After several years of teasers, leaks, tips, and an ultra-smooth desktop graphics card, Intel’s Arc discrete GPUs have finally made their way to mainstream laptops like the Samsung Galaxy Book2 Pro and Lenovo Slim 7i.
But how well do they perform? To find out, I paid a visit to Intel’s Jones Farm campus in Portland, Oregon, where Intel invited me to put a reference Arc A370M laptop (based on MSI’s Summit E16 Flip Evo) through the wringer. I was given a little over an hour to test the entry-level Intel GPU using benchmarks of my choice, in a similar arrangement to our early performance preview we recently ran for our 12th-gen Core i9 laptop processors.
minimum? Intel may just be getting started with discrete graphics, but Arc’s results are really impressive.
3DMark Time Spy
We start with 3DMark Time Spy, a classic synthetic-graphics benchmark that PCWorld frequently uses to judge the performance of anything that comes across our test platform.
The Intel Arc A370M scored a solid score of 4,405 in 3DMark Time Spy. That’s about two and a half times faster than the Intel Iris Xe alone, and it’s a huge boost that definitely puts the Arc A370M in a different performance class.
Matt Smith / IDJ
Of course, it’s the entry-level discrete GPUs that provide the real challenge, and here the Arc A370M holds its own. It’s about 15 percent faster than Nvidia’s RTX 3050, as tested in HP’s Specter x360 16, and is primarily linked to the Asus Vivobook Pro 15 OLED, which is again equipped with the Nvidia RTX 3050.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Arc A370M lags behind the mid-tier discrete graphics options found in laptops clearly aimed at gaming. The RTX 3050 Ti in the MSI GF76 Katana is just over 50 percent faster, and the Acer Nitro 5 with the RTX 3060 nearly doubles the performance of the Arc A370M in this benchmark.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker’s Standard
Game tests start with Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker. This isn’t a normally-running PC test, but since the Arc A370M is a separate entry-level offering, I thought a test of an old, popular game without high-end features could provide some insight. After all, many people (including me) spend more time in games like this than they do in Cyberpunk 2077 movie or subway displacement.
Matt Smith / IDJ
This test pegs the performance of the Intel Arc A370M a little less than 50 percent higher than the performance of Intel Iris Xe graphics with the EU 96. It’s a much smaller gain than 3DMark Time Spy, but it’s still big enough to dramatically improve the real-world experience. The Iris Xe gets 1080p and high (desktop) settings, while the A370M is fairly smooth.
Intel’s reference laptop with the Arc A370M lags a bit behind the HP Specter x360 16 with RTX 3050 in this benchmark, but the margin of victory is so small that it’s far from a tie. I doubt most players will see any real teams they are playing Final Fantasy XIV on every system.
Of course, the Acer Nitro 5 is in a different world, as might be expected given its use of Nvidia’s RTX 3060. This type of mid-level discrete GPU allows gamers to set their sight beyond 60fps and take advantage of the higher refresh display.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Shadow of the Tomb Raider It’s now four years old, believe it or not, but it remains an excellent game to gauge how the PC handles the most engaging games of the “last generation” console era.
Matt Smith / IDJ
The Intel Arc A370M offers a big gain over the Iris Xe here, getting close to 60 fps on average. Iris Xe can’t handle this game at 1080p and higher settings, struggling along an unacceptably high average of 21 (with many dips in your mid-teens).
The Arc A370M also beats the HP Specter x360 16 with Nvidia RTX 3050 by more than 15 percent, by a larger margin than I expected. This is a nice boost and shows that the Arc A370M can really beat Nvidia graphics for beginners in some situations.
Once again, the Acer Nitro 5 with RTX 3060 shows the difference between a regular entry-level laptop with discrete graphics and a “real” gaming laptop, easily beating all competitors.
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition
We finally come to Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition, the most demanding game I’ve tested, and the only game I’ve tested with ray tracing. Until then, I’ve only used the High Graphics preset, which sets ray tracing to the lowest “normal” setting and uses mixed reflections instead of full ray tracing.
Matt Smith / IDJ
The Intel Arc A370M outperforms the Iris Xe by an infinity because the Iris Xe does not meet the minimum system requirements for the game. Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition is unusual because ray tracing is unusual required To run the game at all. This leaves Iris Xe out in the cold of nuclear winter.
The Arc A370M installs it using an HP Specter x360 16 with RTX 3050 graphics and eventually loses by three frames per second. That reflects a 15 percent performance advantage of the RTX 3050, and hints that the Arc A370M may lag a bit in ray tracing relative to Nvidia hardware.
Acer’s Nitro 5 with the RTX 3060 once again tramples everything else in the field, beating both the Arc A370M and the RTX 3050 by a three-fold margin. That dazzle might have to do with the 4 GB of video memory available on the Arc A370M and RTX 3050, compared to the 6 GB on the RTX 3060. Ray tracing is noticeably memory-dense.
Topaz Video Enhance AI
The last test is different – the content creation workload. Topaz Video Enhanced AI is a tool that can raise or improve the quality of your videos. I used Topaz Video Enhance AI to upgrade videos for my YouTube channel, Computer Gaming yesterday, and found that discrete graphics can provide a significant performance boost for this app.
One weird thing to note is that I ran this test using Topaz’s experimental multi-GPU support. Intel has teamed up with Topaz to make this feature work with Intel hardware. Intel Arc systems can use both Arc discrete graphics and integrated Xe graphics simultaneously, which is one of the unique and imaginative “Deep Link” features offered by Intel Arc laptops with Intel Core processors. I’ve tried using this experimental feature with Nvidia laptops I own for comparison, in this case the Nvidia GPU was paired with Iris Xe integrated graphics, but it made performance noticeably worse. So for those systems, the results below show performance when running only on an Nvidia GPU.
Matt Smith / IDJ
Intel Arc A370M vs Iris Xe comparison shows the advantage of using discrete graphics even at the entry level for content creation. The Arc A370M cuts the sample clip about four times faster than the Iris Xe laptop. This can literally save you hours if you’re looking for videos longer than a few minutes.
The Arc A370M proved to be about 40 percent faster than the HP Specter x360 16 with Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics. That’s a very significant win. The Arc scores a larger margin of victory on the RTX 3050 here than in the other tests, showing that Intel’s hardware uses experimental multi-GPU support to the fullest.
How we tested
These tests were conducted on Intel Arc A370M reference laptops located at Intel’s Jones Farm campus. I was allowed to access not one reference system, but five identical reference systems, which meant that I was able to iterate the test runs multiple times to check the results. The results here are averages of the tested systems.
Intel also introduced an Alder Lake reference system, equivalent to the MSI Summit E14 Flip, to provide a comparison with Intel Iris Xe graphics. Other systems measured, including the HP Specter x360 16 and Acer Nitro 5, are review systems not provided by Intel. Intel and HP Specter x360 16 reference platforms were set to “perform” for power management, while the Acer Nitro 5 was at its default setting.
Below is a summary of the settings for each standard.
3DMark Time Spy: Standard demo with Time Spy at default settings.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider: DX12 1080p highest settings, ray tracing off, TAA on.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker: 1080p at highest settings (desktop).
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition: 1080p at high benchmark settings.
Topaz Video Enhance AI: An eight-second 1080p MOV file is upscaled to 4K using Artemis’ medium quality model AI.
What most gamers and enthusiasts want to know is simple: can you buy a laptop with Intel’s Arc and expect league performance with Nvidia and AMD?
The answer seems to be yes.
These are solid results for Intel’s Arc A370M. Intel’s fastest entry-level discrete graphics processor appears to be an almost equal match with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 as implemented in a variety of professional and enthusiast mainstream laptops (although entry-level Arc laptops cost much more than RTX 3050 laptops). ). The Intel Arc A370M processor can easily handle “last generation” 3D games and can provide a major boost in GPU-based content creation applications.
The Arc A370M is no match for the Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 in Acer’s Nitro 5, but it’s not meant to compete in this segment. That job will go to Intel’s Arc A550M, which has twice the memory (8 GB vs 4 GB) and twice the number of Xe cores (16 vs 8) when compared to the Arc A370M. We’ll have to wait and see how the Arc A550M performs when it arrives this summer, but the tissue math suggests it could be on the heels of the RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060 laptops.
I am happy with these numbers. Intel Arc provides a third option for people who are looking for a thin, portable Windows PC for gaming and content creation. Now let’s just hope that Intel – and OEMs – can turn the massive amount of Arc-equipped machines into a flood.
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