AMD have launched a big update for their Radeon Software app and Adrenalin drivers, unlocking a clutch of potentially frame rate-boosting features for those with recent AMD graphics cards and CPUs. The new version, 21.9.1, also includes a Windows 11 driver that gets Radeon Boost, Radeon Anti-Lag and Radeon Image Sharpening ready for Microsoft’s next big OS launch.
In the meantime, those with both a Ryzen 5000 series CPU and a Radeon RX 6000 series graphics card – those lucky enough to have found one in stock, I should say – can take advantage of Radeon Software 21.9.1’s updated overclocking feature. In previous versions, it was possible to instantly overclock your graphics card with a single click; now you can do the same with both the GPU and CPU at once. Provided they’re from these specific product lines, mind.
Older hardware isn’t left out, either. This update also grants Radeon RX 5000 support for AMD’s Smart Access Memory tech, a piece of VRAM trickery previously only enabled on the latest RX 6000 cards. You’ll still need a Ryzen 5000 or Ryzen 3000 CPU to make Smart Access Memory go, but it can produce modest frame rate improvements in games by allowing the CPU to help itself to more of the graphics card’s VRAM at any given time. Without being slowed down by only having immediate access to smaller chunks of memory, the system can process graphics data faster and thus pump out more frames per second.
As Katharine found in her Radeon RX 6800 XT review, Smart Access Memory doesn’t improve performance in every game, but can deliver a small boost to some. As such it’s generally worth turning on, something many more PC owners will be able to do now that it’s no longer exclusive to the lesser-spotted RX 6000 series. So that’s cool.
Less cool is how Radeon Software continues to lack a certain transparency when it comes to its overclocking features, including the shiny new “Auto Overclock” button. To be fair, this is difficult to get right: anyone with a working knowledge of overclocking will be able to tweak clock speeds and voltages themselves, and those who are unfamiliar but want the performance boost might not appreciate a tooltip stuffed with techno-jargon. AMD’s app has always opted to keep things simple, offering a brief warning of potential crashes and reboots but never explaining its own process.
I’m all for making overclocking more accessible but hopefully future Radeon Software versions can offer a little more insight into how it works out its automatic boosts, as well as the potential liabilities. Remember that overclocking any AMD component will void its warranty, even if you’re using official AMD software to do it.
All that said, widening Smart Access Memory support is a welcome move, and even if you’re not confident enough to try Auto Overclocking, you can always use the app’s Tuning tab for hardware monitoring instead. The update also includes driver support for Deathloop, and Deathloop is rad. You can download 21.9.1 here.