Has stuttering with CrossFire been getting you down? Today may make many AMD CrossFire owners happy. Catalyst 13.8 Beta includes Frame Pacing technology to create a more fluid CrossFire experience. At least up to 2560x1600 resolution, for now. Does it really do the job? We investigate this and tell you what the gameplay experience is like.
Here is the part you have all been waiting for, and admittedly I have been waiting for to write throughout this evaluation. What it all boils down to is the gameplay experience delivered with Frame Pacing in each game. As we mentioned on the introduction page, with NVIDIA's SLI we could tolerate lower framerates in SLI because it felt smooth enough, or fluid enough, to deliver consistent gameplay. While with AMD CrossFire we had to settle on higher framerates in order to reflect this same level of smoothness and consistency. We no longer do we need to do this.
We experienced that with Frame Pacing enabled we could now tolerate lower framerates and call these playable on AMD CrossFire. Let's use Crysis 3 as an example, it was one of the games we very much noticed an improvement while playing the game. With Frame Pacing turned Off, we played the game at 2560x1600 with SMAA MGPU 2X enabled and Very High Settings enabled. Our performance graph told us that the game should be playable, all framerates were above 30 FPS. However, the game was not smooth. It had stutter, choppiness, and felt inconsistent. So much so that we would not call those settings in that game playable with Frame Pacing Off, or how things use to be before Frame Pacing.
It all changed though when we enabled Frame Pacing. We now felt a smoothness to the game that was night and day. The game felt smooth, it felt consistent, it felt fluid. So much so that now those exact same framerates, at that exact same graphics setting, can now be called "playable."
That is the major difference in the gameplay experience that Frame Pacing makes. Without Frame Pacing we'd never call 2560x1600 SMAA MGPU 2X/Very High playable on the Radeon HD 7990. But now with Frame Pacing enabled, 2560x1600 SMAA MGPU 2X/Very High is a playable setting. It completely changes what we find playable in the game.
That means you can play with these settings, instead of having to lower them without Frame Pacing. Without Frame Pacing we found we needed to lower the settings to SMAA 1X, but with Frame Pacing we can enable SMAA MGPU 2X, and it feels just fine at those framerates shown. So with Frame Pacing you are likely to have an overall more immersive and detailed gaming experience compared to gaming without it.
Crysis 3 wasn't the only game where this happened. We felt an improvement in every game we tested here today. It meant that we could now enable higher settings that we weren't able to before and the game still felt smooth enough to play. Far Cry 3 is a big anomaly though. AMD needs to look at performance and consistency under this game. We had serious stuttering and choppiness in this game with and without Frame Pacing, making it near impossible to have a good gameplay experience, even at high framerates. It could just be a bug; this is a Beta driver after all. Frame Pacing did help it slightly, but it was still a mess playing that specific game.
Where is AMD Frame Pacing for Eyefinity and Other GCN cards?
It has been a long while since AMD has introduced Frame Pacing, but not everyone is able to benefit from it yet. It is currently limited to 2560x1600 single-display gaming. Only the 290/X can support Frame Pacing at Eyefinity resolutions. It has been way past AMD's initial time frame. So when is Frame Pacing finally coming to everyone? AMD has provided us information on when to expect that support finally.
Hi – Wanted to give you a heads-up on the next update to our frame pacing solution that will be introduced to all GCN and earlier products that didn't have it until now. Frame pacing will be enabled for CrossFire configurations running Eyefinity and UltraHD resolutions. We’re planning to post a beta driver publicly sometime in January of next year (we don’t expect any delays, but this, as always, might change). -Cheers, ANTAL TUNGLER
Looks like we have a "software" contender for G-Sync. It will not be on per with G-Sync but the question is, "is it enough to avoid paying the $ premium for G-Sync?"