Well, maybe it’s all too good to be true. We were very impressed with Radeon RX 7900 XTXAMD’s new flagship GPU, as we review it, but new reports suggest that all is not well with the newly launched GPU graphics card.
The first sign that something is wrong comes from Twitter users @uzzi38 (opens in a new tab), who noted that electrical problems seem to be causing odd differences in the clock speed of the RX 7900 XTX depending on the program used. As discussed in the Twitter thread below @uzzi38’s post, the card’s operating frequency varied from 1,594 MHz to 2,994 MHz across multiple tests performed by TechPowerUp (opens in a new tab)while the voltage stays below 1V for most of the process.
Depending on the title, the 7900XTX can run anywhere from under 2.4GHz to over 2.9GHz, while staying around or under 1V. That is a big difference. I don’t think I’ve seen such a big red flag before with a lack of power target. pic.twitter.com/AEGWc424kkDecember 12, 2022
These tests were run at the card’s default settings, and that’s clearly a big difference. A few days later, Dutch YouTuber and GPU reviewer @NadaOverbeeke (opens in a new tab) noticed that the card’s clock speed would spike – seemingly at random – in certain games, resulting in a corresponding spike in performance. Modern Warfare 2 showed a frame rate change of about 20% in separate tests on the same GPU without any settings adjusted.
Some really odd behavior with the ASUS TUF 7900 XT. It will run 2400 MHz in one game, then 2900 MHz in the next. All stock settings, with similar power consumption.December 14, 2022
Unfortunately for AMD, it got worse. At the same time as Nadalina’s discovery, Twitter user @Kepler_L2 (opens in a new tab) found a non-working prefetch shader in the Navi 31 A0 silicon powering the RX 7900 XTX. Kepler believes this shows AMD has chosen to release unfinished silicon; ‘A0’ in this context refers to ‘revision 1’ or the first version of silicon to enter production. This means that future Navi 31 GPU models may not have the same inactive prefetch feature.
Analysis: AMD’s rush to launch RDNA 3 could cost them morally before Nvidia
Anyone paying attention will know that we’ve been pretty cool with Nvidia lately: mid molten power adapter on RTX 4090 and messy ‘unlaunch’ of the 12GB RTX 4080 (not to mention actual RTX 4080performance compared to the $1,199 asking price), Team Green hasn’t done much to promote consumer goodwill.
Enter AMD, with some very competitively priced new GPUs – the RX 7900 XTX at $999 and the slightly less powerful XT variant at $899. Early performances were impressive, with the XTX card beating the RTX 4080 in many respects despite its $200 lower price tag. Given Nvidia’s earlier statements about how GPUs will continue to increase in price, while AMD and Intel insist they will fight against such increases, we’re firmly in the red corner.
But these new problems with the RX 7900 XTX could cause AMD to lose some of the goodwill it has accumulated over the past few months. Releasing unfinished silicon is a bad thing for any big tech company; shader prefetching is not something that can be quickly remedied with a driver update (though AMD should eventually be able to improve performance) and the release of newer physical versions of GPU won’t help anyone who bought it.
As to why AMD may have released unfinished silicon, that’s anyone’s guess. The most logical line of speculation is that AMD had a pre-Christmas launch window that they couldn’t miss. Of course, AMD will continue to improve the performance of the RX 7900 XTX through driver updates, with ray tracing performance expected to increase in the coming months as AMD resolves the tough issues.
We’ve reached out to AMD to request a statement regarding these reports and will update this article if we receive a response.