They're more about offering a reasonable feature-set in a limited amount of space for the everyman. As a subset of this market, mobile integrated graphics are even more focused, having to take into account thermal design power (TDP) on top of the other design constraints, while accepting that there probably isn't a discrete upgrade path available.

Unquestionably due to its position in the marketplace, rather than the capabilities on offer, Intel's Graphics Media Accelerators (GMA) can be found in more laptops than any other manufacturers' chipsets.

The latest revamp to the Centrino chipset, previously codenamed Santa Rosa, also ushers in a new graphics engine, but should end users, and ultimately laptop builders, be looking elsewhere for their graphics engines? Or is there just enough on offer here to keep its intended market placated?

Before we discuss the merits and deficiencies of Intel's latest, it's worth putting the capabilities of this chipset into the context of who they're designed for, and that's essentially the casual gamer. If you're looking to play modern titles such as Bioshock or Unreal Tournament 2007, then you really need to invest in a proper discrete graphics solution. Integrated graphics are aimed more at the likes of World of Warcraft or older, last-generation games such as Doom 3.

The biggest news about Intel's new GMA X3100 is that it supports hardware Transform and Lighting (T&L) and programmable shader units (up to 128).

The engine runs on a 500MHz clock, boasts Intel Clear Video Technology (which improves quality), supports Vista's Aero prettiness and can potentially output to an HDMI connector as well. API support comes in the form of DirectX 9 and OpenGL 1.5. This, combined with improved power-saving states, make this one of the most significant updates in recent times.

The GMA X3100 also continues the philosophy of Intel's previous graphics solutions (going back as far as its discrete i740 line), and that is one of compatibility. While there's rarely been the power available to run games at anything more than PowerPoint slideshow speeds, being able to render those images correctly means that you'll often put up with poor frame rates as long as everything looks right.