When you are trying to adjust the settings of your computer for the best gaming experience, you are going to see an option for “AMD Surface Format Optimization.”
This is one of the settings that people turn on without thinking about or considering. In this article, we will explain why you should think about it and why you might want to use it (or turn it off!).
What Is Surface Format Optimization?
Surface Format Optimization is what enables the graphics driver to change rendering surface formats where it is able to. This helps to improve performance and can also help to lower video memory usage.
It is a setting mostly used by gamers, but those who work with graphics and graphics-heavy systems.
In general, many people think that it is a bit of an outdated setting and it doesn’t really work all that well anymore. It is true that it was more effective for older games to decrease the graphic quality and improve performance, and it is also true that it won’t have as much of an impact on modern games and modern GPUs, it is still part of a system.
How To Use Surface Format Optimization
Surface Format Optimization is used when games request a higher precision auxiliary buffer than they actually need for gameplay. While this doesn’t have as much of an effect on games anymore, it can do two things that can impact your rig: it can increase pressure on your memory bandwidth and increase VRAM consumption.
At this point, if you have surface format optimization turned on, it will guess when this behavior will occur (some of the games that you use will have this information hidden in the code) and it will reduce the precision so that it is better for your rig.
If you are going to use this setting, it will most commonly occur when you perform HDR rendering, as this is something that demands a higher range (even if it doesn’t need higher precision for intermediate color values).
To turn surface format optimization on or off, you will have to right-click on your desktop and open up the AMD Radeon Software. There is a tab specifically for gaming. On that tab, you will see something that says “Global Graphics,” and click on it. Then, click on the eSports tab and scroll down. At the very bottom, you should see an “Advanced” option.
Within the advanced tab, you will see a place to enable or disable surface format optimization.
Does Anyone Need To Use Surface Format Optimization?
The truth is that not everyone needs to use surface format optimization and it won’t really make an impact whether you turn it off or on. However, there are people who will benefit from turning it on, and that is people who have to use lower end cards and/or APUs, as they tend to have issues with having enough VRAM bandwidth.
How To Get The Most Out Of Your System
It is important to note that updating the surface format optimization is only going to be one aspect of getting truly great performance out of your computer. You will need to take a few steps, including turning on surface format optimization, to get the full effect.
Remember that every little piece of your computer and performance that you can optimize, the better you will be. Small changes and shifts can completely change the way you game and how you perform.
Always update your drivers. Even with surface format optimization turned on, you need to keep your drivers updated and on the latest versions for your machine. You can download them from the AMD website. All you have to do is download and then work through the installation wizard, reboot your computer, and you will already be better off than you were.
Use the AMD Settings menu. The next step is to right-click on your desktop and open up the AMD Radeon Software. There is a tab specifically for gaming. On that tab, you will see something that says “Global Graphics,” and click on it. Then, click on the eSports tab and scroll down. You should make your settings like this:
● Radeon anti-lag: Enabled
● Radeon Chill: Disabled
● Radeon Boost: Disabled
● Radeon Image Sharpening: Enabled
● Sharpness: Your preference, but most people like around 75%
● If you see an option for a vertical refresh, turn that one off.
When you are done here, you will want to go into the “Advanced” tab that is below the Gaming section. Adjust your settings like this (you can always make changes as necessary, but these are what we suggest):
● Anti Analysing: Always use the application settings
● Anti Analysing method: Multisampling
● Morphological Anti-Analysing: Disabled
● Anisotropic Filtering: Disabled
● Texture Filtering Quality: Performance
● Surface Format Optimization: Enabled
● Tessellation Mode: Override application settings
● Maximum Tessellation Level: Off
● OpenGL Triple Buffering: Disabled
Occasionally, you will also want to clear your Shader Cache. You may want to do this every six months or so- the more often you do it, the better your performance will be.
In addition to the surface format optimization, there are some other display options that you want to optimize. You can find these on the display tab (this isn’t all of the settings, as some of them are up to your personal preference):
● Radeon Freesync: Disabled
● Virtual Super Resolution: Disabled
● GPU Scaling: Disabled
● Scaling mode: Full panel
● Vari-Bright: Disabled
Next, you will want to head to the “Video” tab and set it as the default. That is all you will have to do within this tab. However, you aren’t done changing the settings to get the most out of your computer.
Using Surface Format Optimization As Part Of Overall Gaming Optimization
If you want to fully optimize your gaming mode, there are a few other changes that you want to make. This isn’t really necessary unless you are a serious gamer or you need some significant graphics help.
What you need to do is open the Windows panel by clicking on the Windows icon on the bottom left corner. Once you are in there, type in “Game Mode.” You will open up game mode and then you will turn it off. This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but trust us on this.
One thing that you don’t want to forget about, particularly if you have enabled surface format optimization, is that you want to change your display settings for refresh rate. This is a setting that most people don’t talk about all that often, but it is very important (and will continue to become more important as gaming tech improves).
To do this:
1. Open the Display Settings by right-clicking on your desktop and selecting it.
2. Scroll down and find where it says “Advanced Display Settings.” Click on it.
3. Open the section that says “Display adaptor properties for Display ½.” Use the one that is for your main screen.
4. Go into the “Monitor” tab on the window that just opened.
5. Set the refresh rate to the maximum in the drop-down menu.
6. It is best to refresh your computer to get the full effect.
Conclusion: Surface Format Optimization
At the end of the day, surface format optimization is a very important setting within your display, but it is only going to be a part of the puzzle.
You need to set everything else up properly and get those settings correct, or you really won’t see that much of a difference moving forward. Once you do change the settings, you will easily be able to see the difference between turning surface format optimization on and off.
As a final word of caution, you want to be sure to check up on this from time to time. Many users have reported that the setting has turned on and off on its own, so if something doesn’t look quite right, this is an easy place to check.