Intel‘s first Arc A-Series desktop graphics card is now officially out in the wild. After months of delays, uncertainties, software issues, and more, the company has finally put Arc desktop on shelves and it hopes to build upon this launch with even more future SKUs. But, for now, this is Arc A-Series as a whole.
Arc A380 is currently Intel’s only Arc desktop GPU that has actually been launched, but it’s only available in one territory and that’s China. It’s technically the fastest Arc desktop GPU available right now, given that it’s literally the only one that you can actually buy. That being said, it’s actually two tiers above the baseline entry Arc GPU.
The review embargo for the card was recently lifted and many Chinese regional publications have already put out their reviews. However, we were waiting for a more nuanced evaluation of the GPU from a trusted outlet, and it looks like Intel got tired of waiting and just did it themselves.
Intel Arc A380 official benchmarks
That’s right, Intel itself has released official performance benchmarks for the Arc A380, through Wccftech. They give us a more holistic look at the card and how it stacks up to its competition. Not only do we see gaming performance but also synthetic numbers for the maiden GPU.
It was a pleasant surprise to see the Blue Team be as transparent for a release this important as you’re about to see. Right out of the gate, Intel discloses the detailed spec-sheet of Arc A380 with every possible thing you’d want to know about the card.
Intel is comparing the Arc A380 against two similarly-classed GPUs from AMD and NVIDIA. Up against the A380 is the AMD Radeon RX 6400 and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650. Intel was so confident in their testing that they went ahead and provided additional details on how they conducted the benchmarks.
As you can see above, this includes documentation on the exact driver versions used for each GPU and the configuration of the test bench. The company used the same components to test out each graphics card, with the GPU itself being the only part that was swapped between the test benches. A Core i5-12600K processor along with 32GB of DDR4-3200 RAM was used across the board in order to keep the test as fair as possible.
Here are the results from the gaming benchmarks:
Out of the 11 total games tested, the Arc A380 reigned supreme amongst all the GPUs in only 1 game—Naraka Bladepoint. The card performed more favorably against the AMD offering where it beat the RX 6400 in four games including Witcher 3 and F1 2021. All in all, the card traded blows with its contemporaries, albeit losing more than winning.
Once again, Intel’s transparency is so nice to see here. The fact that this is their official documentation, they could’ve sugar-coated the results to make the Arc GPU look much better than it actually is, but they never did. Instead, they put out a realistic image of the Arc A380 into the world, one that accurately represents the product. And this test was done using a month-old drivers, which means performance is certainly even better right now.
Coming to synthetic benchmarks, the card performs incredibly well. In 3DMark TimeSpy, the Arc A380 not only absolutely destroys both the GTX 1650 and the RX 6400, but it’s actually even faster than the RX 6500 XT! This is one of few benchmark suites that Intel has specifically optimized their Arc GPUs for, and this goes to show exactly just how much capable Arc really is.
The hardware is certainly there, if only the company could package software as good as the physical hardware (such as in this case), the Arc A380 could be a genuine game-changer. Not only that, Intel is new to the discrete GPU business whereas AMD and NVIDIA have been playing this game far longer. They’ve had decades to tune their drivers as compared to Intel.
We see a similar story in DaVinci Resolve in which the Arc A380 comes out on top, with an interesting twist. When benchmarking the card as is, it’s actually the slowest of the bunch, taking 30 seconds to encode the test video. However, when DeepLink is enabled, the GPU crushed its competition to score an unprecedent score of just 16 seconds, a near 50% improvement.
DeepLink, for those of you who don’t know, makes the whole system pool together its resources to become more performant. It allows Intel to utilize the integrated graphics, dedicated graphics, and processor simultaneously for workloads where possible. So, by harnessing the power of the Arc discrete GPU and the Core i5-12600K, it’s able to post much better numbers in professional environments.
Lastly, we have HandBrake in which the Arc A380 also nets a comfortable win over the competition. Here, once again the DeepLink combo gives the GPU a significant boost. But keep in mind that since we’re evaluating GPU performance here, taking the DeepLink numbers into account is actually not ideal since not everyone will be pairing the card with an Intel CPU.
Gaming comparison with a Ryzen system
And that’s exactly what happened in another benchmark comparison over at Bilibili in which a user took Intel’s official provided results and put them against a Ryzen system. When paired with a Ryzen 5 5600X, it turns out that the Arc A380 performs substantially worse with weaker performance in every game except for one.
This could be the reason behind as to why Intel has made Resizable BAR mandatory for its Arc GPUs and why they aren’t guaranteed to work (well) with AMD systems that support Smart Access Memory, Perhaps, Intel’s own chips can only unlock the full potential of Arc graphics card which is a rather interesting factor that will certainly affect purchasing decisions.
MyDrivers also took matters into their own hands and released another benchmark comparison, but this time throwed the GTX 1050 Ti into the mix. This list is a sort of compilation of both synthetic and gaming benchmarks, and it shows that the Arc A380 can really only beat the GTX 1050 Ti when it comes to overall performance. Apart from 3DMark, the Intel offering loses to the GTX 1650 and RX 6400 in nearly every test.
Considering the price of the Arc A380, the GTX 1050 Ti comparison seems logical and perhaps even poses an interesting question. What if the Arc A380 launched for under $200 outside of China? There’s certainly a very good possibility of that happening and by doing so, Intel would be literally undercutting all of its competition.
The Arc A380 is currently priced at 880 Yuan before tax, after adding the 17% VAT, the actual price of the card comes out to around 1030 Yuan. That’s roughly $153 USD. When the card eventually does launch in the States, it’s expected to land at somewhere above that $150 mark, which is quite a competitive price as I mentioned.
However, MSRPs are rarely representative of actual prices these days and same is the case here. Despite having a 1030 Yuan price tag, the card is actually being sold at 1400-1500 Yuan, which is a major hike. Whether this price hike translates over to the U.S. after it launches remains to be seen.
The future for Arc A380
It’s safe to say that Intel’s drivers for the Arc A-Series are not quite ready yet. We’ve seen multiple reports on how the software is holding back the hardware. Even though the more recent leaks point towards a brighter future with better drivers, that’s exactly why I think Arc will stand the test of and benefit from time.
AMD, just a few years back, used to be in the same predicament. The company had great hardware but the drivers could just never catch up to it (or the competition for that matter) at launch. However, over time as the months went by, with each update, the card would unlock a fraction more of its power.
This process would keep on happening until the AMD offering eventually surpasses the NVIDIA card of the same tier. Most famously, the RX 580 vs. the GTX 1060 debate is a perfect example of this. At launch, the RX 580 lagged behind the GTX 1060 in most games. After a few driver updates, the playing field leveled significantly to the point where there was no debate anymore.
We see early signs of a similar pattern here with the Arc A380. Remember how in 3DMark Time Spy, the card blew its competition out of the water? Well, that was because both the hardware and software worked in unison to squeeze every little bit of performance out of the GPU. Here, optimized drivers actually helped the Arc A380 beat all of its contemporaries.
This shows us that there is potential. With the right amount of time, effort, and resources, Intel can carve out a product that offers an unprecedented value proposition. As the months go on, and better and better drivers make their way onto the Intel suite, the Arc A380 will only get better with time, just like AMD’s FineWine™.
All in all, we’re in for a very interesting new couple of months. AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel are all set to unleash their latest GPUs onto the world and with competition higher than ever, the race to win the customers’ pocket will be a fierce one. Whether NVIDIA reigns supreme once again or AMD finally dethrones it with RDNA 3, the real eyes will be on Intel to successfully execute the global launch of their Arc A-Series GPUs.