Maybe it was too good to be true. We were seriously impressed when we reviewed AMD’s new flagship GPU, the Radeon RX 7900 XTX, but new reports suggest that all is not well with the newly released graphics card.
The first sign that something was wrong came from the Twitter user. @uzzi38 (opens in new tab)noted that depending on the program used, power issues are causing strange differences in clock speeds of the RX 7900 XTX. As discussed in the Twitter thread below @uzzi38’s post, the operating frequency of the card ranged from 1,594 MHz to 2,994 MHz in various tests performed by. TechPowerUp (opens in new tab)while the voltage stays below 1V for almost the whole process.
Depending on the headset, the 7900XTX can run anywhere from below 2.4 GHz to just over 2.9 GHz while sitting at around 1V or below. This is a huge difference. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a big red flag when it comes to hijacking power targets. pic.twitter.com/AEGWc424kk12 December 2022
These tests were run at the card’s default settings, and that’s clearly a huge difference. A few days later, Dutch YouTuber and GPU commentator @NadaOverbeeke (opens in new tab) found that in certain games the card’s clock speeds jumped – seemingly randomly – causing a corresponding jump in performance. Modern Warfare 2 showed a framerate change of about 20% in separate tests on the same GPU without any adjustments.
Some really weird behavior with the ASUS TUF 7900 XT. It will run at 2400 MHz in one game and 2900 MHz in the next. All stock settings with similar power draw. 🧐14 December 2022
Unfortunately for AMD, the situation is getting worse. Around the same time as Nadalina’s findings, Twitter user @Kepler_L2 (opens in new tab) A non-functional shader prefetch was found on the Navi 31 A0 silicon powering the RX 7900 XTX. Kepler believes this indicates that AMD has chosen to release unfinished silicon; In this context, ‘A0’ refers to ‘revision 1’, or the first version of silicon that goes into production. This means that future models of Navi 31 GPUs may not have the same non-working prefetch.
Analysis: AMD’s rush to release RDNA 3 could cost Nvidia high moral ground
Anyone paying attention will know that we’ve been pretty cold towards Nvidia lately: between the melting power adapters on the RTX 4090 and the messy “startup” of the RTX 4080 12GB (not to mention the below-average performance of the actual RTX 4080 at its $1,199 asking price), Team Green doesn’t do much to increase goodwill among consumers.
Enter AMD with some very affordable new GPUs: the RX 7900 XTX for $999 and the slightly less powerful XT variant for $899. Initial impressions were strong, outpacing the RTX 4080 in many areas despite the XTX card being $200 cheaper. While AMD and Intel insist they will fight such an increase, we were definitely sitting in the red corner, given Nvidia’s previous statements about how prices for GPUs will continue to rise.
But these new issues with the RX 7900 XTX could cause AMD to lose some of the reputation it has managed to accumulate over the past few months. Launching incomplete silicon is a bad look for any big tech company; The shader prefetch issue isn’t one that can be quickly fixed with a driver update (though AMD will eventually be able to improve performance), and releasing newer physical revisions of the GPU won’t help those who have already purchased a GPU.
As for why AMD might have released unfinished silicon, that’s anyone’s guess. The most plausible line of speculation is that AMD has a pre-Christmas launch window that it can’t afford to miss. AMD will of course continue to improve the performance of the RX 7900 XTX with driver updates, and ray tracing performance is expected to improve in the coming months as AMD resolves the issues.
We’ve reached out to AMD for a clarification on these reports and will update this article if we receive a response.