AMD Adrenalin software reportedly alters user-set BIOS CPU settings

AMD Adrenalin
(Image credit: AMD)


Update: AMD has confirmed to Tom's Hardware that its Adrenalin driver is in fact changing the BIOS settings and auto-overclocking Ryzen CPUs without user permission. AMD is investigating the issue and will share an update when it's able to.


Original story: Reports are surfacing suggesting that AMD’s Adrenalin software for Radeon graphics cards is inadvertently altering the Precision Boost Overdrive settings of systems equipped with Ryzen CPUs. The fact that it’s doing it without user consent is the issue. When applying GPU profiles, the automatic enabling PBO can lead to issues for users with otherwise stable overclocks.

News of the issue comes via Igor’s Lab following an investigation. It says that the integration of AMD’s Ryzen Master CPU software and Adrenalin Radeon software is by default allowing the program to alter CPU overclocking parameters without user consent.

The issue isn’t one of danger, but it could cause system instability, especially if a user has a manually tuned overclock near the edge of stability, at which point any additional CPU configuration changes could lead to system crashes.

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

If you’re worried that your overclock could be impacted, there are some workarounds. The first may be obvious. Save your BIOS profile so it can be re-enabled easily. The second option is to download a 3rd party app called Radeon Software Slimmer, which has an option to remove the Ryzen Master component from the Adrenalin software. Doing this removes any possibility of CPU 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 being made and permission is given. If AMD is more transparent in its future Adrenalin releases, then there’s no reason why this kind of feature shouldn’t remain. It’s the changing of settings without user knowledge that is the real issue. AMD must allow the user to opt out of any kind of automatic OC without explicit permission.

Chris Szewczyk
Hardware Writer

Chris' gaming experiences go back to the mid-nineties when he conned his parents into buying an 'educational PC' that was conveniently overpowered to play Doom and Tie Fighter. He developed a love of extreme overclocking that destroyed his savings despite the cheaper hardware on offer via his job at a PC store. To afford more LN2 he began moonlighting as a reviewer for VR-Zone before jumping the fence to work for MSI Australia. Since then, he's gone back to journalism, enthusiastically reviewing the latest and greatest components for PC & Tech Authority, PC Powerplay and currently Australian Personal Computer magazine and PC Gamer. Chris still puts far too many hours into Borderlands 3, always striving to become a more efficient killer.