Intel (INTC -0.30%) is finally ready to enter the graphics card market, bringing a third major player to an industry dominated by NVIDIA (NVDA -0.42%). Roughly 80% of all graphics cards sold feature NVIDIA GPUs, with the remaining 20% powered by AMD.
Intel's entry into the graphics card market comes as demand is plunging amid a tough economic environment and the bursting of the cryptocurrency bubble. Inventory levels are elevated, and prices are coming down quickly. NVIDIA is working to reduce channel inventory of its RTX 30 graphics cards as it prepares to launch its first RTX 40 graphics cards this month.
NVIDIA's task will be complicated by Intel's trio of graphics cards hitting the market this month. The company is launching the Arc A750, the Arc A770, and the Arc A770 Limited Edition graphics cards on October 12, and they are priced to sell. The A750 will go for $289, while the two A770 graphics cards will be priced at $329 and $349, respectively.
There's no doubt about it: This pricing is disruptive. NVIDIA's RTX 3060 has an MSRP of $329, but it's still selling for well above that price. Intel is claiming that even the lower-end A750 beats the RTX 3060 in performance in many cases. Intel's cards often come out on top for modern games using the latest graphics APIs, according to the company's testing, but they also generally hold their own across a large collection of popular games.
Performance per dollar is where Intel's cards really shine, although it's likely that RTX 3060 will come down further in price over time. Both the A750 and A770 are substantially better values, according to Intel's numbers, across nearly every game tested.
NVIDIA is only launching new high-end graphics cards in October, and a successor to the RTX 3060 is likely to be months away. AMD has some graphics cards available in this price range as well, so it will be a three-way battle for mainstream gamers, with plenty of inventory and reasonable prices for the first time in quite a while.
Third-party reviews of Intel's graphics card should be available ahead of the launch, so we'll have a better picture of overall performance soon. If Intel's claims hold up, the company will be a force to be reckoned with in the mid-range graphics card market.
Intel the disruptor
NVIDIA has a lock on the high-end portion of the graphics card market, and that won't change anytime soon. Intel is focused on the mid-range where customers are more price sensitive. By undercutting NVIDIA on price and offering what looks like solid performance, the company could quickly gain market share.
One thing that may hold Intel back: It doesn't have a track record in graphics cards, and it's had well publicized issues with software drivers leading up to this launch. Some gamers may not want to bother with Intel's products to avoid any potential problems, especially issues related to older video games that don't use the latest graphics APIs.
Still, Intel is launching just as an army of mid-range graphics card owners are finally capable of upgrading as prices come down to reasonable levels. The RTX 3060 would have been the obvious choice for anyone with an NVIDIA card from the past few generations, but now these Intel cards offer an additional option.
This presents a problem for NVIDIA beyond losing some market share: The company will need to clear out inventory of the RTX 3060 as it prepares to launch new mid-range cards in the coming months. Intel putting a bunch of competitive graphics cards on the market could force NVIDIA to be more aggressive on pricing that it would otherwise be.
The era of the graphics card duopoly is officially over on Oct. 12. That's good for gamers, and probably not so good for NVIDIA.