Intel's Arc Graphics Driver Adds A 3DMark Benchmark Toggle, Here's What It Does

portroyal screenshot
You're tired of hearing it, we're tired of saying it; yes, Intel's Arc graphics are real and out there. They haven't hit store shelves in the US yet, but they're on the way—probably as we write this. Extant hardware needs available drivers, and so Intel's published a new graphics driver for Arc Alchemist.

This latest driver is a Beta release and adds official support for the A770M and A550M GPUs. Intel has apparently decided to call its counterpart to NVIDIA's "Game Ready" program "Game On driver support," and that support in this driver extends to the just-released Monster Hunter Rise: Sunbreak, F1 22, and Arcadegeddon, albeit only on Arc itself (and not Xe-LP-based parts, including the company's integrated graphics.)

From Intel's release notes.

The driver also fixes a pile of bugs, including texture corruption in Metro Exodus: Enhanced Edition, Horizon: Zero Dawn, F1 2020, Crossfire, and Euro Truck Simulator 2. Horizon should also stop crashing when you start a race, The Sims 4 shouldn't crash when you load a save file, and intermittent crashes in Ghostwire: Tokyo should be solved.

The list of known issues is long, so we won't reproduce it here, but the biggest ones are crashing in Gears 5, Sniper Elite 5, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, and F1 22. You can work around the crash in F1 by disabling AMD FidelityFX CACAO. Also, Call of Duty: Vanguard, Ghost Recon: Breakpoint, Strange Brigade, Forza Horizon 5, Rainbow Six Siege, and Crossfire might suffer texture corruption or other graphical artifacts.

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Normally we'd picture the toggle, but no Arc cards handy, so take a picture of that instead.

As we noted in the headline, the most curious feature of these drivers is a toggle in the Arc Control application labeled "Advanced Performance Optimizations." When this toggle is on—and it defaults to on—the drivers will use targeted benchmark optimizations for 3DMark Time Spy and Port Royale. There's no word on exactly what the practical effects of these optimizations are, but the thing is, the toggle is there to turn them off, not turn them on.

See, Underwriters Laboratories (known more commonly as simply "UL") has a policy in place for 3DMark that published scores can't include any kind of targeted or application-specific optimizations. That's why, until this driver came out, you couldn't see any "approved" scores for Arc Alchemist parts in the benchmark databases for that app.

This toggle allows Arc owners to disable the targeted optimizations and benchmark their cards on more equal footing with other parts. While the Arc parts we've seen thus far won't be in the running for any world record runs, it's likely that future Arc Graphics parts will use the same driver, and may be more suitable contenders against teams both Red and Green.

You can check out the driver release notes [PDF], or just grab the driver if you're running Arc graphics.