Why it matters: Intel may have wanted to take advantage of a window of opportunity with its Intel Arc GPUs, but the company had to delay its launch and even limit initial availability to the Asian market. Now that the first independent review of a desktop Arc graphics card is out, Intel’s lack of confidence in its discrete GPUs seems justified.
We haven’t yet seen any Intel Arc GPUs outside of South Korea and China, despite the company’s initial promise that it would flood the market with a wide range of desktop and laptop models. However, judging by early benchmarks and the relatively slow driver development around Team Blue’s discrete GPUs, the company may have decided to take a slower approach to launching them on the global market.
Last month, Intel said its Arc A-series desktop graphics cards would be exclusive to China for a few months. The first model to hit the market was the Arc A380, an entry-level GPU that launched a week ago priced at 1,030 yuan, or just over $150.
The new graphics card hardly impresses in terms of cooling, video outputs, or overall aesthetics. However, Intel claims that it’s up to 25 percent faster than AMD’s similarly priced Radeon RX 6400. If you look at the specs, the Arc A380 has a few things going for it, like six gigabytes of GDDR6 memory connected via a 96-bit bus, a PCIe 4.0 x8 interface, and three DisplayPort 2.0 ports.
That said, an early independent review posted by Bilibili user Shenmedounengce suggests that the Intel part doesn’t perform as well outside of synthetic benchmarks, where it falls between the Radeon RX 6500 XT and Nvidia’s RTX 3050. If you turn on the 3DMark port of Royal and Timespy tests, you’ll even get the impression that the A380 has some ray-tracing skills compared to AMD’s entry-level offerings.
In real-world gaming tests, the Arc A380 proved less powerful than AMD’s Radeon RX 6400, and that includes popular titles like PUBG, GTA 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, League of Legends, Forza Horizon 5, and Red Dead Redemption. 2. In fact, Intel’s entry-level graphics card seems to perform worse than Nvidia’s GTX 1650 in DirectX 11, DirectX 12, and Vulkan titles.
It wouldn’t be easy to find an excuse for such poor performance compared to a GPU that Nvidia released in 2019, especially since the card was paired with an Intel Core i5-12400 CPU, which is an excellent gaming CPU.
This begs the question of whether Intel is trying to buy more time to perfect drivers for Intel Arc, but the performance of the A380 GPU is disappointing unless you consider its relatively low price. The higher-end models may paint a different story, but we’ll have to wait and see.