Windows 10 Game Mode Gets Benchmarked, Still Needs Work

Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2017 - 04:54 AM |
Tagged: windows insider, Windows Game Mode, windows 10, pc gaming, creators update, beta

Last month Microsoft confirmed that a new "Game Mode" would be part of the upcoming Windows 10 Creator's Update planned for a spring release ("early 2017"). Microsoft has recently started rolling out the Game Mode to its beta testers in the latest Windows Insider preview build (for those on the fast track anyway, I am currently on the slow ring and do not have Game Mode yet). Now that it is rolled out in preview form, gamers have naturally started benchmarking it, and PC Games News has posted an article on their testing of the new feature and their findings on two Win32 and one UWP game. Not to spoil the results, but at this point Game Mode does not appear to offer anything and can even result in less frames per second with it turned on with its only saving grace being that in some situations it does offer increased performance when the Game DVR feature is also being used to record gameplay. They tested both a NVIDIA GTX 1060 and an AMD RX 480, and Game Mode in it's current preview software on a preview OS appears to have more benefits for NVIDIA while the AMD card PC Games News tested mostly just did it's thing regardless of whether Game Mode was turned on or off (heh, not necessarily a bad thing). 

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With Game Mode now rolling out to Windows Insiders, there is more information on how Microsoft plans to implement it. Rather than hiding it in the Xbox app, Microsoft has thankfully put it in the main settings app under the Gaming category and users access it by bringing up a Game Bar menu in-game for those games that support it (PC Games News noted Doom and GTA V did not work). Game Mode is an OS-level feature that will dedicate a certain amount of CPU threads to the game when it is turned on and leaves the remaining threads to be used by background processes (which themselves are reportedly minimized). Currently, this seems to work better with multi-threaded games and older games that were coded to only use one or two threads may not see any benefit in turning Game Mode on (and it may actually result in lower FPS). To Microsoft's credit, they are not over promising with Game Mode and note that it should be good for around 2% better performance when enabled with Game Mode having a bigger impact on UWP titles.

I encourage you to check out the PC Games News article where they have their benchmark results presented in a number of bar graphs. Most of the tests saw little to no benefit from using Game Mode, but not a negative effect. Some games like Hitman saw a 6% increase in average frames per second on the GTX 1060. On the other side of things, Forza Horizon 3 (ironically, a UWP game) performance actually drops when Game Mode is turned on to the tune of 13% to 23% less FPS with the RX 480 and 9% to 15% less with the GTX 1060. As far as Tomb Raider, things are more in the middle and things stay the same or get slightly better minimum frames per second when Game Mode and Game DVR are both turned on (though oddly there is a result in there that shows a performance drop with Game Mode on and Game DVR off).

It ia also worth noting that overall, the trend seems to be that Game Mode is going to be most beneficial at increasing the minimum frame rates on games with the Game DVR feature is being used moreso than getting overall maximum or average FPS out of a game. The biggest hurdle is going to be game compatiblity, especially for older games, and Microsoft tweaking things so that at worst Game Mode won't tank performance (like it currently does with Hitman minimum frame rates when Game Mode is on but DVR is off) and things will stay the same as if Game Mode was not on at all and at best gamers will get slightly smoother gameplay.

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Source: PCGamesN.com

Right now Game Mode is not compelling, but it is still a work in progress and if Microsoft can get Game Mode right it could be a useful addition (and incentive to upgrade to Windows 10 is probably why they are interested in pursuing this feature) and could come in handy especially on gaming laptops! I am not writing off the feature yet, and neither should you, but I do hope that compatibility is improved and the performance hits are reduced or eliminated when it is enabled. My guess is that the games that will work well with Game Mode are going to be almost all newer games and especially games that are developed post Creator's Update final release with Game Mode in mind.

Hopefully we can use our frame rating on the final product to see how well it truly works as far as user experience and smooth gameplay. What are your thoughts on Windows 10's Game Mode?

Got Windows 10? Get GeForce 352.63 beta

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 29, 2015 - 07:49 PM |
Tagged: GeForce 352.63, beta, windows 10

The new Win 10 NVIDIA GeForce driver is here, in two different flavours depending on your form factor.  If you spend the money for a gaming laptop with a GeForce 600M through 900M then this is the driver for you.  On the other hand if you have a traditional desktop and a GPU or two then head to this page.

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If you have a Sony laptop you should double check your GPU is covered and unfortunately at this point Hybrid Power technology is not supported.  NVIDIA did not provide much additional information on the desktop side; it is a beta and so is the OS so make sure to record the full information about your bugs and crashes when reporting them, not just a frowny face followed by expletives.

 

Source: NVIDIA

AMD Catalyst 14.7 Release Candidate 3

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 14, 2014 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: catalyst 14.7 RC3, beta, amd

A new Catalyst Release Candidate has arrived and as with the previous driver it no longer supports Windows 8.0 or the WDDM 1.2 driver, so upgrade to Win 7 or Win 8.1 before installing please.  AMD will eventually release a driver which supports WDDM 1.1 under Win 8.0 for those who do not upgrade.

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Feature Highlights of the AMD Catalyst 14.7​ RC3 Driver for Windows Includes all improvements found in the AMD Catalyst 14.7 RC driver

  • Display interface enhancements to improve 4k monitor performance and reduce flickering.
  • Improvements apply to the following products: ​
    • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series
    • AMD Radeon R9 270 Series
    • AMD Radeon HD 7800 Series​ ​​
  • Even with these improvements, cable quality and other system variables can affect 4k performance. AMD recommends using DisplayPort 1.2 HBR2 certified cables with a length of 2m (~6 ft) or less when driving 4K monitors.​
  • Wildstar: AMD Crossfire profile support
  • Lichdom: Single GPU and Multi-GPU performance enhancements
  • Watch Dogs: Smoother gameplay on single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations​

Feature Highlights of the AMD Catalyst 14.7​ RC Driver for Windows

  • 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 (3840x2160 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.​​​

Feature Highlights of the AMD Catalyst 14.6 RC Driver for Windows

  • Plants vs. Zombies (Direct3D performance improvements):
    • AMD Radeon R9 290X - 1920x1080 Ultra – improves up to 11%
    • AMD Radeon R9 290X - 2560x1600 Ultra – improves up to 15%
    • AMD Radeon R9 290X CrossFire configuration (3840x2160 Ultra) - 92% scaling
  • 3DMark Sky Diver improvements:
    • AMD A4-6300 – improves up to 4%
    • Enables AMD Dual Graphics/AMD CrossFire support
  • Grid Auto Sport: AMD CrossFire profile
  • Wildstar: Power Xpress profile
    • Performance improvements to improve smoothness of application
    • Performance improves up to 24% at 2560x1600 on the AMD Radeon R9 and R7 Series of products for both single GPU and multi-GPU configurations.
  • Watch Dogs: AMD CrossFire – Frame pacing improvements
  • Battlefield Hardline Beta: AMD CrossFire profile

Known Issues

  • Running Watch Dogs with a R9 280X CrossFire configuration may result in the application running in CrossFire software compositing mode
  • Enabling Temporal SMAA in a CrossFire configuration when playing Watch Dogs will result in flickering
  • AMD CrossFire configurations with AMD Eyefinity enabled will see instability with BattleField 4 or Thief when running Mantle
  • Catalyst Install Manager text is covered by Express/Custom radio button text
  • Express Uninstall does not remove C:\Program Files\(AMD or ATI) folder
Source: AMD

AMD Catalyst 14.6 RC is now available

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 24, 2014 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: amd, beta, Catalyst 14.6 RC

Starting with AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta, AMD will no longer support Windows 8.0 (and the WDDM 1.2 driver) so Windows 8.0 users should upgrade to Windows 8.1, AMD Catalyst 14.4 will continue to work on Windows 8.0.

The WDDM 1.1 Windows 7 driver currently works on Win 7 and in a future release will be used to install updated drivers under Windows 8.0.

Features of the lastest Catalyst include:

  • Plants vs. Zombies (Direct3D performance improvements):
    • AMD Radeon R9 290X - 1920x1080 Ultra – improves up to 11%
    • AMD Radeon R9290X - 2560x1600 Ultra – improves up to 15%
    • AMD Radeon R9290X CrossFire configuration (3840x2160 Ultra) - 92% scaling
  • 3DMark Sky Diver improvements:
    • AMD A4 6300 – improves up to 4%
    • Enables AMD Dual Graphics / AMD CrossFire support
  • Grid Auto Sport: AMD CrossFire profile
  • Wildstar:
    • Power Xpress profile
    • Performance improvements to improve smoothness of application
  • Watch Dogs: AMD CrossFire – Frame pacing improvements
  • Battlefield Hardline Beta: AMD CrossFire profile

Get the driver and more information right here.

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Source: AMD

E3 2014: Battlefield Hardline Closed Beta Sign Up

Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2014 - 08:43 PM |
Tagged: E3 14, E3, beta, battlefield hardline, battlefield

Quick message: The Battlefield Hardline Closed Beta is accepting applications now on a first-come-first-serve basis. Hardline is Battlefield in a cops and robbers universe. Think of PayDay 2 with Battlefield 4 graphics and gameplay elements, basically. It is developed by Visceral Games, the studio known for Dead Space.

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Note: The signup page is a bit glitchy, likely because of server load. If you are interested, hop in quick, before all of the slots are gone. The beta is open now, although it apparently takes a little bit of time before Origin recognizes that you are in it. You will know you are in when you get an email "invoice" for the Battlefield Hardline beta with a $0 transaction.

Source: EA

AMD Catalyst 13.10 Beta V2 has been released for Windows and Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 30, 2013 - 10:30 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, catalyst 13.10, beta, windows, linux

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AMD Catalyst 13.10 Beta V2 for Windows:

  • Includes 32-bit single GPU and CrossFire game profile for Battlefield 4
  • Total War: Rome 2 CrossFire profile update
  • CrossFire frame pacing improvements for CPU-bound applications
  • Resolves image corruption seen in Autodesk Investor 2014
  • 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
  • Updated AMD Enduro Technology application profiles

o Profile highlights:

  • Total War: Rome 2
  • Battlefield 4
  • Saints Row 4
  • Splinter Cell Blacklist
  • FIFA 14

AMD Catalyst 13.10 Beta for Linux:

Resolved issue highlights:

  • System hang up when startx after setting up an Eyefinity desktop.
  • Permission issue with procfs on kernel 3.10
  • System hang observed while running disaster stress test on Ubuntu 12.10
  • Hang is observed when running Unigine on Linux
  • AC/DC switching is not automatically detected
  • Laptop backlight adjustment is broken
  • Glxtest failures observed in log file with forcing on Anti-Aliasing
  • Cairo-dock is broken
  • Severe desktop corruption is observed when enabled compiz in certain cases 
  • glClientWaitSync is waiting even when timeout is 0
  • C4Engine get corruption with GL_ARB_texture_array enabled

Source: AMD

AMD Catalyst 13.8 Beta is now available

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 1, 2013 - 06:54 PM |
Tagged: frame pacing, Catalyst 13.8 Beta, catalyst, beta, amd

Yes, you too can now benefit from the Frame Pacing which Ryan has been testing and posted the results to.  For anyone with a multi-GPU system using Radeon cards this is an update worth installing as you will see a significant benefit to your gaming experience, along with the other benefits that the new Catalyst offers.

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Highlights of the Windows AMD Catalyst™ 13.8 Beta release:

  • Support for CrossFire Frame Pacing
    • Frame Pacing ensures that frames rendered across multiple GPUs in a CrossFire configuration will be displayed at an even and regular pace
    • Enabled through the AMD Catalyst Control Center; Globally or on a per application basis
    • Supported for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications and resolutions up and including 2560x1600 (single display)
  • OpenGL 4.3 support – full support for the OpenGL 4.3 feature set
  • Performance improvements found in AMD Catalyst 13.8 Beta:
    • Metro Last Light – Improves performance up to 7% on the AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series
  • OpenGL support for User Profiles and Catalyst Application Profiles:
    • Users can now create per application 3D setting profiles for OpenGL applications
    • OpenGL applications are now supported through Catalyst Application Profile updates (for single GPU and AMD CrossFire configurations)
  • AMD Enduro Technology enhancement – The AMD Catalyst Control Center now shows which applications are active on the Performance GPU and the Power saving GPU

Windows Catalyst Package:  http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/AMDCatalyst13-8WINBetaDriver....


Highlights of the Linux AMD Catalyst 13.8 Beta release:
This release of AMD Catalyst™ Linux introduces support for the following new features:

  • OpenGL 4.3 – full support for the OpenGL 4.3 feature set
  • SLED11 SP3 support
  • PowerXpress A+I support with Intel Haswell on SLED11 SP3
  • Dynamic primary surface resizing
  • Kernel 3.10 support

Resolved Issue highlights:

  • Enduro Technology on AMD + AMD Ubuntu platforms
  • Source Engine games hang when running on the High Performance ASIC
  • Maya 2011-2013 – Various visual corruptions issues have been resolved
  • Maya 2011-2013 – Mesh/Polygons selection performance has been improved
  • Unigine Heaven – Intermittent Crashes have been resolved
  • Unigine Heaven – Performance has been improved up to 11% on single GPU configurations
  • Left 4 Dead 2 – Visual corruption issues have been resolved
  • Visual artifacts are no longer seen with XvBA playback and CABAC=No

“Testing use Only” watermark has been removed.

Linux Catalyst Package: http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/AMDCatalyst13-8LINBetaDriver....

Source: AMD

AMD Catalyst 13.6 Beta Drivers For Windows and Linux Now Available

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 29, 2013 - 03:32 AM |
Tagged: gpu, drivers, catalyst 13.6 beta, beta, amd

AMD has released its Catalyst 13.6 beta graphics driver, and it fixes a number of issues under both Windows 8 and Linux. The new beta driver is also compatible with the existing Catalyst 13.5 CAP1 (Catalyst Application Profile) which improves performance of several PC games.

As far as the Windows version of the graphics driver, Catalyst 13.6 adds OpenCL GPU acceleration support to Adobe's Premiere Pro CC software and enables AMD Wireless Display technology on systems with the company's A-Series APUs and either Broadcom or Atheros Wi-Fi chipsets. AMD has also made a couple of tweaks to its Enduro technology, including correctly identifying when a Metro app idles and offloading the corresponding GPU tasks to integrated graphics instead of a discrete card. The new beta driver also resolves an issue with audio dropout over HDMI.

AMD Catalyst Drivers.jpg

On the Linux side of things, Catalyst 13.6 beta adds support for the following when using AMD's A10, A8, A6, and A4 APUs:

  • Ubuntu 13.04
  • Xserver 1.14
  • GLX_EXT_buffer age

The driver fixes several bugs as well, including resolving black screen and corruption issues under TF2, an issue with OpenGL applications and VSYNC, and UVD playback issues where the taskbar would disappear and/or the system would experience a noticeable performance drop while playing a UVD in XBMC.

You can grab the new beta driver from the AMD website.

Source: AMD

L4D2 Beta Coming to Steam For Linux This Week

Subject: General Tech | April 29, 2013 - 11:25 AM |
Tagged: valve, steam for linux, steam, pc gaming, linux, l4d2, beta

Users of Valve’s Steam for Linux client will be getting access to the beta version of Left 4 Dead 2 later this week. The L4D2 beta will come with the new Enhanced Mutation System (EMS), which adds advanced scripting options to the multiplayer zombie survival game.

In fact, all Left 4 Dead owners will get access to the new beta release via the Steam client (not just the Linux platform) for free. The beta will appear in the all games list as a separate download from the main Left 4 Dead 2 game. It will allow beta players to connect to beta servers and other L4D2 beta users.

L4D2 Beta with EMS.jpg

The EMS system is the biggest addition to the beta currently. It gives developers access to custom script logic as well as custom spawn points and control entities. New maps, characters, and weapons are beyond the scope of the EMS, however.

Interested gamers should keep an eye on their Steam games list as well as the Left 4 Dead blog.

Source: L4D.com

Return to Neverwinter

Subject: General Tech | January 31, 2013 - 12:14 AM |
Tagged: neverwinter, hero of teh north, gaming, beta

Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN has information on how you can try to get into the Neverwinter beta which will take place in February and March.  For those of you screaming "shut up and take my money", you can invest in a Founders Pack which apparently for those of you who can't make up your own character and have to pretend you are actually Salvatore's famous Drow.  If you fork over your cash you will get swanky outfit, a pseudo-Guenhwyvar and strangely a giant spider mount which is just odd to ride above ground in daylight.  Still, if that is your cuppa, head on over.

As well, it is likely we will be trying out the Crysis 3 Multiplayer open beta after the podcast tonight, so fire up Origin and download it if you want to join in on the action.

"I’ll retreat there, probably around February 8-10, March 8-10, and March 22-24, which is when Neverwinter‘s beta will take place. With its user-generated content and D&D trappings, it should be a healing sort of environment for discombobulated old nerd-wraiths like me. The more excitable among our kind – and those with wallets full of platinum – will like invest in Founders Packs, which are fashionable pre-order garments of the online-gaming catwalk. Or something."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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