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.