Adrenalin 21.8.2 Driver Performance Analysis – 23 games benchmarked featuring Myst (2021) using the RX 6700 XT

This review showcases Radeon Adrenalin driver performance of the reference AMD Radeon RX 6700 XT (RDNA 2.0) with 23 PC games, including Myst (2021). We use the latest AMD Optional (beta) Adrenalin 21.8.2 driver released last week and compare these drivers versus our previously recommended driver 21.8.1. 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 21.8.2 beta drivers, 21.8.1 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 – Why? Read main reasons here.
  • 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 23 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: 23 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)
  • Myst (2021, DX12) – NEW
  • 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 21.8.2

This latest Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.8.2 beta driver was released on Thursday (08/25/21) primarily for the launch of Myst (2021), Aliens: Fireteam Elite, and Little Nightmares II: Enhanced Edition.

The Myst Island – Source: Cyan

The download links for the Adrenalin 21.8.2 beta drivers can be found starting here. The 21.8.2 release notes can be found here.

Here are the release highlights of Adrenalin v21.8.2 from AMD Radeon’s website:

Support For
      • Myst
        • Up to 6% increase in performance in Myst @ 4K Medium settings with Raytracing enabled, using Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.8.2 on the 16GB Radeon RX 6800XT graphics card, versus the previous software driver edition 21.8.1.
      • Aliens: Fireteam Elite
      • Little Nightmares II: Enhanced Edition
Fixed Issues
      • Users may experience difficulties ending a recording session on Open Broadcaster Software when recording in H265/HEVC codec on some AMD Graphics products such as Radeon RX 6800 XT.
      • While playing F1 2021 in Split Screen mode, image corruption may be observed on one of the players’ screens.
      • Radeon software application may become unresponsive when some users attempt to launch the application.
      • While playing Control using DirectX 12, users may observe corrupt light rays on some AMD Graphics products such as Radeon RX 6600 XT.
      • Upgrading to the latest Radeon graphics driver may cause the auto update feature on Ryzen Master to stop working.

The Myst (2021) Performance Overview using an RX 6700 XT

Myst (2021), by Cyan Worlds Inc, is the latest remake of the iconic 1990s puzzle-adventure Myst game. Cyan reimagined the original Myst and rebuilt it to play in PC VR and flat-screen PC. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, it features updated and advanced graphics, real-time ray-traced reflections, and support for AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR) technology to boost performance and deliver high-quality visuals.

We compare and chart Myst‘s performance with our Radeon RX 6700 XT graphics card and ray-tracing on and off and its performance with ray-tracing and the different FSR 1.0 settings/modes, using the latest 21.8.2 drivers.

The Myst (2021) Summary Performance Charts

Ray Tracing On vs. Off

Our performance results of Myst (2021) ray tracing on vs. off show an overall good optimization. We tested RT on and off without FSR 1.0 at 1440p resolution and Epic video quality settings and we saw an approximate 29% performance loss using RT on versus RT off.

Below you can see our frametime comparisons of Myst (2021) ray tracing on vs. off.

From the charts, we see that Myst (2021) with ray tracing enabled and FSR 1.0 disabled shows worse frametime consistency/variance than with ray tracing disabled. This is also confirmed using our custom stability formula which shows notable regressions on P1 and P0.2 metrics (approximately -10%).

Ray Tracing & AMD FSR 1.0

Our results show a consistent and notable performance boost in ray-traced Myst (2021) due to the use of any AMD FSR 1.0 setting/mode. In fact, we see a performance increase of +31% going from FSR off to FSR Ultra Quality mode and up to +85% with FSR Performance mode, and we also see that Myst’s (2021) performance scales quite well when you move between the different FSR settings.

So, if you want to play Myst (2021) with ray-traced reflections enabled, we highly recommend enabling FSR 1.0 Ultra Quality or Quality mode to compensate for the notable ray tracing performance penalty while getting good image quality.

Next are our summary performance charts for the latest Adrenalin Software 21.8.2 driver, including comparisons of Myst (2021) with ray tracing on and off using both driver 21.8.1 and the latest 21.8.2 drivers.

The Adrenalin 21.8.2 Driver Performance – Summary Charts with 23 Games

Below you can find the summary charts of our representative selection of 23 games plus 4 hybrid and 4 non-synthetic benchmarks. We chart our games’ driver performance progression from version 21.8.1 to 21.8.2 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 21.8.2 Driver Performance Charts

adrenalin 21.8.2 driver performance
Hybrid Benchmarks
adrenalin 21.8.2 driver performance
Non-Synthetic Benchmarks
DirectX 11 Games – Built-in benchmarks (except Days Gone and Chernobylite, tested using BTR’s custom sequences).
adrenalin 21.8.2 driver performance
DirectX 12 Games – Built-in benchmarks [except Cyberpunk 2077, LEGO® Builder’s Journey, and Myst (2021), tested using BTR’s custom sequences].
adrenalin 21.8.2 driver performance
Vulkan Games – Built-in benchmarks (except DOOM Eternal, tested using a custom sequence).
adrenalin 21.8.2 driver performance
DirectX Raytracing Games – Built-in benchmarks [except Cyberpunk 2077, LEGO Builder’s Journey, and Myst (2021), tested using BTR’s custom sequences].
adrenalin 21.8.2 driver performance
Vulkan Raytracing Games – Built-in benchmarks (except DOOM Eternal, tested using a custom sequence).

Notes on Adrenalin 21.8.2 Driver Performance – 21.8.2 (beta) vs. 21.8.1 (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, although most games show no significant differences when we move to the 21.8.2 beta drivers from the 21.8.1 beta driver version, we see significant performance improvements in Cyberpunk 2077 (DXR API mode) in terms of frametime consistency, and in Myst (2021, DXR API mode) in terms of raw performance.

Note that the performance improvement we see in Myst (2021, DXR API mode) using the latest beta driver would be also in line with the following AMD’s statement included in the 21.8.2 driver release notes:

Up to 6% increase in performance in Myst @ 4K Medium settings with Raytracing enabled, using Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.8.2 on the 16GB Radeon RX 6800XT graphics card, versus the previous software driver edition 21.8.1.

Disclaimer
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.

Conclusion

Based on our previous results and findings, we recommend RDNA 2.0 gamers update to the latest Adrenalin 21.8.2 beta driver. Its raw performance and smoothness or frametimes consistency level are overall on par with our previously recommended driver 21.8.1 using our RX 6700 XT GPU.

There are relevant qualitative reasons that also make it advisable to upgrade to version 21.8.2. 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.

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