AMD is aware of user complaints regarding black screen driver crashes on Radeon GPUs and general instability and is investigating these concerns. That’s the word from company representatives, after ET reached out to discuss the situation.
For those of you just tuning in, the AMD subreddit has been buzzing lately about various issues and instabilities affecting the Radeon driver stack. Complaints on Reddit have often centered around a black screen problem that can leave a player with no choice but to hard reboot. While the system hasn’t necessarily crashed, the display is reportedly unresponsive and will not turn back on. A number of users have unhappily been discussing these problems on reddit. Some of these complaints have been popping up for awhile, with black screens mentioned in threads dating from August, but they seem to have gotten more numerous recently.
I reached out to AMD to discuss these issues because they sound similar to some problems I encountered during the 5600 XT review. I wrote that review on an all-AMD testbed, partly because I genuinely wanted to take a look at midrange gaming on a platform that we know is increasingly popular in the desktop enthusiast space — but it was also partly because I had trouble getting the driver to install on an Intel platform. Every time I tried, the driver would hit 67 percent and the display would turn black. Swapping from the 5600 XT to the 5700 XT didn’t solve the issue.
I didn’t make a big deal of it in the review because 1) I’d already been planning to do the all-AMD system evaluation project in the first place, 2) I couldn’t be sure the problem wasn’t in the early review driver (and believe me, this happens), and 3) None of my fellow reviewers at other sites were reporting any issues with the same GPU and motherboard combination, which typically indicates the problem is specific to the reviewer’s hardware.
After the review ran, I worked with AMD to troubleshoot the issue. I had missed a UEFI update from Asus released between November and January, and AMD recommended setting the motherboard to specifically use PCIe 3.0 on its x16 slots rather than “Auto” for link speed detection. The combination of the new UEFI and the PCIe 3.0 setting fixed my problem, though I didn’t test which of the two changes were responsible.
According to AMD, the black screen issue I had encountered was distinct from the problem affecting games. That’s a really important point in this. The reason I’m sharing information on what was deemed a separate issue is because there may be more than one contributing factor to the issue. Subreddits and forums are a great way to hear about the issues people are having with equipment, but not everyone knows how to write a good bug report or properly swap a video card. An issue as vague as “black screen” could seem larger than it is if people attribute monocausality to what are, in fact, separate issues. I’m including my own experience here in case it proves helpful for troubleshooting, but it may not help most folks.
First, there’s the statement AMD sent to me. It reads:
Stability of our drivers is a key priority for our software team. They are monitoring forum discussions closely, including the black screen and other issues users are reporting, and we are actively identifying and working on fixes. As soon as we have more information to share, we will let you know. We encourage users to report issues they are experiencing here [http://amd.com/report] so that our team can investigate.
There have also been some posts on Reddit. There’s a specific survey for reporting results with black screens, which you can take here. There’s also a number of threads on the subreddit with users reporting various solutions that have worked for them. The thread for the public release driver for the 5600 XT also notes: “Some Radeon RX 5700 series graphics users may intermittently experience a black screen while gaming or on desktop. A potential temporary workaround is disabling hardware acceleration in applications running in the background such as web browsers or Discord.”
If you own a Radeon GPU and are having problems with it, ET recommends you check for UEFI updates for your motherboard, manually specify PCIe 3.0 in UEFI settings, make sure you’re using the latest drivers, and try disabling overlay support, at least for now. AMD is aware of the problem but has not given a timeline for a fix. Given how long the problem has been percolating, we’ll hopefully see one sooner than later.
Given how long the problem has been percolating there needs to be some pressure on Lisa Su by the stockholders to drop the hammer, especially when current nVidia cards are priced very close, if not cheaper, than Radeon yet have the same, or greater, level of performance, they don't have to deal with this, and nVidia announced during their earnings report they would reveal Ampere at GTC, and that is going to put AMD so far behind the 8 ball they'd have to make 6 banks just to tap, and "Big Navi" isn't going to bring them anywhere close if Ampere is indeed 50% faster as all the evidence so far points to. The generic statements AMD puts out are not going to cut it much longer if more of the reputable partner review sites start bringing this mess to the forefront. GamersNexus was one thing, but Despite All The Efforts, AMD Radeon GPU Drivers Reportedly Still A Mess – Black Screens, Stuttering,... and https://www.guru3d.com/news-story/radeon-graphics-cards-black-screen-bug-is-haunting-amd.html are starting to push it too.
You know by most of the people who come on here, they don't know anything about computers, and asking them their system specs is like asking them to do brain surgery, they're not going to want to figure out how to do any of that, they're just going to say F it and go buy nVidia for the same price. They are going to want a card they can put in and then go play their games. Heck, that's all anyone wants, their card costing upwards of $500 (or more) to just work correctly, they already probably have to deal with Windows 10 being schizophrenic on them. And again this goes back to AMD thinking they can pricematch nVidia, doubling the prices from the previous generation while having persistent issues and a lack of feature parity. If the 5700XT cost $250, like the RX 580 it replaced, then persistent issues would be put in the context of a much cheaper product.
And to conclude, Intel GPUs seem to be coming along faster than most thought they would, and AMD is probably closer to two years away from something that will be able to challenge Ampere, by which time they will be on their refresh cycle as well. When the experts expect 40% growth per year from AMD over the next 7 years to justify their stock prices, and their GPU division is in third place behind Intel and nVidia, that's not going to happen.
Oh, and to followup with that, remember that AMD is expected to release a whole new line of Big Navi derived cards, effectively EOLing very expensive cards not even a year old, again.
My X570 is out of order at present so I have to use the backup X470.
Parking my R5 3600 on that board was good bad and ugly. The good, RAM at DDR4-3200. The bad the RX 480 8GB seems to be seen in error with a red LED. The ugly, windows will not install or boot with UEFI enabled.
The video card is working this is a BIOS fault. Like the video card enumeration and the CPU issues.
I think AMD drivers have been unstable compared to Nvidia drivers for years on PCs and laptops I run.
OS support is Windows 10/7 only since 17.7.1.
I don't consider that AMD really support Linux OS at all.
They seem to rely on opensource programmers to do it for free.
There is no Adrenalin Settings GUI built in to Ubuntu which is the OS many may try to use to move from Windows 7.
Blackscreening happens on Vega GPUs for sure so that problem is about 2.5 years old.
R9 390x still has no working fan control yet many on here seem to think that is O.K.
Older GPUs just seem to get dropped. They get no new features.
The Driver installer would not install drivers on my HD7970 for ages.
RX5700XT benchmarks are good and cause Nvidia to release "Super" versions of Turing.
It looks like the AIB GPUs with problems like ones from ASUS, MSI and XFX are at least getting fixed this time around.
This promise to do better on driver quality seems too little, too late.
Sorry but I have no faith in it at all.
Something seems seriously wrong.
Look at the Vega, Radeon 7 and RX5700XT launches and launch drivers.
Even worse, look at post release VBIOS flashes on Radeon 7 and RX5600XT.
It would probably be better to delay the launches and do them properly.
A first step to addressing quality if AMD are serious about it would be to open a proper Bug Tracking System because AMD Reporting forms give user no feedback whatsoever and I doubt many people take time to use it.
Since AMD can already gather System Information in the driver then how about autofilling the Report Form so it saves lots of time to report bugs.
I still think the installer needs fixing to catch AMD GPU drivers installed by Microsoft in Windows 10 and those Microsoft installed AMD drivers need to be updated. Saying it is all Micrsofts fault does not cut it. This installer gotcha is possibly responsible for many AMD driver install problems.
The other thing I want to ask. Where is the official AMD Support Forum - is it here, or Reddit, or Twitter?
I hope AMD do something to improve this situation.
Sadly it does seem like social media Reddit has become the more "official" support forum, and this forum itself seems so antiquated if you look at nVidia's forums.
I always try to support amd since my first radeon 7970, rx480 and rx5700xt. I could understand some minor bugs but this hard reboot will damage my pc.
There is no official support and frankly although i love my new card i will give it a couple of months before i ask for a full refund.
I'm not going to beat the drivers to death with already known issues. We all know they are there and unresolved for many users.
I do have a question though about the AMD response to the author:
In a perfect world, they should be monitoring all of them. I also wish they would make themselves known...should require one person a week to peruse the forums adding some input.