AMD Adrenalin software would change user-defined BIOS processor settings

Update: AMD has confirmed Tom’s gear (opens in a new tab) that its Adrenalin driver actually changes BIOS settings and auto-overclocks Ryzen processors without user permission. AMD is investigating the issue and will share an update as soon as it can.

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Original story: Reports are surfacing suggesting that AMD’s Adrenalin software for Radeon graphics cards is inadvertently changing the Precision Boost Overdrive settings of systems with Ryzen processors. The fact that it does this without user consent is the problem. When applying GPU profiles, automatically enabling PBO may cause problems for users with otherwise stable overclocks.

News of the problem comes via Igor’s laboratory (opens in a new tab) following an investigation. It says that the integration of AMD’s Ryzen Master CPU software and Radeon’s Adrenalin software by default allows the program to change CPU overclocking settings without user consent.

The issue is not dangerous, but it can lead to system instability, especially if a user has a manually set overclock. (opens in a new tab) near the edge of stability, at which point any further changes to the CPU configuration could lead to system crashes.

Modern CPUs have extensive built-in protection mechanisms, and AMD’s Precision Boost settings are generally conservative, so it’s highly unlikely that CPU damage could result. The changes only occur on systems with an AMD Radeon GPU and Ryzen CPU. Systems with Intel processors are not affected because AMD software obviously cannot access Intel processor settings.

If you’re worried about your overclock being affected, there are workarounds. The first may be obvious. Save your BIOS profile so it can be reactivated easily. The second option is to download a third-party application called Radeon Software Slimmer, which has the ability to remove the Ryzen Master component from the Adrenalin software. This removes any possibility of processor manipulation.

Easy-to-use, stable and reliable automatic overclocking tools are actually a good thing, but only if the user is aware of the changes made and permission is given. If AMD is more transparent in its future versions of Adrenalin, then there’s no reason this kind of functionality shouldn’t stick around. Changing settings without the user’s knowledge is the real problem. AMD must allow the user to disable any type of automatic OC without explicit permission.

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