If you’ve read recent reviews of AMD’s Radeon products, you may have noticed a pattern. Many media outlets, including ourselves, observed a significant disparity between the average GPU temperature and the GPU hotspot reading. It is not uncommon to observe temperature differences of 30°C, and some users have even observed larger differences. AMD appears to be aware of the issue and is investigating it.
This information comes from the German website HardwareLuxx, which has been investigating the anomaly with assistance from ComputerBase and TechPowerUp. To clarify, it is normal for the hotspot temperature to be higher than the GPU’s average temperature; that is the purpose of that reading. However, the existence of such a large delta is abnormal.
Compiling the results, it appears that this issue affects “Built by AMD” (BBA) reference models the most. While it appears that a PowerColor card is affected by the same issue, this card utilizes the AMD reference board. The largest temperature difference observed by HardwareLuxx is 53°C. When the hotspot temperature reaches 110°, the GPU will begin to reduce its clock speeds and throttle, even if it is under its power limit and fully loaded.
HardwareLuxx suspects cooler contact inconsistency is the root of the issue, and we concur. A thread on the subreddit /r/AMD supports our suspicions: /u/L0rd 0F War writes that his reference-model Radeon RX 7900 XTX “easily” reached 110°C, even with the case side panel removed, but that the temperature in the same test dropped to 75°C when he laid his case on its side. Quite a startling contrast. Other users commented that they had observed the same phenomenon, albeit to a lesser extent.
Some users in the thread hypothesized that it was a problem with the vapor chamber on the cards, but if that were the case, it would be more likely to occur when the card is oriented horizontally than vertically. According to HardwareLuxx, the most likely explanation is that the cooler is not making sufficient contact with the Radeon GPU. Gravity can pull the vapor chamber away from the GPU when positioned horizontally, such as when installed in a tower case. If the mounting hardware is subpar, this tiny flaw could be sufficient to significantly impair cooling.
Gamers Nexus found that contact between GPU components on the AMD reference model was quite poor, but that it did not appear to have a significant impact on temperatures. Possibly because Gamers Nexus tests GPUs typically on an open test bench with the card oriented vertically.
Try laying your case on its side if you’re experiencing heat, performance, or stability issues with your Radeon RX 7900 series card. If they do or do not, please let us know in the comments section below. Don’t forget to grab the latest driver update from AMD as well.
AMD reached out to us on December 29 with a statement regarding the overheating reference design of Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards. Here is the complete text of the assertion:
“We are aware that a small number of AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics card users are experiencing unexpected thermal throttling” (reference models made by AMD). Contact AMD Support if you experience unexpected thermal throttling with an AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX.”
In stark contrast to earlier reports that AMD was refusing RMA requests for overheating cards, the company appears eager to resolve the issue.