Dry spell for older Radeon GPU drivers set to end in the next two weeks

AMD Radeon RX 6800 XT on a bright background.
(Image credit: Future)

AMD has confirmed that new drivers for RX 6000-series and older graphics cards are on the way within the next two weeks. It's a strange scenario, in that I wouldn't usually be reporting on an upcoming and unspectacular driver package, but a lack of drivers for AMD's older GPUs as of late has made this surprisingly noteworthy.

A tweet by AMD's Frank Azor confirms that new drivers for previous generation and older graphics cards are coming very soon.

This is important, as AMD hasn't released a new driver package for its RX 6000-series and older GPUs since December 8, 2022. That's quite a long time for a leading graphics card company to go without new drivers for a heap of its products, but the delay is made all that more apparent by new driver releases for AMD's RX 7900-series since that time.

AMD has released a few driver packages for the RX 7900-series this year. There was one back on January 11, 2023, and another on January 25. Weirdly the most recent package, which offers improvements for Forspoken and Vulkan, comes and goes from AMD's driver downloads page. I'm not able to see it today, for example, but it was released.

This two-pronged driver approach has been the case ever since the launch of AMD's RX 7900-series. Before that, AMD had just one driver package for pretty much everything, bar the odd APU back in the day. However, AMD sent me a new driver package for the RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT review units that was entirely separate from the RX 6000-series package, with explicit notes that these only worked with the more recent RDNA 3 cards. These new drivers have a different version of the AMD logo for the package icon and everything.

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I had thought at the time that this would be a pre-release review driver anomaly and not something that would continue for any length of time. Alas, I was mistaken and we're still awaiting new drivers for AMD's older cards to this day.

"We remain committed to our unified driver strategy and working to get there again ASAP," Azor says.

So, in time, we should see a regular cadence of drivers that play nicely with all of AMD's graphics cards. Though it does beg the question as to why AMD's not been able to continue with these releases over the past few months. No doubt the new chiplet RDNA 3 architecture has something to do with it, which may mean AMD has some work to do to get both its non-chiplet and chiplet GPUs up to speed with the same code. Or maybe without ballooning the GPU driver install size to cater to both lots of cards.

Jacob Ridley
Senior Hardware Editor

Jacob earned his first byline writing for his own tech blog. From there, he graduated to professionally breaking things as hardware writer at PCGamesN, and would go on to run the team as hardware editor. Since then he's joined PC Gamer's top staff as senior hardware editor, where he spends his days reporting on the latest developments in the technology and gaming industries and testing the newest PC components.