Dang, I got my hopes on this. I disabled HDR and turned off windowed fullscreen and like a charm, retroarch was working again. I tried several different games and cores and all booted up fine.
However, as soon as I tried to launch a game with Beetle Saturn core, I experienced the freeze/crash issue again. After that happened, all attempts to boot Retroarch had the problem again, even with games and cores that had been working moments before. Restarted the PC, same problem.
I don’t know if it’s right to pinpoint this on the beetle saturn core, but it definitely seemed to often be where things went south in terms of this issue when I was testing other options and fixes that also seemed work at first. The weird part is how it seems to influence the launch process for all the other cores if that’s the case.
UPDATE: So never mind about blaming the Beetle Saturn core. Something about the implementation of audio definitely seems to be causing the issue. I was finally able to reliably recreate the issue by turning audio sync on or off as mentioned in the earlier thread.
If Retroarch was in a crashing state, turning off audio sync would allow it to launch again. Of course, as already mentioned, doing this causes some games (Later 3D games for me) to accelerate. I’d also lose all sound once running one of these games and trying to play anything else.
Turning audio sync back on would fix that problem and again, things would be working fine until trying enough games, at which point the original crashing problem started again.
However, at the moment I don’t seem to have the crashing issue despite starting a bunch of different games in different cores. The only thing that happened was that some radeon process (I didn’t catch what it was) crashed and restarted while I was doing all this.
Still not sure what all that was about, but for now the problem seems to be gone. I’ll have to restart my PC and test few more time over the next several days and see if it’s truly gone for good or not.