Why is it important: Intel may have wanted to use a window of opportunity with its Intel Arc GPUs, but the company had to delay their release and even limit initial availability in the Asian market. Now that the first independent review of the Arc desktop graphics card is out, Intel’s hesitation in its discrete GPUs seems justified.

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We have yet to see any Intel Arc GPUs outside of South Korea and China, despite the company’s initial promise to flood the market with a wide range of desktop and laptop models. However, judging by early landmarks and the relatively slow development of drivers for Team Blue’s discrete GPUs, the company may have chosen to take a slower approach to releasing them to the global market.

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Last month Intel said its Arc A-series desktop graphics cards will only be available in China for a few months. The first model to hit the market was the Arc A380, an entry-level GPU that launched a week ago with a price of 1,030 yuan, or just over $150.

The new graphics card is hardly impressive in terms of cooling, video outputs, or overall aesthetics. However, Intel claims it is 25% faster than AMD’s Radeon RX 6400 at a similar price. If you look at the specs, the Arc A380 has some quirks such as six gigabytes of GDDR6 memory connected via a 96-bit bus, a PCIe 4.0 x8 interface, and three DisplayPort 2.0 ports.

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However, an early independent review posted by user Bilibili Shenmedunenje suggests that the Intel part doesn’t perform as well outside of synthetic benchmarks, where it sits in between the Radeon RX 6500 XT and Nvidia RTX 3050. If you run the 3DMark Port Royal and Timespy benchmarks, you even get the impression that the A380 has some ray tracing advantages over AMD’s entry-level offerings.

In real gaming tests, the Arc A380 proved to be less powerful than AMD. Radeon RH 6400including popular games such as PUBG, GTA 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, League of Legends, Forza Horizon 5 and Red Dead Redemption 2. In fact, the entry-level Intel graphics card performs worse than Nvidia. GTX 1650 for DirectX 11, DirectX 12 and Vulkan games.

It would be hard to justify such poor performance compared to the GPU Nvidia released back in 2019, especially since the card was paired with an Intel Core i5-12400 processor which is great gaming processor.

One wonders if Intel is trying to buy more time to improve drivers for the Intel Arc, but the performance of the A380 GPU is disappointing, apart from its relatively low price. Higher-end models may tell a different story, but we’ll have to wait and see.