Intel Arc A770 XeSS Performance and Quality
XeSS has been heralded as a more open alternative to Nvidia's DLSS. Both use machine learning to train an AI network that will then intelligently upscale and anti-alias lower resolution input frames into a higher resolution result. Both should improve over time as the network and algorithms get tweaked. In theory, it seems as though XeSS should be able to match DLSS 2 quality — but doing something more involved like DLSS 3 would be another matter.
Right now, we have a few publicly available games: Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Monster Hunter Rise, Death Stranding, and… I'm not sure which of the others are actually out. You can check Intel's XeSS page for further updates, but Intel also provided beta access to XeSS in Hitman III, The DioField Chronicle, Ghostwire Tokyo, and Arcadegeddon. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to test all of those, so we just did some testing with Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Death Stranding.
One thing you need to understand with XeSS is that it has support for both Intel's XMX cores, but for non-Arc GPUs, it can utilize DP4a instructions (basically 8-bit integers). Here's the kicker: The two algorithms are not the same! That makes sense, as the XMX cores provide far more computational power than any GPU using DP4a, so the quality will inevitably be lower with DP4a mode. And DP4a is what you'll get on any non-Arc GPU for now.
It's also important to note that even in XMX mode, on a significantly slower GPU like the Arc A380, XeSS may not show as much of a benefit. Instead, it's probably running into bottlenecks of some form, or at least that's what it looked like in our testing last week. Anyway, we'll have to wait and see how the adoption and quality of XeSS changes over time, but there's still AMD's FRS 2 (now 2.1), which tends to work much faster than XeSS DP4a mode while potentially providing equal or better image quality. That's okay since Arc can run FSR2 just fine, but it does make it more difficult to get developer buy-in for XeSS.
Due to time constraints, we've only tested the A770 and A750 cards in two games, using native, Quality, and Performance modes — at three resolutions. Quality looks relatively close to native, while Performance mode uses 4X upscaling and can definitely look worse than native (for now, anyway).
Quality mode, which likely uses 2X upscaling (if it's the same as DLSS and FSR2), improves performance by up to 28% in Death Stranding, but we're clearly hitting CPU bottlenecks as the gains are far lower at 1440p and non-existent at 1080p.
The gains are more pronounced for Shadow of the Tomb Raider, with maxed-out settings including ray-traced shadows. The A750 sees up to a 44% improvement at 4K but very little change at 1080p. Interestingly, the A770 improves by 51% at 4K and 18% at 1080p. There does appear to be some impact due to the reduced amount of VRAM on the A750, though it may also be driver related.
Performance mode helps even more, as you'd expect. In Death Stranding, 1080p remains CPU bottlenecked, but 4K performance improves by 53% while 1440p gains 20–26%. On the other hand, Tomb Raider performance basically doubles at 4K, increases by 45–55% at 1440p, and is 25–35% faster at 1080p.
Those are far bigger gains than when we tested Shadow of the Tomb Raider XeSS on a collection of GPUs that didn't include Arc A700-series parts. Again, DP4a might be okay in a pinch if no other upscaling algorithm is available, but it's not all that great for now.
Intel Arc A770 Video Encoding Performance and Quality
One of the bigger selling points for the Arc A770, and Intel's Arc Alchemist GPUs in general, is the support for hardware accelerated AV1 and VP9 video encoding. Current AMD and Nvidia GPUs only support hybrid decoding of VP9 and AV1, where some of the work is done by the CPU, and both codecs can prove quite taxing on lesser CPUs. Ada and RDNA 3 will add AV1 support, but those will likely start with high-end and extreme performance (and price) cards, not midrange options that cost less than $350.
We extensively tested the Arc A380 video encoding performance and quality, and things should be effectively unchanged with Arc A770 and A750 as the video engine is a fixed functional unit — all the extra Xe-Cores don't matter. If you're interested in learning more about Arc's video engine and encoding quality, we refer you to the previous article for now. The summary is that Arc GPUs could be great for streaming AV1 once support for that codec becomes more widely available.