Adrenalin 21.8.1 Driver Performance Analysis

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Adrenalin 21.8.1 Driver Performance Analysis – 22 games benchmarked using the RX 6700 XT

This review showcases Radeon Adrenalin driver performance of the reference AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT (RDNA 2.0) with 22 PC games. We use the latest AMD Optional (beta) Adrenalin 21.8.1 driver released two weeks ago and compare these drivers versus our previously recommended driver 21.7.2. We also chart the performance of the 21.6.1 (WHQL) drivers as a reference, and we perform all tests on the same game version and with the same OS build.

For our Adrenalin driver reviews, we use ‘beta’ instead of ‘Optional’ and ‘WHQL’ instead of ‘Recommended’. We don’t use AMD’s Recommended label since we recommend drivers.

Our AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT (Reference, RDNA 2.0 GPU micro-architecture).

Our testing platform is a recent install of Windows 10 64-bit Pro Edition, an i9-9900K with stock clocks, a Gigabyte Z390 AORUS PRO motherboard, and 32GB of T-FORCE XTREEM ARGB WHITE DDR4 3200MHz. The games tested, settings and hardware, are identical except for the drivers we compare.

Benching Methodology

Test Configuration – Hardware

  • Intel Core i9-9900K (Hyper-Threading/Turbo boost on; stock settings)
  • Gigabyte Z390 AORUS PRO motherboard (Intel Z390 chipset, v.F12l BIOS)
  • T-FORCE XTREEM ARGB WHITE 32GB DDR4 (2×16GB, dual-channel at 3200 MHz CL14), supplied by TeamGroup
  • AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT (Reference) 12GB, stock clocks, on loan from AMD
  • Samsung 500GB SSD 960 EVO NVMe M.2
  • WD Blue 1TB SATA SSD
  • Corsair RM750x, 750W 80PLUS Gold power supply unit
  • ASUS TUF Gaming VG289Q 28? IPS UltraHD (3840×2160) 60Hz 5ms FreeSync Monitor (Fixed Refresh Rate On) when testing games at 2160p resolution.
  • ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q 27? IPS QuadHD (2560 x 1440) 165Hz 4ms G-Sync Monitor (Fixed Refresh Rate On) when testing games at 1440p or 1080p resolution.

Test Configuration – Software

  • Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.8.1 beta drivers, 21.7.2 beta drivers, and 21.6.1 WHQL drivers; Radeon features ‘Disabled’, texture filtering quality set to ‘High’, and tesselation mode set to ‘Use application settings’; AMD FreeSync ‘Disabled’ (when applicable).
  • Resizable BAR off.
  • V-Sync ‘off, unless application specifies’ in the Software Adrenalin control center; V-Sync off in-game.
  • AA and AF as noted in games; all in-game settings are specified.
  • Windows 10 64-bit Pro edition, latest updates v21H1, High-performance power plan, HAGS off, Game Mode, Game DVR & Game Bar features off.
  • GIGABYTE and ASUS tools not installed.
  • Latest DirectX
  • All 22 games are patched to their latest versions at the time of publication.
  • 3DMark’s suite and UNIGINE Superposition benchmark, the latest version
  • Basemark GPU benchmark, v.1.1
  • UNIGINE Superposition, v.1.1
  • CapFrameX (CX), the latest version
  • RivaTuner Statistics Server (RTSS), the latest version
  • Display Driver Uninstaller (DDU), the latest version; always uninstall old driver using DDU in safe mode, clean, and restart.
  • ISLC (Purge Standby List) before each benchmark.

Radeon Software Adrenalin Suite-related

  • The minimal Radeon Adrenalin Software installation is used.
  • We install the display driver.
  • We enable the ‘Issue detection’ setting.

Hybrid & Non-Synthetic Tests-related

  • Single run per test.

Game Benchmarks-related

  • We use the corresponding built-in or custom benchmark sequence.

Frametimes Capture & Analysis tool-related

  • CapFrameX is used for capturing and analyzing the relevant performance numbers obtained from each recorded built-in or custom benchmark sequence.
  • Consecutive runs until detecting 3 valid runs (no outliers) that can be aggregated by CapFrameX using the following method:
    • ‘Aggregate excluding outliers’:
      • Outlier metric: Third, P0.2 (0.2% FPS percentile).
      • Outlier percentage: 3% (the % the FPS of an entry can differ from the median of all entries before counting as an outlier).
  • We compare and value the results and aggregated records in terms of percentages of gain/loss, by setting the following thresholds to consider a certain % value as significant (not within the margin of error) for our benchmarking purposes:
    • Score/FPS Avg > 3% when valuing hybrid and non-synthetic benchmarks;
    • FPS Avg > 3% when evaluating raw performance;
    • P1/P0.2 > 3% when evaluating frame time consistency; after applying our custom formula

{[(LowPercentileFPS_2 / AvgFPS_2) / (LowPercentileFPS_1 / AvgFPS_1)] – 1} x 100

Benchmark Suite: 22 PC Games, 4 Hybrid & 4 Non-Synthetic Tests

Hybrid Tests (3DMark)

  • Fire Strike Ultra
  • Time Spy Extreme
  • DirectX Raytracing feature test
  • Port Royal

Non-Synthetic Tests

  • Basemark GPU
  • UNIGINE Superposition
  • Neon Noir (Benchmark)
  • Boundary: Raytracing Benchmark

DX11 Games

  • Borderlands 3 (DX11)
  • Chernobylite (DX11)
  • Days Gone (DX11)
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (DX11)
  • Far Cry New Dawn (DX11)
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Ghost Recon Breakpoint (DX11)
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (DX11)
  • Neon Noir (DX11; Loop Mode)

DX12 Games

  • Borderlands 3 (DX12)
  • Cyberpunk 2077 (DX12)
  • F1 2021 (DX12)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn (DX12)
  • LEGO® Builder’s Journey (DX12)
  • Metro Exodus (DX12)
  • Metro Exodus PC Enhanced Edition (DX12)
  • Watch Dogs: Legion (DX12)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider (DX12)
  • Godfall (DX12)
  • DIRT 5 (DX12)

Vulkan Games

  • DOOM Eternal (VK)
  • Strange Brigade (VK)
  • Quake 2 RTX (VK; v.1.5.0)
  • Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint (VK)
  • Wolfenstein Youngblood (VK)

Software Adrenalin Control Center Settings

Here are the global Adrenalin Control Center settings:

adrenalin 21.7.2 driver performance
Radeon Software Adrenalin Control Center Global Graphics Settings (AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT).

All AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin settings are set so that all optimizations are off, Texture filtering is set to ‘High’, and Tessellation uses application settings. These settings are used across all drivers so that the performance of each driver version can be compared accurately.

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.8.1

This latest Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.8.1 beta driver was released on Tuesday (08/10/21) primarily to bring support for AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT GPUs.

Source: AMD

The download links for the Adrenalin 21.8.1 beta drivers can be found starting here. The 21.8.1 release notes can be found here.

Here are the release highlights of Adrenalin v21.8.1 from AMD Radeon’s website:

Support For
      • AMD Radeon RX 6600 XT Graphics
Fixed Issues
      • The Medium may crash after launching the game while running FrameView.

The Adrenalin 21.8.1 Driver Performance – Summary Charts with 22 Games

Below you can find the summary charts of our representative selection of 22 games plus 4 hybrid and 4 non-synthetic benchmarks. We chart our games’ driver performance progression from version 21.7.2 to 21.8.1 using the reference AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT.

You can see the list of graphics settings on the charts, and we run each built-in or custom game benchmark’s sequence at 2560×1440, except for Days Gone and Far Cry New Dawn, tested at 3840×2160 resolution; and LEGO® Builder’s Journey (DX12 & DXR) and Watch Dogs: Legion (DXR) which are tested at 1920×1080 resolution. You may click on each chart to open a pop-up for the best viewing.

Results give average framerates and higher is better. We display the low FPS percentiles (P1 and P0.2) below the corresponding averages. We use CapFrameX to record frametimes over time and to visualize and convert them into their corresponding average FPS and P1 and P0.2 FPS percentiles values.

There are also columns showing percentages of gain/loss in both raw performance (average FPS) and, when applicable, in frametimes consistency or stability between the different driver versions. We applied the following custom formula to calculate the stability gains or losses:

{[(LowPercentileFPS_2 / AvgFPS_2) / (LowPercentileFPS_1 / AvgFPS_1)] – 1} x 100

We mark significant performance changes (higher than 3%) in bold and use purple for the significant improvements or orange font for regressions.

Adrenalin 21.8.1 Driver Performance Charts

adrenalin 21.8.1 driver performance
Hybrid Benchmarks
adrenalin 21.8.1 driver performance
Non-Synthetic Benchmarks
adrenalin 21.8.1 driver performance
DirectX 11 Games – Built-in benchmarks (except Days Gone and Chernobylite, tested using BTR’s custom sequences).
adrenalin 21.8.1 driver performance
DirectX 12 Games – Built-in benchmarks (except Cyberpunk 2077 and LEGO® Builder’s Journey, both tested using BTR’s custom sequences).
adrenalin 21.8.1 driver performance
Vulkan Games – Built-in benchmarks (except DOOM Eternal, tested using a custom sequence).
adrenalin 21.8.1 driver performance
DirectX Raytracing Games – Built-in benchmarks (except Cyberpunk 2077 and LEGO Builder’s Journey, both tested using the BTR’s custom sequences).
adrenalin 21.8.1 driver performance
Vulkan Raytracing Games – Built-in benchmarks (except DOOM Eternal, tested using a custom sequence).

Notes on Adrenalin 21.8.1 Driver Performance – 21.8.1 (beta) vs. 21.7.2 (beta)

From the charts, we see no significant differences in graphics performance between drivers for both the hybrid and non-synthetic tests using our RX 6700 XT.

For the game benchmarks, most games show no significant differences when we move to the 21.8.1 beta drivers from the 21.7.2 beta driver version.

Please be aware that the following results, notes, and the corresponding driver recommendation are valid for similar RDNA 2.0 gaming rigs on Windows 10 v21H1. Its representativeness, applicability, and usefulness on different AMD Radeon micro-architectures, testing benches, and Microsoft Windows versions may vary.


Based on our previous results and findings, we recommend RDNA 2.0 gamers update to the latest Adrenalin 21.8.1 beta driver. Its raw performance and smoothness or frametimes consistency level are overall on par with our previously recommended driver 21.7.2 using our RX 6700 XT GPU.

There are relevant qualitative reasons that also make it advisable to upgrade to version 21.8.1. These reasons include the higher level of driver bug fixes and support for the latest AMD Radeon GPUs and technologies.

Let’s Play!


Rodrigo González (aka ‘RodroG’) is an enthusiast gamer and tech reviewer especially interested in shooter games, open-world role-playing games, and software and hardware benchmarking. He is the author of the NVIDIA WHQL Driver Performance Benchmarks Series and founder and moderator of the r/allbenchmarks community on Reddit.

*The featured image is from AMD.