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What just happened? Following weeks of complaints, AMD has finally confirmed that the high temperatures and unexpected throttling in the Radeon RX 7900 XTX reference cards are being caused by issues related to their thermal solution.
AMD's reputation has been tarnished by reports of some Radeon RX 7900 XTX reference graphics cards experiencing thermal issues involving GPU hotspot temperatures, or the maximum temperature read by the sensor, reaching as high as 110C.
AMD initially said 110C is the normal junction temperature, which is why it refused some buyers' RMA requests and advised those users who are experiencing unexpected thermal throttling to contact AMD support.
A recent investigation by Roman 'der8auer' Hartung led to the overclocker placing the blame for the overheating issues on the Radeon RX 7900 XTX's vapor chamber; it's believed that some batches of the cards lack sufficient fluid levels.
Igor Wallossek of Igor'sLAB fame received an email from a system integrator stating that 4 to 6 batches of Radeon RX 7900 XTX MBA (Made By AMD) cards, which covers thousands of units, are affected by the issue.
AMD has finally given an official statement that seems to confirm the investigations. "We are working to determine the root cause of the unexpected throttling experienced by some while using the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards made by AMD. Based on our observations to-date, we believe the issue relates to the thermal solution used in the AMD reference design and appears to be present in a limited number of the cards sold," the company wrote.
"We are committed to solving this issue for impacted cards. Customers experiencing this unexpected throttling should contact AMD Support (https://www.amd.com/en/support/contact-call)."
It does appear that only reference and AMD-manufactured Radeon RX 7900 XTX GPUs sold by AMD and its partners are affected. Aftermarket cards featuring custom cooler designs seem to be safe. And not every one of these MBA cards is overheating---the one we used in our review was fine.
However, an issue impacting thousands of units is not an insignificant problem. We'll have to see if AMD issues a mass recall/RMA.
The controversy comes at a bad time for AMD. Its Zen 4-powered Ryzen 7000 CPUs aren't selling as well as expected, especially in Germany, where sales of Zen 3 chips are outpacing their successor by around five to one. The reports have also taken the spotlight away from rival Nvidia's melting 16-pin 12VHPWR adapter issue, which AMD gleefully mocked in a tweet before reports of overhearing Radeon RX 7900 XTX cards arrived.