In context: Intel’s Arc A series of discrete GPUs may prove to be this year’s most disappointing hardware release. And that’s despite the company’s efforts to enter a challenging market where Nvidia dominates the high-end segment and AMD offers alternatives for budget-conscious gamers. The Arc 7 laptop’s GPUs have yet to make their debut, but they’re officially targeting Nvidia’s more modest offerings from the Ampere range.
Earlier this week, a review of the Arc A380 desktop graphics card revealed why Intel isn’t keen on releasing it globally. The performance is worse than AMD’s slowest RX 6000 series card and even Nvidia’s GTX 1650 that debuted three years ago. Some of this is to be expected, as Nvidia and AMD have been perfecting their drivers for years and it’s unlikely that a first-generation discrete GPU architecture from Intel will challenge their current offerings on anything other than price or power efficiency.
According to Tom’s Hardware, Intel recently sent out review guidelines for its Arc Alchemist mobile GPUs and how they perform in modern AAA games. In particular, the company is sharing information about the Arc A770M and Arc A730M GPUs, which are based on the ACM-G10 chip. Intel seems to be positioning them as alternatives to Nvidia’s RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060 laptop GPUs, which are an entry-level model in the Ampere range.
The A730M has 24 Xe cores with speeds up to 1,100 MHz, 24 ray tracing units and 12 gigabytes of GDDR6 coupled through a 192-bit interface. Its bigger brother, the A770M, has 32 Xe cores operating at 1,650 MHz, 32 ray tracing units and 16 gigabytes of VRAM connected via a 265-bit interface.
As with Nvidia’s RTX 30-series laptop GPUs, Intel’s Arc A730M and 770M GPUs will come with different TGP ratings that will be configured by manufacturers based on their design goals for certain laptop models. They range from 80 to 120 watts for the A730M and 120 to 150 watts for the A770M.
|game settings)||RTX 3050 Ti||Bow A730M||RTX 3060||Bow A770M|
|Assassin’s Creed Valhalla (High)||38 fps||50 fps||74 fps||69 fps|
|Borderlands 3 (Ultra)||45 fps||50 fps||60 fps||79 fps|
|42 fps||62 fps||70 fps||89 fps|
|Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra)||39 fps||49 fps||54 fps||68 fps|
|Death Stranding (Ultra)||89 fps||87 fps||113 fps||102 fps|
|Dirty 5 (High)||64 fps||61 fps||83 fps||87 fps|
|F1 2021 (Ultra)||68 fps||86 fps||96 fps||123 fps|
Far Cry 6 (Ultra)
|63 fps||68 fps||80 fps||82 fps|
|Gears of War 5 (Ultra)||58 fps||52 fps||72 fps||73 fps|
|Horizon Zero Dawn (Ultimate Quality)||63 fps||50 fps||80 fps||68 fps|
|Metro Exodus (Ultra)||39 fps||54 fps||53 fps||69 fps|
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (High)||46 fps||60 fps||66 fps||77 fps|
Strange Brigade (Ultra)
|98 fps||123 fps||134 fps||172 fps|
|The Division 2 (Ultra)||63 fps||51 fps||78 fps||86 fps|
|The Witcher 3 (Ultra)||96 fps||101 fps||124 fps||141 fps|
|Total War Saga: Troy (Ultra)||48 fps||66 fps||71 fps||86 fps|
|Watch Dogs Legion (High)||59 fps||71 fps||77 fps||89 fps|
Intel’s benchmarks suggest that the A730M and A770M GPUs can outperform the RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060 in terms of 1080p performance in a variety of games by as much as 48 percent. However, Team Blue admits to lower performance in certain titles like Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn, so the average performance advantage comes in at just 12-13 percent.
The problem with these results is that Intel did not specify the TGP of the Arc GPUs it used for testing, while the guidelines state the RTX 3050 Ti with a TGP of 60 watts and the RTX 3060 with a TGP of 85 watts. Both figures are below the minimums for the Arc A730M and A770M, and significantly below the maximum configurable TGPs, making it difficult to judge the merits of the Alchemist architecture compared to the competition.
The Intel Arc GPUs are equipped with more VRAM than their alleged Nvidia counterparts, which is a positive. They can also deliver better performance when configured to use more power, but the same goes for the RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060. Public Intel documentation suggests Arc Alchemist GPUs need Resizable BAR to do their best, and that feature may not be enabled on the MSI Pulse G66 (RTX 3060) and Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (RTX 3050 Ti) test machines.
In any case, it seems that Intel isn’t interested in competing with these first-generation high-end discrete GPUs. The company does have an Arc Limited Edition graphics card for desktop systems that may have higher clock speeds than the A770M, but it’s unclear if it will even approach the RTX 3070 performance level, as rumored.