Radeon Software Crimson; The Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: November 23, 2015
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FreeSync Improvements

As the FreeSync ecosystem continues to evolve, monitor manufacturers are launching some truly enticing products, many of which are less expensive yet still as capable as their G-SYNC counterparts. AMD has also been moving to upgrade FreeSync’s feature set in some pretty substantial ways.

Within Crimson here will be support for FreeSync in a DX9 environment when Crossfire is used. This was an item mysteriously missing from previous iterations and an area where G-SYNC excelled. In addition, AMD has announced they will be working with monitor manufacturers to enable FreeSync through HDMI as well but that isn’t anything new since laptops with this feature were first demoed at Computex 2015.

Perhaps the biggest addition this time is what AMD calls Low Framerate Compensation or LFC. If you remember our original FreeSync review, I commented about how the gameplay experience got all bent out of sorts when the framerate dropped under the display’s minimal FreeSync-supported refresh rate. Essentially, stuttering became commonplace as the framerates synced with the display’s lower refresh ratios in an effort to eliminate flickering.

Given that many first-generation FreeSync displays has a lower “zone” of 40Hz, this caused no small number of issues when FreeSync was enabled alongside V-Sync. Framerates that should have been still completely playable suffered in a massive way, eliminating the benefits of AMD’s technology for a large number of users who may not have been able to push higher framerates to their monitor.

This situation is about to change in a big way with LFC. With it, AMD is able to adaptively adjust their GPU output as well as the monitor’s refresh rate to prevent those jarring step-downs when the framerate falls under a display’s minimum supported FreeSync zone.

We’ll test this out in the coming weeks but for the time being it is important to know that not all FreeSync displays will be compatible. Essentially, any display with a maximum refresh rate that’s 2.5 times higher or more than the minimum refresh rate will be compatible. Unfortunately, that means monitors with a 40Hz to 75Hz zone will be left on the table but most newer FreeSync panels feature 30-75 or 30-100 or higher rates so there’s very little reason to be concerned.

Frame Pacing Goes DX9

AMD’s Crossfire solutions used to be known for their myriad issues with high frame times and microstutter. For the most part those problems have been stamped out but there were still some lingering hitches in popular DX9 titles. Simply put, AMD’s frame pacing fixes were rolled out into DX11 and DX10 environments but remained elusive for DX9 games. With Crimson that will be changing and most DX9-based games should now have excellent motion fluidity.

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