ASRock Challenger Arc A580 Review: Budget 1080P Gaming Powered By Intel

ASRock Challenger Arc A580 Graphics Card Review: Benchmarks

asrock arc a580 front
We've tested the Challenger Arc A580 card in UL's 3DMark as well as more than two dozen real games, in real gameplay scenarios. We picked what we felt was the best spread of popular and demonstrative titles and then benchmarked them. Some of these benchmarks required five or more tests per graphics card; in total, over 270 benchmark runs were performed to create the entirely-fresh data for this review. Here are the specifications of our test bench:

testbench specificationss fixed

In addition to this test bench, we also had a Socket AM5 system that we used to include the Radeon 780M graphics integrated into a Ryzen 7 8700G. We didn't use that system for testing the graphics cards because we didn't feel it was particularly realistic. Our thinking is that someone selecting a low-cost graphics card like this with the intention to use it for gaming is probably also going to use other low-cost components.

With that in mind, our Socket AM5 system came out to around $500 for the CPU, motherboard, and memory. Meanwhile, our CPU, motherboard, and memory for the test setup came out to around $315. That puts our system with the Arc A580 8GB card right under $500, making it a reasonable comparison: should you live on integrated graphics for now and upgrade to a discrete GPU later? Or should you buy a cheaper CPU and a GPU now? Hopefully we'll answer that question.

Arc A580 3DMark Benchmarks

First, we'll go through some synthetic benchmarks using UL's 3DMark. This venerable benchmark utility is still being updated, and has recently added the Steel Nomad test that incorporates modern DirectX 12 rendering features without making use of ray-tracing. We'll get to that in a moment, but first, let's check out the old Fire Strike Extreme benchmark. This test runs in 2560×1440 and measures performance in the kind of games you'd see a few years ago.

chart 3dm fse

Arc punches above its weight class in 3DMark, and that includes the DirectX 11 Fire Strike test. This is partially because of Intel's tireless driver optimization efforts, but also partially because these Arc cards have by far the most memory bandwidth of anything in this test, meaning they handle the higher QHD resolution more easily.

chart 3dm ts

We see similar results in Time Spy, where Arc actually dominates. Both the A750 and A580 come out ahead of every single other GPU in this test. Impressive stuff—if only UL licensed out its renderer for game engines. The wider memory bus of the DG2-512 is probably helping quite a lot in this test, which is taxing on memory bandwidth.

chart 3dm snl

Up next, we have the new Steel Nomad Lite test. The A580 falls behind the Radeon RX 7600, but overall the Arc cards are still very competitive in this benchmark. We chose the "Lite" version of Steel Nomad because the full version is really too demanding for this class of GPU hardware.

chart 3dm sb

Finally, we have the 3DMark Solar Bay benchmark. This cross-platform test is relatively lightweight, but it uses Vulkan ray-tracing to test the ability of a graphics card to render ray-traced reflections. Once again we see Arc slapping its competitors around pretty consistently in this test. But what about in real games?

Arc A580 Final Fantasy XIV Dawntrail Benchmarks

"Dawntrail" is the latest expansion to the well-worn MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV Online. With new story and gameplay content, it brings along a fully revised renderer making use of physical-based materials to radically improve the realism of the game's visuals. To help players get ready for this change, Square-Enix released a revised version of the game's stand-alone benchmark, and we're using that to test these GPUs.

chart ffxiv

Overall, not an outstanding first outing for Arc. While the average frame rates are perfectly acceptable for the price class, the 1% lows indicate significantly more stuttering than you see on GeForce and Radeon cards. We suspect that the 56-FPS 1% low is probably to some degree a CPU or platform limitation with our slightly-older Ryzen 5 5600GT CPU, but both Arc cards fall well behind that, even. Still, the average performance is pretty good, and the hitching would be less noticeable with an adaptive-refresh screen.

Arc A580 Grand Theft Auto V Online Benchmarks

Grand Theft Auto V originally came out for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in 2013, although the PC version has more in common with the PS4 and Xbox One releases that came a year later. In any case, the game is more than a decade old at this point, and if you look close, it shows. The online mode is still wildly popular, though, so we loaded it up with a few friends and did a set of four-man races across Los Santos to benchmark these cards. Thanks again to the Kitsune Crew for helping us benchmark GTA Online.

chart gtav

The story in GTA Online is similar to that in Final Fantasy XIV Online. Where in the last game, the average frame rates were competitive while the 1% lows were struggling, in GTA Online, the overall performance is just worse. That's not to say it's terrible; a 60 FPS average is nothing to complain about, and GTA Online doesn't stutter the way FFXIV Dawntrail did, but that Radeon RX 780M is definitely creeping up on the Arc A580 here.

Arc A580 Palworld Benchmarks

Breakout monster-taming success Palworld isn't a particularly demanding game until you get a dozen or more hours into the title, whereupon you will have an active base full of cute & cuddly "Pals" slaving away at workstations just as capitalism intended. We tested the game using our private server with an endgame base hosting twenty Pals and hundreds of user-constructed objects.

chart palworld

Palworld shows that Intel's talk of DirectX 11 driver improvements isn't just hot air. This Unreal Engine 5 title runs very well on Arc, with average framerates in the high 60s and 70s. Palworld itself isn't a game that runs particularly smoothly on any GPU, so you'll see stuttering in heavy combat with many active entities, but graphically speaking, it works great on GPUs from every vendor.

Arc A580 Doom Eternal Benchmarks

If there's one thing that the current Id Software has carried forward from its origins as the creators of the first-person shooter genre, it's that their game engines are ridiculously well-optimized. Doom Eternal runs on the latest version of Id Tech and features heavy use of compute shaders, including for its ray-traced graphics, which we enabled for this testing. Arc used to have major problems with Vulkan performance because it couldn't make use of ReBar in Vulkan titles, but Intel has recently fixed that problem, so how does Arc do in Vulkan now?

chart deternal

This is probably the best result in this review. Alchemist has compute resources to spare, and Doom Eternal is one of the few games that can really put them to work. Both Arc cards perform phenomenally in this game, with high average frame rates and solid frametime consistency, too. Of course, all of our GPUs score over 90 FPS average in this benchmark, but the A580 even manages to outpace the Radeon RX 6650 XT here, which is very impressive.

Arc A580 Counter-Strike 2 Benchmarks

Valve's decision to replace the popular Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with the Source 2-based Counter-Strike 2 was controversial, but it was anything but abrupt. The company made its plans known nearly a year before the change-over actually happened. The new engine makes use of Vulkan for radically improved multi-threading, allowing some pretty impressive detail in the lighting and effects considering how simplistic the resources in question are. We tested on "Inferno", as it's one of the maps that got a full remake for the Source 2 engine.

chart cs2

Now, our Ryzen 5 5600GT CPU in this test rig is pretty modest, and we were testing using "Practice" mode, which means bot matches. The bots in CS2 aren't particularly smart, but they do put extra load on the CPU. That's probably why our averages far outstrip our 1% lows with every GPU. While the Arc A580 may look pretty meager down there at the bottom, note that it's still putting out over 140 FPS average, with 1% lows over 70 FPS. This is a perfectly acceptable performance for a $160 GPU.

Arc A580 Elden Ring Benchmarks

Elden Ring is about to get a massive update in the form of its paid expansion, "Shadow of the Erdtree." With that in mind, we wanted to test the game to see how Arc is doing in this title, but there's one problem: Elden Ring has a hard 60 FPS cap, and all these GPUs can hit that cap without ray-tracing. We could use mods to remove the cap, true, but that's not really representative of how people are playing the game. Instead, we elected to raise the settings high enough that all of our GPUs stay under 60 FPS most of the time. We tested on "High", but with textures set to "Maximum" and then the Ray-tracing settings on "Medium."

chart eldenring

With a modest ray-tracing workload like this, all of our GPUs produce solid performance, although Arc clearly has some troubles with its frametimes in this title. Still, performance isn't bad -- the game is fully playable on every config here, including the integrated Radeon 780M. Remember, this is a 30 FPS title on consoles. If you've been skipping the ray-tracing in this game because of the performance hit, try dropping your main graphics settings preset to "High", as that last bump to "Maximum" really hurts performance, even on powerful hardware.

Arc A580 Dragon's Dogma 2 Benchmarks

Dragon's Dogma 2 has been a controversial game for so many reasons, some of which were actually even justified. One of those many reasons was the game's performance at launch. It has had a few patches to improve things by this point, but part of the problem is simply that Dragon's Dogma 2 is simply extremely demanding. To benchmark the game, we took a jog around the Borderwatch Outpost after making sure the area was fully loaded.
chart dd2

Unfortunately, Dragon's Dogma 2 is an example of a game that doesn't run well on Intel Arc, currently. We can't say whether it's due to driver problems or architectural issues, but either way, this game struggles on Arc compared to its competition. Check out the RX 7600 going blow-for-blow with the RTX 3060 despite the use of ray-tracing.

Arc A580 Fortnite Zero Build Benchmarks

It's funny to think about given the relatively low-detail cartoony art style of the game, but Fortnite is one of the most technologically-advanced video games on the planet. That's largely because Epic Games deploys all of its newest work on the Unreal Engine to its showcase title first. We played a round of Zero Build where we got into an intense four-person firefight and then used the replay function to benchmark that scene on all of our cards.

chart fortnite

Fortnite is one of a handful of games that really strongly favors Radeon cards, and we can see that here, where the Radeon RX 6600 is arguably giving a better game experience than the GeForce RTX 3060. But what about the Arc cards? Well, they're struggling. Fortnite is fully playable on Arc, but it really doesn't run as well here as it should.

All told, it's a bit of a mixed bag. In games like Doom Eternal and Palworld, we see the Arc A580 matching pace with more expensive graphics cards, but in games like Final Fantasy and Elden Ring, normally-solid performance suffers from frame-time consistency issues. Notably, we didn't have any major problems with any of the 25 games we tested (which aren't all represented here); there's a bit of a narrative that random games will fail on Arc, but we didn't run into that in our testing.

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