There are times when a simple argument turns into something much bigger, and then out of nowhere something happens that makes it all good again.

Things change over the time of a relationship. Some things, however, should stay the same as they form the bedrock upon which everything is built.

I can smile again, specially now that I don’t have a damn head cold that made everything worse.

AMD Radeon Settings, Gaming Evolved, and Raptr: The danger of default settings.

Okay, so I just got a Radeon R9 380 in the form of a Gigabyte G1 Gaming video card. It’s the first real GPU I’ve had in years and years — the last real video card I had was back when AGP2 was all the rage.

It all started the usual way:
* Uninstall anything related to the old video card. In my case I’m using integrated video (Radeon HD 7660D) but why risk it?
* Install new video card.
* Install new video card drivers.

Again, nothing out of the ordinary. Just the usual things that you should always do when installing new hardware on a Windows system. After reinstalling the AMD Catalyst drivers from the card manufacturer’s website, Catalyst reported there was a new driver for the system and it was going to update. Updates are more or less necessary, right? So I downloaded and updated.

This is where you can start to tell something at AMD went wrong and the marketing people are now running the company:

AMD Installer

AMD Settings Branding“? What is this? And why cant it be disabled? It’s quite enough that Microsoft keeps pushing unwanted software when you’re using Windows 10. There’s “AMD Quick Stream”, which doesn’t really tell you what it does. Then there’s the “AMD Gaming Evolved” app which is a barrel full of worms.

Okay, so I decided to install everything and see what was up. Reboot. All the AMD applications are configured by default to start on system boot.

Annoying.

Set about to disable that. I’m including screenshots because the UI for the applications is not exactly the simplest, and it is very different from what the old Catalyst drivers looked like, and cos I’ll probably forget about this in a few months.

AMD Radeon Settings:

AMD Radeon Settings

The entire middle section of the window is a link to this page.

Click on Preferences and heeeey, what the hell?

AMD Radeon Settings Prefences

There’s an option for “Banner Advertisements”. Come on now. I’m running adblockers on all my browsers and yet here we have a hardware manufacturer trying to simply bypass all that. Seeing this made me wonder what else was in store on the other apps, which leads me to…

AMD Gaming Evolved

AMD Gaming Evolved

This doesn’t look that bad. It looked for games that I have installed on my system and then suggested optimized video settings for them. Okay, that’s nice, now I don’t have to go about configuring each game one by one. But I certainly do not want the application to start at system boot. To find the preferences click on the little wrench icon next to Minimize up on the window title bar.

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences
The yellow arrow points to the wrench. Yeah, fuck usability.

General section

Landing here after clicking preferences and disable start on boot for… Raptr. I thought I was in the AMD Gaming Evolved app? Where did this “Raptr” thing come from? AMD needs to get their branding in order, really. So disable start on boot. Scroll down and another surprise:
AMD Gaming Evolved Promotions

“Promotions”? I don’t want any of that. Why would I do that to myself? Disabled that.

“Alerts & Sounds” section

  • Disabled “Enable sound alerts”
  • Picked “Hold messages until game is closed”. I’m sure those very important messages will turn out to be advertisements.
  • Disabled popup notifications. I thought this is what the Windows 10 Notification center is for?

Chat tab

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences

This makes me thing that “Raptr” is the name of the application and the name of an upstart social network for gamers that will be run by AMD or a company it hired for that purpose. It’ll have to compete with Steam, EA Origin, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and a few others.

I wonder how long that will last. Running these things is expensive and prone to failures of all sorts; that’s before even starting on DoS and DDoS attacks.

Dock tab

Nothing troubling here

Games tab

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences

  • “Game Tracking”? I’ll be having none of that, thank you. This is pure gold for all those entities that live off tracking your every movement on the internet.
  • “Performance”? Sounds like an excellent way to spam your friends.

Plays.tv tab

This is useful for some, I guess

Twitch

Again, useful if you use it.

In-game tab

  • Disabled the in-game overlay. I’m here to play games, not view statistics about me playing games, or receive notifications of any kind. I already get annoyed when I watch a youtube video and a social network notification pops up.

Privacy

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences

This is a clusterfuck, plainly stated.

  • “Torrent”: First off AMD will use your bandwidth to save companies money. People bitched about Microsoft using the same tactic to update Windows over the internet and save themselves some money. Here we have AMD trying to pull off the same thing and no one is making a ruckus.

How long until someone figures out how to turn this into a vector to spread malware? Until something goes wrong and it starts using all the available bandwidth all the time?

I am not okay with this.

  • “Raptr Scanning”: I’ve heard this excuse so often it now qualifies as white noise. I’m disabling it because when Raptr inevitably folds, all of that information will be sold alongside any other assets.

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences

Aha. Here we are. Be lazy and let the thing configure all the settings for each game separately? You have to let AMD mine your computer for whatever information they decide they want.

Thanks but no thanks.

Hotkeys

Eh, whatever. They’re there.

AMD Quick Stream

According to AMD:

AMD Quick Stream Technology is an Internet stream optimization software powered by AppEx Networks’ IPEQ (IP End to end Quality Of Service) technology that prioritizes and shapes the Internet data streams flowing in and out the PC, allowing the high‐priority streams and apps to dynamically enjoy the better network resources when competing the limited bandwidth with other less important ones. At the sametime it boosts the overall Internet performance by shaping both the inbound and outbound traffic to eliminate or reduce the chances of traffic congestions. AMD Quick Stream Technology offers the end users smoother and enhanced Internet experiences.

According to me:
Bufferbloat.

If you search for “AMD Quick Stream” most of the results report that people have issues with the software. I did have the “license not found” problem, which I fixed by uninstalling the application.

So the solution for all Quick Stream issues is to get rid of the application. Simple.

UGH, JUST UGH

That’s my reaction to all this. It’s just a bit much that if I want to have a great gaming experience, I have to give up not only the cost of the hardware but also to give up a lot of privacy in order to have the tiniest bit of convenience, all so AMD can make a bit of money.

I’m uninstalling everything but the driver itself and will look around for a solution to the “AMD Settings Branding” thing. I’m pretty sure there should be a way to repackage the drivers so you get what you need to run your hardware and only that, without any extraneous bells and whistles.

This is a bit disappointing. I expected more of you, AMD.