AMD has released its latest Radeon driver update in what’s become a yearly tradition for the company. Every 12 months, AMD makes a major push to introduce new features and capabilities, with smaller point updates to improve graphics compatibility throughout the year.
One obvious reason to update drivers is to take advantage of new performance improvements. Here, AMD makes some significant uplift claims — but many of the games it’s comparing against are running a version of the driver that predated their own release. Unoptimized drivers obviously don’t perform particularly well, so one could read this chart as a good example of why it’s important to update semi-regularly. Back in August, Tom’s Hardware analyzed how RX 480 and GTX 1060 performance changed with driver releases over the course of an entire year and found that the gains were small in both cases, with the RX 480 improving by 2.3 percent while Nvidia’s 1060 gained 4.3 percent. If you’re playing new games on drivers released before those titles shipped, you can often see much larger improvements.
Performance improvements have always been just one aspect of the overall Radeon driver cycle, however. This year, major new features of the Radeon Software Adrenaline 2019 Edition include:
Radeon ReLive Improvements: Radeon ReLive now includes picture-in-picture support and the option to save instant replays as GIF files automatically. Files can also be automatically uploaded to gfycat and support for Streamable, Restream, and Quanmin TV is also included.
ReLive also now includes its own scene editor, with support for custom scenes and dynamic overlays. Multi-channel audio support and 16:9 900p streaming support are also now both included, with the latter envisioned as a halfway point between 720p and 1080p.
AMD Link: AMD’s mobile companion app, AMD Link, now integrates with its power management and overclocking utility, AMD Wattman. It also now includes voice support (English, Cantonese, Mandarin).
The app can capture and display performance metrics remotely and the ReLive section of AMD Link can now view screenshots and videos, neither of which was supported in the older versions of the application. Players using ReLive to stream can now view comments on Twitch, YouTube, or FB via AMD Link as well.
VR and Wireless Streaming: These functions are technically handled by ReLive, but they’re different enough from its game streaming capability that I wanted to break them out separately. New capabilities here include the option to stream from a gaming PC to a mobile device on the same network, allowing you to play PC titles or use your desktop from elsewhere. If you have a standalone VR headset, you also have the option to stream PC games to it. At the moment, this feature is limited to either Google Daydream + a compatible headset or an HTC Vive Focus. Oculus Go support should arrive in time, but AMD wasn’t able to give a date. THG took this feature for a test drive but found that while it does work well enough, there are some tough limits as far as which games are actually compatible with the limited control options available. Still, if you fit the niche, this is an interesting feature.
AMD Wattman Improvements: Wattman now offers two presets for overclocking (these are available to RX 400 series cards and Vega) as well as an automatic undervolting option that’s Vega-specific. RX Vega’s power states are also now all user-adjustable, whereas previously, only the last two power states could be changed. There are also new options for setting fan curves and some options to optimize memory timings for cryptocurrency mining.
Overclocking headroom on RX GPUs is typically quite small, but the undervolting options should be of interest to anyone who would like to trim Vega’s power-hungry nature. AMD is also emphasizing new improvements to Radeon Chill to reduce power consumption in games and gains associated with Project ReSX, its e-sports themed offering.
When you put it all together, there’s a lot of collective changes and quality-of-life improvements to the overall driver stack. How much they interest you together will depend on where your interests run. If you aren’t a streamer or wanting to offload games to a VR headset, the improvements here are on the prosaic side — but more options for efficiency and flexibility are never a bad thing.