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

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Radeon RX 480 And v16.7.1 Drivers Tested (Cont.)

We also ran a couple of DirectX 12 benchmarks with the new Radeon Software Crimson Edition v16.7.1 Drivers, namely Hitman and Ashes of the Singularity.
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Hitman showed a slight performance improvement with the new drivers, when running in default mode. With Compatibility Mode enabled, however, performance dips slightly and drops in behind our original Radeon RX 480 8GB numbers using the launch drivers.

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Ashes tells a similar story to Hitman. The new drivers resulted in a slight performance improvement in default mode, while Compatibility Mode reduced performance somewhat.

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In terms of power consumption, despite not being able to isolate the graphics card's power draw alone, we have some interesting numbers to share. First off, the v16.7.1 drivers actually used a bit more power under load than the launch driver (these numbers were recorded about 1/2 way through the Thief benchmark). We should note, however, that today is one of the hottest days we've had in the area so ambient temps in the lab are up a bit. Slight variations in voltage can also affect overall power, so while the Radeon RX 480 pulled a few more watts under load with the new drivers, there is some margin of error here due to environmental conditions.

What's more interesting here is the affect Compatibility Mode had on power. Switching Compatibility Mode on resulted in a roughly 9 Watt reduction of load power. Idle power remained unchanged.  That power reduction does come at the expense of some performance, but we're talking about minor differences here that do not change the overall landscape. Assuming the power distribution has shifted to depend more heavily on the supplemental 6-Pin PCI Express power feed on the RX 480 and less on the PCIe slot, AMD may have pulled off this fix in short order -- I'm sure some of our colleagues with the necessary testing equipment will have more data soon.

While testing, we also used GPU-Z to monitor GPU power draw and GPU voltages as reported by the RX 480's integrated sensors. In default mode, with the v16.7.1 drivers, the Radeon RX 480 GPU consumed a minimum of 7.6W at the desktop. And during a Ungine Heaven run in normal mode, the RX 480 consumed an average of 100.1 Watts, with a peak of 131.2 Watts.  The GPU voltages for normal mode ranged from .8v (low) to 1.1063v (max) with an average of 1.0275v.  Switching on Compatibility Mode changed things up quite a bit, though. With Compatibility Mode enabled, we saw the same 7.6W idle number, with a peak of 129W, and an average of 92.8W. GPU voltages in compatibility mode fell within the same .8v (low) to 1.1063v (max) range, but the average over the benchmark run was 1.0048v.

This story is still unfolding, but we thought some of you would find this data interesting. At the very least, we believe AMD will have improved the Radeon RX 480's power consumption characteristics, especially when compatibility mode is enabled, but we would not be surprised if further tuning is in the works with future driver revisions.
Tags:  AMD, Radeon, polaris, rtg, rx 480

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