This article is part of a collaboration with iQ by Intel.
Players who traverse new games like Star Wars: Battlefront, retro games like Horizon Chase or virtual reality experiences are keen on having the best new processors and computing performance they can get. But for many gamers, having a computer that pushes their skills to a game’s limit is no longer enough, according to Mark Chang, gaming strategist on Intel’s performance notebook team. “It’s not just about playing the game anymore,” said Chang. “It’s also about sharing and engaging with the community and friends. That completes the gaming experience.”
He pointed to the rise of people using their PCs to simultaneously play and live stream on Twitch or record their games, edit and then post them later on YouTube. Typically this is done using desktop PCs, but Chang said even new laptops have what it takes, so playing and live streaming can be done almost anywhere. “It requires lots of computer horsepower to drive the game and transcode video at the same time,” he said. He said new processors, such as the 6th Gen Intel Core i7 with four cores that can simultaneously process 8 threads of instructions, are up to the task. “The onboard graphics of 6th generation Intel Core processors gives you fast transcoding via Quicksync,” he said, referring to a dedicated media processing capability built into Intel Core processors. Citing Intel benchmark tests, Chang said that transcoding speeds for the latest Intel Core i7 are up to 17 times faster than previous generation processors over the last five years.
The trend of playing games and live streaming simultaneously is pulling people deeper into gameplay details, tactics and the emotions they evoke. Technology is allowing gamers to transform their skills into money-making careers and engage more people into the world of gaming. A recent report by Superdata stated that 486 million people around the world currently watch live streams and other gaming-related content made by fans. That audience is expected to reach 790 million by 2017.
Chang said killer transcoding and other capabilities found in the latest processors have been years in the making, since chip designs are done well ahead of products hitting the market. “It’s amazing to think that years ago chip designers saw how people would want to push their computers to new limits doing new things,” said Chang. Other perks gamers can find in new processors – for desktop, all-in-one, laptop and 2-in-1 PCs –include the ability to run Intel RealSense camera technology, use Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3 interconnect ports to plug in displays and gaming peripherals, leverage top-of-the-line DDR 4 memory and the ability to overclock the speed of the processor. “Anyone who live streams video, say an online video show host or even someone who video chats a lot, can take full advantage of the RealSense virtual green-screen capabilities,” said Chang. “It lets people easily take a live video feed of themselves playing and place that in the corner of video showing the gameplay.”
This isn’t simply a vanity endeavor. Sharing a player’s reaction to tense takedowns in the latest games like Call of Duty: Black Ops III can turn even the most amateur broadcaster into a recognizable face. Gamers can use the Thunderbolt 3 connections to attach their laptop or desktop PC to two of more ultra-high definition 4K monitors. “Will you be able to play your game in 12K on a notebook? Probably not,” he said. “But would you be able to watch a movie on three 4K screens? Yes. Can you play games in full 4K on a gaming notebook? Absolutely, yes!”
While high-definition graphics are essential for most players, even the most extreme games into supersampling – the anti-aliasing method for removing ugly, jagged edges that appear in some games – will benefit from improved performance of new processors. Laptop gamers can also overclock their CPU if their PC has an unlocked Intel Core i7 mobile processor. Overclocking allows players to easily increase the speed, and thus the overall horsepower, of their system. “With dynamic overclocking, overclocking has become something you can do within the operating system,” explained Dan Ragland, who has been working for 13 years on overclocking engineering and architecture at Intel. “Instead of having to tediously modify a number of BIOS settings and wait for a PC reboot, overclocking changes can now be made live, in real time.”
All 6th generation Intel Core processors support DDR4 RAM, which helps bring smooth gameplay even at high video frame rates. With DDR4, speeds can go up to twice that of the previous DDR3 and up to four times the capacity, all while using less electricity. Whether playing a flight simulator on a laptop, sharing strategies live on Twitch or diving into a detailed world displayed on a pair of 4K monitors, gamers with the latest processors can get the most out of the games they play. Chang points out that the latest line of Intel Core processors give better performance that previous generations, but they also utilize less energy, something on-the-go players can appreciate. “For gamers, it’s not the top priority, but an added convenience,” he said. “Overall there’s more innovation, more performance and more options built into Intel Core processors than ever before.”
Ken Kaplan contributed to this story.