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MSI display with 5700XT - black screen problem

Question asked by sammyrc on Apr 7, 2020
Latest reply on Apr 28, 2020 by nutsnut
Since new, my Powercolor Red Devil 5700XT has experienced a black-screen issue with my MSI monitor. I've reported the issue to AMD, although I'd like to see if other people might have ideas for a solution.
Problem:
Once the monitor has gone to sleep (display off), all games that run in a fullscreen or borderless window mode with the default (current) refresh rate will start with a black screen. The game sounds continue, and the game is running. I just see nothing. This occurs 95% of the time. The other 5%, the display flickers between the game and a black-screen, or rarely the display works as expected.
When the black screen occurs, the monitor's backlight has turned off. This is not just a black image. The monitor does not enter sleep mode (as it would if there was no signal).
Workarounds:
There are several workarounds which are all 100% effective, and can be performed before starting any games or while the game is running with the black screen:- Powercycle the monitor- Pull out and re-plugin the display port cable- Change refresh rate in Windows.
I can also ALT-Tab out of the game, in which the display returns until I focus back to the game returning to a black-screen.
Another workaround is disabling FreeSync. However this then leads to horrible game experiences with tearing.
I can also run the monitor at 60hz which resolves the issue, but again, it's a horrible experience.
System:
  • MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC motherboard
  • AMD 3900X
  • 32Gb RAM ( G.Skill 4x8Gb 3200Mhz CL-14 B-die )
  • Powercolor Red Devil RX 5700XT 8Gb
  • MSI Optix MAG27CQ monitor, 2K at 144hz
  • Corsair TX-750W PSU (two separate cables to GPU)

 

Background:
This problem has occured since new in Aug 2019, with all driver versions from early 19.x series through to the latest 20.4.1 drivers. The last safe-mode DDU & reinstall of drivers was with version 20.2.2, from which I upgraded to 20.4.1.
I've tried numerous things to fix this myself, including:
  • Swapped the MSI-supplied display port cable for a Display Port 1.4 certified cable.
  • Tried other display ports on the GPU.
  • Installed and uninstalled the MSI utilities for the monitor.
  • Safe-mode removal, DDU and reinstallation of drivers.
  • Every setting I can find in Radeon settings and within games.

 

This monitor was previously used with a RX580 GPU in the same system with the same games, experiencing no such issues.
Games:
This problem occurs in all games that are capable of running at the default or current refresh rate. The well known games include:
  • The Witcher
  • Dying Light
  • Red Dead Redemption 2
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Star Citizen
It's worth noting that games that run at other resolutions or refresh rates (eg Skyrim, FlatOut) never experience this problem.
The unimportant:
There are many game and driver settings that appear to make no difference to my experience:
  • Full screen or windowed-borderless display
  • Vsync in game or "Wait for Vertical Refresh" in Radeon settings
  • Enhanced sync
  • AMD Chill
  • Response Time in the MSI Monitor OSD settings
  • Refresh rate of 144hz or 120hz.

 

The important:
  • FreeSync - If FreeSync is disabled, the problem vanishes.
  • Games capable of running in windowed mode always display correctly while in window mode.
  • Screenshots through Windows or Radeon software work as expected even while experiencing the black screen issue, capturing the expected content.
  • This problem does not re-occur once any workaround above is performed until the monitor again enters power-saving mode (switching the panel off). If I interupt this, (waking the monitor before it enters sleep), this problem does not re-occur

 

For testing purposes, I use the following batch file to make the display enter sleep:
powershell (Add-Type '[DllImport(\"user32.dll\")]^public static extern int SendMessage(int hWnd, int hMsg, int wParam, int lParam);' -Name a -Pas)::SendMessage(-1,0x0112,0xF170,2)
With this batch file, I've been able to test different settings and configurations quickly.
Otherwise, I've not been able to source another FreeSync capable monitor to test with.
My instinct:
The evidence suggests this is a Freesync compatibility problem between my 5700XT and the monitor. I suspect the problem is the monitor, although getting MSI to address this is going to be near impossible I expect.
Does anyone have any thoughts about other things I could try? Or does anyone else own this MSI monitor with a RDNA GPU?
UPDATE: I've done some more testing of this problem. There's some additional behaviour that again makes me think the MAG27CQ monitor is mostly at fault. There are two main reasons:
  1. While the problem is occuring, if I launch a game that runs at the maximum 144hz, the display works, only falling to a black screen while the game is displaying less than 144fps.
  2. The GPU is not able to cause the display's backlight to turn off. That's the monitors decision.
 
I suspect that the monitor is incorrectly "forgetting" that freesync is enabled on display port once it sleeps. The GPU seems to assume that modes persist through sleep. This is why any re-negotation of the display port (by unlugging or changing settings) resolves the problem temporarily.
This monitor did function more correctly (although with flickering) with my previous RX580 GPU, so it appears that architecture does play a role. Perhaps MSI depended on a GPU-initiated re-negotation following sleep? I did try searching for any easy-to-read specifications on display port protocols but struggled to find anything specific.
The first reason also explains why windowed games work fine, as the desktop is running at the maximum 144fps, and so freesync is not required. 
 
Lastly, I've identified a workaround for this monitor. This monitor's HDMI implementation has no such issue with freesync. It does however reduce the maximim refresh rate to 120hz. So that is an option too.

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