Facepalm: It’s bad enough that users with older AMD graphics cards had to wait two months for a new driver. Now, reports indicate the driver is making Windows 10 and 11 unbootable. Team Red hasn’t officially responded yet, but those installing the driver should set a new system restore point first to be safe.
Users around the web report that AMD’s Radeon Adrenalin 23.2.1 graphics driver prevents Windows systems from booting, forcing some to reinstall Windows. Theories abound about the cause, but a definitive solution hasn’t emerged.
Since releasing the driver on Valentine’s Day, complaints emerged across Reddit, Twitter, the ComputerBase forums, and likely elsewhere. Affected users say that after installing the Adrenalin driver, they receive an Inaccessible Boot Drive error. Some report that moving to an earlier Windows System Restore point saved them from having to reinstall the operating system completely.
The official Twitter account for the CapFrameX software advises those affected to check their boot options in the BIOS, suspecting that the driver changed the BIOS settings. Some theorize that a recent Windows update didn’t fully agree with the new driver.
[Update] The driver seems to change BIOS settings. Check the boot options when your system doesn’t boot after installing the driver. Do not just reinstall the OS.
— CapFrameX (@CapFrameX) February 15, 2023
The situation is incredibly discouraging because, for most AMD GPU owners, this is the first new driver from the company since early December. Team Red focused its driver updates exclusively on its new Radeon RX 7000 cards throughout December and January.
Until this week, owners of the RX 6000 series and earlier GPUs missed out on optimizations for major games like the Dead Space remake, Forspoken, and Hogwarts Legacy. The February driver also adds optimizations for Spider-Man, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Hitman 3, F1 2022, and other games while fixing a serious and longstanding problem with SpaceEngine. The critical issue with 23.2.1 may leave non-RX 7000 AMD users waiting even longer for these improvements.
Owners of Radeon 6800U devices like the Ayaneo 2 and Ayaneo Geek should also be careful with the 23.2.1 driver because a glitch causes it to reduce the APU’s available VRAM to 512MB. Ayaneo advises users to flash a new BIOS via USB after checking the memory in the task manager. Ayaneo’s advisory strengthens the theory that something in AMD’s latest driver is affecting the BIOS, but it’s not clear how the driver affects other 6800U machines like the GPD Win Max 2.
When uninstalling problematic drivers, third-party software like Display Driver Uninstaller can ensure a clean uninstallation. Users should set a system restore point before using it, however.