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Radeon Software Crimson; The Review

Author: SKYMTL
Date: November 23, 2015
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A few weeks ago AMD announced a new ground-up project to improve every element of their drivers and control panel, from performance, to user interaction, to stability and everything in between. Dubbed Radeon Software, this grand plan has been years in the making and its first iteration is called Crimson. Essentially, Crimson will be the first of AMD’s once-a-year major driver updates with several minor updates interposed throughout the intervening months in an effort to keep up with new game launches, bug fixes and other optimizations.

We’ve already covered Crimson’s goals and new features in some detail but at that time we didn’t have any access to the drivers themselves or the sleek new interface that was promised. Now we are able to take a deep-dive into what is being offered since AMD is officially launching Radeon Software for public consumption. That’s pretty exciting since the Crimson Edition is supposed to not only enhance the overall user experience but also unlock a number of features that were previously inaccessible in some operating environments and with certain legacy products.


AMD’s approach to designing Crimson focused on four primary pillars of improvement: the user experience, features, performance and overall efficiency. Each and every one of these has been addressed in some way. As we discussed in the announcement article, these all address that first “user experience” tenet in some way or another but the way each goes about things is quite a bit different.

The primary point for user experience really boils down to functionality and responsiveness. To those ends, AMD has reduced the boot times for their software by an order of magnitude, improved transition times when moving between sections in their control panel and generally moved their entire interface towards something that is cleaner and excessively user-friendly.


That positive slant on user experience trickles down into bug reporting and the eventual fixes for those bugs as well. Many of the items that AMD’s community have been reporting as of late have been addressed but some of them have been around for what feels like forever. With that in mind, AMD is promising to roll out solutions much quicker from here on out as they begin to put additional emphasis upon their software ecosystem.

Another feature they are now talking more about is the AMD Clean Uninstall Utility. It is supposed to completely remove any last vestiges of previous Catalyst software and drivers from your system in preparation for an upgrade, general troubleshooting or a clean install. Personally, I find this somewhat ironic since the CUU has been around for quite some time now and, in my experience at least, it tends to leave around little gremlins that can seriously mess with new Radeon hardware if not addressed. Until AMD can finally prove this utility works as advertised, I’ll continue to recommend the excellent and completely free DDU.

One question many will have is about performance improvements. At this time, AMD says there are no major framerate improvements over their latest beta driver (15.7.1.1) in most games but there are some minor boosts in DX12 benchmarks. Crimson is mainly focused on rolling out the new software interface rather than addressing any perceived performance shortfalls. With that being said, some additional optimizations have been rolled out for Rainbow 6: Siege, Star Wars Battlefront and Call of Duty Black Ops 3, all of which have seen 5% and lower boosts. I’ll go over all of that a bit later in this review.
 
 
 

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