Driver updates will fix abnormally high power use for AMD’s new RX 7900 GPUs


AMD's Radeon RX 7900 XTX (rear) and 7900 XT (front).
Enlarge / AMD’s Radeon RX 7900 XTX (rear) and 7900 XT (front).

Andrew Cunningham

AMD’s Radeon RX 7900 XTX and 7900 XT GPUs are still fresh, and as with most products based on new architectures, there are some early bugs to work out.

A driver update released earlier this week (version 22.12.2, the second driver release for the RX 7900-series in as many weeks) addresses high power use during video playback when using the cards’ built-in media decoding hardware. Other problems have been acknowledged but not fixed yet, including “high idle power […] when using select high resolution and high refresh rate displays.”

German review site Computerbase (via Tom’s Hardware) noticed these issues and others when testing the cards; the site also measured significantly higher power consumption than the RX 6900 series and Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3000 and 4000 series cards when sitting idle at the Windows desktop with a pair of connected 60 Hz 4K monitors.

The new drivers’ release notes don’t mention high power use in multi-monitor setups, but they mention a few other problems with these configurations. The drivers fix crashing issues that can affect systems with four monitors connected, and they acknowledge (but do not fix) app crashes that can occur when using Radeon Super Resolution (RSR) and video stuttering issues that can occur when multiple monitors are connected.

While AMD promised “further power efficiency improvements” for the GPUs in “future [driver] releases,” the company didn’t provide more information on what specific problems it was planning to fix or how much those fixes would help reduce power consumption. Our review found that the RX 7900 GPUs typically consume as much or slightly more power than Nvidia’s competing RTX 4080 while gaming. However, the drivers seem to focus mostly on reducing power in cases where it’s supposed to be low, like when it’s decoding video or rendering the Windows desktop.


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