Intel Arc is finally here after months of delays and software-related issues. The company has just launched its first-ever Arc A-Series desktop GPU in China, the Arc A380, which already has a custom variant for it. The earliest reports pertaining to Arc’s performance were concerning and pointed out the drivers’ immaturity. However, as time passed, Intel has significantly improved upon their software suite.
The most recent leaked benchmark for Arc A730M mobile GPU portrayed it in a shining light, showing us how far the drivers have come since inception. Even more recently, Intel shared official benchmarks a few days ago to accompany the Arc A380’s launch. In those benchmarks, the company claimed that Arc A380 offered 25% better performance in games than AMD‘s RX 6400, whilst costing 25% less.
Everything seemed to be working out for the Blue Team as it inches closer to a global announcement. But, alas, nothing good ever lasts forever, and Intel’s case, it lasted for merely 3 days. Notice how the benchmark provided by Intel does not show the RX 6400’s performance, neither do the footnotes include any mention of how the comparison was made to come to the conclusion of the 25% faster claim.
Thankfully, 3DCenter came forward to put Intel’s claim to the test. They pulled up any and all available information on both the GPUs to actually present a fair comparison. And what’d you know, Intel’s money is not where its mouth is.
Arc is slower than expected
Firstly, the price, which Intel claimed was 25% less than AMD’s offering, is not true. The actual percentage difference came out to about 21%, so it’s actually not that bad and that’s still a pretty significant gap. However, the real trouble lies within the performance claim. The Arc A380 is only about 4% faster than the RX 6400 and no way near the up to 25% that Intel claimed.
This evaluation actually pushed 3DCenter to reconsider its performance expectations for all of Intel’s Arc GPUs. Now, the updated list says that each card will perform worse than reports had suggested. The top-of-the-line Arc A780 won’t actually be able to match (or dare I say, beat) the RTX 3070, instead it will be “slightly worse” than the RTX 3060 Ti.
Similarly, the mid-range segment will only be able to compete with the RTX 3050 and RTX 3060 (non Ti) series at best. The lowest-tier card, Arc A310, which was expected to be on-par with the Radeon RX 6400 is now stated to be significantly slower than it based on how the Arc A380, a card two tiers above the A310, roughly matches its performance.
There is still time
Now, obviously we can’t take this data for face value. There is still a lot of work that Intel can do to improve the performance of its cards through software. In fact, AMD is notorious for significantly overhauling its GPUs’ output over time. You may remember how at launch the RX 580 and GTX 1060 were identical performers, but after a few years, the AMD card has gone well past its NVIDIA counterpart thanks to better drivers.
That means further optimization can enhance Arc GPUs’ performance and act like, almost a saving grace. But we have to keep in mind that while performance is arguably the most important pillar when it comes to graphics cards, availability and pricing are also crucial.
Arc desktop GPUs are currently only available in one country and Arc mobile GPUs in a few Asian countries. That makes them a rarity and you know anything that is rare and in demand automatically surges in price. Therefore, people would be much better off buying readily-available cards from established manufacturers who’ve been playing this game for much longer.
Whether Intel fixes everything going against them before the launch of next-gen GPUs or not will ultimately determine if they turn out to be a worthy purchase. With new and much faster cards right around the corner, it’s hard to see why anyone would opt for Arc A-Series at this point. The only factor that could be working in Intel’s favor is if Arc somehow remains cheaper, offering better value, in the face of another inevitable scalping period.