Intel‘s first Arc A-Series discrete GPU, the Arc A350M, has (technically) been out for at least 2 weeks now, however we still don’t know a lot about it due to how Intel has gone about the review process. Many media outlets didn’t even get a review sample including some of the biggest names in the game, so we have to rely on more niche and lesser-known sources for information and updates on Arc A350M.
We did get a few reviews and performance benchmarks last week where the GPU performed quite underwhelmingly, though that was to be expected of an entry-level GPU with infant drivers. However, today, new information has surfaced online that suggests maybe the unimpressive performance wasn’t just because of a weak GPU to begin with but a by-product of an issue within Intel’s driver management suite.
Dynamic Tuning Technology
BullsLab, a benchmark YouTuber hailing from South Korea took to the platform to post a video recently showing off Intel Arc A350M performing much better than it previously was. BullsLab was also one of the first people to test Intel Arc a couple of days ago, but they went back and redid the same tests with updated Arc drivers this time around. What they found was that the Arc A350M performed significantly better with DTT turned off.
DTT or Dynamic Tuning Technology is a power-sharing feature in Intel’s driver software. It’s similar to AMD’s Smart Shift and NVIDIA’s Dynamic Boost technologies in the fact that it tries to dynamically adjust power between the CPU and GPU. The total power of the laptop is intelligently shared between those two components and depending on the requirement, DTT shifts the power to provide the best of both worlds in terms of efficiency and performance.
While in theory this sounds great as this can help the GPU get more power than the CPU in gaming scenarios which will boost the frame rate, in practice, however, Intel’s application of this technology has done the exact opposite. Instead of improving the gaming performance, DTT very clearly hindered it, restricting the GPU from performing at its fullest potential.
Arc A350M DTT Benchmarks
As you can see in the screenshots below, when Dynamic Tuning Technology is turned off, the Arc A350M nearly doubles the frame rate in games netting a massive improvement in performance overall. In fact, in one game, we see the FPS going from 68 with DTT enabled to 148 with DTT disabled, a difference of that scale is borderline deception and paints the Arc A350M in an unfairly negative light.
The laptop BullsLab tested the Arc A350M in was the Samsung Book2 Pro, which has a 30W power limit for the GPU. By turning off DTT, they essentially unlocked the full potential of the GPU by letting it operate at that 30W TGP. It should be noted, though, that the clock speeds did not seem to be affected by this change as in both scenarios, we saw the Arc A350M hit boost frequencies of around 2.2Ghz.
What’s even more interesting is how the Arc A350M stacks up against rival GPUs of the same class with this update. In synthetic benchmarks done a while ago with DTT enabled, the Arc A350M (30W) managed to be 30% faster than NVIDIA’s MX450 (18-28W) on average. Now, with this DTT revelation, we can expect the Arc A350M to perform on-par with the GTX 1650, a 50W mobile GPU that A350M previously performed worse against.
Intel Arc’s place in the market
All that being said, there are still stuttering issues and major bugs widespread across many titles for Arc GPUs. This is mostly still due to driver infancy and while Intel is trying to patch more and more issues with each update, the list of prevalent glitches on Arc A350M is still long and one that needs considerable work. The last Arc driver update featured 7 game and 2 software related fixes which simply isn’t enough at this stage.
On top of that, availability is also an issue for Arc A-Series at the moment as it is still not available worldwide; Intel has only released Arc Graphics-based laptops in ACAP markets like South Korea. Even if it were readily available around the globe, laptops with GTX 1660 Ti mobile GPUs would beat it in performance and pricing which really makes you wonder why even bother, Intel?
Intel’s debut foray into the realm of discrete graphics has been a shaky one. Though the company has big promised and aspirations to live to, the Arc A350M hasn’t made a splash like Intel would’ve hoped for. With driver issues and availability continuously questioning the GPU’s very existence, the Blue Team is currently cornered into a position where drastic change is the only thing that can shift the public perception.