Radeon RX 7900M in Alienware M18 impresses, but you need to use older AMD drivers for stability

AMD, Radeon, and driver issues seemingly go hand-in-hand. For the new flagship Radeon RX 7900M laptop GPU rolling back to a September 2023 driver is key.

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The Radeon RX 7900M is the latest flagship mobile GPU from AMD, and it recently made its debut in a variant of Alienware's M18 R1 gaming laptop line-up. It's the only laptop so far to feature the latest in high-end mobile Radeon graphics, and based on the in-depth review over at Notebookcheck, in-game performance is similar to an Alienware M18 R1 laptop rocking an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 Laptop GPU.

Alienware M18 R1 laptop is the first to feature a variant with the latest Radeon RX 7900M GPU, image credit: Alienware.

Alienware M18 R1 laptop is the first to feature a variant with the latest Radeon RX 7900M GPU, image credit: Alienware.

This is an impressive showing for what should be a more affordable alternative to NVIDIA's high-end laptop GPU offerings (Radeon RX 7900M gaming laptops cost around $500 less than GeForce RTX 4080 laptops). But there's a catch. The same review indicates that when it comes to the Radeon RX 7900M, AMD's drivers are buggy and prone to issues like black screens, freezing on bootup, and rapidly draining the battery.

It's not a good look for the new flagship mobile Radeon chip and reinforces the general belief by some that AMD's drivers are buggy and that it's to be expected when it comes to new Radeon products.

The story doesn't end there, and after looking into the issues, Dell found that rolling back the Adrenaline Software to a driver version and release from September 2023 fixed the problems. You'll need to turn off automatic Radeon driver updates or notifications and stick with the older release until AMD makes newer drivers that resolve the issues available. Use the driver version supplied by Dell here.

After rolling back to the older driver, Notebookcheck confirmed that many issues raised in its original review of the Alienware M18 R1 with Radeon RX 7900M went away. "The main screen would exhibit no wake-from-sleep or boot issues, and even WLAN battery life would improve to 3.5 hours," Notebookcheck writes. "Only more minor bugs would remain, such as the inability to run 3DMark Speed Way, Blender Classroom HIP, or Baldur's Gate 3 on Vulkan."

Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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