Overclocking extraordinaire Roman "der8auer" Hartung has potentially found (opens in new tab) the cause of the Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics card's overheating issues. It would seem that AMD's RDNA 3 flagship, one of the best graphics cards, may have a defective vapor chamber.
Hartung purchased four reference Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards to get to the root of the problem. He discovered that a horizontal installation contributed to improving temperatures. The orientation yielded improvement up to 20 degrees Celsius. But, lamentably, the graphics cards exhibited the same thermal throttling after a minute of the burn-in test. So while a horizontal position makes the Radeon RX 7900 XTX run cooler and quieter, the overheating problem was inevitable. The mounting position is just one piece of the problem, though.
Not happy with his initial findings, Hartung looked into other theories, such as the weight of the cooler or gravity as one of the influencers in the orientation that the graphics card is installed. The overclocker designed a custom stand to dispel both theories. He removed the support bracket from the graphics card and shaved off a few millimeters of the stand-offs to test mounting pressure. However, his efforts were to no avail.
The hypothesis of the Radeon RX 7900 XTX having a faulty vapor chamber started to make more sense. In his testing, Hartung rotated the graphics card and observed that the temperature had substantially increased. However, turning the graphics card to its original position didn't help bring down the temperatures.
As a result, Hartung believes that the vapor chamber may have a defect, whether it be a design problem or an issue with the choice of materials used in its fabrication. It would appear that the liquid inside the vapor chamber is facing circulation problems after condensation. The root of the problem could be inadequate pressure or a liquid deficiency inside the vapor chamber. Hartung didn't have time to dissect the vapor chamber, but he may do so in a follow-up video.
While AMD has acknowledged the overheating problems with some Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards, the chipmaker hasn't provided consumers with a suitable solution other than to contact support. Luckily, the overheating issue doesn't affect all Radeon RX 7900 XTX samples, but the number of affected users is significant, way more considerable than victims of Nvidia's melting 16-pin power connector. This Radeon RX 7900 XTX overheating issue certainly doesn't look good for AMD after the chipmaker was mocking Nvidia for the 16-pin power connector meltdown. However, AMD likely has more important things on its mind, especially if Hartung's conjecture proves valid. AMD may have to recall its reference Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards when the push comes to shove.
Update, Jan 4: AMD contacted Tom's Hardware with the following statement:
"We are working to determine the root cause of the unexpected throttling experienced by some while using the AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX graphics cards made by AMD. Based on our observations to-date, we believe the issue relates to the thermal solution used in the AMD reference design and appears to be present in a limited number of the cards sold. We are committed to solving this issue for impacted cards. Customers experiencing this unexpected throttling should contact AMD Support (opens in new tab)."