Intel Arc Alchemist desktop GPUs may be worse than we thought

Today there’s another round of bad news for Intel Arc Alchemist, this time regarding the Arc A380, the first discrete GPU for desktops that Intel had released. When announcing the card, Intel compared it to the budget AMD Radeon RX 6400, while promising that the A380 would offer a performance increase of up to 25% over the RX 6400.

Intel’s claims have been scrutinized and unfortunately the A380 does not live up to those expectations. While the Intel Arc GPU is faster than the AMD RX 6400, it only wins by 4%. The other cards in the line-up have also been given a different look.

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Intel recently released its first Arc Alchemist desktop GPU, the A380. For now, the card is only available in China and only comes in pre-built desktop PCs. However, Intel has promised to move quickly to the next stage, which is to release it in the DIY market in China and eventually worldwide.

As part of the release announcement, Intel shared a performance slide for the GPU, showing the average frames per second (fps) when gaming at 1080p on medium settings. With that, Intel promised the A380 would be up to 25% faster than the AMD Radeon RX 6400 — but the slide didn’t include matching numbers to back up that statement. This prompted 3DCenter to verify that information, and unfortunately it’s bad news for Intel Arc everywhere.

It seems the general public may have overlooked an important factor regarding Intel’s claims: the promise of a performance increase of up to 25% only applies to a performance versus price comparison. In short, since the RX 6400 is slightly more expensive than the A380, the actual performance increase is much smaller than expected.

3DCenter compared the available data for Intel Arc A380 and for the RX 6400. The Intel GPU costs 1,030 yuan (about $153) while the AMD graphics card costs 1,199 yuan ($178). According to 3DCenter, Intel’s claims mostly stand out when it comes to performance per yuan – the Arc A380 gains about 21%, making it more cost-effective. However, the raw performance gain is considerably smaller, at around 4%.

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As a result of those findings, 3DCenter moved on to take a closer look at some of the other claims made about the performance of the entire Intel Arc family. While these comparisons, like Intel’s claims, are hard to verify, it seems like a good idea to keep your expectations low when it comes to Intel Arc desktop GPUs.

The flagship Intel Arc A780, with the full 32 Xe cores over a 256-bit bus and 16 GB of GDDR6 memory, has often been compared to the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, and sometimes even the RTX 3070 Ti. However, 3DCenter now says the GPU will be “slightly worse than the RTX 3060 Ti”. The other GPUs in the range have also stepped up a gear with these updated predictions, with the entry-level A310 now being called “significantly slower than Radeon RX 6400”.

It’s hard to deny that things are looking a little bleak for Intel’s first discrete gaming GPU launch. After numerous delays, a staggered launch, and especially with questionable performance levels, Intel Arc may find it difficult to gain a foothold in a GPU market dominated by Nvidia and AMD. However, despite the wait, it’s still too early, and further driver optimizations could bring Intel Arc to its best GPUs yet, especially if the company keeps the price competitive.

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