Mirror’s Edge Catalyst System Requirements Revealed

Mirror’s Edge is one of the most inventive games in recent memory due to the enthralling first person perspective and intense parkour mechanics. Furthermore, you feel a sense of being vulnerable and have to rely on your evasion skills instead of traditional weaponry. Personally, I absolutely adore the Mirror’s Edge formula and cannot wait for its sequel, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst which is currently scheduled for release on May 24th in the US. EA has just released the minimum PC requirements prior to the game’s release:

MINIMUM:

  • OS: Windows® 7 64-Bit (use the latest Service Pack)
  • CPU: Intel i3-3250 / AMD FX-6350. (Note: Mirror’s Edge Catalyst requires at least 4 logical cores to run.)
  • RAM: 6 GB
  • HARD DRIVE: At least 25 GB of free space
  • VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 650 Ti 2GB or better / AMD Radeon R9 270x or better
  • INPUT: Keyboard and mouse, dual analogue controller

RECOMMENDED:

  • OS: Windows® 10 64-Bit (use the latest Service Pack)
  • CPU: Intel Core i7-3770 at 3.4 GHz / AMD FX-8350 at 4.0 GHz
  • RAM: 16 GB
  • HARD DRIVE: At least 25 GB of free space
  • VIDEO: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX 970 4GB or better / AMD Radeon R9 280x 3GB or better
  • INPUT: Keyboard and mouse, dual analogue controller

Most PC gamers with a relatively modern system should be able to play the game without any complications. However, quoted specifications rarely give an insight into a game’s optimization and there’s no information regarding the resolution used. On the other hand, 16GB of RAM is a large amount considering a large number of people are still using 8GB. As always, we will have a performance analysis report which outlines the frame-rate across various graphics cards.

Are you looking forward to Mirror’s Edge Catalyst?

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Story Trailer Released

Mirror’s Edge is one of the most inventive games in recent memory and adopts an intense first-person perspective. Instead of relying on traditional shooting mechanics, the game evokes such a tense feeling due to the lack of weaponry. In Mirror’s Edge, you have to use your flexible parkour skills to evade enemies, and ascend various buildings. This results in an unbelievably unique experience and I’d love to revisit Mirror’s Edge with some kind of VR support. Although, I doubt this is for everyone and could easily cause some motion sickness. After a considerable amount of time, the game is finally receiving a sequel entitled, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. To mark the sequel’s upcoming release on May 24th, EA has released a trailer showing the story and character interactions. The YouTube description reads:

“Faith Connors is a self-assured thrill-seeker and one of the best Runners in the city of Glass. But Faith’s carefree days are numbered. As she crosses paths with the evil Gabriel Kruger and the city’s oppressive Conglomerate, Faith finds herself running for something far more important.”

Also, the in-engine footage looks absolutely astonishing and I hope the final version isn’t downscaled in any way! Additionally, Faith is such a fantastic leading protagonist features superb voice acting. It’s great to see EA stick to the classic Mirror’s Edge formula which works so well, and hopefully the sequel lives up to people’s very high expectations. Honestly, I’m not overly keen on some of the other character voices, but this shouldn’t impact on the overall experience too much. Questions still remain though if the in-engine footage will represent the final gameplay especially on the current consoles. PC users should expect a good version given DICE’s reputation, although recent releases like Battlefield 4 were completely broken.  There’s very few EA franchises which make me excited, but Mirror’s Edge is certainly one of them!

Radeon Settings: Crimson Edition Performance Analysis

Introduction


To coincide with the recent Radeon Settings: Crimson Edition release, here is our full look into the performance side using our base Windows 8.1 test system. As we all know by now, Radeon Settings is the official release name of the recently discontinued Catalyst Control Center software and comes from the newly formed Radeon Technologies graphics division.

Radeon Settings: Crimson Edition sets out to put AMD back on the map with drivers and customer support, something that has let them down in the past and ridiculed on many forums and member bases. Moving from sporadic releases of non-WHQL certified drivers, the aim is to now release 6 WHQL drivers a year with interim updates, which isn’t as many as the Green team, but it’s a vast improvement from recent years and a huge step in the right direction.

Putting stability as the core of this software, four main pillars of User Experience, Features, Performance and Efficiency are what will make the bulk of the software.

From the first look, we saw a decent improvement in performance for the sample cards and tests, but now it’s time to test our entire catalogue of AMD graphics cards from the Fury and 300 series to see how this driver really stacks up.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III Ready – AMD Catalyst 15.11 Beta Driver Released

Love it or hate it, Call of Duty has just seen its latest release with Black Ops III. If you’re playing or plan to play the new game sometime soon, then you’ll want to ensure you have the latest drivers to get the most out of the games performance.
AMD has just released the new Catalyst 15.11 Beta driver, which includes all the usual quality and performance optimizations for the game. The only issue that is yet to be resolved is that users using DX11 mode, while also running in Crossfire may experience some flickering, although I expect a patch for this won’t be too far away.

Highlights of AMD Catalyst 15.11 Beta Windows Driver

Performance Optimizations

    • Call of Duty : Black Ops III  – includes quality and performance optimizations

Resolved Issues:

    • [79796] The Oculus runtime may crash on launch
    • [79577] The Intel graphics is flagged in an error state in the Device Manager in systems with switchable graphics
    • [78654] An error may be experienced when installing the latest graphics driver package on some AMD Radeon R9 380 series products
    • [77255] The secondary graphics adapter is missing in the Device Manager and the AMD Catalyst Control Center after installation of the driver
    • [77176] A TDR error is experienced when launching Star Wars: Battlefront or Hitman Pro while a You Tube video plays in the background
    • [59792] An extended black screen may be experienced during bootup under Windows® 10 between the Windows® Logo and the Windows® login prompt
    • [77970] Ashes of the Singularity may crash on some AMD 300 series GPUs
    • [58233] Ashes of the Singularity may fail to launch on some GPUs with 2GB Video Memory.

Known Issues:

    • [79824] Call of Duty : Black Ops III – Flickering may be observed when running the game in DirectX® 11  mode and with AMD Crossfire enabled
    • [79484] Batman: Arkham Knight – An application crash may be experienced at some game locations
    • [78912] A black screen may be experienced on booting Windows® 10 on some systems with switchable graphics  –  with AMD Radeon HD5000 series graphics cards,  when connected to an HDMI monitor
    • [59475] Elite: Dangerous – poor performance may be experienced in SuperCruise mode

You can download the new AMD Catalyst Beta driver here.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst Delayed to May 2016

Mirror’s Edge revolves around intense parkour gameplay which provides a tense, enthralling experience. Instead of relying on weaponry, you have to evade enemies and quickly scale buildings. The game rightfully received critical acclaim for being completely unique and it holds up remarkably well. After an agonizing wait, Mirror’s Edge Catalyst was finally announced. Although there were some concerns about the parkour element being diluted to allow for more combat.

Today, an official statement has been released by Senior Producer, Sara Jansson about the game’s release date which reads:

“Years ago, we set out an ambitious vision for Mirror’s Edge Catalyst. Achieving that vision and delivering the best possible experience is equally inspiring and challenging. And it takes time. We set out to create a vast city to explore, full of stunning vistas, majestic skyscrapers, and mysterious tunnels. We’re building the most immersive action-adventure game with fluid movement and combat in first person. Mirror’s Edge Catalyst will be an all-new playground with a deeper and more engaging story – and we want to accomplish all these goals to the highest quality possible.

So we’ve made the decision to bring Mirror’s Edge to the world starting May 24, 2016. We will use these few extra months to make sure that when you step into the massive City of Glass and experience the rise of Faith, it’s as entertaining, impressive, and memorable as it can be.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst has received an incredible response from fans around the world over the past months. You’ve been eager to see the return of Faith and the unique style and gameplay that only Mirror’s Edge can create. Witnessing your positive reactions has been amazing motivation for me and the rest of our passionate team at DICE.

Thank you again for your patience and support. Keep the Faith.”

While the news is a little bit disappointing, i’d prefer the final product to be optimized, visually stunning and a wonderful single-player experience. If this means waiting until May 2016, then I’m sure the delay will be a worthwhile sacrifice.

AMD Working on Major Driver Overhaul for November

Despite a historical disadvantage compared to Nvidia in terms of drivers, AMD has not given up. Last year, AMD unveiled their 14.12 Catalyst Omega driver, a suite that added a number of major features along with a host of optimisations and bug fixes. This year, it looks like AMD to about to do a repeat performance with a similar driver dump set to occur in November, likely named 15.11 or 15.12.

With the time of the “mega-driver” release being the same period as last years, it looks like AMD may be planning to do this type of thing annually from now on. With a release around November, AMD can cash in on the PR hype and maybe get a few more sales during the holiday season. On the other hand, holding back significant features from current users can cause some issues, especially if said feature are already finished. AMD has also reduced the use of WHQL certifications, which has led to more ‘beta’ releases throughout the year.

This time around, we don’t yet know what new features will be added. While the last driver was also meant to improve the performance disparity between AMD and Nvidia cards, the two competing camps are closer this time around. The most likely additions are improved DX12 support and likely a number of bug fixes. It will be interesting to see what AMD will be bringing to the table as their headline features.

AMD Catalyst 15.9 Beta Driver Released

AMD has announced the release of its new Catalyst beta driver (15.9) which optimises its graphics cards for the beta release of Star Wars: Battlefront and Fable Legends’ DirectX 12 Benchmark, suggesting that the latter is set for release very soon.

The Catalyst 15.9 Beta driver’s changelog is as follows:

Highlights of AMD Catalyst 15.9 Beta Windows Driver

Performance Optimizations
-Star Wars: Battlefront Beta ***8208; Performance and quality optimizations Fable Legends : Includes the latest DirectX 12 optimizations for the Fable Legends: Benchmark.

Resolved Issues:
-Diablo 3 crashes in the Act 2 Desolate Sands area of the game
-The AMD Catalyst Control Center ‘update’ option fails to download the latest driver
-Dragon Age: Inquisition may crash if launched in Mantle mode
-The DirectX® Diagnostic tool does not report DirectX® 12 available on supported products
-World of Warships may crash on some AMD Radeon HD5000 and HD6000 series products
-Assassin’s Creed® Unity may experience minor frame stutter when -AMD CrossFire mode is enabled
-Anti Aliasing settings not being retained after changes are applied
-Some BENQ 144hz Freesync monitors may lose the signal while uninstalling the driver
-DiRT Rally crashes during gameplay and benchmarking when launched in DirectX® 11 mode on some BENQ 144HZ Freesync monitors

Known Issues:
-GTA V crashes on some AMD Radeon R9 390X GPU’s
-Star Wars: Battlefront Bata ***8208; Flickering may be experience if AMD Crossfire is enabled
-Corruption may occur in DiRT Rally with CMAA enabled with Portrait SLS and AMD CrossFire mode enabled
-A black screen may be encountered on bootup on Windows 10 systems. The system will ultimately continue to the Windows login screen.
-Intermittent playback issues with Cyberlink PoweDVD when connecting to a 3D display with an HDMI cable
-A TDR error may be experienced while toggling between minimized and maximized mode while viewing 4K Youtube content
-Elite: Dangerous ***8208; poor performance may be experienced in SuperCruise mode
-Final Fantasy XIV ***8208; Heavensward may crash when run in DirectX 11® mode and borderless window mode
-Some applications may fail to launch on some Mobility platforms when launched in High Performance mode
-Windows 10 driver installation may halt on some systems with an AMD 990FX chipset and AMD CrossFire enabled
-Mad Max ***8208; Color corruption is observed when Alt+Ctrl+Del is pressed followed by the Escape key

AMD’s Catalyst 15.9 beta driver can be downloaded here.

 

AMD Catalyst 15.7 WHQL Driver Analysis

Introduction


AMD have been lagging behind in the GPU market for a little while now; no matter what they seem to deliver, NVIDIA always seems to trump them almost immediately. This doesn’t always mean that NVIDIA produce the most powerful graphics cards, just look at the R9 Fury X, it nips at the heels of the GTX Titan X or GTX 980Ti in almost every test and in some cases beats both.

Something that NVIDIA is always above AMD in is consistent driver releases. With almost every big title game that has been released in recent months; NVIDIA has had a driver ready. Along with this, most of the drivers are WHQL rated, which AMD hasn’t released since late 2014.

In the newest driver from AMD, it’s the first WHQL driver since December 9th 2014, that is 211 days, which is extremely bad. This driver seems to have been released in the run-up to the launch of Windows 10, which will see the launch of not only a new operating system, but also the highly anticipated launch of DirectX 12; which promises to bring a performance increase unlike we’ve ever seen before.

Additional to DX12 and Windows 10 support, Virtual Super Resolution (VSR) is included, which basically renders the detail of a higher resolution display and presents them on a lower resolution display.

As with all driver updates, consult the release notes to ensure that the driver will not impact your current gaming standards. So let’s jump straight into testing to see if there are any changes to our current testing programs.

AMD Improves Batman: Arkham Knight Performance With Catalyst 15.6 Beta

We’ve seen a lot of angry fans after Rocksteady Studios released Batman: Arkham Knight. The 30FPS lock really did a number on the title’s performance and the game’s overall optimization takes us way back to the release of Assassin’s Creed Unity. We all know what happened with the latter title and how Ubisoft now promises to make up for it with Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.

The real surprise here is that even NVIDIA owners suffered performance drops while playing the title. We’ve seen a lot of problems with AMD’s drivers, but NVIDIA? This means Rocksteady really did it this time. Nevertheless, AMD finally released the updated 15.6 catalyst beta driver, promising to make the Batman title playable for AMD users.

Also, AMD seems to be in talks with the developers to resolve all Crossfire issues, so don’t expect to get a lot out of dual-gpu configurations at this point. A more detailed view of what the driver brings can be seen below:

Highlights of AMD Catalyst 15.6 Beta Windows Driver

  • Performance and Stability improvements for Batman: Arkham Knight

Important Note:

AMD Crossfire support is currently disabled for Batman: Arkham Knight while AMD works closely with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to resolve the issue. An update for this issue will be released as soon as it is available

Known Issues:

  • [422129] Batman: Arkham Knight – The application may crash during in game benchmarking or while exiting the game
  • [422130] Batman: Arkham Knight – The screen may turn black or pink while changing resolution to 1680×1050.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information

Where Are the AMD Catalyst WHQL Driver Updates?

AMD are NVIDIA’s major competitors, we all know that. Graphics cards sales, performance and price are just some of the factors between them, but one that probably gets overlooked a little more is the after sales; namely the drivers.

AMD do release new drivers, just last month saw the release of Catalyst 15.4 Beta ready for GTA V. However, that is just a beta driver and hasn’t been certified like the previous Omega 14.12 WHQL driver. This was released over 160 days ago, almost half a year; which could only mean bad things for AMD.

Take NVIDIA for example, we see WHQL drivers released on a much more regular basis under the ‘Game Ready’ initiative. The last drive was 350.12, optimised for GTA V back on April 13th; the most recent is the 352.86 driver, optimised for Witcher 3 released on May 18th. In the meantime, NVIDIA release interim patches for drivers, but you can definitely see a stark contrast between the support from AMD to NVIDIA.

Even though AMD are set to release a ‘Titan X’ killer towards the end of June, we are unlikely set to see a new driver emerge in the upcoming weeks; that could mean a driver delay of around 200 days. The performance is one thing, having regular updates to ensure it still has the performance in newer games is another.

Let us know your thoughts on this subject in the comments.

Thank you to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Latest 15.3 Catalyst Driver Reveals AMD Radeon Rx 300 Cards

A few people have apparently taking a closer look into AMD’s latest Catalyst driver, the 15.3 beta. They apparently have found a few new entries leading to the upcoming Rx 300 series of graphics cards.

Some information here reveals some bad news for gamers who wanted a new chip in the latest Rx 300. The information points that the new cards are just some respin products, meaning that older GPUs will be used on new PCBs and BIOS, often polished with a subtle clock frequency increase.

Comparing the device ID’s found in the Catalyst driver to previous generations reveals that older GPUs are in use for the upcoming cards up to the R9 370.

  • AMD665F.1 = “AMD Radeon R9 360″
  • AMD6610.2 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R7 350X”
  • AMD6610.3 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R5 340X”
  • AMD6611.10 = “AMD Radeon R7 340″
  • AMD665F.1 = “AMD Radeon R9 360″
  • AMD6660.1 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R5 M330″
  • AMD6660.2 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R5 M330″
  • AMD6660.3 = “AMD Radeon(TM) R5 M330″
  • AMD6778.8 = “AMD Radeon R5 310″
  • AMD6811.1 = “AMD Radeon R9 370″

The above reveals that the Radeon R9 370 would be Trinidad, also found in HD 7870 and 265/270/270X products. The Radeon R9 360 Tobago would use Bonaire with 896 shader processors and Radeon R7 350X, R7 340 and R5 340X would use the Oland with 384 stream processors.

The R9 380 and R9 390 have yet to show up, but taking into account the respin mentioned above, a logical speculation would be that they will feature the Hawaii found in 290 and 290X graphics cards. However, this is just a speculation, so take it with a pinch of salt.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

AMD Rolls Out Catalyst 15.3 Beta with FreeSync Support

AMD has just released its latest 15.3 Catalyst version with its AMD FreeSync Technology and additional Crossfire profiles for Project CARS, Battlefield Hardline, Total War: Attila and Ryse: Son of Rome.

The full features and resolved issues of the newest Catalyst driver can be viewed below:

AMD Freesync Support for single GPU product configurations

    • AMD Freesync technology support is now available for single GPU configurations. For more information on how Freesync works, FAQ’s and what products are currently supported, please visit the  Freesync Technology Page

Mixed Rotation Eyefinity now available on Radeon R9 285 series

    • AMD Radeon R9 285 now supports Mixed Rotation Eyefinity for “0” and “90” degrees rotations
    • More information on setup, configuration and support for this feature is available at the following link:

New Crossfire Profiles for:

    • Battlefield Hardline
    • Evolve
    • Far Cry 4
    • Lords of the Fallen
    • Project Cars
    • Total War: Attila

Crossfire Profile Updates for :

    • Alien Isolation
    • Assassin’s Creed Unity
    • Civilization – Beyond Earth
    • FIFA 2015
    • Grid Autosport
    • Ryse: Son of Rome
    • Talos Principle
    • The Crew

Important Note:

The AMD CrossFire profile for Dying Light is currently disabled in this driver while AMD works with Techland to investigate an issue where AMD CrossFire configurations are not performing as intended. An update is expected on this issue in the near future through an updated game patch or an AMD driver posting.

Resolved Issues:

    • [412702] Screens may blank out when enabling a 3×1 SLS with 3 HDMI monitors
    • [411847] Leadwerks : Project Manager crashes with a “Pure Virtual Function Call” error
    • [413076] Second Life : Rigged mesh objects are not rendered correctly when hardware skinning is enabled in the in game settings
    • [413392] Star Trek Online : Block corruption is experienced when MSAA is enabled in the in game settings
    • [410367] System hangs/BSOD upon resuming from S3/S4 sleep on AMD Radeon R9 285 configured in AMD CrossFire mode
    • [410293] With AMD CrossFire enabled, Timeout Detection Recovery (TDR) occurs during actual gameplay when YouTube Mix moves to the next song in Firefox
    • [407622] Screen tearing on enabling VSync with Alien: Isolation game
    • [407175] Catalyst Control Center Video Quality settings may not be available or retained if the “Enforce Smooth Video Playback” option is not selected on some AMD HD series GPU’s.
    • [410391] Primary display may not be retained after disabling Crossfire while in Eyefinity mode
    • [409705] Enabling or disabling Crossfire may lead to one side of the 4K MST display being shown as black
    • [410393] Minor stuttering may be seen in Dragon Age Inquisition on Single and Multi GPU configurations
    • [414660] Total War : Attilla – The game may hang during in game cinematics on certain Kaveri platforms with a separate discrete GPU
    • [414120] The Elder Scrolls V – Skyrim : Fog / Clouds may flicker on Radeon HD 5800 series products

Download available from AMD.

AMD Catalyst Omega 14.12 Drivers Released

The big AMD graphics driver update we’ve been eagerly awaiting is finally here! News of these drivers actually broke last week, but today you can actually download the software and reap its rewards.

The latest drivers add support for new image quality enhancement features for games and other media, Virtual Super Resolution, frame pacing improvements, general game-specific performance updates and a whole lot more. One of the biggest changes is VSR, which is set to compete with the Nvidia Dynamic Super Resolution. It allows you to render a game at higher resolutions and down sample it to fit your monitors resolution, helping to improve overall visual quality.

Aside from updates to games like Batman: Arkham Origins, Bioshock Infinite, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Grid 2, Sniper Elite III and more, you’ll also find Fluid Motion Video, Video Contour Removal, 1080P detail enhancement, a new 4K upscaling algorithm and more.

You can download the drivers from the AMD website here.

AMD Outs Catalyst 14.11.2 Beta Drivers Now Available

The latest AMD Catalyst Beta drivers are here at last! The new update brings the graphics drivers up to version 14.11.2 Beta and brings important updates for some of this months biggest game launches.

If you’re playing FarCry 4 or Dragon Age: Inquisition this month, then you’ll definitely want to get onto these Beta drivers. The Catalyst 14.11.2 drivers claim to offer up to 50 percent performance increase for single-GPU performance with anti-aliasing enabled for FarCry 4, which is a huge difference.

Dragon Age: Inquisition doesn’t get anything as dramatic, but you can still expect to see a 5% increase in performance; every little helps.

The new drivers also add CrossFire options for Dragon Age: Inquisition, unfortunately the CrossFire support for FarCry 4 is disabled while AMD and Ubisoft try to fix some bugs; what a shocker!

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

AMD Catalyst 14.11.1 Beta Drivers Now Available

The latest AMD Catalyst beta drivers are finally here. The updated software suite brings a small wave of features that update your system for two of the biggest game releases of the season; Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and Assassin’s Creed Unity.

Neither the new Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed come with support for less than 4GB of system memory, or Windows XP. In fact, this update itself on supports those with 64-bit Windows 8.1 (update 1), Windows 7 and Windows Vista based systems. This is generally the majority of users these days, but there has certainly been a bigger shift recently at pushing out support for older systems.

Performance Improvements

  • Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare performance optimizations
  • Assassin’s Creed Unity performance optimizations

Known Issues

  • Occasional stuttering in Assassin’s Creed Unity in CrossFire mode under specific game settings
  • Small chance of intermittent screen tearing or corruption in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare on high settings 4K resolution in AMD CrossFire mode
  • Quad CrossFire AMD Radeon R9 295X2 may sometimes black screen when loading a game in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
  • AMD Radeon R9 280X/280 may experience a crash when playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and a video at the same time. If you experience this issue a work around is turning off the video while playing the game.
  • CrossFire users may experience intermittent flickering in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare menus. As a work around if this issue is seen restarting the game may cause the issue to disappear.

Important Notes

AMD is currently working with Activision to resolve the following issues in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare:

  • Users in AMD CrossFire mode sometimes experience texture corruption
  • Negative scaling sometimes being observed at specific resolutions with AMD CrossFire

If you want the best performance currently available from either of these games and you’re running AMD hardware. Then you’ll certainly want to update your drivers.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

AMD Catalyst 14.9.2 Beta Drivers Now Available

The latest AMD Beta drivers are here as the company launches their Catalyst 14.9.2 driver update. The new drivers follow last months Catalyst 14.2 WHQL drivers and add a few new features that should tempt you into an early update.

The most important feature for this update comes in the form of Mantle API support for Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth. No doubt many of you are eager to play the game and you’ll be wanting to get the best performance possible from both the game and your AMD hardware. Mantle has proven it’s ability to boost performance in the past, so I’m eager to see how these new drivers perform.

There are no other major changes, but as usual you can expect a few minor revisions in the background to keep everything running smoothly.

The new drivers can be downloaded from the AMD driver page.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Examining AMD’s Driver Progress Since Launch Drivers: R9 290X & HD 7970

Introduction


AMD and Nvidia both talk fairly big when it comes to driver updates. With every driver iteration that is released we hear the usual technical (or should that be marketing?) talk about improved performance in this, that and the other. After a lot of thinking I decided I wanted to investigate further. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see how much progress AMD and Nvidia actually make with their drivers over the duration of a product’s life cycle? We’ll be starting this two piece series with AMD and in particular I want to look at the last two flagship single GPUs of each generation. I’ll be putting the XFX AMD HD 7970 Double Dissipation 3GB graphics card on the test bench along with the XFX AMD R9 290X Double Dissipation 4GB graphics card: that’s the flagship single GPUs of the HD 7000 and R9 2xx series. I will be benchmarking both graphics cards on an identical test system at stock clocks under two different scenarios. Scenario 1 is using the AMD driver package that they launched with and scenario 2 is using the most recent AMD driver package made available. In this way we are able to see the driver progress that AMD’s HD 7970 and R9 290X have made since they were both launched.

AMD’s HD 7970

 

AMD’s HD 7970 was launched on December 22nd 2011 and used AMD Catalyst driver package version 11.12 RC11, this was a special beta driver release for the AMD HD 7970 as official support wasn’t added until Catalyst 12.2 WHQL was released. AMD’s R9 290X launched on October 24th 2013 and used AMD Catalyst driver package version 13.11 Beta 6. The most recent driver package release from AMD (at the time of writing this article) is Catalyst 14.7 RC1. Of course AMD’s HD 7970 has had a significant amount more time on the market, nearly 3 years, whereas the R9 290X has had less than 1 year. It is also worth noting both the R9 290X and HD 7970 are built on virtually identically 28nm GCN architecture so many of the largest optimisations had already been made for the GCN architecture before the R9 290X was even released. That’s a long-winded way of saying we will see dramatically more progress with the HD 7970 than the R9 290X. However, either way it will be really interesting to see what the results show, so let’s get on with some testing!

AMD’s R9 290X

AMD Releases Catalyst 14.7 RC Driver: No Windows 8 Support

AMD released their Catalyst 14.6 RC drivers not that long ago, that new driver package included some notable improvements including the ability to run mixed-resolution Eyefinity setups. Now AMD have replaced 14.6 RC with 14.7 RC. The new driver update, like 14.6 RC, does not include native Windows 8 support. Windows 8 users will be expected to make the free upgrade to Windows 8.1 to use Catalyst 14.7 RC. If this upgrade is not possible Windows 8 users are stuck in a rut because AMD is not including support for Windows 8 until a “future Catalyst” release which will allow Windows 8 to support new driver updates by running them with the Windows 7 WDDM 1.1 driver.

Features of the new 14.7 RC driver include:

  • Includes all improvements found in the AMD Catalyst 14.6 RC driver
  • AMD ​CrossFire and AMD Radeon Dual Graphics profile update for Plants vs. Zombies​​
  • Assassin’s Creed IV – improved CrossFire scaling (3840×2160 High Settings) up to 93%
  • Collaboration with AOC has identified non-standard display timings as the root cause of 60Hz SST flickering exhibited by the AOC  U2868PQU panel on certain AMD Radeon graphics cards. A software workaround has been implemented in AMD Catalyst 14.7 RC driver to resolve the display timing issues with this display.  
    • Users are further encouraged to obtain newer display firmware from AOC that will resolve flickering at its origin. 
    • Users are additionally advised to utilize DisplayPort-certified cables to ensure the integrity of the DisplayPort data connection.​​

The new 14.7 RC driver, which can be downloaded here, supports all AMD GPUs from the Rx 200 series down to the HD 5000 series and all AMD APUs from the current A10 to A4 series, and in the E2-xxxx series. A similar level of mobile GPU/APU support is also offered.

Source: AMD

Image courtesy of AMD

AMD Eyefinity 3.0 Allows Mixed Resolution Support

AMD is set to release the third generation of its custom multi-display technology, Eyefinity 3.0. The third incarnation will bring new optimisations and features to the mix with the headline change being support for Eyefinity with displays of different resolutions. This mixed resolution support will be implemented in three different ways: fill mode, expand mode and fit mode. The first of those, fill mode, utilises the full resolution of all displays but as a result of that the resolutions created are not quadrilateral (i.e. are not rectangular). The next mode, expand mode, creates a rectangular resolution based on the vertical pixel count of the highest resolution display and the combined horizontal width of all displays. The resulting area that the smaller displays cannot show is designated as “unavailable area” because the displays lack the resolution to project it.

The final method is fit mode by which the vertical pixel counts are kept constant across all three displays so it will use the maximum common vertical height. In the example below you can see that you’d end up with three 1080p height screens but the middle one becomes 2560 x 1080. This differs to previous Eyefinity where it would simply set the middle display to 1920 x 1080, now you can use the extra width by sacrificing the height which is preferable to sacrificing both.

The most interesting of the potential uses for Eyefinity 3.0 is the ability to create Eyefinity resolutions from displays of the same panel resolution height. This means gamers with a couple of 1920 x 1080 displays can add a 2560 x 1080 display to their configuration and use it fully, or gamers with a 1920 x 1200 display could buy a couple of cheaper 1600 x 1200 displays to add to their existing set up.

Eyefinity 3.0 will arrive with the AMD Catalyst 14.6 driver package which is expected in June 2014.

What are your thoughts of the new Eyefinity 3.0?

Source: VideoCardz

Images courtesy of VideoCardz

AMD Unleash The Catalyst 14.4 Release Candidate

The latest release candidate for AMD’s catalyst driver has been released, bringing the graphics driver software up to version 14.4. With the new update we can expect improved support for the latest card in the AMD gang, the Radeon R9 295X2, full Open GL 4.4 support and a few tweaks and fixes to Crossfire, Mantle and a various gaming titles.

With the Radeon R9 295X2 now available, we expect AMD will be making a lot of tweaks and improvements towards that cards improvements over the coming weeks and months given that its the new flagship card and first drivers hardly ever do a new GPU justice. Of course the flagship range is one thing, but 14.4 RC drivers offer support all the way back to the HD 5000 range.

Crysis 3, Far Cry 3, Annon 2080, Titanfall and Metro: Last Light all get improved Crossfire support, and those who like to tap into the multiscreen goodness of Eyefinity and 4K will be happy to hear of fixes for 3 x 1 mode on 4K panels, with other general improvements to clean up stuttering in some applications with mid-resolutions and V-Sync via Eyefinity.

Battlefield 4 has been giving a few tweaks in Mantle, fixing performance slowdown when task switching and fuzzy images when playing in rotated SLS resolution on A10 Kaveri systems.

AMD Catalyst 14.4 is available right here.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information.

Fan Control Bug Causes MSI R9 290X Lightning Cards To Burnout!

While this news isn’t exactly new to some people out there, it’s now gotten to the point where it’s been discovered to be a wider issue that one or two cards having problems with their fans. It’s no secret that a small percentage of any type of technology will have defects, but the issue here seems to be with the Catalyst 14.3 drivers.

The MSI R9 290X Lightning is a very power-hungry card, it needs to be kept cool, the 290X cores are hot enough as it is and overclocking doesn’t do them any favours in terms of thermals, this is why MSI uses a triple fan configuration to keep it in check. Unfortunately it looks like a very serious software bug is causing the outer two fans to stop spinning, causing severe and sometimes fatal heat build up.

Simple solution to this is to downgrade to Catalyst 13.12 if you’re having fan speed issues, and while this seems limited to the MSI R9 290X, it’s always best to double-check your GPU in both idle and load states to make sure the Beta drivers aren’t causing any issues.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of WCCF.

Mantle Officially Launched For Battlefield 4 While Catalyst 14.1 Rolls Out To The Public

AMD is finally ready to unveil the Mantle API to the public, along with new patches and drivers enabling the low-level API released today. To add more fuel on the already burning flame, AMD has finally released the Catalyst 14.1 beta drivers to the public as well, and can be downloaded from here.

At 4 AM EST, gamers were able to download a Mantle-enabled patch for Battlefield 4 through EA’s Origin service. At this stage, Battlefield 4 is the only full game that supports Mantle, although Oxide Games Mantle-enabled ‘StarSwarm’ demo is available through Steam for gamers that want to further evaluate Mantle performance on their systems. Another Mantle-enabled title, Thief, will be released in February.

AMD states that the API is “primarily designed to improve performance in scenarios where the CPU is the limiting factor”. Mantle makes “less of an impact” in GPU-bound situations, although the API does have “some built-in features to improve GPU-bound performance […] gains in these cases are largely dependent on how well Mantle features and optimizations are being utilized by the developer.”

The things to bear in mind here are, fist of all, that this is the initial release of Mantle, and AMD says the API will continue to evolve and improve in the months ahead. There’s a strong possibility AMD and their game partners will be able to squeeze more out of the API as it improves. Secondly, Mantle, like a number of AMD launches recently, is geared towards giving a better PC gaming experience to those on lower-end hardware. A performance kick for those with extremely fast CPUs and GPUs isn’t hugely important, whereas a 40% performance boost on slower hardware could be the difference between a playable and unplayable game.

Thank you Tech Spot for providing us with this information

AMD’s Catalyst 13.35 Beta Driver Leaked, Said To Include Mantle API And TrueAudio

It seems that the first ‘official’ driver from AMD with Mantle and TrueAudio support doesn’t come from AMD itself. Toshiba, the multinational engineering and electronics corporation, seems to be
the first to leak the driver onto the Internet.

However, there is some bad news to all of this. Since it was uploaded on the Toshiba website, it has been bundled with Toshiba support and would only work on their notebooks. Anyone interested in fiddling can do so, but if you only know how to do it. Or else, it’s pointless.

The second things is that it will have a Toshiba installer, which will most likely check to see if you have a Toshiba branded motherboard. And if you don’t, then there’s no go on the installation side. Also, it is a 316-megabytes installer and reports say that it can be confirmed as being the 13.35 driver, though no visible signs of the TrueAudio or Mantle API.

Even if the driver includes a Mantle API, as everyone is keen on seeing it in action, there is no way in testing it on anyway. Those of you interested in downloading the 316 Megabytes driver can do so from here. However, the news also confirms that the official launch is just around the corner. Hopefully Battlefield 4 will receive the Mantle update soon as well.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

AMD Catalyst 14.1 BETA Driver To Launch In Q1 2014, Rumored To Bring AMD’s Mantle

AMD Catalyst 14.1 is said to launch sometime in Q1 2014, and it is confirmed to be packed with a lot of features. It will feature first of all support for the Radeon R200 series graphic cards and the AMD Kaveri A-series APU.

The Catalyst 14.1 BETA driver would be the first driver to fully feature the Mantle API, TrueAudio, DirectX 11.2 support and frame pacing enhancements. The new Catalyst 14.1 BETA will bring an updated design for the Catalyst Control Center (CCC) with new profiles to easily tuned 3D settings for ease of use. The driver would also bring enhancements to the latest AMD Overdrive which was recently revealed with the Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290 graphic cards bringing users temperature based overdrive, heat map user interface and fan control settings.

The main performance improvements would be delivered in Battlefield 4 since it is the flagship game which AMD is focusing towards. Battlefield 4 is also the first game to feature Mantle which gets the new patch this month. It is said to deliver up to 45 percent performance improvement over DirectX which is a huge number if AMD’s marketing isn’t kidding with us. Coupled with this driver, AMD users are going to get some massive performance improvements on their hardware.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of WCCF

AMD Releases The Catalyst 13.12 WHQL-certified Graphics Card Driver

We finally see AMD releasing the Catalyst 13.12 after months on end of 13.11 and 13.11 beta drivers. The release features support for the Radeon HD 5000, HD 6000, HD 7000, Radeon R7 and R9 Series cards and is available for Windows Vista, 7, 8 and 8.1.

Highlights on new additions and improvements can be viewed below. The driver can be downloaded from AMD’s official website here.

Feature Highlights

    ​Support for the following new products:
  • AMD Radeon R9 290, 280, and 270 Series
  • AMD Radeon R7 260, 250, and 240 Series
  • ​Improved AMD CrossFire​ scaling for the following game titles:

  • Call of Duty: Ghosts (multiplayer component)
  • Splinter Cell Blacklist
  • Saints Row 4
  • Metro Last Light
  • ​New AMD Enduro Technology profiles for the following game titles:

  • XCOM: Enemy Unknown
  • Need for Speed Rivals
  • Total War​: Rome 2
  • Battlefield 4
  • Saints Row 4
  • Splinter Cell Blacklist
  • FIFA 14
  • ​Support For AMD CrossFire frame pacing

  • Frame pacing ensures that frames rendered across multiple GPUs in an AMD CrossFire configuration will be displayed at an even and regular pace
  • Frame pacing is enabled through the AMD Catalyst Control Center, or on a per application basis
  • Frame pacing is supported on DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications using resolutions up to (and including) 2560×1600 on a single display

Resolved Issues

  • May resolve intermittent black screens or display loss observed on some AMD Radeon R9 290X and AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics cards
  • Resolves intermittent crashes seen in legacy DirectX 9 applications
  • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series – Power Tune update to reduce variance of fan speed / RPM
  • PCI-E bus speed is no longer set to x1 on the secondary GPU when running in an AMD CrossFire configuration
  • Resolves incorrect HDMI Audio Driver information being listed in the AMD Catalyst Control Center
  • Resolves AMD Steady Video option being grayed out in the AMD Catalyst Control Center
  • Resolves intermittent flickering seen on some AMD Radeon R9 270X graphics cards
  • Resolves graphics corruption issues found in Starcraft
  • Resolves image corruption seen in Autodesk Investor 2014
  • Resolves flickering water corruption found in World of Warcraft
  • Resolves intermittent black screen when resuming from a S3/S4 sleep-state if the display is unplugged during the sleep-state on systems supporting AMD Enduro Technology
  • Resolves intermittent crashes experienced with Battlefield 4 on Windows 8 based systems
  • Resolves the display turning green when using Windows Media Player to view HD .avi format video in an extended desktop configuration
  • Resolves Metro applications experiencing frame drops during playback of interlaced video content
  • Resolves video playback corruption of .wmv format files in Windows Media Player

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

Catalyst 13.11 Beta9.4 Graphics Driver Rolls Out

AMD has recently launched a new Catalyst driver update for its GPUs. Version 13.11 Beta 9.4 comes to fix the intermittent black screens or display loss observed on some AMD Radeon R9 290X and AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics cards.

The CrossFire scaling in the multi-player portion of Call of Duty: Ghosts has been improved and Enduro Technology profiles for XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Need for Speed Rivals have been updated. Besides the new features, this release packs all the previous fixes and additions presented by the AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.2.

Version 13.11 Beta 9.4 will work with Windows 7, 8 and 8.1, on both 32 and 64 bit architectures. The beta driver pack will work for both the desktop and mobility versions. Bear in mind this is a beta version and as some problems may be fixed, other issues might occur. This is where the AMD’s Issue Reporting Form for Beta Drivers comes in, where all other bugs encountered may be submitted and fixed in later versions of the driver.

For anyone interested in trying the beta out, you can get the latest driver release from AMD’s website here for both desktop and mobility.

Thank you Softpedia for providing us with this information

AMD Rolls Out Catalyst 13.11 Beta9.2 Driver

AMD has released another version for the Catalyst 13.11, entitled Beta9.2 . The driver contain fixes for the fan speed issues with the R9 290 and R9 290X graphics cards which resulted in varied performance among different cards that led some consumers and media outlets in believing that AMD has provided media with golden samples which are better than the retail cards. It seems AMD quickly came forward with the Catalyst 13.11 Beta9.2 which addresses this issue.

AMD has basically changed how you control fan speed in CCC. Prior to this, fan speed was set using a percentage but now you can directly set RPM. Furthermore, AMD has also slightly raised the fan speeds to 2200 RPM for the R9 290X and 2650 RPM for the R9 290. As much as this increases the performance of the card, it also increases the overall noise output.

Thee new drivers appear to improve the anti-aliasing performance in Call of Duty: Ghosts along with some other improvements. A list of the driver’s features is listed below.

Feature Highlights of The AMD Catalyst 13.11 Beta9.2 Driver for Windows

    ​​
  • Call of Duty®: Ghost – Improves anti-aliasing performance, and updates the AMD CrossFire profile
  • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series – PowerTune update to reduce variance of fan speed / RPM
  • Resolves intermittent crashes seen in legacy DirectX®​ 9 applications
  • DirectX 11.2 – Tier 1 Tiled Resources now supported on the following products:
    • ​AMD Radeon R9 280X
    • AMD Rad​eon R9 270X
    • AMD Radeon R7 250
    • AMD Radeon R7 240
    • AMD Radeon HD 7900 Series
    • AMD Radeon HD 7800 Series
    • AMD Radeon HD 7700 Series

Thank you Chip Loco for providing us with this information