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Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition untethers Radeon gaming

High-quality gaming comes to low-power devices

2018 is drawing to a close, and that means it's time for another big red box under the tree from AMD's software team. Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition delivers the goods with a free, integrated way to stream games from your Radeon-powered PC to any device that can run the AMD Link application on iOS or Android. The company's ambitions don't stop there, however. The next release of Radeon Software will also let gamers wirelessly stream Radeon-powered SteamVR experiences to their standalone VR headsets, including Google Daydream and Vive Focus devices.

The skeptical out there might question the wisdom of adding so many intermediary steps to the latency-sensitive VR experience. AMD says that because it controls the entire graphics and network stack, it can deliver frames with impressively low latency. Another piece of the puzzle remains using asynchronous timewarp on the headset itself to smooth our the experience. While we don't have a standalone headset in the TR labs to test with, the company says the overall experience can be "surprisingly good" on a fast network. Indeed, an 802.11ac wireless access point is required to use VR streaming with the AMD ReLive VR app.

The company does caution that the types of games ideally suited for this experience are ones that work well as seated experiences, just like the early days of the Oculus Rift. In turn, those who want to try streaming VR titles to their standalone headsets will want to make sure that the titles they're considering pair well with an Xbox controller. The company says that as standalone headsets get more advanced features like six-degrees-of-freedom inside-out tracking and internally-tracked motion controllers, the experiences possible with streaming VR titles from Radeon cards will also grow more advanced.

For more traditional game streaming on phones and tablets, AMD says it can push frames up to 4K resolution and at rates of up to 60 FPS. The company understands how crucial it is to get controls right for this type of experience, and it'll support a robust set of on-screen controls with a full editor. Gamers can bring their own wireless controllers to the party, as well, and the application will allow button remapping to get an ideal handle on any title.

AMD also points out that it's not limiting gamers in what they can stream. Should a user just want to stream their desktop to a remote device for whatever reason, they can do so. Finally, the AMD Link app will allow users to turn off their desktop's display while streaming to ensure privacy and save power.

WattMan tuning goes thought-free

If you still plan to play games directly on your desktop PC, there are plenty of new features to love in this Radeon Software release. AMD's WattMan tool can now perform automatic overclocking for better performance or even automatic undervolting to improve efficiency with only a small performance tradeoff.

The improved WattMan can also expose multi-point fan curves for fine-grained control over a graphics card's performance-per-decibel. Radeon RX Vega graphics card owners will find that all of the dynamic power management states of those cards are available for tweaking through WattMan, too.

While WattMan is a useful tool, overclocking a graphics card by alt-tabbing into Windows from a game, tweaking some settings, and seeing whether those choices pushed the card too hard is an annoying and imprecise process. AMD has improved the WattMan experience by making its controls available through the Radeon Overlay, the in-game control center the company introduced with last year's major feature update.

Tweakers can now adjust GPU frequency, GPU voltage, temperature limits, memory frequency, and more without leaving their game of choice. Once you've tuned your graphics card using the Radeon Overlay, that utility can now tell you just what you've gained with a more refined set of performance-gathering tools. The overlay can now display frame-time measurements in addition to the classic Fraps-like mode it had before, and users can adjust the colors, visible metrics columns, position, transparency, and size of the overlay on their game to taste.

AMD's Radeon Chill dynamic power-saving feature has worked without a whitelist of supported titles for a long time now, and it's getting even more effective in the Adrenalin 2019 Edition release. The company said that it's done some work under the hood on Chill so that its graphics cards can step through their dynamic power management states even faster, resulting in as much as 20% more saved power in some titles.