We've been working with AMD since our RX 480 & RX 470 reviews to troubleshoot some driver-related screen hangs. In our July notice, we strongly encouraged that our readers on RX 400 series cards avoid the 16.7.3 drivers, following instability and file corruption on one of our test benches. Since then, we've been in correspondence with AMD on the issue, and finally have some good news for folks who've encountered the green / black / blue / yellow screen hangs with AMD drivers. 

We recently posted a news item discussing issues with AMD's 16.7.3 driver update, pushed live a few days ago. Among other problems – mostly instability, crashing, and screen flickering – owners of AMD RX 480 cards noticed a reduction in memory overclock potential on their video cards.

The maximum permissible memory overclock mysteriously changed from 2250MHz to 2050MHz with the new drivers. In our news post and accompanying video, we advised users wait to upgrade drivers (for a number of reasons), and also noted that this 200MHz limit reduction didn't really impact gaming performance in any meaningful way – just the “fun” of overclocking. And so the issue was minor in the face of the driver's more severe crashing/flickering issues, as we saw it, though we did seek an explanation from AMD as to the GPU memory overclock change.

We received a user report at 11:50AM EST on July 29 that the new AMD 16.7.3 drivers were limiting memory overclocks to 2050MHz, down from the original 2250MHz limit that we approached with our launch overclock. We spent the next several hours validating the new 16.7.3 drivers versus the previously certified 16.7.2 drivers, and reached-out to AMD via email for support.

During the ensuing tests – including some tests conducted after the below video was filmed – we discovered that the AMD 16.7.3 drivers cause blue screens as a secondary effect from hard crashes. As we state in the video, the overclock limitation on memory is not something to go “burn down the towers” over, as it seems likely a mistake, but we would strongly urge users to stay on 16.7.2 or roll-back if issues present themselves.

(Video pending upload)

We've already had hands-on experience testing AMD's new 16.7.1 driver update, following the 16.6.2 release with the RX 480 cards. Our testing instituted an early beta version of the driver for our 4GB vs. 8GB RX 480 benchmark, which showed that initially reported GTA V stuttering issues have since been resolved.

Unknown to us at the time of the 4GB vs. 8GB benchmark, the 16.7.1 update also aims to resolve some of the PCIe bus power draw concerns. AMD's pre-weekend statement indicated an update on July 5, which was released as below:

The press drivers we used in our recent Dx12 benchmark have been officially released to the public. AMD's new 16.2 beta drivers include Dx12 optimizations that coincide with the Ashes of Singularity Version 2 Dx12 Benchmark; we strongly recommend these drivers for AMD users hoping to test their systems with Dx12.

AMD's 16.2 Beta drivers make a number of important updates for graphics devices. Performance and “quality improvements” have been made for Rise of the Tomb Raider and CrossFire configurations running The Division or XCOM 2. Additional issue resolutions have been submitted for black screens, “choppy gameplay” and display corruption.

The new drivers are available here.

Full list of changes:

This morning's press embargo on the official Vulkan 1.0 API ratification lifted at 9am, when our post and video went live. The major news was AMD's Vulkan beta drivers, which developers were welcomed to download for initial testing of the new low-level API; AMD's Vulkan beta drivers can also be used for the Talos Principle.

In an nVidia announcement one hour after the embargo lifted, the company contacted us about its own Vulkan support – not shy to take a few shots at AMD's hour-prior news release. In its email to us, nVidia made the following between-the-lines statement (emphasis theirs):

Our CES coverage unveiled Razer's new external graphics enclosure, a budding industry trend over the past few years. The external GPU enclosures mostly rely upon the Thunderbolt 3 protocol for its 40Gbps throughput, which allows external dGPUs to act effectively at the speed of an x4 PCI-e 3.0 lane assignment (roughly 6% slower than x16 for most games). To function along the protocol externally requires driver support, something which both manufacturers have now made moves to enact.

AMD's newly-released 15.12 WHQL drivers reportedly improve performance and resolve rendering bugs for several major game titles. Radeon 15.12 drivers, available directly via AMD's site, introduce the first of AMD's renewed dedication to WHQL releases (drivers officially certified by Microsoft). AMD's previous driver launch – a rocky first iteration upon Radeon Settings' succession of CCC – required a hot-fix to resolve GPU overheating issues, something now included in the new 15.12 package.

AMD issued a statement moments ago pertaining to the Radeon Software (see also: Radeon Settings, Crimson, former Catalyst) fan speed configuration causing GPU overheating issues. Some users have reported GPU death resultant of excessive thermals, which correlate with inadequately low fan speeds for the current heat generation.

Software doesn't normally warrant a standalone review on this site; we'll review the hardware and, as an accompaniment, talk about the software's ability to adequately enable that hardware. AMD's newest “Radeon Settings – Crimson Edition” (introduced here) supersedes its long-standing Catalyst Control Center, which has been retired from service. Radeon Settings, which we'll interchangeably refer to as “Crimson,” is a complete overhaul of the AMD control interface. This, we think, warrants more of an in-depth tear-down than a simple news post.

There shouldn't be major performance updates included in the preview package we were provided; at least, not any more than what we've found in 15.11.1 benchmarking. This is largely an interface improvement, moving to a minimalistic UI – the trend of late – and attempting to improve ease-of-use for anyone with AMD Radeon hardware.

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