Image Credit: Intel
After decades of trying to enter the dedicated GPU market, with high-profile failures like Larrabee, Intel has finally released graphics cards you can buy right now.
The first generation of Intel Arc GPUs is here, and Intelís workstation-focused Arc Pro GPUs arenít far behind.
Itís an exciting time in a GPU market where two companies have essentially had a duopoly for decades, but does that mean you should spend your money on an Arc card today, or ever?
The GPU Market Is Recovering Too Quickly
Image Credit: Intel
If Intel Arc GPUs had been released during the worst silicon shortage, they would have offered desperate customers a new source of GPUs to relieve the
ridiculously inflated AMD and Nvidia graphics cards had reached.
Thanks to better supplies and massive crashes in the crypto markets, the prices of excellent GPUs like the RTX 3080 Ti are dropping like a rock. So Intel is
releasing its GPUs into a market where top-tier cards are getting $1000 price cuts, rather than one brutally desperate for whatever it can get.
Performance Is Unproven
Image Credit: Intel/Gunnir
Early samples of Intel Arc GPUs that have made it into the hands of independent testers havenít exactly blown anyoneís socks off. The Arc A750, a midrange
gaming model, performs just a little better than Nvidiaís oddball RTX 3060 (not to be confused with the genuinely excellent RTX 3060 Ti).
We havenít seen all of the Arc cards benchmarked yet, but itís a fair assumption that theyíll top out around the base RTX 3070 mark. At least thatís what Arcís engineers
have suggested in the past, but we havenít seen it yet.
The Drivers Arenít Ready
While Arcís hardware is certainly at the very least competent and usable, that means nothing without mature drivers. This is possibly the roughest part of the Arc experience
at this point, since Intel lacks the decades of experience in driver coding for discrete GPUs that have to run the latest games and 3D productivity apps.
In the professional GPU space in particular, where stability is crucial, we still have to see Arc offer the same uptime and reliability as a workstation GPU from Nvidia or AMD.
Current Arc GPU owners are essentially beta testers for Intelís Arc drivers and unless youíre an early adopter who just wants to play with a new GPU architecture, itís not
sensible to buy an Arc card just yet.
Does Arc Have a Future?
Intelís Arc division has lost a lot of money. Some estimates put it at over 3.5Bn USD! Coupled with all the factors we mentioned above, itís entirely possible that Intelís leadership will
choose to axe Arc along with other now-dead projects such as Optane and Intelís drone division.
However, Arc has a lot of potential with just a little more driver refinement and perhaps another hardware revision. Especially when it comes to future Intel SoCs in laptops or laptops with
Arc dedicated GPUs. Intel could offer laptops with great midrange GPU performance at lower prices than an Intel laptop with an AMD or Nvidia GPU. This could even make them more
competitive with the likes of Apple, who also make both the CPU and GPU in their computers.
The big immanent problem is that Nvidiaís RTX 4000 and AMDís Radeon 7000 cards are just around the corner. These new GPUs are sure to blow the current models out of the water, and
Arc GPUs are struggling to compete with the existing products from the other two GPU companies. If nothing else, it makes it a bad idea to buy into Arc now until AMD and Nvidia have
shown their respective hands.