There’s a new kid in town in the GPU market, the Intel Arc graphics card line to be precise. And while it still has a long way to go before it can truly compete with more established brands like AMD and Nvidia, some of you might be thinking if it’s a good idea to be an early adopter of this new brand of tech. In short, is the Intel Arc GPU worth it?
The answer is, of course, a little more complicated than a simple yes or no. But if you don’t have time to weigh in on the factors, then the consensus is that the Intel Arc GPU is not worth it just yet.
The Intel Arc GPU line brings with it a cavalcade of good and bad in a market where a third competitor is sorely needed for the consumer’s sake.
So Intel’s new GPU is very much welcome in this market segment. Because in theory, it could compel GPU giants like Nvidia to re-consider their monopolistic approach. But in practice, reality can be disappointing.
If you’re considering the Intel Arc GPU for its gaming potential, as is expected since that’s the primary use case for a graphics card, you might find the results unimpressive.
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The Intel Arc GPU is not Powerful
If you’ve been keeping track of the GPU or PC gaming industry lately, it’s hard not to notice the rapid advancements made in processing power in the last five years.
Since Nvidia’s RTX line was released, they have produced graphics cards that are not only tough to beat in performance, but also in innovation thanks to Raytracing cores and proprietary tech like DLSS.
Intel with its Arc GPU performance came out a little too underwhelming.
The Intel Arc A770 (16 GB) is the most powerful Intel Arc GPU model and the gaming benchmark results put it in a spot where it’s barely better than the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 and usually worse than the AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT. Both of those are mid-range GPUs.
That conclusion is based on third-party benchmarks.
Intel’s best couldn’t even reach the entry-high-end level for its competitors, such as the RTX 3070 or the RX 6700 XT. So at best, it merely competes in the mid-range category.
You can also imagine that the weaker, more budget-oriented model such as the Arc A750 would perform worse.
What About the Price?
Speaking of budget, the Intel Arc A770 retails for around $329 to $349 (16 GB version), that’s the MSRP. Comparatively, the MSRP for the GeForce RTX 3060 is also $329, though it was higher back in the quarantine days due to scalpers and low supply. It’s a lot more stable now and closer to the MSRP, or even lower depending on where you live.
Meanwhile, AMD Radeon’s RX 6600 XT has an MSRP of $379 while its smaller mid-range brother, the RX 6600 also retails at $329.
There are lots of factors to weigh in here, but the scales tend to tip toward both AMD and Nvidia instead of the Intel Arc A770.
In fact, the only advantage that the Intel Arc A770 has is its 16 GB of VRAM and that’s for the 16 GB version; there’s a cheaper 8 GB version.
The AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT or even the RX 6600 has better or comparative performance in gaming while also offering better driver support and compatibility with today’s games.
Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060, on the other hand, offers stellar Raytracing performance and DLSS, which can make it more viable in higher resolutions or 4K compared to the Arc A770 even with its higher VRAM.
Not to mention both the RTX 3060 and the RX 6600/XT are enjoying some aggressive price cuts even for their brand-new models. It’s all thanks to the newer generation of Nvidia and AMD GPUs just looming over the horizon.
Thus, it’s easier to find better, below MSRP deals for the RTX 3060 and the RX 6600/XT compared to the newly-released Intel Arc A770.
The Intel Arc GPU is an Early-Adopter Tech
As we did mention earlier, Intel has some problems with its drivers. Since it’s a new brand of GPU, it requires specific drivers to function as intended with today’s software.
And even when it does have its accompanying drivers available via its page, it’s easy to remain skeptical as to whether the Intel Arc GPU is really reaching its intended performance or not. Even Nvidia and AMD’s latest drivers tend to come bundled with performance issues or unintended performance impacts every now and then.
Not to mention there’s also the question of the Intel Arc GPUs design and longevity.
Now, there are some games that put the Intel Arc A770 and even the A750 in a more competitive light. Titles like Dying Light or F1 2021 put its performance quite close to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 Ti which is a mid-range GPU priced at $400 (MSRP).
This could well be an indication that Intel needs to iron out its drivers, especially for some games where it lags behind the RTX 3060 and the RX 6600. But if you buy an Intel Arc GPU expecting the performance to be better later on once the drivers have been optimized well, it’s still a big risk.
It’s hard to gamble on promises, whether real or imagined. And right now, there’s no hard promise from Intel on what kind of performance improvements these driver changes will bring. They’re allegedly hard at work on improving their drivers, but they also claim that it’s challenging.
Also, even if the drivers were to be optimized, there’s another outlying issue with the Intel Arc A770…
The Intel Arc GPU’s Power Draw is High
To put it simply, the Intel Arc GPU is not efficient. The Intel Arc A770 draws a maximum power draw of 225 watts under full load (typically happens during heavy gaming).
Comparing it to graphics cards with similar pricing and performance, the RTX 3060 has a peak power draw of 170 watts while the RX 6600 XT draws 160 watts.
In terms of practicality, the Intel Arc A770 mostly performs slightly worse than the RTX 3060 and the RX 6600/XT while drawing more power than either. So despite being priced similarly, in the long run, you might end up paying more in energy consumption, depending on the price of electricity in your area.
It’s Best to Remain Skeptical or Wait
Sadly, it’s hard to recommend both the discreet Intel Arc GPUs in their current state. The drivers are yet to reveal the GPU’s full potential and there are simply better deals from both AMD and Nvidia.
Whether Intel will follow through with a second generation and rectify the A770 and the A750’s shortcomings remains a bleak possibility at this point. But for the market’s and the consumer’s sake, we hope they do.
So with a heavy heart, if you’re in the market for an upgrade, we recommend waiting a bit to see what AMD has on offer with its Radeon RX 7000 series or what else Nvidia has for its RTX 4000 series. The high-end cards are due by the end of 2022 while the mid-range and entry-level models are due next year.
Or if you don’t want to wait, you could just grab yourself a sweet clearance sale for the Nvidia RTX 3000 series or the AMD Raden RX 6000 series cards.
But whatever you do, don’t purchase an Intel Arc GPU expecting a comparable or satisfactory performance compared to its competitors.