Windows 10 Anniversary Update to Bring More GPU Features to UWP Games

While the release of Xbox exclusives to Windows 10 under the UWP program is undoubtedly a positive, there are still many questions about the Unified Windows Platform. Due to the limitations on UWP and making it universal and more sandboxed, certain features common to games are unavailable. Fortunately, it looks like Microsoft will be adding some of these features to UWP with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

According to Microsoft, the changes to UWP are due to the negative feedback when Microsoft first released games based on the platform. Firstly, modding and overlay capability will be added. This will allow PC gamers to mod to their heart’s content hopefully, one of the highlights of PC gaming. Overlays will bring back the ability to have Afterburner or other apps run alongside the game to provide extra functionality.

More importantly, AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia GSync support will be added. The adaptive refresh rate technology from the two graphics firms has been one of the biggest improvements to gaming in recent years and support should have been built-in from the get-go. While these moves go some way to alleviating some of the more prominent problems, the question remains if UWP is the way to go for future PC games due to their more restrictive and closed down nature.

ViewSonic Unleashes New Gaming Monitors @ CES 2016

CES 2016: ViewSonic isn’t the first name you would associate with premium gaming monitors as their focus tends to remain on the mainstream market. However, this year, the company is launching a total of 8 new displays which target various price points. The most interesting models are the XG2401, XG2700-4K and XG2703-GS. The XG2401 features a 24-inch, 1920×1080 TN panel with 144Hz refresh rate and AMD FreeSync technology. Priced at $404, this is a great choice for competitive gaming at 1080P, although competition in this field is quite fierce.

In contrast to this, the XG2700-4K is targeted more towards single player gamers wanting a 27-inch 3840×2160 panel with 178-degree viewing angles and superior colours via an IPS panel. The compromise to this is a 60Hz refresh rate, although FreeSync should help in this regard. In terms of pricing, the monitor will go on sale in late January for $913.

Finally, ViewSonic’s flagship product contains a 2560×1440 resolution, IPS panel and whopping 165Hz refresh rate. Not only that, the monitor supports NVIDIA’s G-Sync which many perceive as technically superior to AMD’s alternative in certain usage scenarios. As expected, this high-end specification comes at a fairly eye-watering price of $1217 and scheduled for a March release. In an interview with ViewSonic’s technical lead, I asked about the possibility of any 21:9 monitors entering their product range. Sadly, this doesn’t seem likely for some time due to the focus on making 16:9 displays and catering to a wider audience.

What’s the maximum you would pay for a gaming monitor?

AMD Reveals Updated FreeSync Technology @ CES 2016

CES 2016: AMD’s FreeSync technology synchronizes a graphics card performance with your monitor’s refresh rate to eliminate screen tearing and create a smooth, fluid experience. Unlike NVIDIA’s solution, there’s no need for a proprietary module which reduces cost and makes monitor manufacturers more likely to adopt FreeSync. Up to now, FreeSync has relied on DisplayPort 1.2a to support refresh rates between 9–240 Hz. Although, to be fair, NVIDIA G-Sync panels also require the use of a DisplayPort connection.

After conducting comprehensive research, AMD discovered that the majority of users still use HDMI 1.4 or HDMI 2.0. As a result, the company decided to focus their efforts on bringing FreeSync to HDMI 1.4a with some custom modifications. Theoretically, this means the next version of HDMI could easily support FreeSync by default.

AMD also unveiled their first FreeSync powered laptop which is a big milestone for the company. The 15.6-inch Lenovo Y700 features a Radeon R9 M380 graphics chip and a quad-core AMD FX-F8800P “Carrizo” APU for $899.

AMD Launches Promotional Material Comparing FreeSync to G-Sync

NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology synchronizes a display’s refresh rate with an NVIDIA-powered graphics card to eliminate screen tearing and stutter caused by V-Sync. As you might expect, this is exclusive to NVIDIA GPUs and implemented in a proprietary manner. In contrast to this, AMD’s FreeSync employs an open standard and results in significantly cheaper pricing. For example, according to AMD’s press marketing, the average FreeSync monitor costs $617.93 while the competing solution retails at an average of $781. Furthermore, AMD has 7 partners supporting their variable refresh technology, while NVIDIA is lagging behind with just 5!

The documentation also outlines other intriguing statistics including panel type, quantity of displays on the market and unique selling points. Although some critics argue that the G-Sync system is superior and allows for a wider range. Here we can see the growth rate of FreeSync compared to G-Sync and main differences. In an ideal world, I’d like to see NVIDIA drop their proprietary variable refresh technology and work together with AMD to provide a single solution which puts the consumer first. Sadly, I can’t see this happening unless sales of G-Sync monitors hit rock bottom. This is very unlikely given the popularity of the ASUS ROG Swift.

Do you think NVIDIA’s G-Sync is worth the premium?

Acer Unveils XR341CK 34-Inch Curved QHD FreeSync Monitor

Acer has expanded its monitor line-up to include a FreeSync version of the XR341CKA. This new model doesn’t require a dedicated G-Sync module and expected to launch in late July with an MSRP of $1,099. In contrast to this, the G-sync variant is rumoured to cost $1,299 and both displays are backed with a 3 year warranty. The XR341CK features a 34-inch QHD (3440×1440) IPS panel on an ultrawide 21:9 aspect ratio and utilizes a 4ms response time. Thankfully, the screen adopts a subtle curvature which makes reading small details on extreme edges a more natural experience. Furthermore, the display outputs a 75Hz refresh rate and attains 100 percent sRGB coverage. The panel also uses an extremely thin bezel design which helps you to focus on the screen instead of the outer causing. Acer have yet to disclose the specific FreeSync range but I would expect a 25-75Hz ratio which takes advantage of the maximum refresh rate unlike the Asus MG279Q.

The bundled stand evokes a luxurious feel from the aluminum construction and distinctive aesthetic design with ergonomic tilt from 5 to 35 degrees and height adjustments up to 5 inches. In terms of connectivity, you can choose between HDMI v2.0 supporting MHL charging, DisplayPort, miniDisplay Port and DisplayPort out. A 4 port USB 3.0 hub on the rear is useful for connecting flash drives and other miscellaneous devices. Charlotte Chen, product manager of Acer America proudly announced,

“This killer new monitor makes game play incredibly realistic,”

While FreeSync is still in its infancy and has some teething problems, it’s impressive to see monitor prices with adaptive sync being driven down to exemplify how overpriced G-Sync alternatives are. This is a wonderful development for the consumer as there is a large quantity of FreeSync monitors being released from 1920×1080 144hz to 4k 60Hz. In comparison, there are only a few G-Sync models for sale and none which take advantage of the 21:9 aspect ratio. Although Asus are planning to release a ROG 34″ Curved Gaming Monitor.

How do you feel about FreeSync vs G-Sync? Would you pay an extra $200 just to use NVIDIA’s implementation? 

AOC Offer up a Pair of New AMD FreeSync Gaming Monitors

We all take our monitors for granted, we sit in front of them for hours on end looking at cat videos on YouTube. In today’s market, most enthusiasts have moved up to 1440p or great resolution screens, but it’s nice to see companies still catering for the 1080p market.

AOC have recently announced a pair of 1080p gaming monitors featuring AMD FreeSync technology. First up is the 24″ G2460PF and then a 27″ G2770PF. Both are based on TN-film panels, but can offer outstanding refresh rates of up to 144 Hz and response times of 1 ms. Along with those tasty figures, they also feature FreeSync which synchronises the monitor’s refresh rate to the frame rate being outputted by the graphics card; this allows for seamless, stutter-free display, ideal for fast paced gaming.

They both offer viewing angles of 170°/160° (horizontal/ vertical) and brightness levels of up to 350 cd/m² (300 cd/m² for the G2770PF). Inputs include DisplayPort 1.2a (required for FreeSync), dual-link DVI and VGA.

Prices for these new monitors is set to start at $350 for the G2460PF and end at around $450 for the G2770PF; although local import taxes may alter the final price.

Some say that 1080p is a pointless resolution for monitors about 24″, especially with 1440p and 4k monitors becoming attractively priced; what are your thoughts?

Thank you to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Samsung Introduced New 4K 60Hz Monitors with FreeSync

If you haven’t made the switch to 4K yet then Samsung’s latest monitor offerings might be right up your alley and something to take into your purchase decision. Not only do the specs look nice, they also come at a very nice price point.

The U24E590D and U28E590D are 24-inch and 28-inch respectively and they are Samsung’s first monitors in the UHD line to deploy AMD’s FreeSync technology. The UHD monitors come with a 3840×2160 resolution and can both do 60Hz at this resolution.

Samsung didn’t just add DisplayPort connectivity but also HDMI 2.0 allowing you to choose wich method you want to use and still get 60Hz. The grey to grey refresh rate is 4ms for the small monitor and 1ms for the big one. But impressive and both would be suited well for both work and gameplay.

The two monitors variate slightly as the 24-inch (23.6″) uses a PLS panel while the 28-inch uses a TN panel. The small has 178-degree viewing angles in all directions where the 28-inch only has 170/160 degrees. On the other hand, the large one has a better brightness level of 370cd/m2 where the small only has 300. Both monitors offer Picture-in-Picture Picture-by-Picture technology

The U24E590D has an MSRP of just $399.99 and will be available July 26. The U28E590D is available now and comes with an MSRP of $599.99.

AMD Makes Surprising Move with R7 370

With the reveal of AMD’s Rx 300 lineup at E3 today, more details about the specifications have been revealed. One of the most surprising moves was the chip AMD chose to power the R7 370. Among all the cards AMD has launched so far, the R7 370 will be the sole member still running GCN 1.0., and has now been twice rebranded. Rebranding is fine but 3 years later, it’s pushing it.

While most of the attention has been focused on Fury, the rest of the Rx 300 series have been rebrands. The most important clue to the 370’s origin is the features or lack thereof the card supports. As expected the up and coming APIs of DirectX® 12, OpenGL® 4.58, Vulkan, Mantle and OpenCL 2.0 are all supported. However, VCE (Video Codec Engine), TrueAudio and the much vaunted FreeSync are all missing. These features are tied to GCN 1.1/1.2, meaning the 370 is GCN 1.0. This point is hammered home by the presence of a Crossfire finger, a requirement that GCN 1.1/1.2 forgoes.

Another point is the branding for the card. With 1024 SPUs (Stream Processing Units) across 16 CUs (Compute Units), the R7 370 is the successor to the 2012 HD 7850 and the R7 265 with a speed bump to 975Mhz core and memory bandwidth improved to 172.2 GB/s. Even with the speed increase, the 370 will likely still be slower than the R9 270 it sounds similar to. Buyers may very well be more fixated on the 370 part of the name rather than the more critical R7/R9. Those thinking the 370 is the successor to the 270 are going to be disappointed.

AMD now has a sizable gap between the R7 370 and the R9 380 in their product line. While an R9 370 to fill in the gap might make sense under AMD’s logic, that will only serve to confuse buyers. With a lack of features the rest of the lineup boasts as well, AMD has made a surprising choice with the R7 370. One good move though is cutting down Bonaire for the 360 which helps diffreniate the cards as the cap between the R7 260X and 265 was sometimes too narrow. Despite all this, these handicaps won’t be too important as long as the price is right.

PowerColor Showcase FreeSync @ Computex 2015

Computex 2015 – during our stop at the PowerColour booth, we noticed a computer in the background displaying AMD FreeSync Technology. This is still relatively new and the adoption rate by monitor manufacturers is surprising low. The technology itself is very good, the main purpose of the technology is to prevent screen tearing while maintaining the highest possible FPS. AMD does this very well and with almost zero performance penalty.

Currently the only set way to demonstrate this technology is with the Wind turbine demo; in person it is visually impressive.

We aim to get a review of an AMD FreeSync enabled monitor published as soon as possible. We will keep you updated with all of the news and events from the rest of Computex 2015.

AMD FreeSync CrossFire Support Delayed

When AMD’s anti-screen tearing and adaptive framerate FreeSync technology was launched as a rival to NVIDIA’s G-Sync last March, it was limited to single-GPU support. AMD’s Red Team promised support for CrossFire – the company’s multi-GPU configuration – by April, but with the month now come and gone with no sign of multi-GPU support, AMD has now issued a statement on the matter:

AMD fans have been outspoken about their love for the smooth gameplay of AMD FreeSync technology, and have understandably been excited about the prospect of using compatible monitors with the incredible performance of an AMD CrossFire configuration.

After vigorous QA testing, however, it’s now clear to us that support for AMD FreeSync monitors on a multi-GPU system is not quite ready for release.

As it is our ultimate goal to give AMD customers an ideal experience when using our products, we must announce a delay of the AMD Catalyst driver that would offer this support. We will continue to develop and test this solution in accordance with our stringent quality standards, and we will provide another update when it is ready for release.

With no timeframe projected for CrossFire support, we could be waiting a while until we see it, but if it means a flawless, bug-free system, I think most gamers would gladly take the hit.

Thank you WCCF Tech for providing us with this information.

Nvidia Explains Why G-Sync is Superior to AMD’s FreeSync

AMD has just updated their drivers to support FreeSync and Sapphire also demonstrated it during CeBIT 2015. This has once again sparked the discussion between the free and open AMD standard and Nvidia’s proprietary G-Sync technology, is Nvidia’s solution worth the extra costs? Forbes recently had an interesting talk with Tom Petersen, Distinguished Engineer at Nvidia, about the situation and why G-Sync is better.

First of all let’s get one thing clear, whether you use G-Sync or FreeSync, you’ll have a far better gaming experience than using none. The improvements are big and you will notice them, but there has to be a reason for the $200-250 premium on the G-Sync and according to Petersen there is.

The interview starts out as many do, someone dodging the actual question by pointing out some flaw in the way it’s asked. This is of course about the premium price on the G-Sync enabled monitors and the result is that people will pay the price if it’s worth it. True but moot as there isn’t any alternative for Nvidia graphics card owners. But okay, lets put that aside for now. It costs what it costs, the purchase is optional.

The reason why Nvidia’s G-Sync is better than AMD’s FreeSync is simply because they can control both sides of the signal, not just the output. There are a lot of different panels on the market and AMD is ‘speaking’ with them on a driver base while Nvidia tunes the module specifically for the monitor it’s built into. FreeSync is running great while operating at the panels sweet spot, but gets in trouble when get gets higher or lower; a problem Petersen says that G-Sync doesn’t have.

Tom Petersen: “There’s also a difference at the high frequency range. AMD really has 3 ranges of operation: in the zone, above the zone, and below the zone. When you’re above the zone they have a feature which I like (you can either leave V-Sync On or V-Sync Off), that we’re going to look at adding because some gamers may prefer that. The problem with high refresh rates is this thing called ghosting. You can actually see it with AMD’s own Windmill Demo or with our Pendulum Demo. Look at the trailing edge of those lines and you’ll see a secondary image following it.”

So the issue lies more in the transition from the high frequencies to the low frequencies of FPS and back again, resulting in both flicker and ghosting – although far from the same extent as without. Another argument for G-Sync is the GPU compatibility ranging all the way back to the GTX 650Ti.

Nvidia paid special attention to dealing with the low end of refresh rates, so as a game transitions from 45fps to 25fps and back during intense game situations, the G-Sync technology module kicks in and helps to deliver a smooth experience, even outside the panels normal area of operation.

The video above is a demonstration of AMD’s FreeSync Windmill demo on different monitors. The stuttering is a result of recording at high speed and it’s the trailing lines or ghosting that one has to pay attention to.

Thanks to Forbes 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.

Sapphire Demo FreeSync at CeBIT 2015

CeBIT 2015 has been a tough one for Sapphire and many other GPU manufacturers for that matter. With AMD pushing back the release of their 3xx series cards until around the time of Computex, there’s no new hardware to show. Of course, there’s still some great cards recently launched from Sapphire, such as their 8GB 290X, but the only real new hardware at CeBIT is FreeSync. FreeSync is still a little way off, despite many graphics cards having the capabilities required for it, there’s still very few monitors on their way to make full use of it. The BenQ monitor that Sapphire were using was imported, but I’m very glad it was, as the benefits of FreeSync have to be seen to be believed. Are you looking forward to stutter-free gaming and dynamic refresh rates? You should be!

AMD Bringing FreeSync Support to Catalyst Drivers on 19th March

AMD has announced that it is to release a new Catalyst graphics driver on 19th March, and that the driver will be FreeSync compatible. FreeSync is AMD’s variable refresh rate technology, preventing “screen tears” during gaming.

FreeSync-compatible monitors are now available in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, the tech is yet to make it to US shores. This latest driver release raises hope that FreeSync will arrive in America soon.

It seems that drivers for AMD CrossFire setups are more difficult to develop, since they are not available until April.

A statement from AMD reads:

“AMD is very excited that monitors compatible with AMD FreeSync technology are now available in select regions in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). We know gamers are excited to bring home an incredibly smooth and tearing-free PC gaming experience powered by AMD Radeon GPUs and AMD A-Series APUs. We’re pleased to announce that a compatible AMD Catalyst graphics driver to enable AMD FreeSync technology for single-GPU configurations will be publicly available on AMD.com starting March 19, 2015. Support for AMD CrossFire configurations will be available the following month in April 2015.”

Source: Legit Reviews

Acer Announces Freesync Ready XG270HU Monitor

The upcoming Acer XG270HU gaming monitor will feature AMDs FreeSync technology, a great tool to help eliminate screen tearing and stuttering caused by FPS fluctuations. It comes equipped with a lovely 2560 x 1440 WQHD panel and a lightning fast 144Hz refresh rate; this monitor should be great for gaming.

Other nice features include an ultra slim bezel design, making it ideal for multi-monitor setups, a 1ms response time and Acer EyeProtect technologies. Connectivity is handled by HDMI 2.0, dual-like DVI, DisplayPort 1.2 and you’ll also find a pair of 2w speakers.

No word on price or release date, but expect it to be comparable to other flagship Acer monitors currently on the market.

AMD Catalyst Omega Driver Released Early, Then Pulled

On Friday, AMD’s latest GPU driver, the Catalyst Omega, was prematurely released on – then subsequently pulled from – AMD’s website. The early release was presumably accidental, since links to the driver and to a number of tech site articles announcing the news have been deleted. But, while we await it’s (re)release, we have the Catalyst Omega’s impressive specs to pore over.

Catalyst Omega is said to raise high-end GPU performance by up to 19%, and a staggering 29% on APU cards. The new driver boasts a number of additional features, such as Virtual Super Resolution, which renders games at 4K then scales them down to the monitor’s respective resolution, making anti-aliasing obsolete.

Other video features include Fluid Motion to reduce judder and increase interpolation, Contour Removal to remove compression artifacts cleanly, and 1080p Detail Enhancement to scale up and sharpen images for larger monitors.

The treats don’t end there, though, with support for Gaming Evolved client specific features (notably FPS measure and streaming) , TressFX Hair 3.0, OpenCL 2.0, and Mantle game capture. Using EyeInfinity, Catalyst Omega is capable of powering 24 monitor arrays on 4 GPU systems. FreeSync, Alienware Graphics Amplifier, and 5K support is also incorporated.

There is no news yet on when the Catalyst Omega driver will officially be made available.

Source: Gameranx

Samsung Ultra HD Monitors to Support AMD FreeSync from 2015

Samsung announced at the AMD Future of Compute event that, as of 2015, every one of their Ultra HD monitors will support AMD’s adaptive frame rate system FreeSync, becoming the first company to officially support the technology. FreeSync works by synchronising the refresh rate of a monitor with that of the graphics card, reducing latency and stuttering on higher resolution displays.

Samsung’s announcement followed the reveal of five new Ultra HD monitors – the UE590, with two variations sized 23.6-inches and 28-inches, and the UE850, available in 23.6-inches, 27-inches, and 31.5-inches – for release in 2015, all of which will support FreeSync. FreeSync was first announced at CES 2014 as AMD’s open and non-proprietary alternative to NVIDIA’s G-Sync, and is supported by all AMD graphics cards with a GCN 1.1 GPU or higher, such as the Radeon R9 290 or Radeon R9 290X.

Source: Techspot

AMD FreeSync Display To Be Cheaper than G-Sync

AMD executive Richard Huddy recently talked at USA’s PDXLAN about some upcoming trends in the market – including a public release of Mantle SDK and Windows 7’s non-support of DX12. More importantly, Huddy took some time out to explain AMD’s FreeSync display, claiming that it will hit the market in December 2015, be better than NVIDIA’s G-Sync and cost less.

This information was recorded and released as a YouTube video just the other day, but has since unfortunately been taken down for unknown reasons (possibly due to AMD PR). Contained within this video was Huddy’s explanation of AMD’s FreeSync features among many other points of interest. Here’s hoping that AMD officially release this information for all in the coming days.

The FreeSync platform is said to be coming with a DP 1.2a display standard and is set to be listed “in the next 12 months” providing monitors at $100 cheaper than NVIDIA’s G-Sync offering. Unfortunately, Huddy didn’t really release much more direct information, seemingly taking this opportunity to PR-spin to a bunch of enthusiastic tech specialists at one of America’s favorite LAN parties.

However, he did mention the advantages that FreeSync will supposedly offer you on release. Alongside FreeSync living up to its name (literally), by providing this technology royalty-free to monitor manufacturers – FreeSync will require no additional hardware to function.

We will ensure to keep you updated on any advancements in FreeSync or any replies to Huddy’s comments about G-Sync as they come to light. Stay tuned to eTeknix for all the latest information.

Image courtesy of EXP review