Intel Arc Graphics Performance Revisited

Intel Arc Graphics Performance Revisited: DX9 Steps Forward, DX12 Steps Back

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Intel’s Arc Alchemist GPUs launched toward the latter part of 2022, vying for a spot among the best graphics cards. You can see where they land on our GPU benchmarks hierarchy as well, but that’s only part of the story. Intel has been busily updating drivers on a regular basis since launch, and rarely does a fortnight pass without at least one new driver to test.

And that’s the crux of the story: How much better are Intel’s latest drivers compared to the original launch drivers? The company made a lot of noise about its improved DirectX 9 performance, claiming 43% higher performance on the A750 with recent drivers compared to the original 3490 launch drivers — and at the same time dropping the price of the A750 to $250 down from $290. What about newer games, though?

We set about testing (and retesting) every Arc graphics card, including the Arc A770 8GB using an ASRock model that we haven’t quite got around to reviewing just yet, due to all the retesting that’s been going on.

We began our testing a couple of weeks back, right after the 4123 Intel drivers became available. Last week, version 4125 drivers came out, but a quick check on one of the Arc cards indicates the only changes are related to some recent game launches and that the performance otherwise remains the same as the 4123 drivers for our test suite.

Plugging the Holes in the Arc

Arc arrived with what were arguably the best GPU drivers Intel has ever created – but that’s not saying much. A few years ago, a lot of games simply refused to work at all on Intel’s integrated graphics solutions — and even those games that worked would often perform poorly. Intel’s DG1 helped pave the way for more frequent driver updates, but things were still iffy back in 2021.

Since the first dedicated Arc A380 cards started showing up in China — which meant they also started getting shipped to individuals around the world — Intel has been cranking out updated drivers on a regular basis. There are presently eleven different versions of Arc drivers available from Intel: five WHQL (Windows Hardware Quality Labs) certified and six beta drivers, but there were other “hotfix” or beta drivers that are no longer listed.

Many of the updates have been targeted at one or two specific games — there were two different drivers that addressed problems with Spider-Man Remastered performance on the Arc A380, for example. Other updates have had much further reaching ramifications, with the biggest change being DirectX 9 optimizations.

DirectX 9, 20 Years Later

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