We’re just days away from the launch of Intel’s new Arc desktop graphics cards, the A770 and A750, with a release date of October 12 to cheekily coincide with Nvidia’s RTX 4090 launch. It’s also the date of Microsoft’s Surface showcase, Google’s Cloud Next event, and Amazon Prime Day 2. If you need me that day, you’ll be able to find me sobbing into a box of nuggets behind my local McDonald’s.
My fine dining habits aside, there’s an interesting new tidbit of information that has emerged regarding Intel’s much-maligned GPU line. Completely out of left field, Acer has announced that it will be making a discrete GPU for desktop computers, and it’s not partnering with Nvidia or AMD: no, Acer’s first-ever graphics card will be an Arc A770.
Naturally, this is a gaming GPU; it carries Acer’s ‘Predator’ branding, with the name BiFrost. No, this isn’t an allusion to the card’s sexuality nor its Norse origins, but rather the fact that this card has two fans. The interesting part? They’re two completely different types of fan.
As you’ve no doubt already clocked from the image, the Predator BiFrost sports a large, conventional GPU fan packed with RGB lighting at one end of the card, while a second, smaller fan is indented near the center. This second fan is called a ‘blower’, previously seen in Nvidia’s RTX 2000 Founders Edition and AMD’s RX 5000 cards.
Introducing the all new @intelgraphics #IntelArc A770 GPU, which we’ve christened #PredatorBiFrost. Paving the way for a new generation of gaming awesome! pic.twitter.com/MmN4rAszItSeptember 30, 2022
Analysis: A striking – and hopefully effective – design
I’ve never seen a GPU like this before; blower cards have largely fallen out of fashion in favor of chunky open-air fan designs. While the latter typically features two or three large fans and an exposed heatsink, the former has an enclosed casing that forces thermal waste air directly out of the card’s rear I/O (and by extension, your PC case). They also typically make use of a vapor chamber rather than conventional heat pipes.
Now, open-air fan designs are typically ‘better’, in that they allow for greater heat dissipation – although some of that waste heat will end up circulating inside your PC, so you’d better have good case fans. With the mighty power of the RTX 4000 series, it’s no wonder that Nvidia’s manufacturing partners have stuck with an open-air configuration. Lower-powered GPUs like Intel’s A770, though, make the blower approach more viable.
I don’t know exactly what lies inside the Predator BiFrost, but I’d be willing to bet it features both a vapor chamber and heat pipes (a similar design was seen in Nvidia’s RTX 3000 FE GPUs). Note that the blower fan is situated pretty much directly over the GPU die itself, where most heat will be generated. I think this means that the blower will vent the majority of waste heat from the back of the card, while the larger fan plays a supporting – and aesthetic – role.
Thermal performance aside, it’s certainly an eye-catching design. This is a must-have for Acer, which is stepping into a seriously competitive space in the GPU market. I’ve seen plenty of people already thinking that the BiFrost won’t be available separately but rather come inside Acer’s pre-built Predator gaming PCs, but to that I say: nonsense.
Acer announced this card all by itself, not alongside a new line of Predator desktops. It makes sense; MSI and Asus, two of Acer’s biggest competitors in the PC gaming space, both already make their own GPUs. It looks like Lenovo might be breaking into that market too, buddying up with Nvidia to release its own RTX 4090.
Exclusivity deals between GPU makers and third-party manufacturers are nothing new, either. Some have already lampooned Acer for its decision to partner with Intel, but Sapphire has exclusively been making AMD Radeon GPUs for years and is still going strong.
Personally, I’m excited to see more manufacturers enter the graphics card industry. While the latest leaked benchmarks of the Arc A770 and A750 haven’t been overwhelmingly impressive, the pricing is seriously aggressive.
With no RTX 4060 in sight, the budget space is wide open right now. After a previous production partner reportedly dropped Intel’s Arc line due to profitability concerns, it’s heartening to see Acer rise to the challenge. I’m actually quite excited to get my hands on a BiFrost card now…