It looks like there's going to be a lot to love about Intel's new Sandy Bridge mobile CPUs for laptop gamers. Some leaked photos on NotebookReview.com's forums show an updated, yet unreleased, version of Alienware's M17x gaming notebook sporting the new processors and flexing some prowess via Sandy Bridge's improved integrated graphics, which features an on-die GPU.
Three different processors, all quad-core and with different graphics solutions, appear to be tested: the 2.0GHz Core i7-2630QM, 2.2GHz Core i7-2720QM, and 2.3GHz Core i7-2820QM. The Core i7-2720QM was paired with the soon-to-be-released AMD Mobility Radeon HD 6900M, which blasted through the 3DMark06 benchmark, scoring 20155. The Core i7-2820QM teamed with the Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M and scored 16957, but most surprising was the Core i7-2630QM, which relied purely on the new integrated graphics. It pulled a 15940, within striking distance of Nvidia's mobile Fermi solution.
If the benchmarks are accurate, then there's a lot to look forward to if you're buying a Sandy Bridge laptop next year without a discrete graphics solutions. (And it's highly doubtful that the Alienware M17x will be one of them.) The integrated graphics might not be Crysis-worthy, but they appear to be way more robust than previous attempts and sufficient for some casual gaming. It also bodes even better for Sandy Bridge's 22nm successor, Ivy Bridge, which will pack double the number of Sandy Bridge's graphics execution units (from 12 to 24) when it emerges late in 2011.