Are you looking to buy a new MacBook or a Mini-PC (NUC) that has the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655?
Then you’ve arrived at the right place.
Today, we are going to have a look at this Integrated GPU and figure out whether it is good enough for your needs.
If you’re not sure about the difference between an Integrated and a Dedicated GPU, I’d suggest this article.
The Iris Plus 655 is a successor to Intel’s previous-gen Iris Plus 650 and it comes integrated with the following Intel CPUs:
At the time of writing this article, the products have this Graphics Card include Apple’s MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5 & i7 Variants, MacBook Pro 13 2019, Mac Mini 8.1, Intel’s NUC8i7BEH, NUC8i5BEH, and NUC8i3BEH.
So, here’s the question that must be going through your mind.
Is it good enough?
Being an Integrated GPU, it comes nowhere close to dedicated Video Cards from AMD & Nvidia. It is also weaker than most Integrated GPUs from AMD (Vega 8 and Vega 11).
The exact performance of Iris Plus Graphics 655 will vary between different devices due to the difference in CPU & Memory Type. The biggest factor that will influence the performance is whether the System Memory (RAM) is Dual-Channel or Single-Channel and whether it is LPDDR3 or DDR4.
Another factor that will influence the performance is the max GPU Frequency that varies with different CPU models.
To make sure you get the max performance out of the Iris Plus Graphics 655, make sure the system you’re buying has a Dual-Channel DDR4 Memory. Additionally, if you buy one with the i7-8559U or the i7-8569U, you should expect better performance due to higher GPU Frequency (1.20 GHz compared 1.05 GHz in i5-8259U) and more CPU Cache.
If you’re a content creator, a gamer, or someone who uses graphics-intensive programs, a dedicated GPU will always be a better choice.
Though the dedicated cards will result in better rendering and gaming performance, they also consume more battery and has the potential to run hotter (*). If the application that you use can take advantage of a powerful GPU, you will observe a significant improvement in performance. But if your tasks can’t take advantage of a discrete card (such as Office Programs), you’re better off with an Integrated one.
*Some Laptops have both Integrated and Dedicated GPUs and it is possible to switch between them. This allows the user to balance high-performance and power-efficiency.
If you’re into Editing, Heavy-Gaming, or use programs that can take advantage of a Powerful GPU, I’ll recommend a dedicated GPU. But if you’re just a casual user who needs a computer for Office Work, Entertainment, Light Gaming, and Browsing, go with an Integrated one.
Just like other Intel iGPUs, the Iris Plus Graphics 655 has the QuickSync feature which uses Hardware Encoding and reduces the export times significantly in Video Editing applications like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro. Even though the resultant Video Quality after using Hardware Encoding isn’t on the same level as H.264 Software Encoding, it is still acceptable to most people.
|Name||Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655|
|Base Frequency||300 MHz|
|Max Frequency||1050 – 1200 MHz|
|eDRAM Cache||128 MB|
|4K Support||Yes, at 60 Hz|
|Max number of Display Supported||3|
|Max Resolution||4096 X 2304|
Like other GPUs in Intel Iris Series, this one has eDRAM Cache which Intel HD & UHD Series Graphics lack. It has 128 MB Cache which is twice that of Iris Graphics 650 & 640. This cache is one of the primary reasons that make Iris Graphics faster than HD and UHD Series.
4K Display is also supported so you can connect your MacBook or Mini-PC to an external 4K display. You can connect up to 3 Monitors at a time but this also requires 3 output ports (HDMI/VGA/Display Port/DVI/USB-C/Thunderbolt 3) on your Laptop/PC.
All the CPUs with this Integrated Graphics have support for both LPDDR3 & DDR4 RAM and this has a significant impact on the performance. As the performance of Integrated Graphics is severely limited by the System RAM, the DDR4 devices will have significantly better graphics performance than the LPDDR3 ones.
Irrespective of the CPU, the base clock of the GPU in all devices is 300 MHz. But the maximum frequency varies between 1050 – 1200 MHz for different CPU Models. Here’s the exact max frequency:
|CPU||Max GPU Frequency|
What is the Video Memory (VRAM) of Iris Plus Graphics 655?
Being an Integrated Graphics, it does not have any VRAM or Graphics Memory of its own. It dynamically allocates System Memory (RAM) as its Graphics Memory when required. The maximum Graphics Memory it can allocate is 32GB.
Dedicated Graphics Cards from Nvidia & AMD use a much faster and high-bandwidth Memory such as GDDR or HBM (High Bandwidth Memory) which is more suited for Graphical-intensive workloads. This is one of the primary reasons why Dedicated Cards are much faster than Integrated ones.
So, how does it compare with other Graphics Cards? Let’s find out.
The tests are performed on MacBook Pro 13 2019 which has the Core i7-8569U. However, it only has a Single-Channel LPDDR3 Memory. Devices such as Intel NUC8i7BEH will perform significantly better due to Dual-Channel LPDDR4 Memory.
In Geekbench 5 Compute test using the OpenCL API, the Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 scores 7,428 points which is slightly better than previous-gen Iris Graphics and superior to the UHD 630 and HD 620.
AMD’s Integrated Vega Graphics are slightly ahead while low-end dedicated GPUs like RX 560X and RX 570 are significantly faster.
While using the Metal API, we have similar results. AMD’s Radeon Pro Graphics are found in some MacBook Pro models and they are remarkably faster in Compute performance.
We have another Synthetic Compute test and this one is from PassMark. This test was performed on Intel NUC8i7BEH. A faster Dual-Channel DDR4 RAM pushes Iris Plus Graphics 655 even ahead of GeForce MX150, which is an entry-level Mobile Graphics Card from Nvidia.
A low-end Desktop Graphics Card like RX 570 still has a massive lead over it.
We usually see a wider difference in Gaming Performance when comparing Dedicated Cards with Integrated ones as compared to the Compute performance. We will be performing the tests on 720p Resolution in order to achieve a higher Frame Rate. Most modern games on this card will struggle to run at 1080p.
In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Iris Plus 655 is around 14% ahead of HD 620 while Vega 11 is 46% faster than it.
At 720p Low Settings, it is possible to touch 60 FPS in GTA V. This test was done on Intel NUC8i7BEH so you should expect lower FPS on a system with Single-Channel LPDDR3 RAM.
Fortnite is another light game that can be played on this GPU. In Fortnite, Vega 11 is 105% faster than Iris Plus 655.
Other games such as Dota 2, Minecraft, Sims 4, Rocket League. Far Cry 3, Overwatch, and Skyrim will also run comfortably at 720p. You can find the complete list of games in this article.
Modern AAA titles such as Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Red Dead Redemption 2, The Witcher 3, and Far Cry 5 will struggle to run at 720p. To play these games, I’ll recommend a good dedicated Graphics Card.
We also have an article which includes the ranking of best Graphics Cards.
Comparison with other GPUs
Comparison with other GPUs
Comparison with Intel HD 620, HD 630, UHD 620 & UHD 630
Compared to the Intel’s HD & UHD Series, it features higher Execution Units and has 128MB eDRAM Cache. This allows better performance in both Productivity and Gaming tasks. However, the performance gains in gaming aren’t that high as seen in the above graphs.
Comparison with Iris Plus 640 & 650
Iris Graphics Plus 640 and 650 are based on previous-gen architecture and have half the eDRAM cache as the Iris 655. They’re slightly weaker in both productivity and gaming but the difference isn’t huge.
Comparison with Vega 8 & Vega 11
AMD’s Vega 8 & Vega 11 iGPUs are intergrated with their Desktop & Laptop APUs. While they’re slightly better in productivity, the difference in gaming performance is big. In some games, the Vega 11 is twice as fast as Iris Graphics.
Comparison with Dedicated GPUs
When we bring in dedicated GPUs like the Radeon Pro Vega 16 or even a low-end Desktop card like the RX 570 into the picture, the Iris Plus 655 loses by big margin in both productivity and gaming.
The difference increases even further when we bring in mid-range cards like Radeon Pro Vega 56 and Radeon Pro RX 5500M.
Dedicated Graphics from both Nvidia & AMD use a more advanced architecture with Higher Compute Units (Cores) and Dedicated Graphics Memory. For serious productivity and gaming, dedicated GPUs are highly recommended.
If you’re buying a MacBook or a Mini-PC for basic use such as Video Playback, Light Gaming, and Occassional Content Creation, go ahead and grab it.
Hardware Encoding via Intel QuickSync allows faster Video Exports in Adobe Premiere & Final Cut Pro. So, if that is all you require for your Editing needs, Iris Plus 655 can do a decent job. But for serious Video Editing, I’ll recommend more powerful hardware with dedicated Graphics, preferably a Desktop.
For light Gaming at 720p, it can do a decent job. But for someone who plays games regularly, I wouldn’t recommend it as you can get a far better experience just by investing a little more. You should look for Laptops with dedicated Graphics or build your own Gaming PC.
Iris Plus Graphics 655
Apart from the Graphics Card, I would recommend looking at a complete review of a device to get a better idea of its performance. Here’s a review of the MacBook Pro 2018 that has the same iGPU.
If you have any questions or need a recommendation for a Laptop or a PC, leave a comment and I’ll reply as soon as I can.