Does ray tracing work on Intel Arc GPUs?  |  Digital trends

Does ray tracing work on Intel Arc GPUs? | Digital trends

Intel is the newest player in the GPU market now that the company has finally launched its Arc Alchemist GPUs. Since these are first-generation products from a company with virtually no experience building desktop graphics, you might be wondering if GPUs like the Arc A770 and A750 support modern features. such as ray tracing.

Intel Arc actually supports ray tracing, just like AMD and Nvidia, and the performance might even surprise you.

Does ray tracing work on Intel Arc?

You may recall that back in 2018 when Nvidia first introduced its Turing architecture with ray tracing capability, not all Turing GPUs actually had ray tracing support. All of the RTX 20-series cards had ray tracing, but not the low-end to mid-range GTX 16-series, which used much less complex silicon.

Given that Arc is both Intel’s first attempt at desktop gaming GPUs and also Intel’s first ray-tracing capable GPU, you might wonder if only high-end Arc cards range support ray tracing. In fact, all Arc GPUs have the necessary hardware for ray tracing, even the lowest-end A310.

On a software level, Arc supports ray tracing in DirectX 12 and Vulkan titles, which is almost every game that has ray tracing. This puts Arc on a par with AMD and Nvidia when it comes to software compatibility.

Intel Arc Alchemist ray tracing benchmarks

Ray tracing benchmarks for Intel Arc GPUs at 1080p.

Of course, being able to enable ray tracing doesn’t mean much if performance is poor. Again, this is a first-generation product for Intel in many ways, and you’d be justified in being a bit skeptical about whether or not Arc can really work. Well, as you can see from the chart above from our Arc A770 and A750 review, these mid-range cards are actually quite good at ray tracing.

On average, the A770 is around 18% faster than the RTX 3060 and only 12% slower than the RTX 3060 Ti. AMD’s mid-range GPUs can’t quite compete with Intel or Nvidia, which means Arc is at least second in the ray-tracing game.

Cyberpunk 2077 ray tracing benchmarks at 1080p.

It is important to point out that ray tracing is extremely resource intensive and on mid-range GPUs the frame rate can be so low that it is unnecessary to enable it.

In Cyberpunk 2077, which we tested at 1080p and with ray tracing set to Ultra, performance wasn’t great on Intel Arc or any other GPU, with only the RTX 3060 Ti hitting over 30 frames per second (fps). But this is not the case for other games.

Metro Exodus ray tracing benchmarks at 1080p.

In Metro Exodus, which we tested with similar settings, all GPUs were able to achieve playable frame rates. The A770 and A750 even top this benchmark, beating the RTX 3060 Ti and RTX 3060 by a significant margin. None of these GPUs (Intel, AMD, or Nvidia) are aimed at gamers wanting to enable ray tracing in all possible games, but they do support ray tracing and can do it quite well in some games, which is better than nothing.

We haven’t tested low-end Arc GPUs like the A380 or A310, but based on the spec sheet alone, we can probably guess that they have very poor ray tracing performance. The A770 has 32 ray tracing units (or RTUs), while the A380 has eight and the A310 only has six, meaning the A380 has a quarter of the RTUs of the A770.

Some early reviews of the Arc A380 revealed that the GPU could barely hit 30fps in a few titles at 1080p, which isn’t great, to say the least. Although ray tracing is technically supported across the stack, this support is of questionable utility based on performance. However, the A770 and A750 have at least one reason to support ray tracing.

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