In context: Intel's Arc A-series family of discrete GPUs may turn out to be this year's most underwhelming hardware release. And that's despite the company's best effort to enter a challenging market where Nvidia dominates the high-end segment and AMD provides alternatives for budget-minded gamers. The Arc 7 laptop GPUs have yet to make their debut, but they're officially aimed at Nvidia's more modest offerings from the Ampere range.

Earlier this week, a review of the Arc A380 desktop graphics card revealed why Intel isn't keen on releasing it worldwide. Performance is worse than AMD's slowest RX 6000 series card and even Nvidia's GTX 1650 which made its debut three years ago. Part of this is to be expected, as Nvidia and AMD have been perfecting their drivers for years and a first-gen discrete GPU architecture from Intel is unlikely to challenge their current offerings on anything other than price or energy efficiency.

According to Tom's Hardware, Intel recently sent out review guidelines for its mobile Arc Alchemist GPUs and how they perform in modern AAA games. Specifically, the company is sharing information about the Arc A770M and Arc A730M GPUs, which are based on the ACM-G10 die. Intel seems to be positioning them as alternatives to Nvidia's RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060 laptop GPUs, which are entry-level offerings in the Ampere range.

The A730M has 24 Xe cores running at up to 1,100 MHz, 24 ray tracing units, and 12 gigabytes of GDDR6 paired over a 192-bit interface. Its bigger brother, the A770M, has 32 Xe cores running at 1,650 MHz, 32 ray tracing units, and 16 gigabytes of VRAM connected via a 265-bit interface.

As with Nvidia's RTX 30 series laptop GPUs, Intel's Arc A730M and 770M GPUs will come with varied TGP ratings that will be configured by manufacturers based on their design goals for particular laptop models. They range between 80 to 120 watts for the A730M and 120 to 150 watts for the A770M.

Game (Settings) RTX 3050 Ti Arc A730M RTX 3060 Arc A770M
Assassin's Creed Valhalla (High) 38 fps 50 fps 74 fps 69 fps
Borderlands 3 (Ultra) 45 fps 50 fps 60 fps 79 fps

Control (High)

42 fps 62 fps 70 fps 89 fps
Cyberpunk 2077 (Ultra) 39 fps 49 fps 54 fps 68 fps
Death Stranding (Ultra) 89 fps 87 fps 113 fps 102 fps
Dirt 5 (High) 64 fps 61 fps 83 fps 87 fps
F1 2021 (Ultra) 68 fps 86 fps 96 fps 123 fps

Far Cry 6 (Ultra)

63 fps 68 fps 80 fps 82 fps
Gears of War 5 (Ultra) 58 fps 52 fps 72 fps 73 fps
Horizon Zero Dawn (Ultimate Quality) 63 fps 50 fps 80 fps 68 fps
Metro Exodus (Ultra) 39 fps 54 fps 53 fps 69 fps
Red Dead Redemption 2 (High) 46 fps 60 fps 66 fps 77 fps

Strange Brigade (Ultra)

98 fps 123 fps 134 fps 172 fps
The Division 2 (Ultra) 63 fps 51 fps 78 fps 86 fps
The Witcher 3 (Ultra) 96 fps 101 fps 124 fps 141 fps
Total War Saga: Troy (Ultra) 48 fps 66 fps 71 fps 86 fps
Watch Dogs Legion (High) 59 fps 71 fps 77 fps 89 fps

Intel's benchmarks suggest its A730M and A770M GPUs can surpass the RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060 in terms of 1080p performance across a variety of games by as much as 48 percent. However, Team Blue admits to lower performance in certain titles like Death Stranding and Horizon Zero Dawn, so the average performance advantage works out to just 12-13 percent.

The problem with these results is that Intel didn't specify the TGP of the Arc GPUs it used for testing, while the guidelines indicate the RTX 3050 Ti with a TGP of 60 watts and the RTX 3060 with a TGP of 85 watts. Both figures are lower than the minimums for the Arc A730M and A770M, and significantly lower than the maximum configurable TGPs, making it hard to judge the merits of the Alchemist architecture when compared to the competition.

The Intel Arc GPUs are equipped with more VRAM than their supposed Nvidia counterparts, which is a positive. They may also be capable of better performance when configured to use more power, but the same would be true of the RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060. Public Intel documentation suggests that Arc Alchemist GPUs need Resizable BAR to perform their best, and that feature may not have been enabled on the MSI Pulse G66 (RTX 3060) and Asus ROG Zephyrus M16 (RTX 3050 Ti) test machines.

In any case, it looks like Intel isn't interested in competing at the higher-end with this first generation of discrete GPUs. The company does have an Arc Limited Edition graphics card for desktop systems that might feature higher clocks than the A770M, but it is unclear whether it will even approach RTX 3070-levels of performance as rumored.