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Intel surprise launched a new graphics card, but it doesn’t make any sense

Intel’s Arc A580 graphics card is finally here, but we’re not sure if it’s ready to compete against some of the best GPUs out right now. In fact, based on the reviews, it is ill-prepared to face the current GPU market. What went wrong? It’s not even about the performance, even though it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s mostly that it seems this GPU makes little sense to buy compared to the competition, including Intel’s own offerings.

It’s been a bumpy road for the Intel Arc A580. The rest of the Arc Alchemist lineup, including the flagship Arc A770, launched a year ago after multiple delays. The Arc A580 was announced alongside them, but then, Intel went quiet. Many people thought the card was quietly canceled, but then it resurfaced a few days ago — and now, it’s officially out, with a $180 price tag. We also know the full specs of the GPU.

Intel Arc A580
Xe-cores 24
Ray tracing units 24
XMX engines 384
Clock speed 1.7GHz
Memory 8GB GDDR6
Bus width 256-bit
Memory speed 16Gbps
Bandwidth 512GB/s

With those specs, the GPU sits between the Arc A750 and A380, but it’s certainly closer to the A380. Intel itself pits it against the Nvidia RTX 3050 and the AMD RX 6600, cards in a similar price range that are a little pricier. The card currently seems to be out in two models, one from ASRock and one from Sparkle.

TechPowerUp tested the ASRock Arc A580 Challenger in a number of benchmarks, finding that the A580 is around 25% faster than Nvidia’s RTX 3050, making it an obviously much better deal given the lower price. It offers comparable 1080p performance to AMD’s RX 6600, and falls behind the RX 5700 XT by around 8%. Intel’s own Arc A750 is faster, of course, but only by 9% — making the gains fairly negligible.

If you’re looking for something capable of 1440p gaming and ray tracing, the A580 is definitely not it, but it’s true that most GPUs in this price range weren’t made for things like that. In TechPowerUp’s review, the A580 averaged 75 frames per second (fps) across the entire gaming test suite at 1080p, and dropped down to 56.8 fps at 1440p. It gets outperformed by dated, but solid cards like the GTX 1080 Ti and the RTX 2070.

Tom’s Hardware took the Sparkle model of the GPU out for a spin. While the official clock on the GPU is limited to 1.7GHz, the Sparkle Orc OC model was able to hit 2.4GHz in testing, making it pull close to the A750. In gaming tests, the card fared a little worse here, averaging 50 fps at 1080p with ultra settings and a comfortable 77.6 fps at medium settings. For comparison, the A750 hit 84.6 fps in the same test.

Benchmark results for the Arc A580 graphics card.
Tom's Hardware

Overall, the GPU gets outperformed across the board by cards along the likes of the AMD RX 7600, but also the Arc A750. This isn’t unexpected, and there would still be room for this GPU in many budget PC builds, if not for the price. It appears that Intel has strayed from its initial plan of keeping its discrete graphics cards very competitive in terms of performance per dollar.

If the Arc A580 was a little cheaper, it would make more sense to buy than the A750. However, at $180, there’s almost no reason for anyone to buy this GPU. Sparkle’s model of the A750 can be found for $190, so by paying $10 extra, you’re getting better performance. Sure, it’s not a lot, but it’s definitely worth the money. And Intel, Nvidia and AMD are potential threats at a similar price range. Nvidia’s RTX 4060 or RTX 3060 are both better, and AMD has the RX 6600 and the RX 7600.

Intel just might be too late with this one. If it arrived a year ago with the rest of the lineup, it would make much more sense, as the A750 was initially priced at $250. However, given the performance issues Arc GPUs initially faced with DX9 and DX11 titles, perhaps Intel thought the A580 wasn’t worth it at the time. Most people won’t use it for AAA gaming in DX12 titles, so it would have been overlooked while Intel worked on its drivers to support older APIs.

It’s a shame that this GPU, while not bad, is most likely not going to become a popular choice. Nvidia and AMD could use a solid competitor in the mainstream segment, but this one just isn’t it. If you’re shopping for a GPU, you’re probably better off with the A750.

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Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
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