AMD Radeon RX 480 With Crimson Edition v16.7.1 Drivers Fixes Power Issues, Maintains Performance

Radeon RX 480 And v16.7.1 Drivers Tested

AMD just made available the Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver v16.7.1 with fixes for the Radeon RX 480’s power consumption issues. The driver is available for download on AMD’s website now, and includes a long list of fixes and known issues. The listings that the majority of you are probably most interested in are these, however...
  • The Radeon RX 480’s power distribution has been improved for AMD reference boards, lowering the current drawn from the PCIe bus.
  • A new “compatibility mode” UI toggle has been made available in the Global Settings menu of Radeon Settings. This option is designed to reduce total power with minimal performance impact if end users experience any further issues. This toggle is “off” by default.
  • Performance improvements for the Polaris architecture that yield performance uplifts in popular game titles of up to 3%. These optimizations are designed to improve the performance of the Radeon RX 480, and should substantially offset the performance impact for users who choose to activate the "compatibility" toggle.
  • Radeon RX 480 limited PCI-E Bandwidth (PCI-E bandwidth is now at the correct speed on the Radeon RX 480) with Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1.
In case you missed the news over the last few days since its launch, the Radeon RX 480’s power draw over the PCIe bus was exceeding the spec, which is a cause of concern for motherboards that can’t handle the load. The cards’ overall power consumption was exceeding the rated 150 Watt TDP too. And some stories quickly surfaced of motherboards reportedly crippled by the Radeon RX 480’s power characteristics as well. Under-volting some cards also resulted in power savings and -- counter intuitively -- improved performance.  It has been an interesting few days to say the least.

AMD, however, acknowledged the issues right away and immediately got to work on a potential fix through software, which brings us to today’s release of the Radeon Software Crimson Edition v16.7.1 drivers.
Radeon RX 480 1
AMD Radeon RX 480

Unfortunately, we are not set up to monitor power draw from a graphics card alone, so we can’t say with any certainty that AMD has resolved the PCIe power issues -- we do have some interesting power data to share on the next page, however. We thought you’d all be interested in the performance and total-system power characteristics of these new drivers nonetheless, especially since the new “Compatibility Mode” could lower overall consumption, with minimal impact on performance – according to AMD. 

As soon as the drivers hit, we installed them on our test rig and got to work. We tested the v16.7.1 drivers in their default configuration and with Compatibility Mode enabled. Here’s what we saw...

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra showed a slight performance uplift with the new drivers in default mode. Enabling Compatibility Mode, however, resulted in a small drop in performance, that actually pushed the 8GB card down below the 4GB model and closer to the GeForce GTX 970's performance.


Unigine Heaven showed slightly lower performance across the board. The deltas separating the various Radeon RX 480 8GB configurations are quite small, however.

The Steam VR benchmark showed minor decreases in performance with the v16.7.1 drives, in both modes, as well. With Compatibility Mode enabled though, the Radeon RX 480 actually dropped in just behind the GeForce GTX 970.


Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor showed very little variation at either resolution. Technically, Compatibility Mode did result in the lowest performance, but we're talking about some minuscule differences in frame rate that fall within the margin of error in this benchmark.


Thief showed some small performance variations, and once again Compatibility Mode resulted in the lowest performance for the Radeon RX 480 8GB, but again the deltas were relatively small.

We've got a few more games and power consumption numbers coming up...

Tags:  AMD, Radeon, polaris, rtg, rx 480

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