Defective Vapor Chamber May Be Causing RX 7900 XTX Overheating Issue

AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX and XT
AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX and XT (Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

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)."

Zhiye Liu
RAM Reviewer and News Editor

Zhiye Liu is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Although he loves everything that’s hardware, he has a soft spot for CPUs, GPUs, and RAM.

  • atomicWAR
    Leave it to AMD to make the over priced 4070ti look like a decent buy through defective(?) Founders edition cards of their own.

    They better get a handle on these cards or it will be way worse for them than it was for Nvidia and the power connector.
    Reply
  • thisisaname
    A great example of pride coming before a fall, with AMD mocking Nvidia for there problems, I wonder if Nvidia will keep quite on the issue.
    Reply
  • Ogotai
    the melting connector is worse then this, at least with this, you could just replace the cooler on the card, and keep using it, the power connector on the rtx cards melting, means need a replacement card.

    thisisaname said:
    A great example of pride coming before a fall,
    i wonder how many times nvidia did the same to amd only to have smething go wrong with their own products.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Ogotai said:
    the melting connector is worse then this, at least with this, you could just replace the cooler on the card, and keep using it, the power connector on the rtx cards melting, means need a replacement card.
    Both problems should never have made it past inhouse testing.
    Reply
  • Phaaze88
    Oh, for ducks sake..!
    Reply
  • RodroX
    Will AMD take as much time as nvidia to come foward and explain whats going on, and how are they going to really deal with this ?

    I guess I'm lucky I don't have enough spare money to get any new tech product for now.
    Reply
  • InvalidError
    USAFRet said:
    Both problems should never have made it past inhouse testing.
    People failing to plug in their cables all the way isn't really Nvidia's fault. Also, in-house testing is only meant to catch problems that may arise when the product is used as intended and the plug isn't intended to be 2-3mm short of fully inserted. There does not appear to have been any further public reporting on this issue after it got confirmed as user error in just about every case that got looked into back in October.

    AMD however appears to have a design flaw that may affect all GPUs using the reference cooler. I'm looking forward to heavily discounted 7000-series GPUs due to this epic fail giving the series a bad reputation.
    Reply
  • BX4096
    InvalidError said:
    People failing to plug in their cables all the way isn't really Nvidia's fault...

    This is very much Nvidia's fault since you must take user error into account when you design these things. Besides, the simple fact that most of us have been dealing with half-plugged cables (USB, SATA, IDE, power, you name it) our entire life without any of them catching fire should tell you that this wasn't normal.

    But then I guess both companies were more too worried about making a quick profit off their vastly overpriced products to worry about quality control...
    Reply
  • SunMaster
    InvalidError said:
    AMD however appears to have a design flaw that may affect all GPUs using the reference cooler. I'm looking forward to heavily discounted 7000-series GPUs due to this epic fail giving the series a bad reputation.

    Unlike Nvidia, AMD has not been quiet about their issue. https://www.techspot.com/news/97120-amd-aware-radeon-rx-7900-xtx-temperature-issues.html
    Reply
  • DRagor
    Buildzoid was first to find out why Asus mobos catch fire. GN was first to find out why NVidia connectors melt. And now derBauer is first to find why AMD cards are cooking themselves.

    May I ask, where the hell are quality control departments in hardware companies these days? It's great that we have famous youtubers doing their work but come on - it is not supposed to be this way!
    Reply