Intel Arc Alchemist graphics cards are Intel's first real foray into the discrete graphics market, and given the first attempt at competing with AMD and Nvidia, things have been somewhat rocky for the inexpensive GPUs. But a new driver update is helping Intel's incremental progress towards becoming a major graphics card competitor.
The update, available now from Intel's website, has a number of promised performance improvements for some of the best PC games going right now, as well as laying the groundwork for supporting upcoming titles like Dead Island 2.
The listed performance improvements in the update notes published by Intel indicate that the biggest gains were made with games running DirectX 12. With Dead Space Remake, for example, an Arc A750 can expect a 55% performance improvement at 1080p using the ultra settings preset, or 63% better performance at 1440p using the high settings preset.
Other titles like F1 2022, Dying Light 2: Stay Human, and Dirt 5 see more modest improvements of about 4-8%, depending on the card, settings, and resolution used, but progress is progress. When it comes to graphics card drivers, a little change can go a long way towards fixing a broken game experience.
The graphics driver is in beta at the moment, so you should also expect some degree of bugginess, as you'd expect with any drivers in early beta. The driver only supports the following cards and chipsets at this time:
- Intel Arc A770 Graphics (16GB)
- Intel Arc A770 Graphics (8GB)
- Intel Arc A750 Graphics
- Intel Arc A380 Graphics
- Intel Arc A310 Graphics
- Intel Arc A770M Graphics
- Intel Arc A730M Graphics
- Intel Arc A550M Graphics
- Intel Arc A370M Graphics
- Intel Arc A350M Graphics
- Intel Core i7-1365U Processor (Integrated graphics)
Gamers should root for Intel Arc's success
Let me be clear – it is not our responsibility to root for the financial success of a gargantuan semiconductor corporation. Intel isn't out here sharing its money with non-shareholders like me, so the company's success or failure is Intel's problem, not ours.
However, the discrete graphics market is stuck in a very tight Red-Green duopoly that has seen a steady increase in price for even the best cheap graphics cards, much less the best graphics card on the market, the $1,599.99 Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090.
When Intel graphics team lead Raja Koduri left the company last month, there was speculation that it might spell trouble for Intel Arc more broadly, but a more recent commitment by Intel to purchase TSMC GPUs for use in future Arc Battlemage and Arc Celestial releases points to more Arc cards to come, which we welcome.
While the Arc graphics cards we've seen are decent enough, they aren't serious competitors for the best AMD graphics cards, much less Team Green's top GPUs. But as Intel continues to refine its drivers and improve its cards' performance, that will change, and when it does, a third player in the GPU market could help bring down graphics card prices for everyone, not just Intel Arc fans.