a graphics card that does not spark

Intel returns to the GPU segment with its Arc Alchemist line. We were able to test the Arc 380, the new model for the entry-level market that aims to offer a correct experience at a mini price. Is the Californian brand keeping pace with its competitors, namely Nvidia and AMD? Answer right away!

When we think of gaming GPUs, we think of two brands in particular: Nvidia and AMD. The duo leaves little room for competition, but a third player wants to mingle in a mouse hole: Intel. The brand releases its new range of graphics cards and today we are interested in a particular model: Bow 380.

Intel is no layman in this area. The elders certainly remember its cards in the early 2000s. In recent years, the brand has mainly relied on its Iris Xe eGPUs, which give a graphics boost to its CPUs, but no more. With its Arc Alchemist series, Intel wants to come back to the fore. It consists of several products (Arc 770, 750, 580, 380 and 310) and today, it’s the A380 model that goes through our columns.

With this product, the goal is clearly not to compete with the giants of the market like the RTX 3080 or the RX 6900 XT, as we are on a “budget friendly” product. The goal is to walk across the flowerbeds of the GTX 1650 and RX 6400, safe bets for small configurations. Is the Arc 380 the ideal compromise for those who want to play serenely in 1080p without breaking the bank? Could it become the new entry-level benchmark? Answer immediately.

Arc 380

Note that we tested the modified model of this GUNNIR, Arc 380 Foton OC. A representative version of what Intel wants to bring to the PC.

Price and availability

The Arc 380 Photon OC is not yet available in France at the time of writing these rules, but only in China. It should arrive at our house in the next few weeks.

Arc 380

It is sold for 1299 yuan in the Chinese market, or about 190 euros. The usual taxes will certainly be added to this. In any case, it will sell for around 200 euros, which puts it in the same price segment as its direct competitors, namely the AMD RX 6400 and the Nvidia GTX 1650. We now have to determine what drives the consumer to go to this Arc 380 instead of the other two.

Some details about the test

As is often the case with hardware, this test is performed in collaboration with our partner across the Rhine: Igor’s Lab. All our data is therefore shared. The benchmarks were performed on a configuration consisting of an MSI MAG Z690 TomaHawk motherboard, an Intel Core i9-12900K processor, 32 GB dual channel RAM and a Be Quiet power supply! Dark Power Pro 12 1200W.

Arc 380

The test data were therefore obtained using the Arc 380 in combination with an Intel CPU. In our tests, performance is much lower with an AMD Ryzen CPU. Worse, some games, like World War Z, even refused to start. Some microcode in Intel CPUs may be required for the board to work properly, but we can’t swear on this. This can all be fixed with an update, but for now it’s best to assume that pairing the Intel card with a Ryzen processor is best avoided.

Finally, before we get to the heart of the matter, it should be noted that this Arc 380 does not bring any particular technology to the user (such as DLSS, ray-tracing, SAM or VRS, terms associated with new AMD or Nvidia cards). We have a GPU that wants to push it to the limit.

Technical paper

The GUNNIR Arc 380 is a modest graphics card. It includes an Alchemist GPU (Xe-HPG DG2 architecture) engraved in 6 nanometers with 128 computing units. It has 6 GB of GDDR6 VRAM and a 96-bit memory bus. There is also a TDP of 75 Watts.

Arc 380
architecture Xe HPG
units of account 128
RT cores 8
Xe cores 8
Render slices 2
Memory bus 96 bit
Frequency 2450MHz
GDDR6 Memory 6GB
PDT 75
Price About 200 €

A card that seems modest on paper and at the level of its direct competitors. Now only to know if it keeps its promises in the game.

A common design that goes everywhere

On its FE models, Nvidia pays particular attention to design to offer a product that is pleasing to the eye. This is not the case with Intel, and by extension GUNNIR (remember we are testing a custom model).

Arc 380

Indeed, the Arc 380 goes straight to the point with a universal design without any real ambition. Everything is common there. Visually there is an electric blue Photon printed on the top, as well as a small blue border on one of the edges (addition of GUNNIR), but that’s all.

Arc 380

It’s not really a standard, but a choice. After all, a graphics card is made to sit in a case.

Arc 380

The card approves dimensions of 22.2 x 10.8 cm and weighs a kilo all pile. What catches the eye are of course the two fans. They are both 9 centimeters and are made of 11 plastic blades that are not of high quality. Inside we find an aluminum block and a long heat pipe that winds the surface, enough to ensure the cooling system.

Arc 380

On the connector side, we note the presence of an 8-pin PCIe connector to provide power. On the back we have an HDMI 2b port and three DisplayPort 2.0 ports, enough to connect multiple displays. nothing original, So.

Arc 380

Decent in-game performance, but not a game-changer

Now it’s time to get to the heart of the matter: performance in the game. After all, that’s what we’re here for! Intel’s promise is to provide a powerful and inexpensive video game card, but above all to provide a real alternative to the competition. So we certainly expect something better.

Arc 380

Several things should be noted. First, we ran our benchmarks on specific in-game sequences so that all cards are on an equal footing. The tests are done in 720p and 1080p, with every time the graphics are set to the minimum, the conditions buyers face. We compared this Arc 380 to the Radeon RX6400 and the GTX 1650, its direct competitors, as well as to a slew of older cards to get a more global view of performance. However, some graphics are composed of only three GPUs, as with some titles the old cards struggle too much to keep up.

Also read – AMD RX 6900 XT test: AMD does not break the house with its high-end card

Finally, it should be noted that it is possible to overclock the Arc 380 to 100 Mhz (2450 MHz base frequency). Everything is done through Intel’s Arc Control Center software which can be downloaded from the official website. This makes it possible to have better performance, at the expense of consumption and heating. The measurements taken in this mode therefore have their place in the graphs.

On the game in 720p, the Arc 380 yields interesting results. Thereby, it almost always outperforms the GTX 1650 in terms of pure performance (except on Shadow of the Tomb Raider), but is constantly knocked out by AMD’s RX 6400.

Arc 380
Arc 380
Arc 380
Arc 380
Arc 380

If the average difference between the Arc and the GTX is minimal (barely 3%), that is at the . not the case AMD GPU that stands way above the fray. Overall, the RX6400 outperforms the Intel card by 12%.

Arc 380

720p is fine, but 1080p gaming is the norm these days. On our tests under these conditions, the results are slightly different. On Shadow of the Tomb Raider we always have an RX6400 way ahead.

Arc 380

On Youngblood and Control, the difference is minimal.

Arc 380
Arc 380

On Borderlands 3 and Horizon, the Arc takes the lead. There is a nice improvement when overclocking is activated.

Arc 380
Arc 380

If we look at the averages, the Arc 380 shows satisfactory results. In OC, it ranks first in our panel, but at least it remains neck and neck with the Radeon. The GTX 1650 lags behind in terms of pure performance, although we are in the same range in practice (the gamer will notice little difference in use).

Arc 380

It’s still not convincing. Exceeding a graphics card released in 2019 (the GTX 1650) is the minimum we can expect. On the other hand, the Radeon, recent and cheaper, generally stays above, while consuming less energy.

A significant consumption

The Radeon provides an ideal balance between performance and consumption, which is not the case with our Arc 380. That last one promises a TBP (average consumption) of 75 Watts. It is possible to draw power from the motherboard via a PCI-Express port or to connect it directly to a power supply via a PCIe cable. Again, the results below were obtained in the game, on the exact same sequences as before.

Arc 380
Arc 380

As we can see, the measurements are not in favor of Intel’s card. Admittedly, the promised consumption is respected, but it is much more energy intensive than the Radeon, and this for lower performance! In addition, it consumes more than the GTX 1650, which is also not an example.

So we have consumption management that is not really optimal. A huge mistake that we will face.

Risky heating management and nuisance noise

Now let’s enter the last part of this test by looking at the power management of this Arc 380. First interesting data: it shows optimal stability in games, at 2450/2500 MHz. A measure that demonstrates Intel’s control over its power.

As for the heating, the result is less convincing, but not alarming either. With our thermal camera we observed high heat at the VRM blocks during game sessions, rising to almost 60 degrees. This is the surface temperature. Inside, the GPU rises to 80 degrees. It’s not catastrophic, but we would have liked to see much better control of the heating. The temperature in our PC (closed) fluctuates between 50 and 55 degrees Celsius.

Arc 380

Everything could have been played at the level of the fans, but they constantly take on the same speed and do not adapt in any way to the use of the GPU. Their noise was measured at 39 decibels, which is not huge. However, it should be noted that their sharp and constant noise can be very annoying in the long run if you play with an open tower. GUNNIR is the culprit on the spot, as the fans are actually of poor quality.

Arc 380

With its Arc 380, Intel is consistently at the forefront when it comes to controlling its heat and noise. If the GPU isn’t catastrophic, it’s far from a model of its kind. There was much better to do.

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