Getting Ready For Windows 10 - AMD Catalyst 15.7 WHQL Drivers Now Available

👤by Tim Harmer Comments 📅09.07.2015 12:14:58
They've been a long time coming, but finally AMD have released a new set of WHQL drivers for their GPU and APU product family. Dubbed Catalyst 15.7 WHQL, the latest Catalyst suite is first of its kind since the very well received 14.12 Omega drivers, although periodic beta drivers have been regularly issued to improve the performance of newly released games or technologies (primarily FreeSync). Like Omega, they boast new features and major performance benefits over the previous mainstream release.

It's no exaggeration to say that the release of the Catalyst Omega drivers was a huge success. AMD say that customer satisfaction was up 19% with their release and that's no surprise; Omega brought with it a huge array of fixes to long-standing bugs and double-digit performance improvements across the 200-series cards. All at no charge. Unfortunately the pace of Windows-certified driver updates hasn't increased since then, perhaps due in part to the ingoing development of Windows 10, but we're not ones to look a gift horse in the mouth.

The new drivers come ahead of the Radeon R9 Fury's eagerly anticipated launch, but aren't limited in scope to this new hardware. Unlike the Fury X 15.15 launch driver (somewhat confusingly named for the code path, rather than following AMD's usual scheme) Catalyst 15.7 WHQL is intended to provide performance improvements to all GPUs with GCN hardware, including older 200-series and even HD7000-series SKUs. Not only that; many of the new features are also being rolled down to the older hardware.



Microsoft's Windows 10 OS arrives at the end of the month and Catalyst 15.7 is the recommended AMD driver package for the current Technical Preview. As such, it supports Windows 10 innovations such as DirectX 12 and hardware acceleration for OS UI elements, allowing for a smoother experience whether you're in-game or out. Updated drivers are expected to be ready for Windows 10's official launch on July 29th.

Features

AMD's excellent frame syncing technology FreeSync became available in March following a slew of new monitor models hitting the market (you can check out our hands-on with the ACER XG270HU here), and if you've been lucky enough to use the technology you'll be aware that it benefits greatly from high-end hardware. With the launch of Catalyst 15.7 multi-GPU AMD Crossfire systems also support FreeSync, bringing frame syncing those who wanted the best possible performance or chose a second card as an affordable means of boosting frame rates.



An oft-overlooked technology in AMD's arsenal is Virtual Super Resolution, the image quality feature AMD implemented with Omega on recent GCN models (i.e. R9 285 and R9 290-series GPUs) that simulates SSAA. Boosting render resolutions and downscaling to monitor native resolutions is an alternative anti-aliasing technology which can greatly improve image quality over traditional implementations, at the cost of performance. Due to user feedback AMD are pushing VSR down to the mid-range - now R7 260-series and higher GPUs will support VSR, although render resolutions have been a tweaked a little for these lower performing cards.

AMD's discrete GPUs aren't the only hardware models to benefit from feature updates: the Kaveri-class A6-7400K and higher models will also support VSR, taking advantage of their native GCN architecture.



Also bundled into Catalyst 15.7 is Frame Rate Target Control, a means by which AMD hardware can save power and heat by aiming for a particular frame rate and throttling back when above this. The tech, now supported on all R7 260 and higher GPUs, is designed to reduce heat generation and noise by not seeking to render frames faster than a particular threshold. Although this is particularly useful for cards with surplus horsepower such as the Fury X, it can also be of benefit for all hardware on older, less taxing titles. Unfortunately CrossFire system configurations aren't currently supported, but it does seem to be a great arrow in AMD's quiver across the whole of their product stack.



And finally, Windows 10 early adopters will be able to stream from their XBOX One game console to their PC, and HEVC decode is supported across the OS for Movies and TV. As niche as these features might be you can bet your bottom dollar that keen students or console gamers will still want to get the very most from their AMD-powered PC, and this is just one way that AMD can do just that. And, of course, Windows 10 brings its own benefits for gaming, including DirectX 12.

Catalyst 15.7 Download Link: http://support.amd.com/en-us/download

Hopefully, with Windows 10 due very soon and their 2015 graphics hardware lineup finalised, AMD can return to more regular WHQL driver updates of Omega's quality. Day-one game drivers are of huge benefit for gamers even in beta form, but full and regular updates can't be beat.

Catalyst 15.7 WHQL Release Notes

Windows® 10 Support

This is a Technical Preview driver with full WDDM 2.0 support for Windows® 10 and DirectX® 12 on all Graphics Core Next (GCN) supported products, -AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 and newer graphics products. Official driver support for AMD products will be available when Microsoft launches Windows® 10 on July 29th, 2015.

NOTE: To ensure stability, users should upgrade to the latest available Windows® 10 Technical Preview build provided by Microsoft before installing AMD Catalyst™ 15.7.

Virtual Super Resolution (VSR)

VSR provides image quality enhancements to games and Windows® desktop users by rendering images at a higher resolution and then down-scaling the same. VSR support has now been extended to the following products:

AMD Radeon™ R9 Fury Series
AMD Radeon™ R9 390 Series
AMD Radeon™ R9 380 Series
AMD Radeon™ R7 370 Series
AMD Radeon™ R7 360 Series
AMD Radeon™ R9 295X2
AMD Radeon™ R9 290 Series
AMD Radeon™ R9 280 Series
AMD Radeon™ R9 270 Series
AMD Radeon™ R7 260 Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 7900 Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 7800 Series
AMD Radeon™ HD 7790 Series
Desktop A-Series 7400K APUs and above

AMD FreeSync™ and AMD CrossFire™ Support

AMD FreeSync™ and AMD CrossFire™ can now be used together in applications using DirectX® 10 or higher. This feature currently does not support systems configured in AMD Dual Graphics mode.

AMD CrossFire™ Profile Enhancements

AMD Catalyst™ 15.7 includes enhancement for the following games since AMD Catalyst™ Omega:
- Battlefield: Hardline
- Evolve
- Far Cry® 4
- Lords of the Fallen
- Project CARS
- Total War: Attila
- Alien: Isolation™
- Assassin's Creed® Unity
- Civilization®: Beyond Earth™
- FIFA 2015
- GRID Autosport
- Ryse: Son of Rome
- Talos Principle
- The Crew
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Dying Light
- The Witcher® 3: Wild Hunt

Performance Optimizations versus AMD Catalyst™ Omega

Single GPU performance on Windows 8.1 based system:
- Up to 7% in Far Cry® 4 on AMD Radeon™ R7 and AMD Radeon™ R9 200 series and up*
- Up to 10% in Tomb Raider on AMD Radeon™ R7 and AMD Radeon™ R9 200 series and up*


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