Intel has finally released its first Arc laptop GPUs into the market, and there will be Arc graphics cards for desktop PCs launching later in 2022.
While the desktop cards were initially expected to begin arriving in summer of 2022, Intel's Arc desktop GPU launch has been delayed a bit, and as of now you shouldn't expect to see discrete Arc GPUs for desktops until the fall of 2022.
Arc graphics cards are discrete GPUs that are more powerful than the Intel Iris Xe GPUs integrated into Intel CPUs. Now that they're here, Intel is in a position to challenge Nvidia and AMD for a significant piece of the graphics card market, which is hotter than it's ever been.
Intel released just two Arc laptop GPUs to start with, the Arc 350M and the Arc 370M. These graphics cards are exciting on their own, but it’s the prospect of beefier cards down the line that will have PC owners — particularly gamers — frothing at the mouth. If these initial Arc 3 graphics cards give us any indication of what we can expect from the eventual desktop versions, it’s possible Intel will ignite a new GPU arms race.
Here’s everything we know about the Intel Arc GPUs announced so far.
Intel Arc laptop GPUs: Specs
|Xe cores||Raytracing Units||Memory (GDDR6)|
Intel Arc laptop GPUs: Price and availability
Intel launched the A350M and the A370M on March 30, 2022. However, since these are laptop GPUs, there's no way to buy them individually; you'll need to find a laptop that can be configured with them. One of the first laptops to ship with an Arc A-series card is Samsung's Galaxy Book2 Pro, which can be ordered from Samsung's website for a starting price of $1,049.
According to Intel, the A350M is for laptops that prioritize lightness and thinness while the A370M is built for gaming performance. More powerful Arc 5 and Arc 7 GPUs will release later this year in laptops from partners like Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and more, with prices starting at $899.
It's yet unclear if the Arc A-series cards will be the only Arc laptop GPUs for the foreseeable future, or if we should expect other series of Arc mobile GPUs down the line.
Intel Arc laptop GPUs: Performance
The Arc 3 GPUs (aka the A350M and A370M) are the least powerful GPUs in the Intel Arc lineup. Despite that, they're designed to deliver 1080p gaming at 60 to 90 frames per second. Though 1080p can feel pretty pedestrian for many PC game enthusiasts, the promised framerates are potentially impressive for a laptop.
The A350M and A370M both have 4GB of DDR6 RAM, with the former featuring 6 Xe cores and 6 raytracing units and the latter containing 8 of each. These "Xe cores" are, on a very basic level, compute units optimized for gaming and content creation.
Intel says the A350M draws between 25 and 35 watts of power and has a graphics clock of 1,150MHz. The A370M has a 35-50 watt draw due to its 8 XE and 8 RT cores. Like the A350M, this GPU has 1,150MHz graphics clock and 4GB of VRAM.
Intel released a graph showing how various games perform running on Arc GPUs. Titles like Doom Eternal, Destiny 2 and The Witcher 3 ran just shy of 60 frames per second, though it's yet unclear what the specs were of the system used to generate those numbers. If the A350M and A370M are capable of delivering such impressive performance, we can only imagine what the Arc 5 and Arc 7 GPUs will bring to the table — not to mention the inevitable desktop iterations.
Intel Arc laptop GPUs: Features
The Intel Arc laptop GPUs have a competitive feature set, as they ship with support for DirectX 12 Ultimate and hardware-accelerated raytracing.
Thanks to Intel’s new Deep Link technology, Arc GPUs will also have special features that help them work especially well with the company’s 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs. Because of this, the GPUs should deliver improved performance in compute-intensive applications like Adobe Photoshop, Handbrake and XSplit when used in tandem with a 12th Gen Intel Core processor.
These GPUs also support Intel's XeSS AI-powered supersampling tech, which taps into the power of special Matrix Extensions (XMX) AI engines in the Arc GPUs to algorithmically improve the resolution of games as they're running, without impacting performance. If it works, it should rival similar technologies like Nvidia’s DLSS and AMD’s FidelityFX Super Resolution, with the added bonus that it's not proprietary. That means you could theoretically run XeSS on an Nvidia GPU that's too old to support Nvidia's own DLSS and squeeze better performance out of it using Intel's tech, no Arc GPU required.
However, note that XeSS isn't expected to launch until the summer of 2022, and even then not all games will support it. However, Intel appears to be working with game devs to ensure as many as possible will support XeSS, and there was even an "exclusive integration" in the PC version of Death Stranding Director's Cut that was teased at CES 2022.
Of course, XeSS should work best on an Arc GPU. These GPUs also have an Xe media engine capable of hardware-accelerated AV1 (an open-source media codec) encoding, a feature no other GPU on the market can currently match.
Intel Arc desktop GPUs
We don't yet have much in the way of details about what to expect from Intel's Arc GPUs for desktop PCs.
Currently we know Intel plans to launch the first Arc GPUs for desktops as soon as the summer of 2022 (in China; the rest of the world can expect to see them in the fall) and at the end of its promo video for the first Arc 3 laptop GPUs the company included a teaser image (above) of a full-size Arc desktop GPU. It sure looks like to be as big as an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 — will it perform as well too? We'll have to wait and see.
Intel Arc GPUs: Outlook
With support for hardware-based raytracing, DirectX 12 Ultimate and its new XeSS upscaling tech, Intel's latest graphics cards look set to deliver some much-needed relief to the overheated, undersupplied GPU market.
We won't know for sure how the features and core counts of these new Arc GPUs stack up against competing laptop GPUs from Nvidia and AMD until we test some Arc-powered laptops for ourselves. Based on what we know so far, though, Intel appears to be bringing some serious competition to the GPU market this year. We definitely can't wait to see the first Arc desktop GPUs debut later in 2022.