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Early buyers of Radeon RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT suspect AMD of releasing unfinished video cards.

Published: 2022-12-17

Some of the Radeon RX 7900 series graphics cards from the first batch may have been produced based on the structurally unfinished Navi 31 GPUs. This is the assumption made by some enthusiasts among the early buyers of the Radeon RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT.

AMD's Navi 31-based Radeon RX 7900 graphics cards with the new RDNA 3 architecture are positioned as competitors to NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 4080 graphics cards. The older model Radeon RX 7900 XTX in independent gaming tests really turned out to be faster than its competitor, but only by 4% on average. The difference is so small that some AMD fans are disappointed. Moreover, in ray-traced games, the new Radeons are still significantly behind NVIDIA solutions. Some enthusiasts believe that the first batch of Radeon RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT graphics cards are based on GPUs with an early A0 core stepping.

A Twitter user with the alias Kepler_L2 found information in the Radeon driver code indicating that some Navi GPUs have software disabled shader preloading blocks.

This unpleasant feature is typical for three chips marked GFX1100, GFX1102 and GFX1103. The first is the older Navi 31, on the basis of which the Radeon RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT are produced. The second and third are the yet unreleased Navi 33 and Navi 32, which will serve as the basis for the Radeon RX 7800, as well as other models of AMD's next generation desktop and mobile graphics accelerators.

In addition, users report a strange situation with fluctuations in the operating frequencies of the new Radeon video cards. For example, @uzzi38 noticed that the Radeon RX 7900 XTX GPU in games can run at frequencies from 2.4 GHz to 2.9 GHz without any changes in game settings.

And in the review of the video card by the TechPowerUp portal, it is indicated that the difference in frequencies can be even more significant. For example, in games, the chip worked at frequencies from 1934 to 2994 MHz, and in the same Furmark stress test, which in theory should squeeze all the juice out of the GPU, the GPU frequency turned out to be even lower - 1660 MHz.

Video blogger Nadalina shared a similar observation. She noted that in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the graphics chip of her ASUS Radeon RX 7900 XT TUF Gaming video card worked in the frequency range from 2.4 to 2.9 GHz with the same quality settings. Initially, the card selects high GPU frequencies, but after about an hour of play, it resets them to 2.4 GHz, which leads to a decrease in performance by about 20%. At the same time, after restarting the game, high FPS values \u200b\u200bare returned again. Nadalina's complaint drew the attention of the chief architect of gaming solutions and marketing AMD Frank Azor, who promised to look into the issue.

The difference in GPU frequencies under different loads is quite a common phenomenon. The frequency directly depends on the level of load and temperature of the GPU. But such a significant difference under similar loads looks very strange.

The previously mentioned TechPowerUp review also indicates that the Radeon RX 7900 XTX draws 103W of power in standby mode when using multiple monitors when the competition requires less than 50W. For example, the GeForce RTX 3090 Ti in such conditions needs only 42 watts, while the GeForce RTX 4080 and GeForce RTX 4090 need 23 and 27 watts, respectively.

High power consumption problems can be fixed with a new driver, which cannot be said about the early stepping of A0. Here, the only solution can only be the release of a graphics core on a new stepping, which is unlikely to please the first buyers of Radeon RX 7900 series video cards. According to reports, a disabled hardware shader preloader deprives previous generation Radeon video cards based on the RDNA 2 architecture about 5% of performance. How much its absence affects the performance of video cards based on the RDNA 3 architecture remains to be seen. Now we need to wait for official comments from AMD itself.