An ultra-rare Radeon driver bug is breaking PCs. This unique repair revived mine

The fastidiously sequestered, rock-solid-reliable PC I take advantage of to check graphics playing cards turned utterly and totally hosed this week. I couldn’t even get the system in addition into Home windows restore mode to attempt to troubleshoot it. The wrongdoer? A uncommon battle in the best way Home windows interacts with AMD’s newest WQHL-certified Radeon drivers, Adrenalin 23.2.2. Some fast Googling revealed that this has been occurring to a small handful of different customers since Adrenalin 23.2.1 landed in mid-February, with equally devastating results.

This expertise can be an absolute catastrophe for anybody who isn’t the manager editor of a pc publication with a deep rolodex available (although AMD representatives are very conscious of driver suggestions on social media). However fortuitously, I used to be in a position to work carefully with AMD on on the problem.

AMD engineers not solely managed to diagnose the potential root reason for this unique situation, but in addition found a just-as-exotic troubleshooting workaround that helped revive my PC. A everlasting repair is being investigated, however affected customers can hopefully use this workaround to restore their methods with out resorting to a full-blown recent Home windows set up.

Right here’s what occurred, the way it occurred, how one can keep away from it, and how one can repair it if an identical catastrophe strikes your PC.

How AMD’s Radeon drivers broke my Home windows set up

I obtained a brand new customized Radeon RX 7900 XT for testing this week, so I went about my standard strict course of for ensuring the PC is up-to-date and able to benchmark. Earlier than swapping in a brand new graphics card or new drivers, whereas my current secure setup continues to be intact, I carry out a number of steps to make the system as “like new” as doable, to keep away from potential points brought on by swapping in several GPUs from totally different manufacturers. (The system {hardware} stays static, with minimal software program put in past benchmarking instruments, to make sure consistency.)

It is a rig from AMD’s Radeon RX 7900-series reveal, not my check system. Adam Patrick Murray / IDG

I already had a GeForce RTX 4070 Ti set as much as give Nvidia’s superior RTX Video Tremendous Decision a whirl. With it put in, I manually up to date Home windows 10. Then, I powered down the system and changed the 4070 Ti with the Radeon RX 7900 XT. It booted up usually. I then used Home windows 10’s Add and Take away Applications instrument to uninstall all Nvidia software program from my PC and rebooted. Commonplace stuff. I then used the implausible DDU Uninstaller instrument to make sure that Nvidia’s bits had been actually and utterly eradicated, and rebooted. Every thing went superb.

Then the issues began.

I opened up Chrome, navigated to AMD’s web site, and downloaded the WQHL-certified Adrenalin 23.2.2 drivers that the location really helpful for a 7900 XT. Then I put in the motive force, checking the field to carry out a “manufacturing unit reset” clear set up somewhat than an upgrade-in-place. It seems that checking that field, completed along with a silent Home windows replace occurring within the background with out my data, most likely led to my rig’s downfall.

Every thing went properly—till the software program mentioned I wanted to reboot my PC to complete the motive force set up. After restarting, my system hit the MSI BIOS splash web page like regular, however the second it tried loading Home windows it instantly suffered a Blue Display of Demise, flashing the “Inaccessible Boot System” error code proven within the picture within the tweet under (which is unrelated to this AMD situation). Ugh. The system then began an infinite cycle of BSOD > reboot > BSOD > reboot with out kicking off computerized restore makes an attempt or presenting me the same old Home windows troubleshooting choices.

How can I enter protected mode earlier than booting in Home windows 10? AFAIK You are able to do that in Home windows 7.

INACCESSIBLE_BOOT_DEVICE — Tridashie (@Tridashie) November 25, 2019

I didn’t have time to troubleshoot it so I powered down the system and tried once more the subsequent day. Similar deal. I yanked out the customized Radeon RX 7900 XT I want to check and changed it with AMD’s reference Radeon RX 7900 XT. This time, after two BSOD > reboot cycles, Home windows tried to routinely restore the system after the BIOS splash display. Success! …or so I believed. However I used to be terribly, terribly incorrect.

As a substitute of correcting the problem, choosing Startup Restore made it even worse. When it was completed, the display went darkish and utterly unresponsive (whereas nonetheless powered on). Now, at any time when I attempted in addition the pc, I noticed the little “Home windows excited about it” circle spinning after the BIOS display for a short second, then a return to the infinite blackness. My Home windows set up was hosed so laborious that the BSOD crashes didn’t even happen anymore, and I had no probability to strive commonplace Home windows troubleshooting efforts.

In desperation I attempted changing the Radeon RX 7900 XT with the RTX 4070 Ti and an Intel Arc A750—GPUs I’ve examined previously two weeks, that labored reliably—however to no avail.

Watch out whenever you set up the most recent Adrenalin 23.2.1. Backup your knowledge!#AMD #Driver — CapFrameX (@CapFrameX) February 15, 2023

Googling the problem surfaced this WCCFTech article from mid-February together with loads of different protection, citing quite a few person experiences of Adrenalin 23.2.1 destroying their Home windows installs. It’s a deeply irritating expertise, and one that may be disastrous for the standard PC gamer. I tweeted about my woes and an AMD consultant emailed me inside minutes. Clearly, being the manager editor of PCWorld might fast-track me for a fast response (although once more, AMD representatives are very conscious of driver suggestions on social media). On this case, my high-profile complications managed to assist AMD probe the core situation, so I can present troubleshooting steps that labored for me and fortunately report {that a} everlasting repair is being investigated.

Tips on how to repair Radeon drivers breaking your Home windows set up

I may’ve merely slapped in a brand new SSD with a clear Home windows set up, however we spent two days going by means of varied troubleshooting fixes whereas AMD engineers tried reproducing and diagnosing the issue. Swapping GPUs, making an attempt new screens, yanking the show cable out at totally different instances, clearing the CMOS, and guaranteeing UEFI was chosen as an alternative of CSM within the BIOS (it was!) all proved fruitless.

However this morning, AMD’s workforce obtained again to me with one other suggestion: When the BIOS splash display is up proper after turning on the PC, slam the facility button to attempt to coax Home windows into forcing an computerized restoration try. I attempted it 4 instances to no avail. I used to be instructed to stick with it, that it could work finally. And after fifteen whole tries, it did!

I’m unsure what brought on it to lastly catch, however timing appeared to play an element in it. Hitting the facility button whereas the BIOS keypress choices had been up merely turned off my PC instantly. Hitting it as soon as the spinning “Home windows considering” icon appeared stored the PC on, however did nothing—my system merely black-screened once more. Ultimately, I managed to hit the facility button within the break up second between the BIOS choices disappearing and the Home windows circle showing, and that managed to kickstart an computerized restoration try.

You wish to choose the System Restore possibility and choose a restore level from previous to the Home windows corruption. Home windows ought to routinely have created one simply earlier than putting in the brand new GPU drivers. IDG


After Home windows did its factor for a bit, I finally wound up within the Home windows restoration instruments menu, in a position to restart my PC or choose superior choices. I went into the superior choices’ troubleshooting menu and chosen System Restore, since Startup Restore hosed my PC even worse earlier than. I chosen a restore level from mid-February, loaded it up, and after two agonizingly irritating days, my check rig was again in motion.

In the event you’ve suffered from the latest Adrenalin drivers corrupting your Home windows set up, do this course of to hopefully get again in your toes. You must also making an attempt the same old arcane methodology for summoning the Home windows restoration instrument, discovered within the “Use the Startup Restore operate” part right here. (Don’t use Startup Restore although! Use a restore level! Simply use this course of to get you to the menu with each choices.)

However how did this occur, and how will you stop it from occurring to you?

Tips on how to keep away from Radeon drivers breaking your Home windows set up

AMD tells me it took dozens of makes an attempt to recreate the problem of their labs as a consequence of its excessive rarity. On a name, one consultant really known as me “affected person zero.” The corporate supplied me with the next assertion whereas its investigation is ongoing:

“We’ve got reproduced a difficulty that may happen in a particularly small variety of situations if a PC replace happens throughout the set up of AMD Software program: Adrenalin Version, and we’re actively investigating. We suggest customers guarantee all system updates are utilized or paused earlier than putting in the motive force, and that the “Manufacturing unit Reset” possibility is unchecked throughout the AMD driver set up course of. We’re dedicated to resolve points as shortly as doable and strongly encourage customers to submit points with AMD Software program: Adrenalin Version through the Bug Report Device.”

It’s value noting that my model of Home windows 10 was up to date previous to trying the Adrenalin Software program set up, however the Recreation Bar or another a part of Home windows might have been silently updating within the background to kickstart this catastrophe.

DO NOT click on “further choices” and examine the “manufacturing unit reset” field till the core situation is fastened! AMD

As a workaround, merely don’t examine that manufacturing unit reset field for those who’re putting in new Radeon drivers. There’s no purpose to take action for those who’ve already obtained a working Radeon GPU arrange and are merely updating to the most recent drivers anyway. Easy as that. It labored for me after my check system was revived and I now have Adrenalin 23.2.2 put in and dealing like a attraction.

A damned disgrace

It’s a damned disgrace this occurred. Most excruciatingly for myself and different players who had their Home windows set up deeply damaged, in fact, but in addition for AMD.

I’vebeen a vocal advocate for the intense driver and software program enhancements AMD has been making over the past half-decade or so. Folks slammed the iffy state of Radeon drivers for years. AMD listened and poured great funding and energy into sprucing them up. Now, Workforce Pink’s drivers are even higher than Nvidia’s in style Recreation Prepared drivers in some ways, and in June 2022 AMD felt assured sufficient about its software program to declare that it provides “industry-leading stability” with “99.95% of customers experiencing no crashes when AMD Software program is put in.”

There’s little doubt that AMD’s driver stability and total stability at the moment are proper up there with one of the best of them after years of intense refinement. That is a particularly uncommon edge case—although it’s occurring to sufficient folks that I felt compelled to jot down about my woes. It positive sucks being in that 0.05%! However points this catastrophic harm the trigger to rebuild Radeon software program’s picture, regardless of how uncommon they’re. No matter whether or not Home windows or AMD is responsible in the long run, this expertise is the form of factor that may instantly make many PC players swear off Radeon GPUs endlessly, and inform all their pals why. And that’s a disgrace.

This stays one of the best 1080p graphics card for most individuals Radeon RX 6600 Swft 210 Finest Costs Right now:

A number of Radeon GPUs maintain spots in our roundup of one of the best graphics playing cards. I’m not going to take away them regardless of my private catastrophe. This extreme situation isn’t widespread, solely occurring in ultra-rare circumstances, whereas AMD provides actually compelling worth up and down the stack with Nvidia mountaineering GeForce costs by means of the roof. And sure, AMD’s drivers are certainly rock-solid the overwhelming majority of the time. This specific situation may have been catastrophic with out AMD’s direct assist, however no software program is ideal—particularly within the advanced PC ecosystem—and whereas I obtained caught in a deeply irritating scenario, there’s solely a microscopic probability of it affecting you. (And hopefully this text may also help you if it does.)

Most individuals don’t examine the manufacturing unit set up field anyway. Simply make certain you don’t both till a everlasting repair is launched.

Author: ZeroToHero