Ever since Intel announced its DG2 graphics, I’ve been very excited about it, mainly due to its supposedly featured SR-IOV capabilities and an excellent media encoder.
In this review, I will detail my experiences with the Intel Arc A380, provide some numbers, and my thoughts about it.
TL;DR: For media encoding/transcoding, this thing is a godsend, with some caveats. However, if you are just going after a smooth, seamless experience with your GPU, don’t buy this card, at least not yet.
Media Encoding Test
In this test, I recorded two game clips from Cyberpunk 2077, with my Atomos Ninja V external recorder, from my HDMI output on my graphics card.
- Game Clip A: 1080p, 60 fps, BT. 709, Apple ProRes 4:2:2. Original file size: 49.7 GB.
- Game Clip B: 4K HDR, 60 fps, BT. 2020, Apple ProRes 4:2:2, then using CPU transcode and tonemapped to BT. 709, H264. Original file size: 36 GB
CPU: Ryzen 7 7700X
MB: Asrock B650 PG Riptide
RAM: G.Skill DDR5 5600, EXPO
OS: Windows 10 LTSC
GPU A: NVIDIA Geforce RTX 2080 Super, Driver: 522.25 DCH
GPU B: Intel Arc A380, Driver: 188.8.131.5290
GPU C: AMD Ryzen 7 7700X with RDNA2 iGPU, Driver: 22.11.1
Handbrake Version: 1.5.1 (2022011000)
Transcoding from 1080p, Apple ProRes to H265
First up, I tested the results with ReBAR on and off with the Arc A380. The outcomes are staggering. Long story short, the card will boot and operate even if with ReBAR off. However, the performance difference versus ReBAR being on is just not worth doing it. You are probably better off with an iGPU at this point if your motherboard does not support ReBAR.
With ReBAR on, the Arc A380 outperforms every other GPU for transcoding from Apple ProRes to H265.
Intel Arc A380 with ReBAR off, QSV Default Preset: 152.3 fps
Intel Arc A380 with ReBAR on, QSV Default Preset: 366.1 fps
NV RTX 2080 Super, ReBAR on, NVENC Default Preset: 332.5 fps
AMD AM5 iGPU, ReBAR on, VCE Default Preset: 330.1 fps
Ryzen 7 7700X CPU, x265 1080p, 22 RF: 40.8 fps
Transcoding from 4K, H264 to H265
In this round of testing, I have prepared a 4K H264 test clip that was transcoded from 4K 60 fps HDR Apple ProRes and tone mapped from BT. 2020 to BT. 709. Originally, this test was meant to be a direct comparison between all the GPUs to transcode from 4K HDR to SDR. However, I encountered a weird issue that when tone mapping is enabled in Handbrake, all transcodes are limited to an arbitrary 15 fps, even with CPU encoding. So, there must have been something wrong with the tone mapping algorithm.
To solve this issue, instead of 4K HDR to 1080p SDR, I first transcoded the 4K HDR ProRes clip to 4K SDR H264 with CPU, then I transcoded this clip to 1080p H265 with the GPUs. Also, I have turned on ReBAR for this test, since no ReBAR isn’t worth running in my opinion.
I was able test a transcode on the A380 with BETA Driver 3802, I saw no real improvement on transcoding performance.
Intel Arc A380 with ReBAR on, QSV Default Preset: 193.8 fps
NV RTX 2080 Super, ReBAR on, NVENC Default Preset: 94.4 fps
Ryzen 7 7700X iGPU, ReBAR on, VCE Default Preset: 94.6 fps
Transcoding from 4K H264 to 1080p H265
Last but not least, I will test its ability to do a more commonly seen transcoding that could benefit in a media server setting - transcoding video from 4K H264 to 1080p H265 for constrained bandwidth when streaming from home media server to mobile devices.
Intel Arc A380 with ReBAR on, QSV Default Preset: 236.6 fps
NV RTX 2080 Super, ReBAR on, NVENC Default Preset: 101.4 fps
Ryzen 7 7700X iGPU, ReBAR on, VCE Default Preset: 100.3 fps
During the transcoding tests, I saw that Intel Arc A380 does not correctly report its API usage to the system. However, in BETA Driver 3802, it will now correctly report Video Decode and Video Processing to Windows 10 LTSC.
I am very impressed by the results from which the Intel Arc A380 provides. It absolutely crushed the high-end NVIDIA RTX 2080 Super, which has a 6th Gen NVENC that is both found on Turing and Ampere cards, making it a very compelling value proposition for GPU video encoding.
Granted, all NVIDIA GPUs that are equipped with the same NVENC could perform very similarly. For example, a Turing based RTX 2060, can be found on Newegg for $229, while VCE-capable AMD RX 6600 could be had for about $200. If you care more about pure graphical performance, then the Intel Arc A380 may not be a good fit. Aside from transcoding output quality, I think the AMD RX 6600 is still a better card, despite it costs $60 more than the $139 Intel Arc A380, if what you are after is pure GPU horsepower.
On the other hand, if your use case is a dedicated transcoding card for media server, that runs on Windows (big caveat, for now), then the Intel Arc A380 could be your next GPU, which handles transcoding like a champ. If you don’t mind waiting on Intel to get its acts together on Linux drivers, I’d strongly recommend this card for all you media enthusiasts who spend lots of time streaming outside from your home server.
With all that said, another thing that surprised me was how good the AM5 iGPU performed. Without closely examining the output quality, it is basically on-par with the RTX 2080 Super.
System Support Test
Frankly speaking, I have yet to encounter major problems on Windows. One small thing that is worth noting would be that Intel Arc Control does not play well with Parsec’s Virtual Display Adapter. I had to remove that device from Device Manager before Arc Control can be launched.
Linux (Proxmox 7.2 with Kernel 5.19.2/6.0.8)
This is a headache.
Originally, I was trying to use this card for Jellyfin hardware transcoding inside of an LXC container. However, Proxmox’s current beta kernel, which is 5.19, will not be able to support Intel Arc Graphics. I even tried to install an edge kernel, which is 6.0.8, but the card still won’t work. I have kernel command line set to force probe, the driver loads, but the graphics functions are inaccessible, or very unstable that it can’t be used by any graphical API such as VA-API.
I’ve also tried Intel’s official driver package listed on their website. Sadly, the DKMS just won’t build on 5.19.2 or 6.0.8. Intel requires a weird 5.17-oem kernel to be installed, which I guess will be a put-off for most Linux users that do not want to mess with their kernels all that often, especially if it’s a server or workstation.
I will try to update this topic in the future when 6.1 kernel comes to Proxmox. But for the time being, this card will be a no-go for most Proxmox users, if you want to use it with LXC containers.
(To Be Continued)
I will update this review as I dig deeper into other applications running on the Intel Arc A380. There are lots of other things that I would like to test, such as SR-IOV on Linux, transcoding with LXC container, etc. But these functionalities will have to wait until Intel gets its Linux Driver stack up to speed with the new kernels.