It has been about four months since the launch of Intel’s long-awaited Arc graphics cards. If you rolled the dice and bought a flagship A770 or an A750 in the interest of getting a decent deal on a mid-range GPU after two years of artificially inflated prices, the news has been mostly good. There have been some weird issues here and there, but Intel has kept plugging away at its buggy drivers, slowly improving Arc’s performance across a range of games.
The company is making a pair of announcements today. First, the Arc A750 (the third-fastest Arc card, behind the 16GB and 8GB versions of the A770) is getting an official price cut, from $289 to $249. Second, the company is releasing yet another driver update (version 126.96.36.19986), bragging about widespread performance improvements in old DirectX 9 games and more targeted improvements for newer titles relative to the launch drivers from October.
In our review, the Arc A750 was usually around 10 or 20 percent slower than the 16GB version of the A770, at least for games where the A750’s 8GB of memory wasn’t a bottleneck. But in the games where it did well, it usually still outperformed Nvidia’s RTX 3060, and Intel’s driver updates have made the “games that Arc plays well” list a little longer by now. A new RTX 3060 still typically goes for somewhere in the $350 to $400 range.
The driver improvements are mostly old news if you’re an Arc owner who has been installing new updates as they’ve been released; many of the DirectX 9 improvements, in particular, were previewed in a beta driver update in December. Intel seems to be using both DirectX 12- and Vulkan-to-DirectX 9 translation layers, choosing different layers to optimize speeds for specific games.
On average, Intel says these older games will perform 43 percent faster than they did with the launch drivers. Gameplay should also generally feel smoother and have fewer hitches, thanks to lower and more consistent frame times.
Improvements for newer DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 games were smaller and less widespread, according to Intel. It’s difficult to say just how much faster they are, on average, because Intel’s charts occasionally veer into hard-to-parse measurements like “average FPS per dollar.” But the company’s focus on big multiplayer games (Fortnite, Valorant, DOTA 2, League of Legends) and major releases (Assassin’s Creed, Red Dead Redemption 2, Cyberpunk 2077) means that most people probably play at least a few games that have benefitted from Intel’s driver work so far.
In the months leading up to Arc’s launch, Intel went on a sort of preemptive apology tour, explaining multiple times that Arc performance in newer DirectX 12 and Vulkan games would be great but that performance in DirectX 11 and older games would be hit or miss.
It wasn’t the best footing for Intel to start on, especially since Arc was also arriving late to the party—it was designed to compete with the Nvidia RTX 3000 series and AMD RX 6000 series, both already being replaced. Intel also missed the opportunity to launch while 2021 and 2022’s GPU shortage was still in full swing. But the explanations did have the benefit of setting expectations, and most reviews of the GPUs were at least faintly positive where they could have been unforgivingly negative.
Whether that effort translated to sales is hard to say, though most signs point to a slow start. Arc has yet to make a blip in the Steam Hardware Survey data as of December 2022, and is still being lumped in with “other.” If we use customer reviews as a proxy for popularity, all Arc A770 and A750 GPUs, combined, have a total of 142 reviews on Newegg, while the RTX 3060 GPU listings collectively have many times that amount.