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 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.

Fallout 4 PC Graphics Settings Unveiled

Fallout 4’s release date is tantalizingly close and looks set to be one of the most anticipated games in recent memory. In the modern internet age, it can be quite difficult to avoid spoilers which quickly go viral and become splattered all over social media. Although, some leaks are useful when judging the game’s scaling across a wide range of configurations. While we don’t have any benchmarks yet, the Dark Side of Gaming has leaked an options menu which illustrates how easily it is to tweak the settings to your PC’s capabilities.

As you can see, Fallout 4 is utilizing the same engine from 2006, although there are some additional options in the form of SSAO, Temporal AA and more! This does raise some concerns about the game’s graphical quality, but if it is lacking, mods should help to improve the textures, lighting and shadows. I’m pleased to see a good array of options, but the main problem Fallout has experienced in the past is multi-core optimization. In Fallout 3, on a Q6660, I had to disable all but 2 cores to run the game properly.

It’s only a matter of time before we know the game’s true performance, but the Fallout series relies more on gameplay instead of beautiful visuals.

New Tool Challenges Windows 10 Privacy Issues

So far the brand spanking new Windows 10 OS has been a huge success compared to the mishmash that was Windows 8, which tried to do its best to annoy consumers with the deletion of the Start Menu in favour of Metro.  The default option for privacy on the other hand is far less forgiving, from stealing user’s bandwidth for updates to Webcam and Microphone access, Microsoft have shifted their position.

But users could in theory attempt to shift it back again with the development of a new free app by the name of “Do Not Spy 10” This enables the user to disable the grand total of 37 Windows privacy issues with a single click. The software has been designed by German developer pXc-coding, who have developed a centralized interface which allows for easy tinkering of settings.

There are noteworthy caveats with this software, this lies with your Antivirus product which may detect this tool as malicious in nature because it can modify Windows settings, which is to be expected. Also the developer is using an advertisement campaign within the software which is mentioned in its end-user licence agreement; this means that Anti-Virus vendors may flag this as an Adware or Pup.

A quick run through Virus Total generates a report of 10/55 services which class this exe file as suspicious, 9 class it as a pup while Symantec classifies it as a Trojan. Technically this software is not malware and you can uninstall after using it once, it’s better to use good judgement and if you have any doubts, give it a miss, also check out the below links which convey details of the product.

Thank you The Hacker News and pxc-coding and facebook

Grand Theft Auto 5 on PC Uses 14GB VRAM on 4K and Ultra High Settings?

There has been a lot of hype with Rockstar’s latest Grand Theft Auto 5 title for the PC. Not to mention the debate on how the graphics will be and the AMD vs NVIDIA fan war. But nobody was looking at what the title eats up in terms of performance on 4K resolution and ultra high settings… until now!

Have you tried playing the title on a 4K monitor and all settings taken to the highest level? If you did, then you probably know that it eats up an unbelievable 14GB VRAM! Yes, you read it right… 14 GigaBytes of Video RAM is needed to keep GTA 5 running on a 4K monitor and ultra-high anti-aliasing enabled configuration.

It seems that even Titan X falls short at this one with its 12GB VRAM. It’s insane! Here’s a pic to prove it all.

I still can’t believe my eyes! I mean, what is going on here? Is Rockstar challenging Nvidia to roll out more powerful Titans in the future or what? Let’s review the titles specs:

Minimum specifications:
OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit, Windows 8 64 Bit, Windows 7 64 Bit Service Pack 1, Windows Vista 64 Bit Service Pack 2* (*NVIDIA video card recommended if running Vista OS)
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad CPU Q6600 @ 2.40GHz (4 CPUs) / AMD Phenom 9850 Quad-Core Processor (4 CPUs) @ 2.5GHz
Memory: 4GB
Video Card: NVIDIA 9800 GT 1GB / AMD HD 4870 1GB (DX 10, 10.1, 11)
Sound Card: 100% DirectX 10 compatible
HDD Space: 65GB
DVD Drive

Recommended specifications:
OS: Windows 8.1 64 Bit, Windows 8 64 Bit, Windows 7 64 Bit Service Pack 1
Processor: Intel Core i5 3470 @ 3.2GHZ (4 CPUs) / AMD X8 FX-8350 @ 4GHZ (8 CPUs)
Memory: 8GB
Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 660 2GB / AMD HD7870 2GB
Sound Card: 100% DirectX 10 compatible
HDD Space: 65GB
DVD Drive

Anything missing from the above? I think so! They should add an “Insane specification”, right? Oddly enough, a triple 4K configuration, as TweakTown seems to have stated in their post, does not affect the VRAM requirements at all. At least that’s a relief, huh? If it requires more, then a quad Titan X could have been the case to handle this beast!

What do you guys think? Is you gear ready for Grand Theft Auto 5 in 4K at ultra-high settings? Let us know!

Image courtesy of Hard Forum

Colorful Announces Their iGame GeForce GTX 960 KUDAN Mini-ITX Graphics Card

Colorful has revealed their iGame GeForce GTX 960 KUDAN Mini-ITX graphics solution, featuring a custom PCB design and factory overclock frequencies.

The GeForce GTX 960 KUDAN is said to be one of the very few Mini-ITX designs with a GM206 chip, making it very popular in the $200 range market. The graphics solution is said to have a low-wattage percentage and provide great 1080p performance.

In terms of specs, the graphics card comes with 1024 CUDA cores, 64 texture mapping units, 32 raster operation units and a 2 GB GDDR5 VRAM with a 128-bit memory interface. While the memory is clocked at 7010 MHz, the GPU clock comes in two blocks.

The factory overclocked specs that come with the card are set at 1127 MHz base and 1178 MHz boost, but a second OC BIOS is said to be available that can ramp up the card to 1152 MHz and 1216 MHz respectively at the push of the button.

Looking at the aesthetics of the card, we see that it features the same design as the iGame GeForce GTX 980 KUDAN, only a bit smaller. It boasts only one fan, but given its low-budget design, it is enough to keep the Mini-ITX card cool.

Power is said to be provided via a 6-pin connector, having the card coming with a 120W TDP. There is also a single SLI connector present on the card and comes with a single DVI, HDMI and three DisplayPort connectors.

Colorful has already listed the card on its website, but details regarding its availability and pricing have yet to be made available.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information

Google Admits it is Scanning Android Phones For “The Right Reasons”

You may not be shocked that the search engine giant, Google, is scanning every single app on your phone, even if you downloaded it from third-parties and not from the Google Store. But is it really doing it for ‘the right reason’?

Google has confirmed in a security report that it is tracking applications through their Verify Apps feature. This system is said to ensure that Potentially Harmful Applications don’t find their way into your Android phones.

“Google’s systems use machine learning to see patterns and make connections that humans would not,” Google explained. “Google Play analyzes millions of data points, asset nodes, and relationship graphs to build a high-precision security-detection system.”

While Verify Apps has been active for a few years now, Google added the Safety Net feature in 2014, granting it the ability to scan and collect data from all apps on your phone. Google stated that full device scans run once a week and by the end of 2014, over 200 million devices were being scanned every day.

In terms of what is actually being collected from your phone and apps, Google stated that it “only collects data needed to provide and improve device security”. While the company claims it is not collecting sensitive data, should you feel like you do not want to be tracked, you can turn off the feature by navigating to the Settings->Security section and disabling the “Scan device for security threats” feature.

Thank you BGR for providing us with this information

Ubisoft Locks The Division’s Framerate at 30FPS, Graphical Fidelity to be More Important

Ubisoft apparently wants to stand out from the crowd by adding complexity and graphical definition to its titles. The company seems to focus more on delivering an immersive gameplay in world ‘full of life’.

For example, Watch Dogs has been delayed after the launch of Grand Theft Auto V in order to add more complex detail to be able to compete with Rockstar’s title. Far Cry 4 has also been announced to deliver the same ‘Ultra High’ graphical complexity on next-gen consoles as on PCs. The latest announcement points to the same graphical fidelity being applied to Ubisoft’s upcoming title, namely The Division.

However, nothing comes without some drawbacks. In order to deliver the aforementioned graphics, performance cuts need to be made. And this apparently will be noticeable in terms of framerate capabilities. This is the case of The Division, where it has been announced that the title will have its FPS counter locked at 30.

Massive Entertainment’s Managing Director, David Polfeldt, made a comment regarding the reason of locking The Division’s framerate at 30 and not upping it to a smooth 60 as gamers would like to see in every title they play.

I think we’re shooting for 30fps because it’s a trade-off, right? Graphical fidelity and immersion are more important to us than the frame rate. If we go for [60fps], we’ll have to make a trade-off on fidelity and other things. But because we want to have very, very complex destruction and extremely detailed environments; a complete weather system, full day/night cycle…at some point you have to make up your mind: where do you invest? And for us, it’s going to be 30fps”.

Although the framerate will be quite low, the graphical complexity and ‘complex destruction’, in addition to all the sweet features such as the weather system and day/nigh cycle could compensate. However, this requires a lot of optimisation in order to maintain the designated framerate when ‘all hell breaks loose’ during massive combat scenarios.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information

YouTube App Now Incorporating 1080p and 480p Streaming Options

A long-standing suggestion has now been added to the latest update of YouTube’s android application – the ability to stream in 480p and 1080p quality settings.

Activating these options is easy. Once your video has started streaming, press the three dot menu at the top right of your device, tap the ‘gear’ icon that appears and your available resolutions will be displayed.

Please bear in mind that not all YouTube videos will support 480p or 1080p playback – this is mostly due to them being low quality and/or old.

To take full use of this feature, you will need to be viewing compatible video uploads and update your client to the latest revision (Done automatically or through manual update in Google Play). We’re told this update hasn’t yet been rolled out to everyone however, so don’t stress if your phone isn’t currently displaying these settings, it will come in due time.

Image courtesy of Joshua Worth

Kickstarter Projects Aims To Make Voice-Controlled Houses a Reality

There are all sorts of smart devices on the market, giving users the ability to control just about anything in your house and even your car, at least to some extent. However, in most cases, the user experience is not as satisfying as it should be when using the latter devices.

A Kickstarter project is aiming to solve this barrier through a project called Homey. The device bearing the same name is nothing more than an orb measuring 4.3″ in diameter, but the developers hope that it could become the next big thing in terms of smart homes.

Homey is thought to be a device with multiple connectivity inputs, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, ZigBee and Z-Wave, as well as Infrared, which can control almost anything in the house with the help of voice commands. Homey is connected to a Raspberry Pi Computer Module, running on custom software, and also features a companion app for iOS and Android devices, which grants users the ability to easily customise Homey’s settings. The device is also designed to give visual feedbacks on commands with the help of its multi-coloured LED ring placed in the middle.

Emile Nijssen, the creator of Homey, has been inspired by the Star Trek series when designing the device at hand, having users relying ultimately on voice in order to control their home. In addition to the above, Homey gives developers the opportunity to build applications which are then published to the device’s Labs section.

The project is hoping to raise €100,000 through crowdfunding on Kickstarter in order to begin production. The current estimated amount raised is €95,000 and there is no doubt about the project being funded. The lowest amount which individuals can pledge for a Homey device is reported to be €229, having its estimated delivery set in June 2015.

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

Google Invents Self-Fixing Problems? Is This The Future?

After some of you experienced or at least saw what happened yesterday with some of Google’s Services, the company officials expressed their apologies and released a statement explaining what went wrong, which inevitably caused the outage yesterday.

Ben Treynor, Google VP Engineer, posted a statement which points to a ‘bug’ in the system, the ‘culprit’ that caused the whole outage. He says that at 10:55 a.m. PST, an internal system that generates configurations for other key systems reported to have generated incorrect settings, which in turn sent out to other systems. Around 11:02 a.m. PST, the massive outage started and users reported they can’t access the Google services.

The current incompatible settings were basically telling the systems to ignore server requests from users, which in turn generated the error messages. About 12 minutes later, at 11:14 a.m. PST, the same system that generated the error instructions rectified itself and starting sending correct configurations. By 11:30 a.m. PST, all systems were back online and engineers started taking precautionary steps, from removing the source of the failure, to implementing new security measures for it not to occur a second time.

Some questions still remain though. If the bug hadn’t ‘magically’ repaired itself, at what timeline would we be looking at for yesterday’s outage? And how come Google’s Site Reliability Team did not find the error faster? I mean, we are all human of course, but isn’t Google supposed to be one of the top companies with the best team of engineers? It appears not.

Thank you Google Blog for providing us with this information

D-Link To Patches Router Back-Door Vulnerability

A patch has finally been released by D-Link for a serious security vulnerability in selected models of router, following the discovery of an easily accessed back-door to the router menu.

It was first discovered by researcher Craif Heffner back in October, where Heffner saw the ‘xmlset_roodkcableoj28840ybtide’ which contains the backwards plain-text string ‘edit by 04882 joel backdoor’, as your browser’s user agent bypassed the router’s requirement for a username and password to access the configuration menu. Pretty scary as well as intriguing at the same time.

D-Link has admitted that the discovery was real but defended the practice stating that it was used by technical service engineers to retrieve router information in cases where the routers’ firmware crashed.

“The so-called back-door was implemented in these six older products as a failsafe for D-Link technical repair service to retrieve router settings for customers in case of firmware crashes that would result in lost configuration information,” a company spokesperson claimed via email at the time. ‘Nonetheless, the new firmware updates will respectively revoke any failsafe opportunity.”

Users who still run the affected routers, which are models DIR-100, DIR-120, DI-524, DI-524UP, DI-604S, DI-604UP, DI-604+, DI-624S, and TM-G5240, it is a relief to know that the company has finally released updated firmware files which remove the hard-coded back-door. D-Link reportedly promised a released date close to the end of October, but apparently hit something of a last-minute delay.

There are rumors that the DIR-615 model is also vulnerable to the flaw, but the rumor has been denied by D-Link with no firmware update planned for that device. Though users of the latter model should be cautions nonetheless.

Thank you Bit-Tech for providing us with this information