Intel Arc graphics processors they’re finally here, and the initial pickup was, well, mixed. There seems to be a common consensus that the flagship Arc A770 16GB is a decent mainstream graphics card with an excellent price-performance ratio, but the current driver and power consumption issues mean Arc designs need some tweaking.
One area where reviews have been almost universally positive is video encoding performance. For the uninitiated, video playback (especially high-definition video) requires a specialized hardware unit on the GPU, the performance of which does not depend on the overall power of the card.
This way, somewhat stunning, the $ 349 Arc A770 was able to beat $ 1,599 (if you’re lucky) RTX 4090 in a comparative test. Creator of the capture and analysis tool Cap FrameX published the results of a comparison of AV1 video encoding performance between the four latest GPUs – and the winner is Intel’s modest A770.
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Other cards we tested include the previous generation RTX 4090, RTX 3090, and the AMD RX 6800 XT. The test was video decoding – Japan at 8K 60fps from YouTube – up to 8K and 4K resolution in the Google Chrome browser. To be successful in the test, the GPU would have to run the video at a constant average of 60 frames per second.
As can be seen from the results above, only the Arc A770 was able to deliver the perfect average of 60fps in 4K and 59.9fps in 8K. Sure RTX cards aren’t far on the rear, managing 59.9fps in 4K, but dropping more noticeably at 8K, with much lower frame rates in the lower percentiles as well. The weak Radeon RX 6800 XT is completely blown away, although in its defense AMD has always touted it as a gaming graphics card.
Analysis: Intel’s focus on video encoding is good news for content creators
As the dust settles after a plethora of new releases, it looks like the big players in the GPU market are settling into their own specific niches. AMD, for example, goes all out for gaming and supports this with its amazing 3D V-cache CPU technology and inexpensive processors such as Ryzen 7 7700X.
Meanwhile, Nvidia is doubling up on its deep learning technology, positioning itself as the GPU of choice for people who need absolutely tons of raw graphics power. They can be enthusiastic gamers looking to play 8K, or professionals who need high-end 3D rendering hardware or scientific analysis software.
Intel was incredibly late to the party, but it looks like Team Blue is focusing on budget GPU space. Aggressive pricing even for flagship cards, combined with solid gaming performance and excellent video coding hardware make the Arc A7 series a great choice for streamers and content creators who don’t want to waste thousands on Nvidia high-end graphics processors.
With no the cheaper RTX 4000 cards in sight and the next generation of AMD RDNA 3 GPUs still not here, Intel has a real chance to squeeze into the budget space and make life difficult for competitors. But losing Nvidia and AMD is our gain; such competition is good for the consumer, and with any luck we’ll see Nvidia rethink its now brutal pricing.