[Updated] Intel Arc A380 Performs up to 15% Better in 3DMark Tests with ‘Advanced Performance Optimizations’ Enabled

Update: UL Solutions has evaluated and approved the beta driver, so the following benchmarks are now valid. Here’s what a representative from UL had to say:

Intel Arc Graphics Driver 30.0.101.1743 BETA is now approved for use with 3DMark only when specific optimizations for 3DMark Time Spy and 3DMark Port Royal are turned off. This is the default behavior for this driver.

Automatically detecting and validating the driver settings from submitted results will require a future update to SystemInfo and 3DMark, so the validation of this driver approval is not yet supported by 3DMark.com or the 3DMark client.

For the time being, results using this driver will still show the “graphics driver is not approved” warning in 3DMark, and on the 3DMark website. Intel Arc GPU results will also not appear on the 3DMark.com results search, as only validated results are indexed.


Original story:

It’s been over two weeks since Intel officially launched its first-ever Arc A-Series desktop GPU. The Arc A380 is an entry-level performer going up against the RX 6400 in terms of gaming performance. The card isn’t exactly ‘powerful’, mostly because Intel’s drivers are still not ready to fully maximize the potential of its GPUs.

However, one area where the drivers are exceedingly remarkable and absolutely thrash the competition is in 3DMark tests. That’s because Intel Arc GPUs have specific optimizations for 3DMark’s benchmark stack that leverages the full might of the graphics card, beating its contemporaries by a long margin. 

Intel is currently testing beta drivers for the Arc A380 and one user on Twitter, @0x222h, has access to these drivers along with the GPU. The user has already done a lot of helpful testing with this GPU, however, today they posted some new 3DMark benchmarks that standout and are definitely worth talking about. 

Intel’s APO drivers

The special thing about these benchmarks is, again, those beta drivers because they feature a special toggle called “Advance Performance Optimizations” (APO). This is a new option added by Intel in the drivers to increase Arc GPUs’ performance in synthetic benchmarks across the board, but particularly 3DMark since Arc was already pretty good at that.

UL Solutions, the creators of 3DMark have gone out of their way to inform Videocardz that they are in the process to testing Intel’s claim that no special optimizations are needed for Arc GPUs to perform optimally in their 3DMark stack. This is an important clarification because UL does not allow optimizations for 3DMark since they give an unfair advantage to some. 

Therefore, until UL has tested and approved this version of the beta driver, the 3DMark results cannot be verified and taken for face-value. Once UL determines that Arc GPUs are achieving these scores without any special optimizations in place, only then will the results become valid. 

APO benchmark results

Regardless, the results are quite interesting to look at. According to @0x22h, two tests from 3DMark’s stack are affected by this optimization feature: TimeSpy and Port Royal. In both benchmarks, with APO enabled, the GPU achieves a much higher score than with it disabled. 

Intel Arc A380 in 3DMark TimeSpy with APO on vs. APO off | @0x22h

As you can see above, in TimeSpy, the Arc A380 with APO off nets around 4,929 points. Compared to that, with APO on, the same GPU scores 5,757 points. That’s a roughly 15% increase in overall score. 

In Port Royal, the discrepancy is a little less drastic. The Arc A380 scores 1,780 points with APO disabled, but when turned on, that number increases to 1,854. That constitutes a 4% boost in performance, thanks to just one toggle being turned on. 

Intel Arc A380 in Port Royal with APO on vs. off | @0x22h

So, that clearly shows us that Intel’s Advanced Performance Optimizations are definitely influencing results in 3DMark. It’s important to keep in mind that 3DMark is just a synthetic benchmark, unreflective of real-world performance. A higher score in 3DMark with optimizations won’t translate to better frame rates in games and such. It’s simply a leaderboard that helps rank the GPUs available in the market, essentially. 

Interestingly enough, the benchmarks we’ve gotten for this GPU until now have all showed the Arc A380 performing much, much better in 3DMark than in games or even in any other benchmark, for some reason. It could be that APO was enabled by default in the drivers before this latest update made it a toggle. 

Now that it can be turned off, new benchmark results, like this one, should better represent the actual synthetic performance of the Arc A380. Due to the card’s extremely limited availability, we’re seeing performance metrics sparsely. Hopefully, this situation changes for the better in the future. 

Huzaifa Haroon
Born and raised around computers, Huzaifa is an avid gamer and a Windows enthusiast. When he's not solving the mysteries of technology, you can find him writing about operating systems, striving to inform the curious.