with absolutely everything turned to its lowest possible level. We used a 1280x800 display res in all cases except one: the Atom IGP would only run SC2 at 1280x720. That same IGP required some lower IQ settings in SC2 for compatibility's sake, too. As you'll see, the lower settings didn't help it much.

I think we have some answers. No, dropping to lower quality settings doesn't unburden the four-lane PCIe connections on the Brazos and Pine Trail systems and magically produce playable frame rates. The CPUs themselves are just too slow to handle these brand-new, big-name games.

I'm not sure we can divine whether Zacate's IGP is superior or inferior to, say, the 890GX's or the Radeon HD 5450, given these results. We can surmise that the practical difference for these top-flight games is immaterial, though.

We think the E-350's IGP deserves closer attention in a different context, so let's move on.