AMD Confirms Investigation Of Alarming Radeon RX 7900 XTX And XT Temp Spikes

hero radeon rx 7900 xtx
If you read reviews of AMD's recent Radeon releases, you may have noticed a trend. Many outlets, including us, noticed a huge gulf between the average GPU temperature and the GPU hotspot reading. Deltas of 30°C aren't uncommon, and some users have seen even larger gaps. It turns out AMD is aware of the issue, and is looking into it.

That information comes from German site HardwareLuxx, who has been looking into the anomaly with the help of colleagues at ComputerBase and TechPowerUp. To be clear, it's normal for the hotspot temperature to be higher than the rest of the GPU; that's the point of that reading. However, it's abnormal for there to be such a large delta.

hardwareluxx gpu hotspot chart
Image: (click to enlarge)

Compiling the results, it seems like this problem primarily affects the "Built by AMD" (BBA) reference models. While a PowerColor card seems to suffer the same issue, that card is using the AMD reference board. The largest gap that HardwareLuxx has observed is a whopping 53°C. When the hotspot temperature hits 110°, the GPU will start to reduce its clocks and throttle, even if it's fully-loaded and under its power limit.

radeon xtx stock stats
We also noticed a high gap in GPU temperature versus junction temperature in our review.

HardwareLuxx suspects uneven cooler contact is the source of the issue, and we generally agree. A thread on the /r/AMD subreddit reinforces our suspicions: /u/L0rd_0F_War posts that his reference-model Radeon RX 7900 XTX "easily" hit 110°C, even with the case side panel off, but that once he laid his case down on its side, the temperature in the same test dropped to just 75°C. Quite a shocking difference. Other users chimed in to remark that they observed the same thing, though not quite to the same degree.

Some users in the thread posited that it was an issue with the vapor chamber used on the cards, but if that were the case it would be more likely to manifest with the card oriented horizontally than vertically. The more likely circumstance, as HardwareLuxx posited, is that the cooler is making poor contact with the Radeon GPU. When oriented horizontally, such as when installed in a tower case, gravity can pull the vapor chamber away from the GPU. If the mounting hardware is poor, that tiny bit could be enough to drastically worsen cooling.

gamersnexus gpupressure 7900xtx
From Gamers Nexus' review of the Radeon RX 7900 XTX.

For their part, Gamers Nexus found that contact across parts of the GPU on the AMD reference model was quite poor indeed, but remarked that it didn't seem to affect temperatures much. That may have been because Gamers Nexus typically tests GPUs in an open test bench with the card oriented vertically.

If you're having heat, performance, or stability problems with your Radeon RX 7900 series card, try laying your case on its side to see if things improve. If they do, or even if they don't, let us know in the comments below. Don't forget to grab AMD's new driver update for your card, too.

Update 12/29:
AMD reached out to us with a statement on the matter of the overheating reference design Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards. Here's the full text of the statement:
“We are aware that a limited number of users are experiencing unexpected thermal throttling on AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards (reference models made by AMD). Users experiencing unexpected thermal throttling of an AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX should contact AMD Support.”
This response is in stark contrast to earlier reports that AMD was refusing RMA requests for overheating cards, but it seems like the company is eager to resolve the issue.