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Gregory Bryant holds Tiger Lake SoC
Intel VP Gregory Bryant showing off Tiger Lake SoC at CES

MSI Opts for Nvidia’s MX450 Over Intel’s DG1 in New Laptops

Recently, Nvidia launched its MX450 mobile focused GPU, and when we reported on it, we pointed out a significant implication: it would most likely be used in Tiger Lake based laptops since it utilized PCIe 4.0, something AMD does not currently support on Ryzen Mobile. Why does this matter? Because Intel’s own discrete GPU, the DG1, is more or less within the same segment as the MX450. Yet MSI chose the MX450 in its new Modern line of laptops.

You may recall in a previous exclusive that Intel was apparently only able to get DG1 into one laptop, provided that they also provided heavily discounted CPUs. In theory, DG1 is attractive because it’s a decent GPU that comes from a company that also makes CPUs, the same kind of advantage that AMD enjoys. Yet, it doesn’t seem to have worked for Intel even though they can arguably provide this advantage even more aggressively than AMD.

One of the big reasons why DG1 hasn’t gained much traction is probably because of its very nature: it’s Gen 12 integrated graphics in a discrete form factor. A discrete GPU does have benefits, like increased power and bandwidth, thus leading to increased performance, but given that the same exact GPU sans dedicated memory exists within one SoC, it’s hard to make the case for DG1. This is actually something OEMs struggled with as both Intel’s discrete graphics and integrated graphics teams argued two opposing cases to system builders, with the discrete team saying their graphics would provide the best performance while the integrated team said their graphics were more power efficient and took up less space. It’s clear which team won that debate.

There’s also the matter of supply. Charlie at SemiAccurate reported that Tiger Lake CPUs were in such short supply that the demand exceeded the supply by over 1 million units. Even if Intel wanted to do everything within their power to ensure that Tiger Lake systems would only have Xe graphics, it’s possible that their 10nm fabs wouldn’t be able to support that kind of commitment. 10nm is likely still yielding poorly.

There could also be other factors that I have not considered, but these two are the primary ones. DG1 just isn’t revolutionary enough to offset the lack of additional performance over Tiger Lake’s integrated graphics and the potentially poor supply. In any case, that’s one OEM (MSI) that didn’t want DG1. We should find out soon which OEM did want DG1.

If you were interested in the laptops MSI just announced, you can check out the press release here.

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