There has been a duopoly in consumer graphics card for far too long. AMD and Nvidia have had the market all to themselves. Belongings are getting more powerful, but also more expensive. Enter player three, Intel, with its first lineup of enthusiastic GPUs in two periods. The flagship release is this, the Intel Arc A770 Limited Edition.
There will be third-party versions of the Intel Arc GPUs, but this one is the first out of the gates from the constructer itself. The “Limited Edition” comes with one key spec difference to what we expect Intel’s partner cards will have. This one has a whopping 16GB of VRAM and only costs $349. That in itself is astonishing. Intel claims that this first attempt and its sister release, the A750, are in the ballpark of Nvidia’s RTX 3060. A mid-range but still very capable GPU. That caring of performance and being able to undercut on price makes for a tantalizing headline, but how does it actually emerge in practice? Is the Arc A770 any good? And importantly, is it good enough to compete with the big dogs in the yard?
About this review
This review was conducted using a pre-release sample of the Intel Arc A770 Limited Edition as provided by Intel. All performance data gathered is our own and nobody at Intel has seen or had any input into the contents of this review.
Intel Arc A770 pricing and availability
The Intel Arc A770 Limited Edition is set to become available from Intel on October 12 at a retail price of $349. The recommended price for cards with 8GB of VRAM compared to the 16GB available in the Limited Edition is $329. Intel isn’t commenting on the availability of third-party versions of the A770, but we’ve already seen one confirmed product from Acer’s Predator Gaming brand. This one doesn’t have pricing or availability at this time.
Intel Arc A770 specs and hardware
The specs for the Intel Arc A770 Limited edition are shown in the image above, which also compares to the sister card, the A750 (review coming soon). The only difference between this and other versions of the A770 is that it has 16GB of VRAM. Third parties are expected to mostly go with 8GB. All other specs remain the same. We took a look at the hardware previously in our first unboxing, and it’s a little surprising just how nice the A770 is. As a piece of hardware design, it’s exquisite. The entire design is screw less, save for the ones required to actually fix the I/O plate to the card. It’s subtle and stylish, and on the A770 you have a splash of RGB to remind you that you’re a gamer.
On that front Intel absolutely nailed it with the A770 and indeed with the A750. This is probably the best-looking graphics card we’ve seen in a while. The RGB is controlled through a dedicated app on the PC, but only if you connect the little cable in the box to a USB header on your motherboard. It’s probably my only gripe with the exterior. The cable is just about long enough to feed through tidily, but it’s another cable dangling off the front of the card. Picky, perhaps, but it’s something else to try and make look presentable. It could have been better on the end, maybe. The A770 has four display outputs which include both DisplayPort and the latest HDMI 2.1. It also comes with a companion app, Intel Arc Control, to manage drivers, system monitoring, and performance tuning.
Test bench specs
As tempting as it is to pair the A770 with the most expensive, fastest CPU around, the absolute fastest memory and such, that sort of defeats what kind of build this graphics card is targeted at. There will be a time when we’ll do that, when the 13th Gen Core i9-13900K is here we’ll put together an “Intel super build” to see what happens there. But the A770 will appeal most to those on a more modest budget, so for testing, I’ve slotted it into my modest gaming PC build as below.
- Intel Core i5-11600K
- 32GB GSkill Trident DDR4-3200
- Intel Arc A770 16GB
- Crucial P5 Plus PCIe 4.0 SSD
All games tested were loaded from a Crucial MX500 SATA SSD. What this test system does mean is that for now we’re mostly focused on gaming. Because I don’t have a 12th Gen Intel CPU handy, tools like Deep Link and Hyper Encode are off limits, for now. For those, you either need a 12th Gen or 13th Gen Intel CPU with integrated graphics. We’ll update the review according after the 13th Gen drops with more details on these features.
It’s also worth noting that you need to enable Resizeable Bar on your motherboard. Intel as good as says the A770 will be garbage without it, so before beginning dive into your UEFI/BIOS. Most modern motherboards should have it, if not you might need to install an update. But Intel’s companion software will warn you if you don’t have it enabled, so take that as read that it needs to be on.
Intel Arc A770 gaming performance
When it comes to gaming there’s more than just the GPU to talk about. Intel also has its own upscaling tech now, known as XeSS. In simple terms, you can think of it like Nvidia DLSS or AMD’s FSR. It renders frames at a lower resolution, passes them through its engine, and upscales them back to whatever resolution you’re playing at. It’s not quite the same as playing at native resolution, but the idea is that it’s close enough in detail while giving your frames per second a nice little boost.
XeSS isn’t exclusive to Intel Arc, either, and for comparison’s sake, I tested it where possible on my Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080. The Arc A770 is positioned around the RTX 3060, but alas, my unit has display output issues. But the RTX 2080 is similar in gaming performance in my experience, though not an apples-to-apples comparison. XeSS doesn’t quite have the coverage of DLSS or FSR, but it’s rolling out in a few games already. Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Death Stranding: Directors Cut have recently been updated, and Intel provided access to early builds of Ghostwire Tokyo and Hitman 3 that will be joining the party soon.
Using the 3DMark suite of graphics benchmarks, the table below shows relative performance compared to the 2080 in Fire Strike, Time Spy, and the DirectX Ray Tracing benchmarks. In all of these higher is better.
|Benchmark||Intel Arc A770 16GB||Nvidia RTX 2080|
|Fire Strike Ultra||7,106||6,351|
|Time Spy (DX12)||13,412||10,810|
|Time Spy Extreme (DX12)||6,334||5,032|
|DirectX Ray Tracing||31.5 FPS||20.75 FPS|
In all of these benchmarks, the new A770 handily outdoes one of Nvidia’s older, but still potent GPUs. But it’s less clear-cut when you get into gaming.
- Powered by Intel’s latest Xe HPG Architecture the ARC A770 Graphics Card is equipped with 32 Xe cores, 512 Xe Vector Engines and 16GB GDRR6 memory.
- The Intel 16GB graphics card has a clock speed of 2100MHz and is overclockable. It is designed to work across 256-bit memory interface.
- The Arc A700-series performance beats the 3060 in most modern titles using DirectX 12 or Vulkan APIs.
- The Intel based GPU supports 4 simultaneous displays at 8K UHD (7680×4320) resolution giving you the ultimate visual experience at your games or at your workspace.
- Intel ARC A770 is a PCIe 4.0 ready graphics comes with RTX (ray tracing) technology to give you the most realistic visual treat.