Intel Arc GPUs Get 1.8X Higher DirectX 9 Performance From New GPU Driver

Intel Arc A770 Limited Edition
Intel Arc A770 Limited Edition (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Intel has made significant progress with DirectX 9 performance on its Arc Alchemist graphics cards. The latest 31.0.101.3959 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 (31.0.101.3490), 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.

Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • Stesmi
    Nitpick: 177 to 318 is an 80% increase, not 180%.

    So it's 1.8x as much, not 1.8x more. Just like 80% more is 0.8x more, or 1.8x as much.
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    100% plus 80% :)
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Hmmmm, they did say that they are basing prices on the weakest performance which was dx9 until now....I hope that doesn't mean that they are going to increase prices now...
    I mean, it would be suicide for them to do this since they are trying to break through but on the other hand it's intel.
    Reply
  • MBOO7
    While it's good seeing progress, dont forget, when you re coming from the very very low bottom, it can only go up and this increase only shows how bad the drivers really were before.
    Reply
  • LolaGT
    The improvements in drivers shows there is a lot of horsepower in the silicon, a significant amount of it is still left on the table. But they seem very intent on following up on their promise to keep at the drivers.
    This gpu can do as well as intel was initially planning for in that it shows it can match or pull away from a 3060ti/3070 without getting warm.
    They did their homework on the hardware side.
    Too bad they underestimated how much work and time it takes to extract that performance.

    This card is going to end up being a winner and at a bargain price point because they are obviously lining up their vast resources to not let it fail due to the software side of things.
    The next gen Intel gpus probably won't be at any bargain price point because they will likely have caught up most of the way to the competition.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    Good to see improvements in their, by far, weakest link.

    Also, the words "up to" are a must in the Article title. It reads completely different to what the graphs show.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • DavidC1
    LolaGT said:
    The improvements in drivers shows there is a lot of horsepower in the silicon, a significant amount of it is still left on the table. But they seem very intent on following up on their promise to keep at the drivers.

    No, DX9 gains are an outlier. They switched to hybrid DXVK implementation, where it uses the DX9On12 for some scenarios probably due to compatibility issues.

    Rest you can't expect more than 15-20% in average and this is going to take months if not years. So if you look at results you can see it's behind competitors quite a lot in 1080p, but catches up at 1440p and more at 4K. Because driver issues limit the CPU, it matters less at higher GPU bound resolutions. But the best case scenario is RX6700XT or maybe on a lucky day RTX 3060 Ti.

    Which is way better than what they have mind you, but 90% of the people are hyped by the unrealistic expectation of the misleading claims of press like MLID.

    ARC IS behind AMD/Nvidia GPU hardware-wise. Otherwise you won't need a 400mm2 chip to compete with a 270mm2 one. They are probably behind RDNA1, nevermind RDNA3 and Ada. You can see how their integrated Xe GPU is behind AMD and this is despite the massive improvements in perf/watt and perf/mm2 that Xe has made over predecessors(2x performance in same area and power).

    I am not saying drivers gaining 15-20% in average is bad, it's fantastic! But to expect it'll be RTX 3070 Ti or something is ludicrous. It'll take Battlemage to look somewhat competitive and likely Celestial to get most of it. And they'll need to continually compete on pricing.
    Reply
  • SSGBryan
    If I can get 3060Ti performance (with double the memory) for less than the price of a 3060Ti, I am sold on it.
    Reply
  • ohio_buckeye
    Especially next gen, if they come up with an arc a880 or something that is comparable to a 4060ti/4070 for significantly less they might have a winner. I'd consider purchasing one.
    Reply
  • evdjj3j
    Stellaris is an odd one, it's extremely CPU bound.
    Reply