AMD’s new driver runs some games way faster with RX 6000 GPUs

AMD Radeon RX 6800XT side view
(Image credit: AMD)

AMD has released a new graphics driver – albeit still in testing – but the fresh release is very noteworthy in terms of the performance improvements it provides for gamers running a Team Red graphics card.

The boost which AMD’s Software Preview Driver May 2022 delivers to RX 6000 GPUs – which were just joined by a trio of new offerings earlier this week, including a refreshed flagship RX 6950 XT – is a considerable one for DX11 games, and around 10% on average, AMD claims.

That includes some pretty incredible gains for certain games, in particular World of Warcraft: Shadowlands which runs up to 30% faster with this preview (beta) driver, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey does nearly as well with an up to 28% increase (compared to the Adrenalin version 22.5.1 graphics driver).

Total War Saga: Troy posts an impressive 17% boost, too, while GTA V comes in at up to 11%, and Watch Dogs: Legion hits 10%, with Valorant at 7%, according to AMD’s own testing.

Along with those core performance improvements, AMD has made a couple of other moves with this beta driver, including introducing a new version 1.1 of Radeon Super Resolution or RSR, which is Team Red’s frame rate booster that works across a whole swathe of games (as opposed to FSR, which must have support baked into the game by developers). RSR 1.1 adds a slider for ‘sharpen effect’ which, as you might guess, sharpens up the image, so you can adjust the appearance to your liking.

Also, some Smart Access Memory (SAM) optimizations have been implemented for Death Stranding and Watch Dogs: Legion, with up to 10% better performance promised in former, and 13% in the latter (at 1440p resolution with a Radeon RX 6950 XT graphics card). SAM facilitates frame rate gains due to giving the Ryzen CPU full access to GPU memory (it’s Team Red’s take on Resizable BAR, essentially).

Analysis: Big gains, but don’t forget – this is still a beta

As Tom’s Hardware, which spotted this, points out, away from AMD, other folks have already been running benchmarks which show some even more impressive results for boosts in DX11 frame rates in some cases.

Namely the developer of CapFrameX (a tool used for frame times capture and analysis) who found that God of War ran up to 41% quicker with the new driver (on a 6800 XT), and Crysis Remastered ticked along with up to 24% gains. With Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, the dev also observed that there were lessened lows – the maximum dip the frame rate experiences – with a 34% improvement on that score.

So, AMD has clearly done some good work with this May driver release, but obviously bear in mind that as it’s still in beta, you may experience unpredictable glitches or outright bugs – there are doubtless still issues to iron out (which is the whole point of a test release).

In other words, if you don’t want to experience any wonkiness with your gaming, hold off on this for now and grab the fully finished driver version when it emerges. As to when that’ll be, we don’t know, as AMD didn’t furnish us with any predicted timeframe; but it shouldn’t be too long, we’d hope.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).