Buying a better graphics card for the same price.

How did we get here?

Recently, I found a deal on an older Xeon combo, and thought it would be good to do a theme build. The build works great, I used a GTX 1660, available for about a hundred bucks used. It’s a solid graphics card and a solid price. New, however, is a different story.

This card is available for around 200USD new, and widely available, but it’s not the only one available for that. In fact, several cards are in that range. Better ones, in fact. One of those is the Arc A750 from Intel. I opted for the 1660 because it’s better than the AMD offer of an RX580 2048sp version. Granted, the 580 is a new card, but it’s more of a refurb, than a brand new option. We’ll touch on that soon.

To test these I used my editing rig with a 12th Gen i7, the newest CPU I have. Matched up with 32 GB of DDR4 memory and a list of games, I ran some benchmarks. The 1660 is about four years old, the A750 about a year, but again, prices are the same for the new cards and both are available with driver support. The refurb 580s may be new, but driver support ended a few months ago. For that matter, the 1660 is no longer in production, but still available.

Well, what were the results?

Not surprisingly, the A750 performed better. The difference, however, surprised me. I ran two DX 11 titles and a handful of DX12 games and the difference was noticeable. DX11 titles were reasonably close, but in some cases DX12 titles had twice the framerate. The improvement in DX11 titles shows just how much Intel continues to improve the driver support for their new GPUs.

This ARC series of graphics card keeps getting better and the price makes it a great value. AMD cards like the RX580, RX5700, and even RX6600 all have continued to drop at a reasonable rate, but not so with the Green Team. The GTX 1660, an RTX 2060 without Ray Tracing, just isn’t worth the money trying to buy it new.

I bought the Arc A750 for more than it sells now, but AMD’s RX6600 has similar performance to the ARC card, and both are better than the 1660 at the same price. NVidia’s comparable card brand new runs almost a hundred USD more (The RTX 3060). The green team still does lead in Ray Tracing and the NVenc encoder is outstanding, but the ARC does have the AV1 encoder and that has been a huge leap forward.

So, why use the older graphics card?

That part is simple. It’s still a solid card. The price used is great, and it’s perfect for the build it’s in. Matched up with the Xeon, from Intel’s forth gen chips, the balance of CPU to GPU is almost a perfect match. Everything in that build seems to compliment everything else, and it ends up being a great gaming PC for 1080p resolution.

For that matter, the A750 ends up being a great compliment to the i7 12700 in the editing rig. I didn’t think that would be the case when I put it in there. The driver effort from Intel has been that good.

The YT video on the comparison is here, while the video on the build itself is here. There wasn’t a blog post on the Xeon/1660 pairing, but there is a blog about matching older and newer hardware in a ‘broken’ PC here.