Intel’s new Arc GPU shown at esports tournament, but performance remains a mystery

Intel Arc Alchemist GPU
(Image credit: Intel)

From June 3 to 5, the DreamHack gaming expo ran in Dallas, Texas, playing host to the Intel Extreme Masters, Intel’s esports league. Past all the cosplay competitions, esports showdowns, and merch stores, Intel was running a stand dedicated to its new Arc GPUs, and it brought our first real-world sighting of the Arc Alchemist external GPU.

Although the physical graphics card design had been revealed in a teaser from Intel, this is the first time the GPU has been physically showcased. We don’t know exactly which model this is, although our best guess would be the Arc 7770 model. It’s a dual-fan card powered by an 8-pin and a 6-pin PCIe connector, and presumably offers both DisplayPort and HDMI video outputs.

The card was spotted by Twitter user @theBryceIsRt, an Intel Arc Community Advocate, who posted photos of the new GPU (as well as the deeply haunting Intel CPU mascot, Chippy).

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Intel first announced its intention to enter the GPU market years ago, but the pandemic and global chip shortage hampered these plans. The manufacturer is currently pushing its Arc GPUs for OEMs to use in new laptops, so the discrete GPUs for desktop PCs likely won’t be available for consumers anytime soon.

Still, it’s good to see that these graphics cards aren’t merely a myth. The desktop version of the Arc 7770 is expected to compete in the current mid-range GPU arena, going up against cards like the RTX 3070 and the RX 6700 XT. These cards don’t have a set release date yet, but are currently expected to launch in late 2022.

Analysis: How will Intel’s Arc GPUs shake up the market?

While Intel still holds the largest market share for consumer CPUs, AMD has been steadily gaining, with Intel losing more than 10% of the market to Team Red in the past three years. Intel’s integrated GPU technology (seen in many productivity laptops and Chromebooks) remains strong, but the discrete GPU market has long been the domain of AMD and Nvidia.

Despite Nvidia still holding a massively larger chunk of the consumer graphics card market than AMD, it seems that Intel might be taking aim at their CPU competitor in the GPU stakes too. Introducing a third party to the GPU market will be a major change, since Arc has the potential to further dilute the market, which could prove more problematic to AMD than Nvidia—a boon for Intel, for sure.

Arc GPUs have been floating around in laptops for a few months now, though so far these have only been lower-end Arc A3-series cards. The most impressive features of the Arc line (such as XeSS and Deep Link) aren’t demonstrated to their full potential in these thin-and-light GPUs, though, but an Arc A7770M-powered gaming laptop is on the way, so we’ll hopefully know more about the higher-end GPU capabilities soon.

Christian Guyton
Editor, Computing

Christian is TechRadar’s UK-based Computing Editor. He came to us from Maximum PC magazine, where he fell in love with computer hardware and building PCs. He was a regular fixture amongst our freelance review team before making the jump to TechRadar, and can usually be found drooling over the latest high-end graphics card or gaming laptop before looking at his bank account balance and crying.

Christian is a keen campaigner for LGBTQ+ rights and the owner of a charming rescue dog named Lucy, having adopted her after he beat cancer in 2021. She keeps him fit and healthy through a combination of face-licking and long walks, and only occasionally barks at him to demand treats when he’s trying to work from home.