Once upon a time, having dedicated graphics was a must-have to do any meaningful gaming on a computer. Today, however, things seem to have changed. Sure, the average graphics card is still miles ahead of the best integrated Graphics Processing Unit (IGPU) around, but you’ll be surprised at just how much these “low-tier” chips can handle nowadays.
Although Intel’s integrated graphics have long been terrible for playing anything other than simple 2D titles and old classics, the CPUs powering the latest crop of ultraportable laptops are now capable of rendering pretty demanding graphical processes, including 4K streaming, video-editing, and gaming.
That said, not all the latest games will play seamlessly on your new Dell XPS 13 or Asus ZenBook ultraportable. More often than not, you’ll need to trade off a fair amount of visual quality for decent frame rates. Nevertheless, all the cool games on this list will run acceptably well on Intel HD graphics.
Overwatch may seem like your typical graphics-intensive MOBA game, but it’s actually pretty inclusive with regards to hardware requirements. You won’t go very far with less than 4GB of RAM, but an Intel HD 4400 GPU will be enough to meet the game’s minimum specifications. Of course, you can expect better performance with newer chips.
The biggest breakout hit of 2017 would never have achieved this much success if it excluded gamers with low-end rigs. While the game’s developers suggest having at least an entry-level graphics card, adventurous fans have managed to make it work with Intel HD Graphics 5500 and above. If you can bear a blocky resolution, sapped colors and washed-out shadows, the thrilling MOBA experience of Battlegrounds is yours for the taking.
GTA V was the ultimate IGPU-laptop killer when it came out. But that was four years ago, and since then, four generations of Intel HD and Intel Iris graphics have been released. It may take you a while to find the perfect balance between detail level and frame rate, but if your laptop has a Skylake or Kaby Lake CPU, you’ll make the game work with relative ease.
Alternatively, you can get one of the many third-party mods out there, which lower the graphics beyond what you can achieve with the in-game settings to achieve better frame rates on low-end hardware.
If you love to get your juices flowing with a good session of MOBA action once in a while, you’ll be pleased to know that your averagely-powered daily-use laptop can run one of the most popular competitive PC games in the world. Even third- and fourth-generation Intel HD chips can achieve good enough frames per second for online play.
Riot Games has been continuously tweaking the game’s quality while maintaining support for low-end gaming computers. Judging by its minimum requirements, it’s pretty hard to see any need for dedicated graphics.
Mount & Blade: Warband isn’t the most visually intriguing game there is, but it sure makes up for it in gameplay. With enormous, open-ended and action-packed campaigns, the game will keep you thoroughly absorbed. And because it doesn’t have eye-popping graphics, even your old Sandy Bridge GPU will do just fine.
Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, Warband’s long-awaited sequel (or prequel, as the story goes) may be just around the corner, but its system requirements will probably not be as accommodating to integrated graphics as its seven-year-old predecessor.
Undoubtedly, none of the titles in the acclaimed Battlefield series were made with lower-end computers in mind. Nevertheless, although your Intel HD graphics will have no chance with newer installments, you can still get the same thrilling, action-packed shooter experience with 2011’s Battlefield 3.
Sixth and seventh generation Intel graphics can handle the game reasonably well, as long as you drop the resolution to 720p and set every visual element to its lowest or next to lowest setting. It won’t look at all pretty, but then again, this was an AAA game, and 2011 isn’t that long ago.
7. Dead Space 3
Some of EA’s 2011-2013 releases will make Intel’s IGPUs shed a great deal of sweat, but not Dead Space 3. The “low” setting of the game seems purposely meant for integrated graphics and entry-level dedicated cards. With Intel HD 5500, for example, you get a solid 30-40 frames per second, which is smooth enough to make the game’s scary bits enjoyable.
Dead Space 3 is one game that really benefits from the extra detail of higher-up graphics settings and will, therefore, look pretty flat when the visuals are set to low. Regardless, it will be great to have it on your low-powered laptop.
With Left 4 Dead, Valve gave gamers the zombie-filled “end of the world” title they were aching for, well before the genre became saturated. Unsurprisingly, the game was a massive success, so much so that a sequel had to be made.
Left 4 Dead 2 is even more creative and engaging than its predecessor and will keep you on edge whether you’re playing a single-player campaign or online. Best of all, you won’t need to lower the settings too much to achieve decent frames per second on Intel HD graphics.
Described by reviewers as one of the best “walking simulators” ever, Firewatch excels in all aspects, thanks to a brilliant story, gripping dialogue, real-like emotions and stunning art, all which successfully conspire to get you completely engrossed.
Even with Intel HD graphics, you can run the game, albeit at modest settings. And, while it won’t look its best, its stylized visuals will be enough to suck you into the intriguing atmosphere.
The king of all open-world RPGs was once the high-water mark of PC graphics, but today, it’s now a game that can run on humble hardware. If you’re stuck on a Haswell-generation laptop, you can play the game quite well in low settings. Moreover, the latest build looks incredible even with the detail toned down, which means that “low settings” won’t make it seem as though the environment has been stripped back to the basics.
Although there are some dedicated cards that can be found in some $500 budget laptops, many people simply can’t afford a dedicated GPU on their laptop. Integrated graphics were designed to handle basic graphical processes like OS animations, pictures and movies, but today, these chips can plow through some of the most visually-intensive games around as long as you don’t mind running on low settings.
So, don’t fret, gaming on your Intel HD laptop is do-able. Just give one of the titles above a go, and see for yourself.