Update January 23, 2018: Dell confirmed to us at a recent event that the information picked up by Tweakers in a conversation with a Dell representative were actually false. There will be no disabling of Vega GPU on the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1.
Mobile chips can’t really compete with their big brothers… these are the best CPUs for gaming.
Which is great news. It was a little concerning that there might be a version of the impressive Kaby Lake G processor that arrived without the all-important extra bonus of AMD's Vega GPU silicon. Essentially you'd just be left with an old quad-core Kaby Lake CPU with the usual weak-heart Intel GPU.
That means even the $1,300 version will come with a level of graphical grunt that should allow for some decent 720p, or even 1080p, gaming performance.
Original story, January 15, 2018: I'll admit I went a little giddy at CES last week playing around with Dell’s gorgeous XPS 15 2-in-1, yet now it seems like the $1,300 version is going to ship with an Intel Kaby Lake G processor, but with the AMD Vega graphics component disabled.
In conversation with Dell Tweakers discovered that the cheapest version of the XPS 15 2-in-1 will come sporting an Intel Core i5 8305G, but with a disabled graphics chip connected to it. That means you’ll only be getting the old-school quad-core Kaby Lake Core i5 processor - though one with eight threads - and the Intel HD 630 graphics companion. Because the Kaby Lake G’s HBM2 memory is directly attached to the Vega GPU that will be off the table too.
The standard Core i5 8305G comes with the lower-spec Radeon RX Vega M GL GPU. That’s the graphics chip with 20 compute units (CUs) and 1,280 of AMD’s Graphics Core Next GPU cores. In the fully enabled versions of the i5 it is attached to the Intel processing portion of the chip via an eight lane PCIe 3.0 connection.
I would guess it’s that PCIe connection where the disconnect is happening. But whether the GPU will be disabled via hardware, software, or is simply a question of Intel offering versions of the Kaby Lake G processors with broken GPUs for a knock-down price, we don’t yet know.
The argument is that Dell would want a version of the machine without the extra graphics power, so instead of retooling the motherboard to house a different, non Vega-powered CPU, they’ve simply opted to select cheaper chips from Intel with presumably dead GPUs. Though if this becomes a common SKU then some Kaby Lake G CPUs with perfectly functional Vega Ms might have to be imprisoned in a low-spec XPS 15 2-in-1 to satisfy the greedy gods of supply and demand.
It would be interesting to know if there was a way to get the graphics cores switched back on, because we know that the Dell 2-in-1 has all the thermal headroom needed to cope with the lower-end of the Vega M spectrum.
The more cynical person, however, might suggest that this all smells a little like Dell wanting a version of the laptop they know is unlikely to sell just so they can market with a ‘starting from $1,300…’ tagline and upsell to pricier versions with the Vega M switch flicked into the on position. But you’d have to be very cynical indeed to suspect that being a factor at all. Very cynical.