After years of buildup and months of teasers, Intel Arc GPUs saw the light of day in late 2022. Customers and reviewers welcomed the potential competition by Team Blue against GPU heavyweights like NVIDIA and AMD. The question remains, however, whether an Intel Arc GPU is good for gaming. In a search for that answer, this guide covers many aspects of Intel Arc GPUs and whether one would make sense for you.
Good to know: our graphics card buyer's guide explains what to look for in a graphics card and how to compare your options.
Intel Arc GPUs – The First Generation
In October 2022, Intel's flagship GPUs – Arc A770 and Arc A750 – were made available. While Intel had launched its entry-level Arc A380 earlier that year to terrible reviews, mainly owing to underwhelming performance and broken drivers, the new chips were what the market was waiting for. And the Arc A770 and A750 didn't disappoint.
|Core clock||Memory clock||VRAM||Xe cores||RT cores||Memory bus|
|Arc A770||2100 MHz||2000 MHz||16GB/8GB||32||32||256-bit|
|Arc A750||2050 MHz||2000 MHz||8GB||28||28||256-bit|
|Arc A380||2000 MHz||1937 MHz||6GB||8||8||96-bit|
The Arc A770 proved to be a solid mid-range graphics card, capable enough for 1440p gaming and comfortably killing it at 1080p. It comes with enough VRAM and offers a great value among GPUs after a long time. It's a reasonably compact card by today's standards and features a dual-slot design.
The Arc A750 is more suited to 1080p Ultra and 1440p Medium gaming. It has cut-down specs compared to the Arc A770 but still performs in the same ballpark in some games. The maximum power consumption (TDP) of both cards is 225W, which isn't what we would call conservative.
The Arc A380 is the entry-level offering from Team Blue. You can see the modest specs yourself and conclude that it's no gaming powerhouse. It can perform reasonably well at 1080p Medium settings, delivering 60+ FPS in less-demanding games. Plus, its TDP of 75W won't need a power supply replacement.
On the memory front, each of these cards is equipped with fast (but not the fastest) GDDR6 memory. Also, each of them supports XeSS – Intel's version of AI upscaling that helps boost framerates. Intel managed to make good on many of its promises concerning its Arc GPUs (especially the A7 chips) and, if nothing else, build consumer confidence for its upcoming "Battlemage," "Celestial," and "Druid" line of GPUs.
Tip: regardless of your graphics card, you can do certain things to optimize video game graphics settings to improve performance.
Performance Against the Competition
Intel's Arc A770 and Arc A750 can be considered realistic competitors to NVIDIA's RTX 3060 and AMD's RX 6650. In recent gaming benchmarks, the Arc A770 was, on average, 4% to 5% faster than the RTX 3060 at 1080p High preset, churning smooth 100+ FPS on average. It was also around 11% faster than the RTX 3060 at 1440p High preset, delivering 80+ FPS on average.
Compared to the AMD RX 6650 XT, the Arc A770 delivered virtually the same performance at 1080p, as well as 1440p settings. Even the less powerful sibling, the Arc A750, was neck and neck with the RTX 3060 at both 1080p and 1440p settings.
The Arc A770 showed its best results in games like Rainbow Six Extraction, F1 2021, Borderlands 3, Dying Light 2 Stay Human, and Watch Dogs Legion.
If you were wondering about Arc's raytracing capabilities, Intel has put a lot of work into its RT cores. Although neither the Arc cards nor the RTX 3060 can cross 40 FPS (on average) at 1080p High raytracing (without upscaling), the Arc A770 performed on par with the RTX 3060. Even at 1440p, the two cards delivered virtually the same performance. This time, the best showing for the Arc A770 was in titles like Control and Metro Exodus Enhanced. No matter the numbers, neither the Arc A770 nor the RTX 3060 are 1440p raytracing cards by any means.
These tests indicate that the Arc A770 and Arc A750 consistently beat the RTX 3060 and RX 6650 XT. Intel also continues to improve performance with regular driver updates. The 16GB Arc A770 handsomely beats the 12GB RTX 3060 in VRAM as well, making it even more ideal for 1440p gaming, as long as you're not considering raytracing.
Any raytracing performance discussions involve AI upscaling techniques like NVIDIA's DLSS and AMD's FSR. Intel, too, has its XeSS upscaling tech to boost framerates. While it does work well in most scenarios, it can't compete with the more mature offerings from the competition – at least not yet.
Both idle and average power consumption on the Arc A770 and Arc A750 were much higher than that on the RTX 3060 and the RX 6650 XT, consuming watts typical of higher-end cards, like the RTX 3070. Even peak temps on the Arc cards were a good 50ºF higher than those on the RTX 3060. Again, Intel has done impressive work fixing high idle power consumption with driver updates.
Another positive of Intel's Arc graphics cards is the support for hardware-accelerated AV1 and VP9 encoding. Current-gen offerings from NVIDIA and AMD also have this feature, but Intel's cards are in direct competition with the mid-range RTX 3000 and RX 6000 series cards. And those GPUs only support hybrid decoding of AV1 and VP9, which puts quite a load on the CPU. As long as NVIDIA and AMD restrict streaming support for these codecs to their expensive cards, Intel's Arc GPUs could be your only choice for pocket-friendly, streaming-focused graphics cards.
Although you can now find an RTX 3060 12GB cheaper than even a 16GB Arc A770 ($280 vs. $329), it can be attributed more to Intel's stock issues than anything else. The RX 6650 XT, however, can be had for as low as $245, severely affecting the Arc GPUs' value-for-money argument.
Also helpful: not sure what GPU is in your existing rig? You can easily identify the graphics card in your Windows PC.
First Time's Not the Charm
Despite their impressive performance against the competition, Intel's Arc series is first-generation hardware and naturally faces challenges. At launch, there were many reports of the Arc GPUs not able to launch certain games or experiencing crashes and weak performance. With some driver updates over the past few months, the situation has improved, but Intel still has its work cut out regarding driver maturity.
Another concern for gamers contemplating buying a new GPU was the poor performance of the Arc GPUs on games running with DirectX 9.0. While natively supporting DirectX 12 and 11, they needed to translate DX9 commands using "D3D9on12" to something DX12 could interpret. This introduced additional latency to the system and was the reason behind the poor showing of Arc cards on DX9 titles like CS: GO and League of Legends.
Intel needs to double down on its driver updates and improve performance for a broad list of titles to make more users comfortable with becoming early adopters.
Should You Buy an Intel Arc Graphics Card?
Now that we've provided you with all the information about the specs and performance of Intel Arc graphics cards, it's time to answer the question all gamers want to know: is the Intel Arc GPU good enough for gaming?
Honestly, it all boils down to your specific use case.
The most powerful options, the Arc A770 and Arc A750, primarily target the mid-range segment, not the premier part gamer. These cards offer decent performance at competitive prices. However, they also come with issues regarding drivers, power consumption, and thermals.
Intel's Arc A770 and Arc A750 make sense for the budget buyer. For now, the Arc GPUs meet a particular market segment: users who're simply looking for affordable graphics cards and have the patience to deal with first-gen challenges that are steadily going away.
However, if you're building a new gaming PC and eyeing premium 100+ FPS performance in the latest and greatest titles, then Intel Arc isn't for you.
You'll have to put up with sub-par performance with certain titles. Moreover, finding an RTX 3060 cheaper than the Arc A770 can put off even the most ardent bargain hunters.
Intel's first foray into mainstream graphics cards is a valiant attempt at offering gamers a genuine alternative to the NVIDIA-AMD duopoly. And while it has more or less succeeded in the budget segment, the real meat lies in the premium mid-range and high-end segments. That's where Intel will hope to capture greater mindshare as it brings its next-gen cards to the market in 2024.
Frequently Asked Questions
How powerful is Intel Iris Xe graphics?
Intel's Iris Xe graphics are integrated and featured on many of the company's laptop processors. While it's significantly faster than the Intel UHD graphics we've seen for years, they're still nowhere close to the performance of desktop graphics cards. AMD's onboard graphics on their APUs offer much better gaming performance than the Intel Iris Xe chips.
Are Intel Arc drivers getting better?
Intel Arc drivers are definitely getting better if you compare the situation now to what it was at launch. Many of the commonly seen bugs have been fixed with driver updates, and while some issues still remain, the experience is far more stable now. Even in gaming performance, subsequent driver updates have delivered impressive gains, both over previous Arc drivers and competitors like the RTX 3060 12GB.
Is Intel Arc good for mining?
While the Intel Arc GPUs are compatible with several cryptocurrency mining algorithms, they don't feature particularly high hashrates. For instance, on the older ETHW (Proof of Work) algorithm, the Arc A770 and Arc A750 provide hashrates of 17 MH/s and 16 MH/s, respectively. In contrast, the RTX 3060 provides 48 MH/s on the same algorithm. When you factor in the lower cost of the RTX 3060 compared to the Arc A770, the Arc GPUs don't seem particularly good for mining.
Image credit: Amazon
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