It's been over a month since Starfield was launched around the globe but Intel has finally addressed performance issues and a handful of bugs with a new set of drivers for its Arc graphics card range.
New GPU driver releases aren't typically hold-the-front-page news items, but Intel Arc owners have been facing some pretty annoying issues in Starfield since the game came out at the start of September. The most obvious problem being the mediocre performance, even at low resolutions, but given that even the best GPUs were struggling, it wasn't a surprise.
I say mediocre, but what I really mean is totally unplayable. I'm not talking about low fps or the odd stutter, it just flat out refused to work. Round one of the patches came pretty quickly, offering fixes for the long load times and general instability, but in round two, nothing new came to the table. Intel was happy to point out that a good number of problems were 'known' but offered nothing to placate what few Arc fans it has.
Then early this week, and just a mere month after the game was launched all around the world, Intel released another set of drivers with some genuine Starfield improvements. Well, claims of improvements, at the very least. If you're using Ultra settings at 1080p, you might get up to 117% better frame rates or 149% more if you're running at 1440p on High details.
Intel used an Arc A750 paired with a Core i9 13900K to check these gains, though I'm not sure how many A750 owners will have that kind of CPU in their gaming PCs. It's also worth noting that while 149% sounds like a massive boost, if you were already plodding along at 30 fps,
the new drivers would only hike that up to 45 fps at best. Ed: Thanks to sharp-eyed Edlennion spotting my awful math! A 49% boost would result in 45 fps, whereas this 149% increase is a far more impressive 75 fps. Unless Intel has got its sums wrong too!
The patch notes (.pdf warning) highlight the following performance improvements.
Versus Intel 126.96.36.19985 software driver for:
• Starfield (DX12)
Up to 117% uplift at 1080p with Ultra settings
Up to 149% uplift at 1440p with High settings
• Forza Motorsport (DX12)
Up to 8% uplift at 1080p with Ultra settings
Versus Intel 188.8.131.5226 software driver for :
• F1 23 (DX12)
Up to 12% uplift at 1440p with Ultra High settings
Up to 136% uplift at 2160p with Ultra High settings
It's better than nothing, of course, but what about the rest of the bugs? Well, the texture corruption issue has been fixed but that's the only thing that Intel has directly stated as being resolved. The problem concerning things going wonky when using Dynamic Resolution Scaling is still there.
I have conflicting thoughts about all of this. On the one hand, it's good to see Intel continuing to push out regular drivers for its discrete graphics cards. Expected, of course, but still welcome.
Just a week ago it released another performance update that improved frame rates across a number of DX11 games, with up to 119% higher frame rates.
But with Starfield now over a month old and not quite meeting the hype it generated over the years (give our Starfield review a read to see what I mean), I also feel that it possibly wasn't worth the effort.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not criticising the work that Intel has done and continues to do with its Arc drivers. It's just that the combination of that game and GPU was a complete mess at the start, and that could easily have put those people who played Starfield on GamePass from trying it again. Bethesda's games do have legs, though, and once mod support is fully integrated, the same could see a resurgence. And by then, Intel's next GPU might even be out.
But if you've got an Arc GPU yourself and you're wanting to give the game a try, then make sure you get these latest drivers (download them here) before you give the door-loading epic that is Morrowind-on-Mars–sorry, Starfield–a few hours of your time.