Intel Announces Arc Balanced Builds Program: CPU & GPU Combos Starting at $423, Systems at $899
By: Hassan Mujtaba
Intel has announced its new Arc Balanced Builds program which will deliver customers the best price to performance value when buying a new PC.
Intel Wants To Make Sure Gamers Get The Best Performance For Their Money With The New Arc Balanced Builds Program, Starting at $423 US
So the plan for Arc Balanced Builds is simple and something that should be applauded. Intel is going to find the best performance and value curve based on a combination of CPUs and GPUs, delivering the most bang for buck to gamers without them having to figure out what’s best for them. Not everyone wants a high-end CPU and GPU combo or a single fast GPU that’s paired on systems with mid-to-low-end CPUs (and vice versa). That’s what Intel’s new program is trying to simplify.
For us reviewers, we have to work with multiple GPUs and CPUs. Most of our benchmarks, even for low-end GPUs, are done on a high-end CPU and we do it to remove all constraints and bottlenecks possible so that we can see the actual gaming performance. A gamer, however, may not need that kind of CPU horsepower to say run an Arc A380 or Arc A750 graphics card. We have seen gaming channels showing gamers more interesting combos such as pairing a high-end CPU with a low-end GPU or a high-end GPU with a low-end CPU.
Intel’s Arc Bundled Builds is the combination of 15,000 data points, scaling multiple games, 9 GPUs, and two primary resolutions (1080p and 1440p since they are the most commonly used), all being a hefty 22 GB worth of data. Based on these findings, Intel has come up with a few tiers set for its Arc Balanced Builds program which include the following:
- Arc A380 – Best Paired With Core i3 or Core i5 CPUs (12th / 13th Gen)
- Arc A750 – Best Paired With Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs (12th / 13th Gen)
- Arc A770 – Best Paired With Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs (12th / 13th Gen)
- RTX 4090 – Best Paired With Core i9 or Above CPUs (12th / 13th Gen)
Intel also uses its competition’s RTX 4090 for comparison and agrees to the fact that it requires a high-end CPU and even the top Core i9 is unable to remove all constraints from that monster of a chip. With that said, it’s not always a bad choice to get a high-end CPU if you plan on upgrading to a higher-end GPU later on. A high-end CPU can also be useful if you want to do things besides just gaming such as content creation, streaming, etc.
In newer APIs such as DX12 and Vulkan which are closer to the GPU silicon than the CPU, the Arc A750 achieves similar results on a Core i5-12400F as a high-end CPU. The same is the case with DX11 where most games ran around 90%+ performance on a Core i5 versus a high-end 13th Gen Core i9 chip.
We found a few trends. DirectX 12, an API that is thinner and closer to the GPU silicon, shows very little CPU-sensitivity. Gaming on an Intel Arc A750 with even a budget-friendly Core i5-12400F nearly matches results seen on much higher end CPUs. Moving into DirectX 11 data gives more variation, but not much. Most DX11 games we tested on the 12th Gen i5 ran at around 90%+ of the speeds seen on the 13th Gen i9, with some showing no difference whatsoever. Make sure you stretch your neck after reading those game titles, too.
Mid-range GPUs like our Intel Arc A750 scale very little as you add more CPU power over the Core i5, ultimately making Core i5 and i7 CPUs the sweet spot. We found Intel Core processors do stretch their legs and show amazing scaling with an ultra-high performance GPU, or for CPU-intensive non-gaming workloads. In those cases, a stellar Core i9 CPU can make a significant difference, though you’ll be dropping some serious dosh on a graphics card before worrying about that.
Sure a company like Intel would want users to buy its high-end chips but Intel has a point here and that is that budget and mainstream gamers don’t have to go that route and can enjoy the same gaming experience while spending lower.
In the following slide, you can see that Intel’s Arc GPUs provide similar performance across a range of CPUs. The RTX 4090 can be heavily bottlenecked by the CPU at lower resolutions such as 1080p but even that shows a marginal difference between a 13900K and 13600K.
Intel goes on to say the following:
To the ultra-enthusiasts with big budgets, have fun. To the rest of us looking for a sensible balance to play with at 1440p High settings, we’ve worked with our retail friends to add even more value to the best value in PC gaming. Discounted Intel GPU + CPU bundles are live now, plus full systems built around the balance of Intel Arc A7-series GPUs and Intel Core i5 and i7 CPUs are now priced better than ever. We’ve got even more info over on our balanced builds deals page here.
So now the main question comes, where to buy these combos and systems? Well, Intel is working with retail partners across the globe to offer its new Arc Balanced Builds to gamers. In the US, major system makers such as CyberpowerPC, Maingear, and Skytech Gaming are offering new builds with Intel Arc GPUs and Core CPUs and we can expect bundled offerings to appear soon across retailers.
Intel has been fine-tuning the performance of its Arc GPUs for several months now and we have seen some incredible gains with the performance now exceeding way past the RTX 3060 in AAA titles. The Arc GPUs are also available at various discounts making them an incredible value for budget gamers and also the cheapest 16 GB graphics card on the market is the Arc A770. Intel’s next-gen Battlemage GPUs are also planned for launch next year and we can’t wait to hear more about them soon!