AMD today announced a major change to its graphics drivers as its Catalyst suite is being replaced with the new Radeon Software Crimson Edition. This is also the company's annual major driver update, a successor to last year's Catalyst Omega release which introduced a number of software features.
The biggest change with these drivers is the ouster of the quirky .NET-driven Catalyst Control Center app AMD is replacing with a slick new Qt-designed Radeon Settings app that streamlines the controls and options that help you get the most out of your displays and Radeon hardware. Aesthetically, the minimalist design is now firmly seated in the Windows 10 era, away from the 2005-ish design of the previous app. Beyond the design lies a highly usable user interface that puts everything relevant together in the right place, close at hand.
Under the hood, the new Radeon Software Crimson Edition introduces a large ensemble of features, bug-fixes, general performance optimization, and more. These include a faster startup of the Radeon Settings app than Catalyst Control Center, better power-management that lowers GPU power-draw in several non-gaming apps, such as high-resolution online video playback, frame-rate-target control in DirectX 9 apps, which was previously restricted to DirectX 10 and above, performance improvements specific to games, Shader Cache Control, a feature that lets you cache shaders of various games to reduce game-load times significantly (by up to 35% in some cases), frame-pacing improvements for DirectX 9 apps, AMD FreeSync improvements at low frame-rates, more video settings, and Directional Scaling, which optimizes 1080p to 4K upscaling of content.
In this review, we will walk you through the new features, particularly the new Radeon Settings app, while also putting the new driver through a quick performance bench.