Last Tuesday AMD released a new software update for their family of GPUs. The update, 15.30.1025, or Crimson Edition replaces the long running Catalyst suite with the new Radeon Settings, and it offers a bit more than a simple UI makeover. Unlike Catalyst before it, Radeon settings is very responsive and easy to use. According to AMD they wanted it to be a better user experiences for users of their software, which is a welcomed change given that Catalyst had such a cluttered interface. The software update is also supposed to improve performance for games with:
- Fast high-speed game loading with Shader Cache.
- Optimized Flip Queue Size provides users with the very latest keyboard and mouse positional information while gaming
- Frame Pacing: smoother gaming enhancements enabled on DirectX® 9 games
- Enhanced image quality for 1080p media content scaled to 4K using adaptive directional filtering technology
- Fine-tuned Dynamic Contrast algorithm
- Enhanced Video quality settings for 6th Generation A-Series AMD APUs
- Display Port to HDMI™ 2.0 dongle support
- Customizable display settings with fine tuning for resolutions, timings, and refresh rates
- AMD FreeSync™ technology enhancements including AMD CrossFire™ support for DirectX 9 games and low frame rate compensation for smoother gameplay when below the minimum refresh rate
- Incredible power efficiency for select products and applications through power optimizations
- Frame Rate Target Control enhancements including; power saving capability, support for DirectX 9 games and extended range for target control (20 – 200 FPS)
Crimson also comes with a new game manager that allows users to set up a profile for each of their games with a simple and easy to use interface.
AMD have also included developer mode with Crimson with a full tool set to help developers code, analyse and debug their applications, and their new LiquidVR driver which unlocks the many unique hardware features on AMD GPUs allowing them to seamlessly interplay with VR headsets to enable smooth and immersive VR experiences.
OK so all those fancy press release notes aside, what did we think of Crimson? Does it change the GPU game? Does it make your current hardware run any better?
Well in a way the answer is yes and no.
After having the software on my PC for a few days I can safely say that it isn’t the huge leap that some of you may be thinking that it is, well at least not in the way you may think. This update is not gonna make your low/mid range Radeon GPU run Witcher 3 at 1080p with 60fps on Ultra settings while recording gameplay, “though, it would be amazing if it did do that”. Anywho, what Crimson does bring to the table for lower/ mid range GPUs is stability. This Stability is most noticeable in the form of its Radeon settings application. This new feature makes tweaking your GPU so much easier that you will be more willing to try out more setting on games that you otherwise may not have used on Catalyst, and thus you may experience a boost in performance in some of your games. This boost could be just a frame or 2 more than you had prevuiously, but it’s a boost none the less. I assume that the real big leaps will be on the Higher end AMD GPUs like the R9 390X and Fury.
I say assume, because I lacked access to any of the higher end AMD cards as of this article. If that changes then I shall write an update to this article.
As for my personal experience with Crimson, I found it to be mixed while testing it with some of my games. there were one or two games that I did notice an increase in FPS represented on my display like FIFA and Rocket league, and then there were those like enslaved Odyssey of the west that didn’t seem to have improved FPS or performance. With that particular game I got suffering from noticeable slow down and screen tearing. I would like to not however that I do not have a free sync capable monitor, which according to AMD should work well with the GPU to alleviate such issues as stuttering caused by screen tearing.
As for Video playback, there didn’t seem to be any noticeable changes as it related to Video Playback on my PC, which is fine because It was pretty good before the update. Running 1080p Video playback without any issues. “NO I DON’T HAVE 4K”
So to answer the questions I posed earlier. Yes, Crimson does change the GPU game, but it’s not as apparent on every AMD GPU. It does improve performance for current AMD GPU hardware, however may not be as big leap as some may be expecting. In the end what AMD managed to give us is a piece of software that squeezes out little a bit more out of their chips with varying levels of improvements depending on the GPU and the games it is used with.
if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on this topic, then I suggest you listen to the Buttonsmashers podcast.