Intel has made significant progress with DirectX 9 performance on its Arc Alchemist graphics cards. The latest 126.96.36.19959 driver (opens in new tab) brings up to 1.8X higher average FPS and up to 2.3X improved 99th percentile FPS on the Arc A770, one of the best graphics cards on the market.
When Arc first came out, it was already public knowledge that the Intel graphics cards perform poorly on games with legacy APIs. Nonetheless, Intel had pledged to improve performance over time, and the chipmaker has delivered on its promise. As a result, the new Arc display driver offers a substantial performance increase in DirectX 9 titles, including CS:GO, League of Legends, Starcraft 2, Guild Wars 2, Payday 2, and Stellaris.
Compared to the previous driver (188.8.131.5290), the new v3953 driver delivered 1.79X higher average FPS in CS:GO at 1080p with high settings. It's a tremendous jump in framerates when comparing 177 FPS on the old driver versus 318 FPS on the new driver. At 1440p with ultra settings, we're looking at 1.77X better performance. The v3953 driver doesn't just make the framerates jump through the roof. It also ensures smoother gameplay. On the v3953 driver, the Arc A770 exhibited 2.26X higher 99th percentile FPS at 1080p and 2.15X at 1440p.
Intel's test system was pretty standard for a high-end gaming PC. It consisted of a Core i9-12900K (Alder Lake) processor, 32GB (2x16GB) of Dominator Platinum DDR5-5600 C36 memory, and an Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard. Intel used the Arc A770 for testing; however, the Arc A750, Arc A380, or their mobile counterparts should enjoy similar performance benefits from the v3959 driver.
Intel explained that modern APIs, such as DirectX 12 and Vulkan, are still the main focus; however, the company's opting to use a hybrid approach. As a result, there will be occasions when a title runs on the native DirectX implementation and other circumstances where it'll leverage translation layers to go from DirectX 9 to a modern API.
It's incredible what the Intel engineers could achieve with the Arc driver in less than two months since the Arc graphics cards debuted. Nonetheless, Intel has promised further improvements for titles on legacy APIs, meaning it could just be a matter of time before we see enhanced performance for games based on DirectX 10 or DirectX 11.