Today marks both a new age and the end of an era for AMD’s Radeon graphics cards—in more ways than one.
The death of the iconic Catalyst Control Center, made obsolete by Radeon Software Crimson and the faster, better, cleaner Radeon Settings hub, comes as no surprise, as AMD’s been talking about this for weeks. Heck, last year’s major Catalyst release was even dubbed “Catalyst Omega.” But with that new driver and software going live today, AMD’s quietly taken the opportunity to retire several generations of older Radeon graphics cards as well.
Going forward, all Radeon graphics cards that aren’t powered by AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture will no longer receive driver updates, as AnandTech first reported. The entire Radeon 5000 and 6000 lineups are now relegated to legacy status—or, as AMD’s support page puts it, “have reached peak performance optimization”—along with the Radeon HD 7000 to 7600 and Radeon HD 8000 to 8400 graphics cards.
Further reading: How to make your old graphics card run like new
The final WHQL driver for affected models is the big Catalyst 15.7.1 release, which launched in July. AMD’s tossing legacy card owners who want a taste of the rebuilt Radeon Settings app a bone, however. “As a courtesy to our valued supporters we are providing a final ‘As Is’ Beta driver together with the release of the AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition,” the support page reads. You can find it here.
The story behind the story: It always burns when your hardware has been shifted to legacy status, but this is a logical place for AMD to draw a line. All new Radeon graphics cards from late 2011 onward rock the GCN architecture, while the older GPUs lack support for many of AMD’s newer features—FreeSync, TrueAudio, Virtual Super Resolution, et cetera—as well as DirectX 12. This retirement makes sense.
On the plus side, graphics card performance has come a long way in the past four-plus years. Even entry level cards offer firepower comparable to the flagships of the Radeon 5000 and 6000 era. If you’re considering upgrading to a new graphics card in the wake of this news, be sure to check out PCWorld’s comprehensive GPU roundup first. We’ve tested every major Nvidia and AMD graphics card release from $100 to $1000 to give you no-nonsense buying recommendations for every budget.