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Manufacturer: AMD

Third annual release

For the past two years, AMD has made a point of releasing one major software update to Radeon users and gamers annually. In 2014 this started with Catalyst Omega, a dramatic jump in performance, compatibility testing and new features were the story. We were told that for the first time in a very long while, and admitting this was the most important aspect to me, AMD was going to focus on building great software with regular and repeated updates. In 2015 we got a rebrand along with the release: Radeon Software Crimson Edition.  AMD totally revamped the visual and user experience of the driver software, bringing into the modern world of style and function. New features and added performance were also the hallmarks of this release, with a stronger promise to produce more frequent drivers to address any performance gaps, stability concerns and to include new features.

For December 2016 and into the new year, AMD is launching the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition driver. While the name might seem silly, it will make sense as we dive into the new features.

While you may have seen the slides leak out through some other sites over the past 48 hours, I thought it was worth offering my input on the release.

Not a performance focused story

The first thing that should be noted with the ReLive Edition is that AMD isn’t making any claims of substantially improved performance. Instead, the Radeon Technologies Group software team is dedicated to continued and frequent iterations that improve performance gradually over time.

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As you can see in the slide above, AMD is showing modest 4-8% performance gains on the Radeon RX 480 with the Crimson ReLive driver, and even then, its being compared to the launch driver of 16.6.2.  That is significantly lower than the claims made in previous major driver releases. Talking with AMD about this concern, it told us that they don’t foresee any dramatic, single large step increases in performance going forward. The major design changes that were delivered over the last several years, starting with a reconstruction of the CrossFire system thanks to our testing, have been settled. All we should expect going forward is a steady trickle of moderate improvements.

(Obviously, an exception may occur here or there, like with a new game release.)

Radeon ReLive Capture and Streaming Feature

So, what is new? The namesake feature for this driver is the Radeon ReLive application that is built in. ReLive is a capture and streaming tool that will draw obvious comparisons to what NVIDIA has done with GeForce Experience. The ReLive integration is clean and efficient, well designed and seems easy to use in my quick time with it. There are several key capabilities it offers.

First, you can record your gameplay with the press of a hotkey; this includes the ability to record and capture the desktop as well. AMD has included a bevy of settings for your captures to adjust quality, resolution, bitrate, FPS and more.

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ReLive supports resolutions up to 4K30 with the Radeon R9 series of GPUs and up to 1440p30 with the RX 480/470/460. That includes both AVC H.264 and HEVC H.265.

Along with recording is support for background capture, called Instant Replay. This allows the gamer to always record in the background, up to 20 minutes, so you can be sure you capture amazing moments that happen during your latest gaming session. Hitting a hotkey will save the clip permanently to the system.

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Continue reading our overview of the new AMD Radeon Crimson ReLive driver!

Revisiting an old battleground with updated weapons; the RX 480 and GTX 1060 ride again

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 6, 2016 - 06:30 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, gtx 1060, sapphire, RX 480 8GB Nitro+, GTX 1060 6GB GAMING, evga

It has been several months and more than a few driver releases since Hardware Canucks last reviewed the RX 480 and GTX 1060, as well as the arrival of more games with at least some DX12 support.  They decided to revisit the performance results of these two cards, both stock versions as well as factory overclocked models.  They chose Sapphire's RX 480 8GB Nitro+ and EVGA's GTX 1060 6GB GAMING models to compare and the results show that the extra work those companies put into these GPUs paid off.  They tested a mix of over a dozen games and their results are interesting, in far more cases than in their first look at these cards the RX 480 comes out the clear performance winner, however that performance comes at a high enough cost that the GTX 1060 shows better performance per dollar.  Take a look at this revised review if these cards are appropriate for your budget.

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"More than four months after the launch of NVIDIA's GTX 1060, we take another look at its performance against AMD's RX 480 8GB in more than a dozen games. The results of this one may surprise you...... "

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NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.19 Drivers (and Two Contests)

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 6, 2016 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, nvidia, graphics drivers, giveaways, giveaway

Alongside the release of the Oculus Touch controllers from Oculus VR, and the fifty-or-so games that launched with it, NVIDIA has published another graphics driver. The GeForce Game Ready 376.19 WHQL drivers also resolve one of two SLI issues in No Man’s Sky (the other bug, which involves temporal anti-aliasing, is still being worked on) and also fixes two issues with G-Sync for laptops.

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Since it affects a few of our readers: the Folding@Home bug is not yet fixed, but it’s now classified as a top-priority bug, though. Personally, I’m guessing that it will be fixed soon, now that there’s a little down-time before and after the holidays, after and before the game release rushes. Otherwise, it seems pretty stable and smooth for me. One user is complaining about Windows 10 UI freezes and crashes, starting with 376.09, but it’s otherwise relatively quiet.

As for the contests

NVIDIA is hosting two giveaways: one on their social media sites (Twitter and Facebook) and the other on GeForce Experience. The first contest runs from Tuesday to Friday, where they are giving away a GTX 1080, game codes, and one grand prize of a custom PC, accessorized with an Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch. The other contest runs until December 30th, where NVIDIA will give away a bundle of Oculus Rift, Oculus Touch Controllers, and a GTX 1070 to ten people, at random, who log in to GeForce Experience.

Check out their blog post for details on how to enter, as well as get the new driver (if GeForce Experience hasn’t already started begging).

Source: NVIDIA

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.5

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 29, 2016 - 12:34 AM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers

For tomorrow’s Watch_Dogs 2, AMD has released Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.5 graphics drivers, giving users a day to configure their PCs. Note that, while the download links in the release notes say 16.11.4, hovering your mouse over them shows the correct version, dated last Friday. Don’t worry, though, the Radeon Technologies Group is based out of Markham, Ontario, Canada, so they didn’t miss out on turkey leftovers to bring you this software.

Okay, yes, that joke was lame. Moving on.

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Beyond Watch_Dogs 2, this driver release also adds a new CrossFire profile for Dishonored 2 for Windows 8.x and Windows 10, so multiple GPU users of that game might want to upgrade, too. Beyond that, flickering in The Division and Battlefield 1 while using CrossFire is also addressed.

There are quite a few known issues, though, including a few crashes when using the Vulkan API. Most of these known issues were present in 16.11.4 from a couple of weeks ago, including the aforementioned Vulkan crashes, but this driver adds two. The CrossFire profile for Dishonored 2 that was added with this driver will be disabled on Windows 7, although it sounds like that will be fixed in a future release. Also, Watch_Dogs 2 may flicker or crash when using Crossfire with two RX 480s, but apparently not other configurations.

The driver is not signed by WHQL, but I think I prefer what AMD’s doing now, rapidly releasing several drivers a month, addressing issues as they arise, versus a Microsoft stamp of approval. All that matters is that they can be installed on Anniversary Edition clean installs with Secure Boot enabled, and they can.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.09 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 28, 2016 - 11:20 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Because holiday shopping is... wrapping up... this year’s rush of AAA games will be slowing down soon, at least until it starts up again in January. One of the last releases, Watch_Dogs 2, will be arriving on the PC tomorrow. As such, NVIDIA has released GeForce 376.09 drivers out to their website and GeForce Experience. The driver also includes optimizations for Dead Rising 4 and Steep.

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Unfortunately, the release notes aren’t yet available as of time of this writing (but the link is). As such, we don’t know specifics about what the driver fixes or changes. The notes are supposed to be up at some time today. Users in the forums have been complaining about a few things here and there, but nothing that seems credible and wide-spread that could be attributed to the driver.

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

A Holiday Project

A couple of years ago, I performed an experiment around the GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card to see if we could upgrade basic OEM, off-the-shelf computers to become competent gaming PCs. The key to this potential upgrade was that the GTX 750 Ti offered a great amount of GPU horsepower (at the time) without the need for an external power connector. Lower power requirements on the GPU meant that even the most basic of OEM power supplies should be able to do the job.

That story was a success, both in terms of the result in gaming performance and the positive feedback it received. Today, I am attempting to do that same thing but with a new class of GPU and a new class of PC games.

The goal for today’s experiment remains pretty much the same: can a low-cost, low-power GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card that also does not require any external power connector offer enough gaming horsepower to upgrade current shipping OEM PCs to "gaming PC" status?

Our target PCs for today come from Dell and ASUS. I went into my local Best Buy just before the Thanksgiving holiday and looked for two machines that varied in price and relative performance.

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  Dell Inspiron 3650 ASUS M32CD-B09
Processor Intel Core i3-6100 Intel Core i7-6700
Motherboard Custom Custom
Memory 8GB DDR4 12GB DDR4
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 530 Intel HD Graphics 530
Storage 1TB HDD 1TB Hybrid HDD
Case Custom Custom
Power Supply 240 watt 350 watt
OS Windows 10 64-bit Windows 10 64-bit
Total Price $429 (Best Buy) $749 (Best Buy)

The specifications of these two machines are relatively modern for OEM computers. The Dell Inspiron 3650 uses a modest dual-core Core i3-6100 processor with a fixed clock speed of 3.7 GHz. It has a 1TB standard hard drive and a 240 watt power supply. The ASUS M32CD-B09 PC has a quad-core HyperThreaded processor with a 4.0 GHz maximum Turbo clock, a 1TB hybrid hard drive and a 350 watt power supply. Both of the CPUs share the same Intel brand of integrated graphics, the HD Graphics 520. You’ll see in our testing that not only is this integrated GPU unqualified for modern PC gaming, but it also performs quite differently based on the CPU it is paired with.

Continue reading our look at upgrading an OEM machine with the GTX 1050 Ti!!

MSI's mercurial new GTX 1070

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 25, 2016 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: msi, gtx 1070, GTX 1070 Quick Silver, factory overclocked

MSI's new Quick Silver design looks very different from most of their other cards, black and silver with a shiny metal backplate as opposed to the red and black we are used to.  The GTX 1070 which TechPowerUp reviewed has a bit of a factory overclock, the base Core clock is 76MHz higher than the default at 1582MHz though they have left the VRAM at the default frequency.  There is headroom left in the card, TechPowerUp hit a stable 2101MHz Core, 2290MHz VRAM, not the best results they have seen but certainly a decent increase.  Drop by for a look at its performance in over a dozen games.

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"MSI's GTX 1070 Quick Silver does away with the red-and-black color theme and uses stylish silver instead. Thanks to the powerful cooler from the GTX 1070 Gaming Z, the card is the coolest and quietest GTX 1070 we ever tested. It also comes at a rather affordable $425."

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Source: TechPowerUp

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 18, 2016 - 01:54 AM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers

The fourth Radeon Software Crimson Edition graphics driver to be released this month, dated November 15th, was just published on their website. These have not been WHQL certified, like the previous ones, but that might actually be for the best. Rapid graphics driver releases, not throttled by Microsoft red tape, probably increases driver quality over this busy time of year. Also, I recently found out that WHQL certification is not a requirement for clean installed Windows 10 Anniversary Edition systems with Secure Boot Enabled. Both AMD and NVIDIA sign their hotfix drivers in a way that satisfies this check, without going through the entire WHQL process.

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That aside, Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4 rolls in additional fixes to Civilization VI. AMD isn’t saying what these fixes are, such as whether they are for general performance optimizations or stability issues that we haven’t heard about yet, but it’s out now so you should probably update if you are currently playing the game. The driver also fixes problems when attempting to watch web video and play a game simultaneously, which is actually something I do frequently. (Don’t knock listening to podcasts while playing StarCraft II Arcade until you try it...) Thirdly, 16.11.4 also fixes rendering issues in Titanfall 2 that occur while piloting a Titan.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA GeForce 375.86 Game Ready Drivers Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 18, 2016 - 12:24 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Update, November 17th @ 7:21pm: NVIDIA has released 375.95 Hotfix to fix this issue. They are working on getting it WHQL certified for their website and GeForce Experience. You can download and install it directly, though.

Update, November 16th @ 12:56pm: NVIDIA has reproduced the low memory clocks issue, found its cause, and are working on a fix. They believe it only affects certain factory-overclocked cards. It is obviously a high priority, so a hotfix driver will likely be issued (unless they can get it WHQL certified quick enough that it would be pointless).

Original post below:

NVIDIA has just released a new graphics driver. GeForce Game Ready 375.86 provides optimized support for Ubisoft's Steep, which is an open-world game with wingsuiters, skiers, snowboarders, and paragliders. It also rolls in extra optimizations for previous game ready games that are receiving patches: Battlefield 1, Civilization VI, and Tom Clancy's The Division.

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Before you install, though, there is one particularly annoying issue that is being reported on GeForce forums. NVIDIA is currently investigating reports that certain, but not all, Pascal GPUs are having their video memory stuck at 810 MHz, leading to (as you would expect) severe performance loss. It's possible that the affected users are all running a specific overclocking application or something. If you are in a bit of a rush and don't want to put up with potentially rolling back, then you might want to skip the version.

Thankfully, both discrete graphics vendors have been releasing multiple versions per month. The wait shouldn't be too long.

Source: NVIDIA

RX 480 versus the GTX 1060; who gets your $250?

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 15, 2016 - 07:58 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, nvidia, GTX1060, amd

On one side of the ring is the RX 480, with 2304 Stream Processors, 32 ROPs and 144 Texture Units.  In the opposite corner, at 1280 CUDA Cores, 48 ROPs and 80 Texture Units is the GTX 1060.  The two cards retail for between $200 to $250 depending on the features present on the card as well as any sales.  [H]ard|OCP tested the two cards head to head, not just raw performance numbers but also the stability of the GPU frequencies. power draw and temperatures.  All games were tested at base clocks and at the highest stable overclock and the results were back and forth, in some games AMD pulled ahead while in others NVIDIA was the clear winner.  It is worth keeping in mind that these results do not include VR results.

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"We take GIGABYTE’s Radeon RX 480 G1 GAMING video card and pit it against a MSI GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X video card in today’s evaluation. We will overclock both video cards as high as possible and compare performance and find out what both video cards have to offer in the upper $200 price range for gaming."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP