How to fix CyberLink PowerDVD’s incompatible graphics card driver error on Windows 8.1

If you want Blu-ray playback, forget virtualization.

UPDATE: I recently ran into a

PowerDVD could not read a file on this disc.

error on Windows 8.1 Pro x64. The same disc wouldn’t play on Corel WinDVD Pro either. Shutting down the guest OS I had running in VMware Player Free and then closing the latter fixed the issue. I conclude from this that Blu-ray playback doesn’t work if anything virtualization related is enabled or running at the same time. This is probably due to copy protection requiring the player to lock the Blu-ray drive for exclusive access to the player, which may be problematic with VMs.

TL, DR: if you want Blu-ray playback, forget virtualization on the playback PC. Period.

Few things are more frustrating when high end technology you paid for suddenly fails you after working previously. This happened to me earlier today when I tried to play a Blockbuster The Pacific Disc 2 Blu-ray on my PC, only to be greeted by the following error:

Playback stopped because your graphics card driver is incompatible. Make sure it meets the minimum requirements. You can find additional information on the CyberLink FAW web site (code-0012).

Since I had the latest AMD Catalyst drivers installed – and you should too – this message made no sense. Running Cyberlink’s BD & 3D Advisor* utility as suggested produced this shocking output:

Yep, that's a nearly 2 year old graphics card showing up as "Unknown." I had a small nervous breakdown on seeing this.
Yep, that’s a nearly 2 year old graphics card showing up as “Unknown.” I had a small nervous breakdown on seeing this.

Oh yeah, that’s my Radeon HD 7870 showing up as “Unknown,” despite having been released in early 2012. So what’s going on here and how do you fix it?

Turns out there are two solutions to this problem, one of them free, the other quite expensive (we’re talking triple digits here). I’ll go through the free option first (thanks to Saba at CyberLink tech support):

Solution 1 (FREE as in beer): disable Hyper-V

This solution is “free” because you already have PowerDVD and don’t need to pay for anything else.

I guess Hyper-V breaks HDCP? The more you know ...
I guess Hyper-V breaks HDCP? The more you know …
  1. On the desktop, hold down Windows key + X.
  2. Click Control Panel.
  3. In the View by: drop down menu, select anything other than Category.
  4. Click Programs and Features.
  5. Click Turn Windows features on or off.
  6. In the window that pops up afterwards, uncheck the parent entry for Hyper-V.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Windows will prompt you to reboot, after which it will reboot twice before dumping you back at the log in screen.
  9. Log in and you should be able to play Blu-rays on PowerDVD again as before.

If you use Hyper-V a lot, the above solution might be annoying or distasteful for you, though. That’s where Solution 2 comes in:

Solution 2: SlySoft AnyDVD HD + Corel WinDVD Pro

With this method, you don’t have to disable Hyper-V at all, or even have HDCP compliant hardware. But it’ll cost you.

Good ol' SlySoft to rescue the Fair Use cause!
Good ol’ SlySoft to rescue the Fair Use cause!
  1. Download and install SlySoft AnyDVD HD. You get a 21 day free trial, but beyond that it’ll cost you anywhere from €63 to €119, with the most expensive option giving you lifetime support and updates. Considering that most paid Blu-ray playback software devs charge at least $45 new whole number releases, that’s a good deal.
  2. Download and install Corel WinDVD Pro. It comes with a 30 day free trial ($49.99 after), but you’ll have to register and may have to download a disc keys update file before you can use it. Just follow the prompts and you’ll be just fine.
  3. Start Slysoft AnyDVD HD.
  4. Right-click on the system tray icon
  5. Click Settings…
  6. Under the Video Blu-ray entry, check Enable Blu-ray support, Remove prohibited user operations, and Remove Blu-ray Region Code.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Start Corel WinDVD Pro.
  9. Click the directory icon.
  10. Click the icon marked Disc. The Blu-ray should play just fine.

Yes, there are free – as in beer – options for Blu-ray playback software, but as far as I know most of them lack the proper menu support of paid options. Daum PotPlayer’s UI – download from here, the official site is Korean(?) –  for one, is quite indecipherable. I also tried ArcSoft Total Media Theatre – at $90, the most expensive playback option – but it didn’t work. Go figure.

*Based on my experience, the Advisor’s only function is to inform tech support of your config, not to actually “advise” you of anything.

Yes, the Intel Core i7-4770 can handle all your virtualization needs

Recently I ran into this support thread in which the OP insisted he needed an XPS 8700 to ship with the Intel Core i7-4770S as opposed to the i7-4770K due to its virtualization features. He even linked to this comparison table.

Except that’s not exactly true. The i7-4770 supports literally all of Core family’s virtualization features:

Yes, Yes, Yes, ...
Yes, Yes, Yes, …

I strongly suspect Intel’s CPU nomenclature is the source of the confusion in this case. Most people are used to product name suffixes meaning upgrades or superior feature sets, e.g. iPhone 5S, Porsche 911 Turbo S, etc. In the Core i7’s case, however, suffixes mean the opposite. The best CPU in the lineup is the 4770. Period.

This means the Dell XPS 8700 – which the OP was asking about – should be able to manage all the virtualization tricks prosumers can throw at it.