AMD are still fighting against history and all those forum comments of 'AMD drivers suck.'

Radeon Software

Terry Makedon, the brains behind ATI and AMD’s Catalyst...now Crimson...driver software, has refocused his team to make stability a priority. But AMD are struggling against a legacy of driver stability issues and that’s still costing them users.

Your graphics card can’t do much without a screen to display on. So here’s our pick of the best gaming monitors around today.

Makedon, AMD’s director of software engineering and strategy, started out at ATI back in 2000 and was responsible for developing the Catalyst driver software in 2001 which ran the red team’s GPUs until last year, when it transformed into Crimson. But it’s not been plain sailing for the software side of the company’s graphics team, with regular complaints levelled at the Radeon driver stack. Though the contention is the complaints are often from gamers who haven't used AMD software for years, but tempting those users back again is going to be incredibly difficult.

AMD have seen their GPU shipments increase by nearly 35% over this year, thanks to their Polaris-based graphics cards selling well. But that hasn't translated into an increased market share - according to the latest Steam Hardware Survey it's actually going in the opposite direction. Since last November AMD's market share on Steam has dropped from 26.3% to 23.5%. That paints a pretty dismal picture for their GPUs and part of that is down to AMD's software legacy.

“Why do you care about software? The number one reason is performance,” Makedon explained to us at the recent Crimson ReLive unveiling. “Stability is the unwritten rule. A decade ago we had issues with our stability and we would have game crashes and we lost a lot of customers because of that. So that’s why we kinda focused on stability as job one.”

Those decade-old issues still stick in the minds of PC gamers. When I went live with our testing of the Crimson ReLive software update, for example, we received comments via social media still reflecting a general distrust of AMD’s drivers.

“Stability is something we need to nail, we need to control,” Makedon continued. “And by stability I mean when a game comes out not only are we highly optimised for it in terms of performance but we’ve tested the shit out of it and we know there’s no stability issue.”

AMD vs Nvidia

“Performance was always kinda there but in the last two years I have seen our stability drastically increase, and the main point of that is the user satisfaction ratings. So I go on forums all the time and I constantly see the comments of “AMD drivers suck!” And the truth of the matter is that’s an Nvidia user that hasn’t touched our stuff for five to ten years.”

People actually using AMD’s driver software right now seem to be loving it. They give you the opportunity to have your say about the Radeon Settings application, and the software behind it, and it’s got a pretty unprecedented 4.5 out of 5 user approval rating, from around 85 million downloads. That’s good going for a company whose drivers are apparently so rubbish.

“I’ve never given any company a five because if you give a company a five that means you’ve done everything you can, don’t worry about it, you don’t need to improve,” said Makedon. “It’s really coming through from our users a 4.5 out of 5. I’m blown away.”

And when there are issues with driver support for new games AMD's software team are on it in a flash. "We can get a hotfix out in one or two days," said Makedon. "If it's catastrophic, if it's a bluescreen in a popular game, we'll have a fix out in a few hours."

Given that 57% of all gamers, PC and console combined, are using Radeon graphics silicon - and hence their driver stacks - they must be doing something right. But what are your experiences with AMD’s driver software, do they get a 4.5 out of 5 score from you?

Paladins
Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
panbient avatarDave James avatarShantara avatarRock1m1 avatarBraneman avatarSpeely Dan avatar+11
Shantara Avatar
5
1 Year ago

AMD drivers may not suck anymore, but they've left a lasting impression from the last time I was using their graphics card.

Though to be fair, nVidia also had its fair share of driver troubles over the past year.

4
Skunks Avatar
3
1 Year ago

But the games worked properly usually

1
rajalanun Avatar
2
1 Year ago

no need to look that far, go back to previous 2 months

1
Braneman Avatar
70
1 Year ago

The last time I bought a computer I had to go and actually contact Nvidia and tell them to support my graphics card. Wasn't even any kind of weird off brand graphics card, they didn't recognize normal self-made Nvidia graphics cards.

3
cyclops Avatar
4
1 Year ago

I've been using AMD GPU's in 2 gaming PC's since 2012, 3 different GPU's in that time and haven't had a single driver problem. They have been the smoothest operating and most trouble free GPU drivers I have ever used.

People who think AMD drivers suck are just exposing how out of touch they are.

3
Droniac Avatar
103
1 Year ago

The last time I used any AMD drivers was about a decade ago. Their drivers in the X800 era were ace, but then crashed and burned rather spectacularly (and quickly) in terms of game support.

Their new driver suite, adding in some form of recording software similar to Shadowplay make AMD a bit more interesting. Especially if they truly have game support on point, to which: I haven't heard of too many major issues with AMD drivers lately, so it's at the very least nowhere near as bad as it used to be. But they've got a very different problem than drivers right now: the performance just isn't there.

My GTX1070 trounces any AMD card on the market right now, by a huge margin, particularly in non-DX12 games (which is pretty much every game). I'm using a 1440p 144Hz monitor now and tend to record gameplay, so even that "extra" performance in games does actually matter. Which makes any and all AMD cards an absolute can't-buy. They've essentially given up on the performance market, so their cards just aren't interesting.

As to driver rating... on a different tack: I don't think I'd rate Nvidia's drivers at 4.5/5, particularly given how frequently their game-ready drivers have had major issues recently with causing artifacting (bf1) or even reducing memory clockspeeds.

1
ManualCrowcaine Avatar
2
1 Year ago

Actually, you are misinformed. AMD still has performance, even to this very day, even prior to launching the Vega, which on paper trumps even the new Titan X Pascal. I believe you forgot about the Fury X. It performs very similarly to your GTX1070, and outperforms the GTX1070 is some DX12 based games, but even for DX11, it still holds it's own fairly well. Obviously the GTX1070 would be a better buy in terms of performance/dollar, but you said that it "trounces and AMD card on the market right now" and that is simply not the case.

1
Droniac Avatar
103
1 Year ago

I am not misinformed in this regard. Though your post did make me double-check.

Take a look at a few benchmarks:

http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/nvidia_geforce_gtx_1070_review,17.html

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1070-8gb-pascal-performance,4585-3.html

And FutureMark for good measure:

http://www.futuremark.com/hardware/gpu

To sum up benchmarks across the internet:

DX12: inconsistent, but the Fury X has a slight edge.

Anything else: the GTX1070 performs 20-40 fps better than the Fury X.

In other words: the Fury X performs well in the most ideal set of circumstances, but gets trounced in every other scenario. The every other scenario is far more common in the real world, because "DX12 games optimized with AMD in mind" is a very narrow set of games still and won't really become a major factor until about two years from now when there's decent DX12 saturation.

It should also be noted that the Fury X is factory-overclocked to its absolute limits and watercooled. Meanwhile the GTX1070's being used in most benchmarks are stock, which means they have quite some OC leeway still. My factory-OC GTX1070 (Palit SC) would widen that non-DX12 gap further, quite significantly, whereas a Fury X has no meaningful OC leeway left.

Moreover, even if DX12 games were common, the Fury X isn't a purchase any sane person would undertake right now. It costs 300 euro more than a GTX1070. Add another 40 euro on top and you have a factory-OC GTX1080 that significantly outperforms the Fury X even in DX12 and has notably lower power draw.

AMD has always had fantastic on-paper performance. It has always translated to poor real-world performance, until DX12. What AMD needs is DX12. Have this conversation again two-three years from now and yes the Fury X would be a contender against the GTX1070, but both would be irrelevant by then.

1
Skunks Avatar
3
1 Year ago

I am sooo DONE with them. They dont even support there $1500 USD 295X2 card, its been a total waste of money. I have used them since ATI but I am done. And its just not crossfire support (absymal for sli too), its too many games that just dont work right with games and there drivers anymore. I am done.

1
rajalanun Avatar
2
1 Year ago

GTX TITAN says hi

1
Salvo1 Avatar
2
1 Year ago

I used to be a diehard Nvidia fan, but been using AMD more lately, and the drivers are good, and in 2016, they're actually very stable, have significant performance increases, and even have cool new features arriving all the time.

My advice is: don't knock it until you've tried it. It's not like the old, bad, ATi days before AMD took over.

1
QDP2 Avatar
883
1 Year ago

AMD have improved over the last few years, but statistics don't lie. Take two equal spec'd GPU's (one from AMD, one from nVidea), the nVidea more often that not outperforms the AMD.

I get there's a case-by-case check-up, and you need to research price as much as specs, but unless you're going budget, I have never found AMD worthwhile.

1
PTCruiserGT Avatar
1
1 Year ago

You can still get current drivers for 8+ year old cards from Nvidia. AMD gets nowhere close to that.

1
RyoMario Avatar
4
1 Year ago

I have been using Radeon GPU's since the old 9xxx series, then I switched to Nvidia when they were rolling with the 6xxx and after that with 8xxx series, then I moved back to Radeon 5xxx series and from that point I stayed with Radeon, right now I have a RX 460 and I'm loving it, but since I have been using Radeon for idk how many years, I bought the 5770 when Dirt 2 came out and I remember how horrible the drivers were, if I played in cockpit mode when the water splashed on the windscreen and the wipers started to wipe it was just plain black textures all over the windshield and I couldn't see through, but after a few weeks newer drivers came out and not only it fixed this issue for me, it also boosted my FPS by a lot from 30 to 50 if I remember correctly, I loved Dirt 2 even now I still prefer Dirt 2 over Dirt 3, but back to the point, AMD drivers improved a hell of a lot over the years, when I bought the RX 460 I had random black screens even when I was just browsing the web and after a few hotfixes the managed to fix that issue aswell, now I'm rocking with the latest Relive driver and I don't have any issues at all, so have faith in the red team, they really do what has to be done to achieve stable realiable GPU's and drivers aswell nowadays.

1
Jezcentral Avatar
519
1 Year ago

Congratulations! You have won the Internet's longest ever sentence award! ;)

1
panbient Avatar
219
1 Year ago

As someone who has been using AMD GPUs for the last decade. Yes, yes their drivers do in fact suck. Especially, if you're economical at all with pc gaming and aren't constantly chasing the newest tech.

EVERY single update over the last decade messed with scaling, normally defaulting to -15% ... yes, the default setting after every update was to reduce your screen size. Then you had the joy of having to dig through whatever new interface was being implemented to eventually find the scaling setting so you could get your desktop to fit your actual display (or is 1080p really a super weird resolution?)

0
Speely Dan Avatar
10
1 Year ago

As someone who has been using AMD GPUs since 2012, it has been my experience that their drivers do not in fact suck. Since I switched to an HD 7850, and then to two of them in CF, and then to an R9-290, I can literally count on one hand the number of driver problems I have had. (I'd need a Tesla P100 to add up all of the driver problems and crashes I experienced with Nvidia from 2002 to 2012.) Never had a problem with driver updates changing my monitor scaling. I dunno what you're doing wrong. Have you tried different monitors or anything?

3
panbient Avatar
219
1 Year ago

I suppose my initial assessment is rather harsh (pre-coffee) and while my issue was not game breaking or super widespread it was persistent. But overall I'll admit that my GPU related game crashes have been virtually non-existent.

As for the scaling it's happened on the last 2 monitors I've owned and my TV (2 LGs and an Asus - all native 1080p). At this point I'm on legacy drivers so it's become a non-issue but it doesn't change the fact that it was a permanent annoyance for years.

1
ManualCrowcaine Avatar
2
1 Year ago

Just saying that the article recognizes problems they had 10 years ago and is about how they've updated the software and resolved the majority of problems to the point where today's software and user's give 4.5 out of 5 stars. You are using a piece of software that was made during that problematic time and if you are still using "legacy" drivers today, then you haven't really updated either your hardware or software to reflect any of the improvements made or referenced in this article.

A more fair into to your post would have been, "As someone who is still using a 10 year old AMD card and running on legacy drivers, I can say that it sucks yes, but I have no experience with the newer tech." or something to that extent rather than what you wrote, which leans more toward the notion that the article is spewing false information.

1
Dave James Avatar
460
1 Year ago

Yeah, that's a weird thing I've experienced with certain monitor manufacturers, and TVs especially, when connecting via AMD GPUs.

1
XeonCat Avatar
2
1 Year ago

Fix

Zenyatta's

Balls

0
Rock1m1 Avatar
385
1 Year ago

My R9 290, which is not a very old card, gave me nothing but headaches. HDMI port died, RMAd and got a new one, only to find one of the fans didn't work. Also the cards had a universal issue as it didn't wake from sleep. AMD didn't fix this issue longer after 8 months I had that card.

-1
Speely Dan Avatar
10
1 Year ago

I'm pretty sure neither of those is the fault of AMD or AMD's drivers, but rather the board partner that manufactured the card. The drivers can't kill your HDMI port and they can't fix a broken fan. I've never had a problem waking from sleep mode and I, too, use an R9-290. I believe your disappointment is misplaced.

5
Rock1m1 Avatar
385
1 Year ago

As a consumer, I don't care where exactly the blame lies. All I know is I got a terrible end-user experience. With Nvidia, more precisely MSI, I am literally no issues with the 970.

1