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We are beginning to be concerned by Intel’s benchmarks for high-end laptop GPUs

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We are beginning to be concerned by Intel’s benchmarks for high-end laptop GPUs
Intel Arc Alchemist GPU



(Image credit: Intel)

Intel’s Arc A730M has popped up in some early reviews over in China – tentative material given the sources, and we’ll come back to that point – but this time one of the testers of the Alchemist GPU has used the latest driver which does officially support the A730M.

That driver was introduced yesterday (version 30.0.101. 1735) carrying said support, and as laptops are now on sale with the A730M inside – but only in China – this is our first proper glimpse of the potential performance of Intel’s laptop graphics card which nestles just beneath the flagship A770M.

The situation is that two sources (flagged up by VideoCardz (opens in new tab)) have benchmarked a Machenike gaming laptop now on shelves in China, which has the A730M GPU inside. The first set of results come from ‘Golden Pig Upgrade’, a Weibo denizen who brought us a previous leak as we reported yesterday – but has now installed the latest Intel driver for this latest round of testing as noted.

The other results come from IT-Home, a Chinese tech site, although this didn’t use the new driver with support for the A730M, and overall, we’d still keep a healthily skeptical frame of mind when chewing over these scores.

Let’s look at Golden Pig Upgrade’s findings first, who compared the A730M to the RTX 3060 laptop GPU, using benchmarks of notebooks running one of Intel’s Alder Lake Core i7-12700H processors to give a fairly level playing field.

While the A730M still did well in synthetic testing – as we saw in the 3DMark results from yesterday – and beat the RTX 3060 by a long way (indeed, the Intel GPU outdid the 3070), that wasn’t the case with actual gaming benchmarks.

To pick some examples, Gears 5 hit 90 fps (frames per second) with the A730M, but that was a fair way behind the RTX 3060 which managed 133 fps. For Hitman 2, the Nvidia card led Intel’s GPU hitting 100 fps compared to 76 fps. Both of those were DX12 results – the resolution and settings weren’t shared, but clearly this is 1080p – but some DX11 benchmarks were run too, like Total War Saga: Troy, where Nvidia won by 136 fps to 114 fps.

There was some brighter news with Metro Exodus, mind, where the A730M beat the RTX 3060, averaging 77 fps compared to 72 fps (and we do know that was with high graphics settings at 1080p).

IT-Home’s testing was based on Intel’s Arc driver version 30.0.101. 1726, before the A730M was officially supported, so technically falls into the category of pre-release leakage for us – but the 3DMark results were similar to Golden Pig Upgrade, and the findings broadly line-up for real-world gaming, too.

Meaning that the A730M falls somewhat behind the RTX 3060, although in this case, the benchmark comparisons weren’t made directly by IT-Home, and were instead drawn to existing benchmarks for the games via Notebookcheck.net; so we need to be especially cautious here. For what it’s worth, the A730M looks considerably slower than the RTX 3060 in Cyberpunk 2077, whereas Control saw roughly similar performance, but the Intel GPU actually edged ahead for Elden Ring – though we’re positively wading through salt here, really.


Analysis: Optimization aplenty still to be done for Arc?

The sum total of these benchmark comparisons – some of which are definitely shaky – is that the A730M is slower than Nvidia’s RTX 3060 in most of the games tested, but not all of them (and certainly not the synthetic testing with 3DMark, but that’s not as important as real-world gaming results). The clear indication is that Intel is still working on improving the Arc graphics driver.

Metro Exodus is the key benchmark to focus on here, because we saw Golden Pig Upgrade run the game in their previous testing, but with an outdated driver – so now we can compare that result to the new driver that officially supports the A730M.

Previously, Metro Exodus (at high settings, 1080p) managed 70 fps, but with the new driver, it pushes up to 77 fps – but there’s a bigger tale to tell in terms of the lowest frame rate recorded. Previously, that dipped to a horrendous 9 fps – meaning at times, Metro Exodus became a seriously jerky slideshow – but now, we see a low of 45 fps, which is much more in line with what we’d expect.

In other words, the latest driver looks to have been tuned for Metro Exodus now, but not for some other games going by a number of the results witnessed here. This again indicates that Intel is still optimizing the driver and making it work for different games. (Note that there are also reports of multiple games crashing or not even running at all with the Arc A730M, which really isn’t a good sign at all).

And all that ties in with what we’ve seen thus far – a very limited launch of discrete Arc laptop GPUs, only in Asia, mainly because Intel simply isn’t ready to unleash Alchemist products on the broader world and to regions like the US and Europe. Not to mention delays on desktop Arc, likely bound up in the same reasons of needing to further tune the software side of things, even if the hardware is ready to go.

Remember, all of this is just speculation, but things clearly haven’t gone to plan for Intel thus far with Arc GPUs, so it’s not exactly a massive leap to make when you look at early benchmarks such as the ones shared here.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel – ‘I Know What You Did Last Supper’ – was published by Hachette UK in 2013).

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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