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What just happened? The Radeon RX 7900 XTX saga over its high temperatures and unexpected throttling has come to a conclusion after AMD finally admitted the precise nature of the problem. The company is now offering replacements to anyone who bought one of the affected units, marking a change in policy after it previously refused user RMA requests.
Last month brought reports that some users of Radeon RX 7900 XTX MBA (Made By AMD) reference cards were experiencing hotspot temps of up to 110C. A few people contacted AMD with RMA requests, but the company refused, claiming these were normal junction temperatures. It added that anyone who was experiencing unexpected thermal throttling should contact AMD Support.
Legendary overclocker Roman 'der8auer' Hartung investigated the problem. After ruling out all potential causes, he posited that the RX 7900 XTX MBA's vapor chamber was at fault. Further investigation by Hartung and Igor Wallossek of Igor'sLAB fame narrowed this down to insufficient fluid levels in the chamber, which AMD has now confirmed.
In an interview with PCWorld's Gordon Mah Ung at CES 2023, AMD's Scott Herkelman, Senior Vice President and General Manager at AMD Radeon, addressed the RX 7900 XTX overheating/throttling issue.
Herkelman started by reiterating that only reference and AMD-manufactured Radeon RX 7900 XTX GPUs sold by AMD and its partners are affected, not aftermarket cards featuring custom cooler designs. He then assured users that there were no safety concerns related to the problem, but card performance could be affected. "It all comes down to a small batch of vapor chamber actually have an issue, not enough water and it is a very small percentage [...] that's the root cause," Herkelman said.
No word on how many units make up that very small percentage. An email from a system integrator to Wallossek alleged that 4 to 6 batches were affected, which would cover thousands of units. Herkelman said anyone experiencing the problem should call AMD for a replacement unit. AMD has also refuted allegations that it does not have enough units to replace all the faulty models.
Moving onto another subject, Herkelman claimed AMD still had the best-performing graphics card under $900 in the form of the Radeon RX 7900 XT. He also showed a graph showing how it compares to the RTX 4070 Ti, though you should probably check out our own review of Nvidia's card for a more accurate comparison.