Despite literal years of delays, unclear messaging, and analysts advising Intel to ditch the whole affair, CEO Pat Gelsinger stood up in front of the assembled masses at the latest Intel Innovation event and stated with something approaching joy that the discrete Arc cards are finally ready for a proper global launch, with the A770 card releasing on October 12. And in an even more shocking turn of events, it actually looks… good?
Perhaps I shouldn’t be all that surprised. Intel has, despite numerous setbacks, stuck to the message that it won’t be abandoning Arc and has big plans to forge ahead in the GPU market, going toe to toe with big dog Nvidia and its competitor in the CPU space, AMD. I’ve been critical of Intel’s faltering GPU efforts in the past, but only because it made me feel like a disappointed parent; I desperately wanted Arc to be good.
The Intel Arc A770 will be the most powerful card in the initial wave of Arc GPUs, some of which have already been sighted in laptops in Asia. We’ll also be getting a new Intel NUC PC equipped with the A770M mobile GPU. There’s no news yet on the lower-spec A750 or any of the even cheap A300 or A500 cards, but we do have a very sensible price tag for the Arc A770: just $329.
Considering that the A770 is expected to (just about) outperform Nvidia’s $399 RTX 3060 Ti, it’s a seriously good price point that will no doubt appeal to gamers on a budget. It also has double the VRAM of that card, with 16GB of GDDR6. Intel has tempered expectations by saying that performance is only for DirectX 12 games, and older titles might struggle a bit initially while Intel gets its Arc driver optimization in gear.
Moore’s Law: dead or alive?
It seems Gelsinger couldn’t resist a little dig at Nvidia during his keynote presentation. When Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang recently declared that ‘Moore’s Law is dead’ (no, not the YouTube channel), he effectively stated that GPU advancement is approaching a point of stagnation and that we can expect GPU prices to remain high for the foreseeable future.
Pat doesn’t agree. ‘We will continue to be the stewards of Moore’s Law’, he claimed, doubling down by saying that gamers ‘should be frustrated’ with ‘complaints of high prices’. It was an obvious reference to Nvidia, whose new uber-powerful RTX 4090 is going to have a fairly ridiculous price tag.
Since the Arc cards will ship with ray-tracing capabilities, AV1 encode, and Intel’s own counter to Nvidia’s DLSS upscaling tech (called XeSS), the $329 MSRP looks set to make the A770 the de facto superior option when compared to the RTX 3060 Ti – assuming that Intel can deliver on its current promises.
It’s still not easy to find an RTX 3060 Ti at MSRP, too, with many models currently selling for above $449 even as prices continue to fall. AMD doesn’t currently have a viable counter to Intel’s new wallet-friendly GPU either, with the $379 Radeon RX 6600 XT just not measuring up in direct comparisons. Intel has a serious chance here to slide into the budget gaming space and secure a corner of the discrete GPU market.
Of course, this is a first-generation release for Intel; we already know that both Nvidia and AMD are gearing up to release their next generations of GPUs, with Intel cheekily setting the A770’s release date to match the RTX 4090. If we see an affordable RTX 4060 in the near future, Intel may not get to enjoy its budget dominance for long. Still, it’s fantastic to see Arc finally reach its release, and I’m hopeful that the A770 will impress when we get our hands on one.