Do AMD Drivers Really Deserve Such a Hostile Reception?

Introduction


AMD has a serious image problem with their drivers which stems from buggy, unrefined updates, and a slow release schedule. Even though this perception began many years ago, it’s still impacting on the company’s sales and explains why their market share is so small. The Q4 2015 results from Jon Peddie Research suggests AMD reached a market share of 21.1% while NVIDIA reigned supreme with 78.8%. Although, the Q4 data is more promising because AMD accounted for a mere 18.8% during the last quarter. On the other hand, respected industry journal DigiTimes reports that AMD is likely to reach its lowest ever market position for Q1 2016. Thankfully, the financial results will emerge on April 21st so we should know the full picture relatively soon. Of course, the situation should improve once Polaris and Zen reach retail channels. Most importantly, AMD’s share price has declined by more than 67% in five years from $9 to under $3 as of March 28, 2016. The question is why?

Is the Hardware Competitive?


The current situation is rather baffling considering AMD’s extremely competitive product line-up in the graphics segment. For example, the R9 390 is a superb alternative to NVIDIA’s GTX 970 and features 8GB VRAM which provides extra headroom when using virtual reality equipment. The company’s strategy appears to revolves around minor differences in performance between the R9 390 and 390X. This also applied to the R9 290 and 290X due to both products utilizing the Hawaii core. NVIDIA employs a similar tactic with the GTX 970 and GTX 980 but there’s a marked price increase compared to their rivals.

NVIDIA’s ability to cater towards the lower tier demographic has been quite poor because competing GPUs including the 7850 and R9 380X provided a much better price to performance ratio. Not only that, NVIDIA’s decision to deploy ridiculously low video memory amounts on cards like the GTX 960 has the potential to cause headaches in the future. It’s important to remember that the GTX 960 can be acquired with either 2GB or 4GB of video memory. Honestly, they should have simplified the process and produced the higher memory model in a similar fashion to the R9 380X. Once again, AMD continues to offer a very generous amount of VRAM across various product tiers.

Part of the problem revolves around AMD’s sluggish release cycle and reliance on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.1 architecture. This was first introduced way back in 2013 with the Radeon HD 7790. Despite its age, AMD deployed the GCN 1.1 architecture on their revised 390 series and didn’t do themselves any favours when denying accusations about the new line-up being a basic re-branding exercise. Of course, this proved to be the case and some users managed to flash their 290/290X to a 390/390X with a BIOS update. There’s nothing inherently wrong with product rebrands if they can remain competitive in the current market. It’s not exclusive to AMD, and NVIDIA have used similar business strategies on numerous occasions. However, I feel it’s up to AMD to push graphics technology forward and encourage their nearest rival to launch more powerful options.

Another criticism regarding AMD hardware which seems to plague everything they release is the perception that every GPU runs extremely hot. You only have to look on certain websites, social media and various forums to see this is the main source of people’s frustration. Some individuals are even known to produce images showing AMD graphics cards setting ablaze. So is there any truth to these suggestions? Unfortunately, the answer is yes and a pertinent example comes from the R9 290 range. The 290/290X reference models utilized one of the most inefficient cooler designs I’ve ever seen and struggled to keep the GPU core running below 95C under load.

Unbelievably, the core was designed to run at these high thermals and AMD created a more progressive RPM curve to reduce noise. As a result, the GPU could take 10-15 minutes to reach idle temperature levels. The Hawaii temperatures really impacted on the company’s reputation and forged a viewpoint among consumers which I highly doubt will ever disappear. It’s a shame because the upcoming Polaris architecture built on the 14nm FinFET process should exhibit significant efficiency gains and end the concept of high thermals on AMD products. There’s also the idea that AMD GPUs have a noticeably higher TDP than their NVIDIA counterparts. For instance, the R9 390 has a TDP of 275 watts while the GTX 970 only consumes 145 watts. On the other hand, the Fury X utilizes 250 watts compared to the GTX 980Ti’s rating of 275 watts.

Eventually, AMD released a brand new range of graphics cards utilizing the first iteration of high bandwidth memory. Prior to its release, expectations were high and many people expected the Fury X to dethrone NVIDIA’s flagship graphics card. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition and the Fury X fell behind in various benchmarks, although it fared better at high resolutions. The GPU also encountered supply problems and emitted a large whine from the pump on early samples. Asetek even threatened to sue Cooler Master who created the AIO design which could force all Fury X products to be removed from sale.

The rankings alter rather dramatically when the DirectX 12 render is used which suggests AMD products have a clear advantage. Asynchronous Compute is the hot topic right now which in theory allows for greater GPU utilization in supported games. Ashes of the Singularity has implemented this for some time and makes for some very interesting findings. Currently, we’re working on a performance analysis for the game, but I can reveal that there is a huge boost for AMD cards when moving from DirectX11 to DirectX12. Furthermore, there are reports indicating that Pascal might not be able to use asynchronous shaders which makes Polaris and Fiji products more appealing.

Do AMD GPUs Lack Essential Hardware Features?


When selecting graphics hardware, it’s not always about pure performance and some consumers take into account exclusive technologies including TressFX hair before purchasing. At this time, AMD incorporates with their latest products LiquidVR, FreeSync, Vulkan support, HD3D, Frame rate target control, TrueAudio, Virtual Super resolution and more! This is a great selection of hardware features to create a thoroughly enjoyable user-experience. NVIDIA adopts a more secretive attitude towards their own creations and often uses proprietary solutions. The Maxwell architecture has support for Voxel Global Illumination, (VGXI), Multi Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), VR Direct and G-Sync. There’s a huge debate about the benefits of G-Sync compared to FreeSync especially when you take into account the pricing difference when opting for a new monitor. Overall, I’d argue that the NVIDIA package is better but there’s nothing really lacking from AMD in this department.

Have The Drivers Improved?


Historically, AMD drivers haven’t been anywhere close to NVIDIA in terms of stability and providing a pleasant user-interface. Back in the old days, AMD or even ATI if we’re going way back, had the potential to cause system lock-ups, software errors and more. A few years ago, I had the misfortune of updating a 7850 to the latest driver and after rebooting, the system’s boot order was corrupt. To be fair, this could be coincidental and have nothing to do with that particular update. On another note, the 290 series was plagued with hardware bugs causing black screens and blue screens of death whilst watching flash videos. To resolve this, you had to disable hardware acceleration and hope that the issues subsided.

The Catalyst Control Center always felt a bit primitive for my tastes although it did implement some neat features such as graphics card overclocking. While it’s easy enough to download a third-party program like MSI Afterburner, some users might prefer to install fewer programs and use the official driver instead.

Not so long ago, AMD appeared to have stalled in releasing drivers for the latest games to properly optimize graphics hardware. On the 9th December 2014, AMD unveiled the Catalyst 14.12 Omega WHQL driver and made it ready for download. In a move which still astounds me, the company decided not to release another WHQL driver for 6 months! Granted, they were working on a huge driver redesign and still produced the odd Beta update. I honestly believe this was very damaging and prevented high-end users from considering the 295×2 or a Crossfire configuration. It’s so important to have a consistent, solid software framework behind the hardware to allow for constant improvements. This is especially the case when using multiple cards which require profiles to achieve proficient GPU scaling.

Crimson’s release was a major turning point for AMD due to the modernized interface and enhanced stability. According to AMD, the software package involves 25 percent more manual test cases and 100 percent more automated test cases compared to AMD Catalyst Omega. Also, the most requested bugs were resolved and they’re using community feedback to quickly apply new fixes. The company hired a dedicated team to reproduce errors which is the first step to providing a more stable experience. Crimson apparently loads ten times faster than its predecessor and includes a new game manager to optimize settings to suit your hardware. It’s possible to set custom resolutions including the refresh rate, which is handy when overclocking your monitor. The clean uninstall utility proactively works to remove any remaining elements of a previous installation such as registry entries, audio files and much more. Honestly, this is such a revolutionary move forward and AMD deserves credit for tackling their weakest elements head on. If you’d like to learn more about Crimson’s functionality, please visit this page.

However, it’s far from perfect and some users initially experienced worse performance with this update. Of course, there’s going to be teething problems whenever a new release occurs but it’s essential for AMD to do everything they can to forge a new reputation about their drivers. Some of you might remember, the furore surrounding the Crimson fan bug which limited the GPU’s fans to 20 percent. Some users even reported that this caused their GPU to overheat and fail. Thankfully, AMD released a fix for this issue but it shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Once again, it’s hurting their reputation and ability to move on from old preconceptions.

Is GeForce Experience Significantly Better?


In recent times, NVIDIA drivers have been the source of some negative publicity. More specifically, users were advised to ignore the 364.47 WHQL driver and instructed to download the 364.51 beta instead. One user said:

“Driver crashed my windows and going into safe mode I was not able to uninstall and rolling back windows would not work either. I ended up wiping my system to a fresh install of windows. Not very happy here.”

NVIDIA’s Sean Pelletier released a statement at the time which reads:

“An installation issue was found within the 364.47 WHQL driver we posted Monday. That issue was resolved with a new driver (364.51) launched Tuesday. Since we were not able to get WHQL-certification right away, we posted the driver as a Beta.

GeForce Experience has an option to either show WHQL-only drivers or to show all drivers (including Beta). Since 364.51 is currently a Beta, gamers who have GeForce Experience configured to only show WHQL Game Ready drivers will not currently see 364.51

We are expecting the WHQL-certified package for the 364.51 Game Ready driver within the next 24hrs and will replace the Beta version with the WHQL version accordingly. As expected, the WHQL-certified version of 364.51 will show up for all gamers with GeForce Experience.”

As you can see, NVIDIA isn’t immune to driver delivery issues and this was a fairly embarrassing situation. Despite this, it didn’t appear to have a serious effect on people’s confidence in the company or make them re-consider their views of AMD. While there are some disgruntled NVIDIA customers, they’re fairly loyal and distrustful of AMD’s ability to offer better drivers. The GeForce Experience software contains a wide range of fantastic inclusions such as ShadowPlay, GameStream, Game Optimization and more. After a driver update, the software can feel a bit unresponsive and takes some time to close. Furthermore, some people dislike the notion of GameReady drivers being locked in the GeForce Experience Software.  If a report from PC World is correct, consumers might have to supply an e-mail address just to update their drivers through the application.

Before coming to a conclusion, I want to reiterate that my allegiances don’t lie with either company and the intention was to create a balanced viewpoint. I believe AMD’s previous failures are impacting on the company’s current product range and it’s extremely difficult to shift people’s perceptions about the company’s drivers. While Crimson is much better than CCC, it’s been the main cause of a horrendous fan bug resulting in a PR disaster for AMD.

On balance, it’s clear AMD’s decision to separate the Radeon group and CPU line was the right thing to do. Also, with Polaris around the corner and more games utilizing DirectX 12, AMD could improve their market share by an exponential amount. Although, from my experience, many users are prepared to deal with slightly worse performance just to invest in an NVIDIA product. Therefore, AMD has to encourage long-term NVIDIA fans to switch with reliable driver updates on a consistent basis. AMD products are not lacking in features or power, it’s all about drivers! NVIDIA will always counteract AMD releases with products exhibiting similar performance numbers. In my personal opinion, AMD drivers are now on par with NVIDIA and it’s a shame that they appear to be receiving unwarranted criticism. Don’t get me wrong, the fan bug is simply inexcusable and going to haunt AMD for some time. I predict that despite the company’s best efforts, the stereotypical view of AMD drivers will not subside. This is a crying shame because they are trying to improve things and release updates on a significantly lower budget than their rivals.

AMD Silently Depreciates and Hides 32bit Drivers

As part of the ongoing process for technological advancement, 32bit support has begun to decline throughout the ecosystem. The latest firm to silently reduce support for 32bit systems is AMD with their GPUs. Starting with the latest Crimson Software 16.3.2 release, 32bit drivers for their latest GPUs have gone missing from their usual links. This follows the Radeon Pro Duo which only launched with 64bit drivers.

Moving away from 32bit makes a lot of sense as even mainstream GPUs are starting to have more than 4GB of VRAM, the same amount 32bit systems will handle. Once you add in system memory, there really isn;t a point to be using a 32bit system with the latest GPUs except for compatibility reasons. Furthermore, the market for 32bit drivers has been shrinking, with only about 13% of Steam users running a 32bit system. Given the intense ram requirements for games these days, 64bit is nearly a must. Dropping 32bit support also means more resources to put towards 64bit drivers and making those better.

The biggest complaint I have though is the silence from AMD. Rather than admit that they are reducing 32bit support, they silently started hiding their 32bit drivers. For users who click on 32bit drivers, they get sent to a page telling them to move to 64bit. At the same time, 32bit drivers continue to be made and are available with a bit of URL guessing (just change the “64” at the end of the 64bit bit link to “32”). Instead of trying to hide it, AMD should have made an announcement that 32bit support would end at X date in the future and continue for now to make 32bit drivers easy to access. This whole thing just smacks of bad PR and miscommunication. There is no shame to move away from 32bit and hopefully, AMD will get this.

AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.2.1 Released

AMD have been pushing hard to improve their software experience, as well as improving the frequency of graphic driver updates, helping them better compete with the relentless release of Nvidia’s Game Ready drivers. So far, their new system has been a big improvement and today is no exception, as AMD push the release of the latest Radeon Software Crimson Edition.

Version 16.2.1 is marked as a “non-WHQL” release, so basically a beta release. However, the driver comes with the CrossFireX profile for the latest AAA release, Far Cry Primal. On top of that big profile release, you can also expect some game specific bug fixes for Fallout 4 as well as Rise of the Tomb Raider.

FreeSync users have cause to celebrate too, we hope, as AMD is also including a bug fix for choppy display on systems that use both FreeSync and CrossFire at the same time, which I’m sure you can imagine is a frustrating issue for a system that’s meant to provide a smoother visual experience.

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.2.1 Highlights

    • Crossfire Profile available for
      • Far Cry Primal

Resolved Issues

    • A black screen/TDR error may be encountered when booting a  system with Intel + AMD graphics and an HDMI monitor connected
    • Choppy gameplay may be experienced when both AMD Freesync and AMD Crossfire are both enabled
    • Display corruption may be observed after keeping system idle for some time
    • Fallout 4 – Flickering may be experienced at various game locations with the v1.3 game update and with AMD Crossfire enabled
    • Fallout 4 – Foliage/water may ripple/stutter when game is launched in High/Ultra settings mode
    • Fallout 4 – Screen tearing in systems with both AMD Freesync and AMD Crossfire enabled if game is left idle for a short period of time
    • Fallout 4 – Thumbnails may flicker or disappear while scrolling the Perk levels page
    • Far Cry 4 – Stuttering may be observed when launching the game with AMD Freesync and AMD Crossfire enabled
    • FRTC options are displayed on some unsupported laptop configurations with Intel CPU’s and AMD GPU’s
    • Radeon Settings may sometimes fails to launch with a “Context Creation Error” message
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Corruption can be observed at some locations during gameplay
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Flickering may be experienced at various game locations when the game is left idle in AMD Crossfire  mode under Windows 7
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Game may intermittently crash or hang when launched with very high settings and AA is set to SMAA at 4K resolution
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – Lara Croft’s hair may flicker in some locations if the Esc key is pressed
    • Rise of Tomb Raider – A TDR error may be observed with some AMD Radeon 300 Series products after launching the “Geothermal Valley” mission
    • The AMD Overdrive  memory clock slider does not show original clock values if memory speeds are overclocked
    • World of Warcraft runs extremely slowly in quad crossfire at high resolutions

Known Issues

    • A few game titles may fail to launch or crash if the Gaming Evolved overlay is enabled. A temporary workaround is to disable the AMD Gaming Evolved “In Game Overlay”
    • Star Wars: Battlefront – Corrupted ground textures may be observed in the Survival of Hoth mission
    • Cannot enable AMD Crossfire with some dual GPU AMD Radeon HD 59xx and HD 79xx series products
    • Fallout 4 – In game stutter may be experienced if the game is launched with AMD Crossfire enabled
    • XCOM 2 – Flickering textures may be experienced at various game locations
    • Rise of the Tomb Raider – The game may randomly crash on launch if Tessellation is enabled
    • Core clocks may not maintain sustained clock speeds resulting in choppy performance and or screen corruption

If you want to download the latest AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.2.1 drivers, you can hit up the official AMD site right here.

AMD Releases Software Crimson Edition 16.1.1 Driver

AMD’s Crimson driver package is a complete overhaul of the Catalyst Control Center and incorporates various improvements via a modernized user-interface. It really is a huge step forward and helps AMD to provide a good alternative to GeForce Experience. One of the criticisms about AMD revolves around the slow driver update cycle. Although, it has improved in recent months and the company has just released the latest 16.1.1 driver. This includes performance enhancements for Rise of the Tomb Raider and a Crossfire profile to properly use multi-GPU configurations. Additionally, AMD added a Crossfire profile for Fallout 4, which is well overdue. Here is a complete listing of the driver’s changelog:

Highlights

    • Performance/Quality improvements and an AMD Crossfire profile is available for Rise of the Tomb Raider
    • An AMD Crossfire profile is available for Fallout 4

Resolved Issues

    • [81915] Assassin’s Creed Syndicate – Building textures may be missing on some AMD Freesync displays with VSync enabled
    • [82892] Display corruption may occur on systems with multiple display systems when they have been left idle for some time
    • [82926] Mordheim:  City of the Damned – some loading screens may be very dark
    • [83032] Star Wars: Battlefront – The sky rendering may be corrupted in some situations
    • [83832] Radeon Settings – AMD OverDrive Power setting changes on the secondary GPU are not immediately displayed.  This is seen only on dual GPU graphics cards, such as the AMD Radeon HD 7990 and Radeon R9 295×2
    • [83833] Radeon Settings – AMD OverDrive clock gauge needles for the secondary GPU may be in wrong position when the system is idle and the secondary GPU is inactive
    • [83839] Some games may experience brightness flickering with AMD FreeSync enabled
    • [83940] AMD Radeon Additional Settings window will close if the help button is pressed on Japanese/Korean language setups
    • [83948] Corruption seen in video playback for M2TS format files via Windows® 10 Movie & TV application
    • [84199] Flickering textures experienced in Dota 2 when accessing the “Heroes” menu
    • [84428] Battlefield Hardline – A crash may occur when changing graphics settings from “Ultra” to “High” during gameplay
    • [85030] The screen may turn dark and colors may be corrupted after installing the driver on some AMD Crossfire  setups
    • [85099] Custom game profiles are reset to defaults after system is restarted
    • [85142] HDMI audio lost when monitor enters sleep mode and are woken up
    • [85299] Black line corruption seen all along the edges of characters and menus in Game of Thrones

If you’re interested in the latest driver, you can download it from here.

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.

AMD Releases Hotfix for Crimson Edition Software and Fan Issues

AMD’s new Crimson Edition software that replaced the old Catalyst Control Center ran into some trouble over the weekend as users reported their fan speeds malfunctioning. For some users it would be stuck on maximum while other people experienced them throttled to 30% speed at all times.

AMD was quick to respond and promised a fix for the issue on Monday, and they delivered. The new AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 15.11.1 Hotfix is available for download and it should take care of those nasty fan issues. AMD hasn’t had the best track record in the past when it comes to frequent and swift updates which make this double nice to see and something that count point towards a better driver support with Crimson than we had with CCC.

The new driver doesn’t just fix the fan issues, it also brings some improvements along at the same time. There were some language and software display features fixed as well as a row of game issues.

  • [82050] Star Wars: Battlefront – Snow flickers in a few locations in the game
  • [82240] Star Wars: Battlefront – Sky rendering may be broken in some game locations
  • [82645] Fallout 4 – The compass may flicker during gameplay on AMD Radeon R9 390 series products. We continue to investigate the issue with AMD Radeon R9 290 and AMD Radeon R9 295X2 series products
  • [82667] Star Wars: Battlefront – Shadowy textures are visible around hills/structures/caves
  • [81890] Just Cause 3 – Texture corruption may be experienced during gameplay
  • [54874] Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 – Poor AMD Crossfire performance may be experienced
  • [82338] The driver installation may fail while installing the ACP component
  • [82426] The font size in Chinese language installations may be too small
  • [82438] The label range values in some AMD Freesync installations may be incorrect
  • [82536] The Radeon Settings dropbox does not close when it is clicked on a second time
  • [82603] The AMD Overdrive fan settings is always set to ON after first edit on reboot
  • [82586] Language shows up as Chinese Simplified when Chinese Traditional is selected in Windows 7
  • [82656] Radeon Settings crashes on the Display tab when cloning a display via HDMI on some notebooks
  • [82671] Overdrive fan speed is reset to Manual on exiting from a 3D game or application
  • [82766] Radeon Settings does not get upgraded in some install scenarios
  • [82691] AMD Overdrive cannot revert to default settings in some situations

You can download the new driver fix and view the full release notes on AMD’s support pages.

AMD Acknowledges Crimson Editions Fan Issues and Releases Patch Today

AMD was quite proud when they released the new Crimson Edition software and it was a great success for the biggest part. The new interface was welcomed by most users where others ran into some trouble. The issue is in regards to the graphics cards fan, a vital component on your graphics card. There are two separate issues in regards to the fan speed where one will let the graphic card spin up to 100% at all times, even when idle, and the other one holds the fan speed at 30%, again at all times. AMD acknowledged this issue over the weekend and promised to release a fix today.

“We’re aware of isolated reports of low fan states following the installation of Radeon Software ‘Crimson Edition’ on select Radeon GPUs. Our engineering teams have identified and addressed this issue, and we intend to release a hotfix on amd.com this coming Monday, November 30th.”

So it looks like the problem has been found, but it could be too late for some users. While the 100% fan speed isn’t as serious as it is annoying, the 30% speed can become problematic. A few users have reported their GPU dying and named this as the reason. It seems logic, if you tax your GPU for full load for an extended period of time, it will get very hot. And if it isn’t cooled properly because the fan doesn’t spin up, then we got a problem. But whether these reports are people that actually had this happen or if they’re just opportunistic in order to try and get a new graphics card that they killed themselves is something that is up to everyone’s own speculation.

AMD Crimson Performance Gains on Linux are Disappointing

AMD recently overhauled the Catalyst Control Center software suite and created a more visually appealing design entitled, “Crimson”.  Furthermore, the latest driver includes a whole host of new features and optimization enhancements. If you’d like to know more, feel free to check out our full review here. While Crimson is receiving an overwhelmingly positive reception from Windows users, it appears the performance gains on Linux are minimal. The highly revered Linux-based site, Phoronix decided to test the driver’s performance using a number of GPUs. As you can see from the image, Linux users still have to use the outdated user-interface but this was expected:

The original press slides from AMD proclaimed there would be “Linux performance improvements” from “112% to 155%”. However, Phoronix’s testing shows a complete lack of progress and in some cases the update driver actually performs worse. Here we can see the performance differences between the 15.9 and 15.11 drivers. Honestly, the results are within a margin of error and nowhere near the 112% to 155% percent gains AMD promised. Obviously, this can improve via future driver revisions but this doesn’t look promising for Linux users on AMD hardware. Please note, this just one example, and Phoronix’s benchmarks show a similar pattern throughout various games.

I hope this is just an isolated incident due to AMD’s completely reworked driver package. Whatever the case, it seems like you’re not going to see huge fps boosts at this current time.

Have you upgraded to the Crimson Radeon software yet? If so, let us know what you think of it.

AMD Ends Driver Support For Non-GCN Graphics Cards

AMD recently overhauled Catalyst Control Center for a more feature-rich and streamlined experience via the Radeon Crimson software suite. If you’re interested to see the new functionality or performance improvements, please check out our full review here. Unfortunately, AMD have decided to cease official support for non-GCN graphics cards and focus on making the best possible gains on the GCN architecture. As a result, various cards like the 5870 and more will not receive any future driver updates. According to AMD, this is because the GPU optimizations are maximized and clearly, they want to focus on their modernized driver user-interface and GCN enhancements. Here is the official statement from AMD in full:

“AMD Radeon HD 8000 Series (HD 8400 and below), Radeon HD 7000 Series (HD 7600 and below), Radeon HD 6000 Series, and Radeon HD 5000 Series Graphics products have reached peak performance optimization as of November 24th, 2015.

These products have been moved to a legacy support model and no additional driver releases are planned. This change enables us to dedicate valuable engineering resources to developing new features and enhancements for graphics products based on the GCN Architecture.

As a courtesy to our valued supporters we are providing a final “As Is” Beta driver together with the release of the AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition. The AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition Beta driver includes the redesigned user interface as well as some enhanced features. More information can be found in the AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition Beta Driver Release Notes.

For users looking for a WHQL certified driver, the AMD Catalyst 15.7.1 driver will continue to be available for users running Windows® 10, Windows® 8.1, and Windows® 7. Users running Windows® Vista and older Microsoft® operating systems can use the AMD Catalyst 13.12 driver. These drivers are available for download on the Drivers + Download Center page.

For users passionate about gaming, you may wish to consider upgrading to a modern GPU and benefit from exciting new features, improved performance, lower power consumption and broader compatibility with the latest PC games. For information about resellers and product availability, visit: http://shop.amd.com.”

Are you still using an older AMD graphics card?

AMD Radeon Software: Crimson Edition First Look and Testing

Introduction


The day has finally come where AMD’s Catalyst Control Center has taken its last installation breath and the brand new AMD Radeon Software package is released. We initially had teasers of this software a few weeks ago on November 2nd and now we are pleased to announce that it is finally here for public download. We have been using Catalyst Control Center for around 13 years with very few graphical design changes in that time, it worked for the most part and that was about it. Personally I found it too information heavy and it needed either a re-designed interface or a simpler navigation menu.

Dubbed Radeon Software: Crimson Edition, it doesn’t really flow off the tongue like CCC or Catalyst 15.## did, but we are likely to see a similar numbered structure once Crimson hits full stride in January. The Radeon Software name is pretty self-explanatory, but Crimson takes a little more explaining to fully understand. Yes the ‘AMD’ colour is Red and that has been passed onto Radeon Technologies as a signature colour, but Red is only one word for a whole host of different shades such as Current, Jam and Sangria. Yes these are typical shades of red, though likely less known compared to Scarlet, Blood and Rose. It’s not fully clear whether we will be seeing software colour changes with every annual release to match the name or if the same brushed metal background will be consistent for the upcoming releases.

Here is a quick overview of the key points of Crimson Edition which focus on a key base of stability with four pillars of User Experience, Features, Performance and Efficiency. All of these together aim to produce the best overall consumer experience, whether you are gaming or just a general day-to-day user. A full explanation into these will be on the Third Page.

Without going into too much detail here, let’s get into what is aimed to make Radeon Software: Crimson Edition a new era in graphical software drivers.

Goodbye Catalyst Control Center – Hello Radeon Software Crimson Edition!

So a few weeks ago we all heard the news that AMD has split up its Processor and Graphics divisions. Well, today we have the official word from AMD regarding the newly branded Radeon Technologies Group.

Something that AMD has previously struggled with in the graphics market is the software and drivers. While they worked, a lot of users experienced problems and that put a bad taste in a large portion of the enthusiast community. This new rebrand hopes to change things with the discontinuation of the Catalyst software and introduction of Radeon/ FirePro settings.

We will see the first introduction of Radeon settings in the form of Radeon Software Crimson Edition before the end of the year.

We were sent a press presentation to offer us an early look at what to expect from this new venture and Radeon Technologies Group (Radeon TG) want to drive home six key values of Pro Graphics, Gaming, VR/ AR, Immersive, Performance and Efficiency. Generally people would laugh at the efficiency part, but Fiji has certainly changed the minds of a lot of people.

We were shown the evolution of Catalyst Control Center (CCC), with the three most notable interface changes.

For those that are interested, here is how AMD will be naming the ongoing updates.

If this is the final consumer edition, I am very impressed by how far and different the design and layout is to the current CCC. Fewer visible menus makes the software much cleaner to look at.

The layout is more intuitive than the previous CCC iteration and a step in the social media world with quick links and easy location of games and other settings.

Built into this software is a game optimiser, which will search your computer for games and tell you your settings and the best settings for your system.

  

Here we see Overdrive, a staple part of CCC. This version looks a lot cleaner and similar to the 3rd party applications such as MSI AfterBurner and ASUS GPU Tweak.

Bundled in with this software, AMD has included preset video settings and display configurations. This makes things simpler to get the perfect viewing experience for that family film, but the best gaming experience on those dual R9 Fury Xs.

AMD Eyefinity sticks around for the upgrade, but the process has been planned to be simplified compared to the current method on CCC.

Like most software from manufacturers, you can now analyse your computer hardware and software within this to make it simpler for identifying your components for any possible troubleshooting.

Along with the press information pack, we were sent a short video outlining the key features and objectives set out for the new Radeon Software.

Personally I like how this is going, a change to the software really brings AMD up-to-date with the competition, but something I want to see is more regular driver updates and even WHQL certified updates to go along with this snazzy overhaul.

This is still an early preview and things might change by the time it gets released to the public, so we will keep you updated with anything AMD provides us with.